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Tuesday, 29 April 2014

The Phantom of the Opera (1989) 101 Films Blu-Ray release.


Let me begin this review by stating that I am in no way an aficionado of 'Phantom of the Opera' movies. I have only ever seen the 1925 version and this late eighties release, starring Robert Englund and Jill Schoelen. While I can already hear the cries of "blasphemy" and "you aren't a real horror fan", I have to admit to liking Robert Englund's portrayal of The Phantom more than Lon Chaney's. While Chaney's was chilling, Englund gives the character more of a tragic angle, before layering on the evil.

Christine is a young Broadway singer who is auditioning for a show in New York. She comes across a piece of music written by Erik Destler, who happened to make a pact with The Devil so that the world would love his music. The downside to this pact was that Erik's face would be horribly disfigured for eternity. As soon as Christine sings the piece of music, she is transported to London in 1881, where she is the star of the London opera house. It is there that she is taken under the wing of a mysterious cloaked figure who will do anything, including kill, to make Christine the star of the opera.

I have always been a fan of this movie, and had no idea it was frowned upon so much until checking what others had written about the film online. While the plot does take some liberties with the Gaston Leroux's story and stretches things a little too far sometimes, Englund's Destler is pure evil, and is a role that Englund seems to enjoy portraying. Maybe that was because he got to flex his acting muscles a little more than he did when he played Krueger, but I can only speculate on that.

The film is certainly not a remake in any respect, becoming a full-blown slasher and relishing in it's murder and the obsession of Erik Destler, as well as having an involving story that keeps you interested when the blood isn't flying on-screen.

If there was one problem with 'The Phantom of the Opera', it would be that it can be quite difficult to separate the character of Erik Destler from that of Freddy Krueger. The marketing for the film didn't help with this fact, relishing the fact that the man that played Freddy Krueger is playing the Phantom. Englund's performance soon makes you forget Freddy though, and it is only near the end of the movie, that you are reminded of the dream demon once more.

If you can't stomach a musical, and have seen the 1925 'The Phantom of the Opera' numerous times, this is certainly worth a look, and may just end up being one of your favourite movies, as it is for me, ever since I saw it in the mid-nineties.

The transfer is good, although some scenes in the first half are rather grainy, but this just adds to the gothic effect of the film in my opinion, although it is made all the more noticeable by the second half of the film being much more clear.

Darkest regards......Dani.

Amer (2009).

Possibly one of the most unique films I have ever had the pleasure of viewing, Amer pays great homage to the Giallo, but is so much more than that label could ever wish to be. Mixing surrealism and horror, this film manages to bring up memories of both Lynch and Argento with it's tale of voyeurism and the story of a girls development into womanhood.

There are many scenes in this film that are bathed in reds, blues, greens and purples, and it lends the film it's dreamlike quality which goes a long way to add to the surrealism of the picture. There is very little dialogue. The films characters express themselves through sighs, moans and whispers, which again comes across as strange but entrancing.

The film is shot magnificently, bringing to mind the greatest work of Argento with dizzying camera-work and shots that simply take the viewers breath away. There are lots of quick cuts to keep the viewer on their toes. Although the movie is relatively easy to follow, I don't think it is easy to explain what the movie is about, as it is very subversive. This again only goes to add to the surrealism and beauty of the film. There is also a strong undercurrent of threat running throughout the film, which should please fans of the macabre no end.

The film certainly manages to come into it's own in it's final segment, where our female protagonist, who we have followed through her childhood, through her teens, and now into womanhood, is stalked by a killer. The amount of close-up's of eyeballs and straight razors would be enough to satiate any fan of Giallo.

'Amer' is an excellent example of film that isn't straight-forward, that likes to play with convention and wants to titillate the viewer with more than just acres of naked flesh and breast shots. The film uses colour and sound to great effect, making the audio and images work into the subconscious of the viewers, leaving them with something to think about and comprehend.

Who said movies should be easy-going?

Darkest regards......Dani

Hardware (1990).

Sometimes, horror and science fiction are mixed together to create a great film. Alien is a prime example of these genres being mixed to great effect. Hardware is another one of those films that manages to get everything right. From the setting, right down to the script, everything clicks to make a film that goes far beyond it's budget (which was around two hundred thousand pounds).

A man stalks the desert, looking for loot to sell. After entering a fenced off area, he finds a skull like object, amongst other parts of what seem to be a robot. He sells the hand to his trader friend, and gives the robot skull to his girlfriend who adds it into one of her sculptures. Little do they know that this skull is the nerve centre for a military robot who has the capacity to rebuild itself, and has been created for one purpose. To kill.

What I first noticed about this film, apart from having Iggy Pop as a crazy radio host, was the lighting. Everything is bathed in post-apocalyptic colour, and it goes a long way to helping the viewer see just how desolate earth has become. That isn't to say that it isn't full of life, because it is, but it manages to represent what a post apocalyptic earth would look like very well, even with such a small budget.

