Archive for the halloween Category

Frankenstein re-made

Posted in frakenstein, halloween, halloween countdown on 10/28/2012 by vincentstark

Following their atmospheric and totally shitty version of Dracula BBC Radio 4 have just broadcast part one of a two part version of that other gothic classic, Frankenstein – you can listen to part one HERE for the next seven days.

 

A lush and haunting dramatisation of the story-within-a-story-within-a-story that does Mary Shelley proud. This is, unquestionably, the finest drama in the current Gothic Imagination season and breathes new life into the ultimate story of pride and obsession gone monstrously wrong.

About this programme

The first of a two-part dramatisation of Mary Shelley’s gothic horror tale by Lucy Catherine about a monster created in a science experiment. Sailing through the Arctic wastes, Captain Walton picks up a man who is close to death and has a disturbing story to share. Starring Jamie Parker and Alun Raglan.

Cast and crew

Cast

Frankenstein
Jamie Parker
The Monster
Shaun Dooley
Elizabeth
Susie Riddell
Walton
Alun Raglan
Father
Robert Blythe
Clerval
Sam Alexander
Mother
Christine Absalom
Waldman
Patrick Brennan
Justine
Emma Hook
Sailor
Joe Sims
Lieutenant
Don Gilet

Crew

Director
Mark Beeby
Dramatised By
Lucy Catherine
Producer
Mark Beeby
Writer
Mary Shelley
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Halloween Countdown: The Spandex wearing Undead

Posted in halloween, halloween countdown, halloween movies, marvel zombies, the dead walked, the dead weekend, the undead, the walking dead, vincent stark, walkers walkers everywhere, WALKING DEAD, zombies on 10/27/2012 by vincentstark

Imagine a world where the iconic superheroes are all zombies – it’s made possible because of the Marvel Multiverse. You see there are many different worlds in the multiverse, each of them with a different versions of Marvel’s beloved characters. I’m only a occasional comic book reader so here’s an explanation of the multiverse courtesy of the WIKI –

“Within Marvel Comics, most tales take place within the fictional Marvel Universe, which in turn is part of a larger multiverse. Starting with issues of Captain Britain, the main continuity in which most Marvel storylines take place was designated Earth-616, and the multiverse was established as being protected by Merlyn. Each universe has a Captain Britain designated to protect its version of the British Isles. These protectors are collectively known as the Captain Britain Corps. This numerical notation was continued in the series Excalibur and other titles. Each universe of the Multiverse in Marvel also appears to be defended by a Sorcerer Supreme at nearly all times, appointed by the mystic trinity of Vishanti to defend the world against threats primarily magical in nature from within and beyond and bearing the Eye of Agamotto.”
Sounds complicated but you don’t really need to know any of that to enjoy this graphic novel which collects together the five issue mini series, Marvel Zombies. An introduction gives is some of this background and also explains how the Marvel Zombies mini-series came about. When Mark Miller wrote a Fantastic Four arc set on an alternative world where Marvel heroes and villains had been turned into flesh-eating zombies, Marvel where so taken with the concept that they decided to continue it in other titles. The Walking Dead writer, Robert Kirkman was brought in and the resulting mini-series, collected in this graphic novel, is a truly gruesome horror story with some sick and twisted black humor. It’s also unpredictable and many heroes and villians are killed off in the story. This is a crazy world where Spider-Man hates himself for eating both his wife and Aunt May and Bruce Banner finds that whatever he ate as zombie Hulk quite often bursts through his stomach when he transforms back into zombie Banner.


It’s a crazy concept that works wonderfully and Kirkman brings us much of the same gore filled storytelling that made his Walking Dead title such a success, only this time in vivid full colour art by Sean Phillips. Of course we’ve had many variations of zombies – from the shuffling undead of Romero to the speeded up versions in films such as 28 Days Later, but Marvel here provides us with a new and original take on the genre – zombies with super powers who can also talk and think. It sounds absurd and I guess it is but nevertheless it works perfectly and provides a read you’ll want to chomp down on.

Marvel Zombies is available now as part of the Ultimate Graphic Novel Collection

Countdown to Halloween – The Horror of Sherlock Holmes

Posted in halloween, halloween countdown, halloween movies, HAMMER FILMS, hammer horror, HORROR MOVIES on 10/15/2012 by vincentstark

Hammer’s Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)

So suitable for the British horror studio was Conan Doyle’s, The Hound of the Baskervilles that it could have been written with Hammer Films in mind. Indeed following their success with revamping the Dracula and Frankenstein franchises Hammer turned to the most famous fictional detective of them all, Sherlock Holmes for this movie which was intended to be the first in a new series with Peter Cushing in the title role. Alas the movie didn’t perform as well at the box office as expected and plans for the series were scrapped while Hammer concentrated on more gothic material. Pity really – I would have loved to have seen Hammer tackle The Giant Rat of Sumatra.

