Monday, October 24, 2016

Willard (1971)

Directed by Daniel Mann (Our Man Flint, The Revengers, Playing for Time) and released in 1971, Willard preceded, perhaps even helped influence, a wave of movies that followed highlighting either wild animals on the attack (Jaws, Grizzly, Bug) and/or social misfits getting violent revenge on their tormentors (Carrie).

Bruce Davison stars as the title character, a sad sack who deals with beratings and belittlings from all avenues of his life, especially from his widowed mother and domineering boss. After the emotional defeat of coming home to a birthday party his mother has thrown, populated by her older friends exclusively, Willard bonds with a rat in his backyard. This one rat quickly becomes a multitude, with Willard developing a bond and establishing communication with his rodent pals. Willard then puts the rats into service righting the many wrongs he feels have burdened his existence. 

The film was popular at the box office, inspiring a sequel and years later a Crispin Glover led remake. Sondra Locke appears in one of her earliest film roles as a love interest for Willard while Elsa Lanchester appears in one of her final cinematic roles as his over bearing mother. Ernest Borgnine pushes Willard around as the duplicitous, business stealing boss.

the trailer

the feature

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Häxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages (1922)

Released in 1922, the film Häxan is a Swedish/Danish co-production that was written and directed by Benjamin Christensen and it remains his most discussed as well as most viewed film. The director also gave himself the notable role of the Devil in the film.

Curious about the subject after purchasing a copy of the Malleus Maleficarum, a 15th-century German guide for inquisitors battling demonic forces, Christensen wanted the film to illustrate how long standing superstitions along with ignorance of the many forms of mental illness combined to fuel anti-witch hysteria.

Ostensibly a documentary, the film also contains many elaborate set pieces that rival most horror films and for the time of it's production Häxan was a proto-blockbuster and the costliest Scandinavian silent film made, with costs soaring to near two million Swedish kronor.

the trailer

the feature

Friday, October 14, 2016

Einstürzende Neubauten - 1984 - Chicago

Einstürzende Neubauten 

at the Exit 
1 March 1984

  1. (Unknown) 
  2. Zum Tier machen 
  3. Vanadium-I-Ching 
  4. Affenroulette 
  5. (Unknown) 
  6. Sehnsucht 
  7. Negativ Nein 
  8. Armenia 
  9. (Unknown)
  10. Abfackeln! 
  11. Die Genaue Zeit 
  12. (Unknown) 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

God Told Me To (1976)

Written and directed by Larry Cohen (Bone, It's Alive, Black Caesar, The Stuff), 1976s God Told Me To (aka Demon) is a thought provoking horror/science fiction hybrid.

Tony Lo Bianco stars as a NYPD detective who tries to figure out the motives behind a series of seemingly random bursts of deadly violence which are connected by all of the perpetrators stating the reason for their transgression was that "god told them to." Eventually he traces everything back to a cult like organization headed by the always intriguing Richard Lynch. Things get darker and more complicated from there, ultimately leading to an explosive climax.

Keep an eye out for Andy Kaufman's first film appearance as a NYPD patrolman who becomes motivated to commit violence during a parade detail.

the trailer

the feature

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971) aka 4 mosche di velluto grigio


Dario Argento's 1971 feature Four Flies on Grey Velvet is the final film in his "Animal Trilogy", which began with The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and The Cat o' Nine Tails. Another genre notable, Luigi Cozzi served as assistant director. Due to some disagreements over music selections, this would be the last Argento film scored by Ennio Morricone until the 1990s.

Italian film favorite Bud Spencer, plus Americans Mimsy Farmer and Michael Brandon top the films cast. It was picked up by Paramount Pictures for it's United States release but little was done with the film in the U.S. after an initial run.

The plot is convoluted, perhaps a bit too complicated, but overall Four Flies on Grey Velvet rewards a viewer with well shot color saturated and outstanding cinematography (most noatbly what may have been the first use of high-speed camera equipment to film the path and trajectory of a bullet), as well as heaps of Argento's "edge of your seat" cinema. The scene where a woman finds herself locked inside a walled park after closing and is pursued relentlessly stands out for it's memorable and rapidly escalating tension.

the trailers

the feature

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Crazies (1973)

Released in 1973, The Crazies (aka Code Name: Trixie or The Mad People) was directed by George Romero with many of the same crew/production staff from his ground breaking feature Night of the Living Dead and has since been the subject of a Hollywood remake.

The plot plays out as an unknown, untested bio-toxin is released into the drinking water supply of a small Pennsylvania town after a military plane crashes nearby. The toxin causes strong, visceral reactions in those exposed as it creates an unrestricted id with extremely violent urges. The government storms into town, establishes martial law, and begins a round up of the townspeople. Some folks are understandably leery of the occupying force and find themselves caught between the infected "crazies" and the increasingly trigger happy "peacekeepers" sent in to maintain order. Screen time is also given to scenes illustrating the government/military's ongoing attempts to quell and localize the growing problem by any means necessary.

the trailer

the feature