The film is dark, brutal and disturbing, whilst featuring one of the most intense and suspenseful games of cat and mouse seen outside of the slasher genre. The plot is mesmerising, never letting the viewer breathe, layering on tension with moments of ultra-violence that test the robot's weapons to great effect, showcasing it's merciless directives again and again.

'Hardware' offers style in spades, every shot bathed in a moody red, the landscape at once so ugly yet with monolithic beauty that draws attention to the smallest detail. The film grips you, and won't let go right up until the conclusion, which would take the viewers last breath given the chance.

'Hardware' certainly isn't for anyone. It has a rather arthouse feel, and some of the characters are that despicable, that that factor might very well put the casual viewer off. If you are willing to take a chance on an incredibly well done and violent sci-fi/horror mish-mash, you couldn't do much better than this fine slice of British filmmaking.

Darkest regards......Dani

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

James Balsamo's Catch of the Day Red Band Trailer is here!

Not only are we lucky enough to get a trailer for James Balsamo's new film 'Catch of the Day', but the first hundred pre-orders from Acid Bath Productions get a free 'Catch of the Day' T-shirt designed by Nathan Thomas Milliner!

You can check out the Red Band Trailer for 'Catch of the day' by clicking HERE.

Below is the T-shirt design, and I'm sure you will agree, as with the trailer, this looks kick-ass!

Darkest regards......Dani.

Scarlet Fry's Horrorama VHS clam shell is still available!

At the ripe age of nineteen, Scarlet fry began to work on his first film, the shot on video 'Horrorama'. Sadly, this gore-filled anthology never got distribution. The film was shot between 1987 - 1991, and has finally re-surfaced thanks to SRS Cinema. This release is exclusive to SRS Cinema, and is a six short story anthology horror/comedy hosted by Scarlet Fry, that will make you laugh so hard, you might vomit your own blood!

VHS/ DVD/  Clam Shell/ Mini Poster/ Mini Lobby Card are included with the release. This is a limited edition, and only 30 (yes, only 30) will be sold. The price is $25. A bargain indeed!

You can purchase Horrorama from SRS Cinema by clicking HERE.

Darkest regards......Dani.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Cemetery Temple teaser trailer released.

Here it is! The first teaser trailer from Derek Huey's upcoming film Cemetery Temple. For all of you who keep up to date with my posts here, I am sure you will already be aware of this film, but for those of you who aren't, click HERE to learn all about the film and it's Indiegogo campaign. Without further ado, here is the amazing teaser! Spread the word and share it where you can, and most of all, SUPPORT INDIE HORROR!

To see the Cemetery Temple teaser trailer, click HERE.

Here is a picture taken from the film too, to whet all of your appetites that little bit more.

Darkest regards......Dani.

Formula for a Murder (1985).

Shameless Screen Entertainment bring this little seen Giallo from 1985 to the UK, and I for one couldn't be happier. While many say the Giallo film was in decline around the second half of the eighties (I beg to differ, because around this time, such films as Soavi's Stagefright, Argento's Opera and even Deodato's Phantom of Death were released), Formula for a Murder offers up the goods and creates one enjoyable ride for fans of operatic murder set pieces, suspense filled staking, mystery and bloodshed, traits that are all typical of the Giallo genre.

Joanna (Christina Nagy), a disabled but wealthy heiress is going to be married to her sports coach Craig (played by the always excellent David Warbeck). Joanna went through a trauma as a child involving a priest and a doll, and although she has managed to block this out, when two priests at a local church are brutally murdered, she begins to have dreams and hallucinations of bloodied dolls and mysterious characters. Craig is also informed by Joanna's doctor that she also has a heart condition that could bring on a heart attack if she was to be reminded of her childhood trauma. It seems as if someone is trying to separate Joanna from her wealth, but who could it be, and will they succeed?

There is a difference between this and most Giallo movies, and that is that the movie reveals who is committing the murders, and why, early on. That isn't to say that there aren't twists and turns thrown at the viewer, because there are. It's just a shame that the film reveals so much so early, but in all honesty, it doesn't hurt the film much at all.

The murders are typically bloodthirsty, and the stalking scenes are particularly enjoyable. It is usually these type of scenes that make or break a Giallo (along with the logic used throughout) and while some of the plot twists don't make any sense whatsoever, the moments of violence and suspense are amped up to sometimes over the top levels, along with beautiful photography and great performances from the leads, making for an enjoyable film.

The only thing that really hurts the film is the score. For a Giallo film, it is incredibly cheesy, and also manages to include a piece of music from Fulci's The New York Ripper, which made me shake my head in disbelief. Some may find this fun, but for some reason, I found it irritating.

David Warbeck certainly steals the show, and clearly seems to relish his role in every respect. He also dons a yellow rain mac for what is probably the most memorable scene of the entire movie, but to find out what that is, you are going to have to watch it for yourselves.

This is the first time this movie has been released on DVD, and is another incredible release from Shameless Screen Entertainment. Anyone with even a passing interest in Italian cinema needs to take a look at this rarely seen but pleasing giallo movie.

You can order Formula for a Murder from by clicking HERE.

Darkest regards......Dani.