Horrorfest 2013 Presents: Sisters (1973, Brian De Palma)


Midway through Sisters I realized that this was one bizarre horror film. Brian De Palma pays homage to Psycho and also Rear Window in his own odd way, even going so far as to hire Bernard Herrmann, Alfred Hitchcock’s old composer, to do the film’s score. I loved the use of split screen later on in the film, particularly since it ups the tension and is a relatively unique technique. De Palma also utilizes flashbacks and home video in a scene that is rather disturbing and eerie, taking the viewer deeper into the film and acting as a strange and really vivid fantasy that happens to be actually happening to the film’s protagonist, Grace, the neighbor of one Danielle, played by Margot Kidder. The truth of the entire matter surrounding a murder that Grace claims to have witnessed but yet no one can find a trace of is not even the craziest thing about this entire movie.

Nope instead its the fact that Danielle is not who she seems, and that her past hides a dangerous secret that leads to even more intrigue. I was fascinated by how well constructed this movie is, although I am well aware of De Palma’s reputation for creating smart thrillers. In a way Sisters is a fine dress rehearsal for De Palma’s 1976 horror classic Carrie, another movie about a disturbed woman who ends up committing violent acts. I found the murder scene to be rather shocking and graphic, and the use of red blood in a white room is a brilliant contrast of visually striking colors is fantastic and another hallmark of De Palma’s work.

Well that and the film also has the charming performance of Charles Durning, who plays an obsessive private eye hired by Grace to get to the bottom of the mystery. Even though its low budget aspects hurt the film a little Sisters is a really good, maybe even great, horror film that stands out from some of the early 70s horror thrillers. I would love to purchase it on Criterion at some point, although I’m not sure if its not out of print or not. The current sale going on is as good a time as any to find out.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (1972, Bob Clark)


Now that is a film title. I saw the trailer for this movie on YouTube and I knew I had to watch this movie. And despite being a low-budget movie with the limitations that such films have it’s a really good movie. One that fits in well with other 70s zombie films, containing that sense of doom and being gory and creepy at the same time. Plus it offers a running commentary on show business that is still relevant today.

Alan is an outlandish and semi sadistic film director who attempts a joke that ends up resulting in a cruel punchline. He drags his film making cast and crew to island full of secrets. Naturally the dead come into play and the film by the end embodies its title. Bob Clark was a master of different film styles and with “Children” he gives us an early look into his horror style before making the classic Black Christmas.

This film differs from that one: “Children” contains bleak humor and is at times funny in a wonderfully awful way. There is a weird sense of atmosphere that I really liked and the ending is well…something. Oh and it happens to be rather creepy and quite eerie, although the island location really helps. I miss these kind of horror movies-B films that had a kind of class and energy to them. Too many horror movies lack that nowadays.

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