The film looks like a Hammer movie – the colour is excellent, garish in places with all that over saturated red and the gothic elements that the studio did so well, are brought out in Doyle’s story like never before. Of course they were always there, even in the original story but Hammer emphasise these parts of the storyline without really altering the original. There are some differences to the original story – Stapleton’s webbed hands for one thing, the tarantula attack for another but these work well within the story and indeed the  webbed hands carried by one line of the Baskerville clan is inspired and is a nice little macabre touch.

Peter Cushing here gives an excellent performance as Sherlock Holmes – the actor was a Sherlockian himself and he brings his knowledge of the character to the role. Andre Morell is a more than suitable Watson. It is also nice to see Christopher Lee playing a romantic lead role and one wonders what would have happened had he played more such roles. He is certainly convincing here. All in all this is a great Sherlock Holmes movie and under the direction of Terence Fisher the ponderous middle section so obvious in most productions of this story moves along at a great pace.

Why wasn’t it a big box office hit then? Well the blame for this lies with Hammer themselves. They promoted the movie as a big horror flick in the style of their successful Dracula and Frankenstein movies, with hardly any mention that this was in fact a Sherlock Holmes movie. The advertising posters suggested a kind of werewolf but when we see the hound on screen it is nothing more than an over sized Great Dane. Movie fans back in the day may have been disappointed – after all, they were going to see a film starring Hammer’s two biggest horror icons with a large slavering hound in the advertising posters and what they got  Sherlock Holmes adventure. A damn thrilling one nonetheless but word of mouth could have harmed the movie after its strong opening weekend.  SEE THE ORIGINAL CINEMA TRAILER EMBEDDED BELOW TO SEE HOW THE FILM WAS MARKETED.

Still the movie’s stood the test of time and this is a great version of the much filmed story – it’s also nice to see the current DVD version showing such an impressive looking cut of the movie. The colours are vibrant and the sound booming. It is only a pity that it is a full frame 4.3 version on the UK release when I believe the American market get a true widescreen version.

Peter Cushing would of course go onto play Holmes for the BBC, but his performance as the detective here is perhaps his definitive stab at the part. Christopher Lee also got a stab at playing both Watson and Holmes in future Holmes movies but the less said about them the better.

Halloween Countdown – The Cabin in the Woods

Posted in halloween, halloween countdown, horror, HORROR MOVIES, the cabin in the woods, Uncategorized on 10/15/2012 by vincentstark

This film was held in limbo due to  MGM’s financial problems – those same problems that also kept the latest James Bond movie, Red Dawn  and The Hobbit from the big screen.It was actually made way back in 2009 but only saw the inside of a cinema in 2012.

It was written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard with Goddard also taking the  directorial duties, and offers, believe it or not, a fresh take on the teens in the cabin in the wood scenario. Now there are major spoilers in this post so if you’ve not seen the film then do not read on, but the plot and that clever twist is given away elsewhere on the web and most horror fans would have seen the movie by now. We get the same kind of set up we’ve seen in countless other slasher movies – group of teens made up of the jock, the slut,the fool, the studious one and the virgin camping in a remote cabin in the woods and then they are picked off one by one in ever more inventive ways. So far so familiar but there’s something else going on here and every now and then we get a scene of a group of office workers watching our teens  on monitor screens and taking bets on how they will die and in which order. There is also an invisible force field around the woods which makes escape impossible – are we in some kind of reality TV show? Is this a slasher Big Brother?

I must admit that by the half way point I had decided that the film would reveal that we were in fact watching a reality TV show and I was going with that – you’ve got to give it up for the humour in the movie, as well as the knowing nods to countless other horror movies, but when the twist comes we discover that this is not a reality TV show but that the teens are to be sacrificed to the old Gods, and that similar sacrifices are being carried out all over the world The rules are that all of the teens, with the exception of the virgin must die otherwise the Gods will be displeased and the world will end. It’s a clever concept and seems to suggest that all those other horror movies – the Friday 13th’s, the Evil Dead and so on were actually ritualistic sacrifices to the Gods.

This time though, thanks to the survival abilities of stoner, Marty the world really is doomed and then movie ends with a sudden cut to nothing but blackness. Getting there however is great fun with some excellent entertainment – the massive monster rampage in which every monster imaginable goes berserk in mission control is absolutely awesome. You’ve got to give it up for that alone.

Nuff said – I loved this movie.

Halloween Countdown – the great directors: Terence Fisher

Posted in dracula, halloween, halloween countdown, halloween movies, HAMMER FILMS, Uncategorized on 10/11/2012 by vincentstark

Terence Fisher is the most famous of the Hammer films directors – he started off directing low budget thrillers such as Colonel Bogey, Stolen Face and Four Sided Triangle and it wasn’t until he helmed Hammer’s first full colour gothic horror, The Curse of Frankenstein in 1957 that he became a superstar. The movie starred Peter Cushing as the devious Baron Frankenstein and Christopher Lee as the sympathetic though horrifying creature. Fisher collaborated with screenwriter, Jimmy Sangster and with producer, Anthony Hinds they became a team that would go onto rule horror cinema for a great many years. They followed up Frankenstein with the even more successful, The Horror of Dracula (1958) which gave is arguably the finest ever screen Dracula.
Fisher’s style can be traced back to the old Saturday Morning cliffhangers that were so popular in the cinema when he was growing up – his sense of pacing is legendary and his films, particularly those done for Hammer, are provide real edge of the seat viewing. In the same year as Horror of Dracula, Fisher also directed  The Revenge of Frankenstein which saw Cushing return as the baron and this time he is a true evil character, driven by his own selfish needs. And then in 1960 Fisher returned to Dracula, this time without Lee for The Brides of Dracula – this time the film made the eroticism, which was evident in The Horror of Dracula, much more explicit. Again the movie is an energetic romp with a widely inventive climax in which Cushing, bitten by a vampire, cauterizes the wound himself before tackling the vampire. The film remains great fun but suffered without Lee as Fisher was pleased when Lee returned as Dracula for Dracula: Prince of Darkness.

 

Given their subject matter and lurid approach, Fisher’s films, though commercially successful, were largely dismissed by critics during his career. It is only in recent years that Fisher has become recognised as an auter  in his own right. His films are characterised by a blend of fairy-tale, myth and sexuality. They may have drawn heavily on Christian themes, and there is usually a hero who defeats the powers of darkness by a combination of faith and reason.

 

Fisher worked on a production line basis, often directing three films in a year, but no matter how flimsy the material his sense of style, pacing and use of bold saturated colours always resulted in an enjoyable picture. Many of the Fisher directed Hammer movies are classics – The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Mummy, The Curse of the Werewolf are all movies that feature the Fisher trademarks. During the mid-Sixties Fisher was offered directing duties on the James Bond movie, You Only Live Twice but he refused and instead remained with Hammer Pictures. And although he continued to work solidly for the rest of the decade he would never recapture the glory of the early films he made for Hammer.

 

 

 

 

 

Countdown to Halloween – Children of the Night

Posted in halloween, halloween countdown on 10/05/2012 by vincentstark

The Children of the night

As I’ve said in previous posts, horror movies are as old as cinema itself – versions of Frankenstein and Dr Jekyll were made in American as far back as 1908 and vampires first appeared in American movies in 1910 and a few years later the works of Edgar Allan Poe provided the backbone to D W Griffith’s The Avenging Conscience, and if we look at Europe we can find the birth of the modern horror movie with Germany’s Der Student Von Prag in 1913 and Der Golem in 1914. In fact German cinema had a lot to do with the early horror film and in 1919 The Cabinet of Dr Caligari set the blueprint for what was to become the modern horror film. In Dr Caligari a mad doctor invokes and controls a somnambulist, sending him to murder those who have sneered at his work.
These characters – the mad doctor and the monster he has created became the key elements of Hollywood horror.
There were many horror movies made during the silent period but it wasn’t until the coming of sound that the genre really took off.
Universal became the home of horror after a string of horror hits that started with Todd Browning’s Dracula and James Whale’s Frankenstein. Bela Lugosi recreated the role he had first played on the stage for Dracula and for a period he became the studio’s biggest money maker, but when Frankenstein which was originally to be directed by Robert Florey fell into the hands of James Whale the first true horror classic was born. And like Dr Caligari both films featured maidens terrorized by monsters before our square jawed hero comes to the rescue….ahh, simpler times! Before anyone knew it mad geniuses were everywhere, even Bela Lugosi’s Dracula can been seen as a mad genius of sorts – Doctor X (1932), Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) and Island of  Lost Souls (1933) are just three of many movies that expanded upon the formula that had not yet been set in stone.

‘Listen to them, children of the night. What music they make.’
It was during this period that the first horror superstars were born, actors who would forever be associated with the genre. Lon Chaney was originally to have played Dracula in 1931 but the when the actor died the role fell into the hands of Bela Lugosi and the actor also inherited Chaney’s crown as the king of horror. Boris Karloff was excellent as the monster in James Whale’s Frankenstein. John Carradine made a far less effective Dracula than Lugosi but after he played the character he too was forever a horror actor. As was Lon Chaney Jr who carried the Chaney name forward while Vincent Price put the ham back into horror. It was not until the Hammer cycle of movies that actors would be so associated with the genre when Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing became the new icons. And since that period perhaps only Robert Englund and Bruce Campbell have attained the same level of genre identification.

So the next time you sit down to watch a horror movie, just remember that it’s roots stretch back to the dawn of cinema itself.