Horrorfest 2019 Presents: The Wax Mask (1997, Sergio Stivaletti)


The Wax Mask is a gory, violent update of two older movies: The Mystery of the Wax Museum and House of Wax. I have seen and liked the Vincent Price one, and I prefer it over The Wax Mask, largely because Vincent Price is better than anyone in Sergio Stivaletti’s movie. Which is too bad considering that Dario Argento was involved in producing the movie, and Lucio Fulci was supposed to direct. I wonder if that would have resulted in a better movie had Fulci not died. Oh well.

At least the special effects in this movie are neat, and the cast isn’t half bad. None of the actors stood out however. I did think some parts were really creepy, however the movie fails to sustain them. Plus the trailer gives away too much of the film, which seems to be the problem with most trailers. I think my rating for this movie is too high-it was a 7/10, but it should have been a 6 or something.

Horrorfest 2019: Never Sleep Again


Music Movies Horror Gif Shared By Gamand On Gifer
They are not paying me for promotional purposes. Yet….

Well it is time for another Horrorfest, especially since last year’s worked great and resulted in me reviving my love for horror movies. Every time I think I’ll stop doing these something causes me to continue, and in this case the magic of streaming services makes it possible I will be doing this until I finally die…or return as the undead. I thought about doing a list but that never works, so all films listed here are ones I have actually viewed, with reviews to bore-I mean, follow. Enjoy! PS: This was my 500th blog post. Very fitting, indeed.

This concludes Horrorfest 2019. I will unsticky this post when it is time for Horrorfest 2020. Thanks for reading.
Pre-October:

1. The Babysitter (2017, Demonic Cult)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/08/03/horrorfest-2019-presents-the-babysitter-2017-mcg/
2. Ready Or Not (2019, Crazy Rich People)-https://wp.me/pRBID-2mq
3. It: Chapter 2 (2019, Pennywise)-Work in progress I guess
4. Summer of 84 (2018, Slasher)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/10/20/horrorfest-2019-presents-summer-of-84-2018-francois-simard-anouk-whissell-and-yoann-karl-whissell/
5. The Ranger (2018, Slasher)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/10/20/horrorfest-2019-presents-the-ranger-2018-jennifer-wexler/
October:

6. Viy (1967, Demons)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/10/22/horrorfest-2019-presents-viy-1967-konstantin-yershov-georgi-kropachyov/
7. Under the Shadow (2016, Evil Spirits)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/10/24/horrorfest-2019-presents-under-the-shadow-2016-babak-anvari/
8. Twins of Evil (1972, Vampires)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/11/25/horrorfest-2019-its-hammer-time-presents-twins-of-evil-1972-john-hough/
9. Vampire Circus (1972, DUH)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/11/27/horrorfest-2019-its-hammer-time-presents-vampire-circus-1972-robert-young/
10. Final Exam (1981, Slasher)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/12/05/horrorfest-2019-presents-final-exam-1981-jimmy-huston/
11. The Love Witch (2016, SEX MAGIK)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/12/06/the-love-witch-2016-anna-biller/
12. City of the Dead (1959, New England Witches)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/12/06/city-of-the-dead-1960-john-llewellyn-moxey/
13. The Corpse Grinders (1971, KILLER CATS)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/12/16/horrorfest-2019-presents-the-corpse-grinders-1971-ted-v-mikels/
14. Cannibal Girls (1973, MEAT)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/12/16/horrorfest-2019-presents-cannibal-girls-1973-ivan-reitman/
15. Hell Night (1981, Slasher)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/12/17/horrorfest-2019-presents-hell-night-1981-tom-desimone/

16. The Hills Have Eyes Part II (1985, Slasher)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/12/24/horrorfest-2019-presents-the-hills-have-eyes-2-1985-wes-craven/
17. Hands of the Ripper (1971, Jack’s Kid)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/12/24/horrorfest-2019-its-hammer-time-presents-the-hands-of-the-ripper-1971-peter-sasdy/
18. The Mutilator (1985, Slasher)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2019/12/27/horrorfest-2019-presents-the-mutilator-1985-buddy-cooper/
19. Thirst (1979, Vampire Cult)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/01/14/2019-horrorfest-presents-thirst-1979-rod-hardy/
20. Stagefright (1987, Slasher)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/01/14/horrorfest-2019-presents-stage-fright-1987-michele-soavi/
21. The Wax Mask (1997, Giallo)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/01/21/horrorfest-2019-presents-the-wax-mask-1997-sergio-stivaletti/
22. De Lift (1983, Killer Elevator)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/01/23/horrorfest-2019-presents-de-lift-1983-dick-maas/
23. I Drink Your Blood (1971, Rabies)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/02/21/horrrorfest-2019-presents-i-drink-your-blood-1970-david-e-durston/
24. All The Colors of the Dark (1972, Madness)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/03/12/horrorfest-2019-presents-all-the-colors-of-the-dark-1972-sergio-martino/
25. One Cut of the Dead (2017, Zombies)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/05/01/horrorfest-2019-presents-one-cut-of-the-dead-2017-shinichirou-ueda/

26. Demons 2 (1986, UGLY BUGGERS)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/05/01/horrorfest-2019-presents-demons-2-1986-lamberto-bava/
27. Der Nachtmahr (2015, Creature Feature)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/05/01/der-nachtmahr-2015-achim-bornhak/
28. You Might Be The Killer (2018, Meta)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/05/01/horrorfest-2019-presents-you-might-be-the-killer-2018-brett-simmons/
29. Day of the Animals (1977, NATURE IS PISSED)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/05/01/horrorfest-2019-presents-day-of-the-animals-1977-william-girdler/
30. The Awakening (2011, British Ghosts)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/05/04/horrorfest-2019-presents-the-awakening-2011-nick-murphy/
31. Bloody Pit of Horror (1965, Torture and lots of it)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/05/04/horrorfest-2019-presents-bloody-pit-of-horror-1965-massimo-pupillo/
32. Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl (2016, Lesbians)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/05/07/horrorfest-2019-presents-sweet-sweet-lonely-girl-2016-a-d-calvo/
33. Mayhem (2017, VIOLENCE)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/05/07/horrorfest-2019-presents-mayhem-2017-joe-lynch/
34. Zombieland: Double Tap (2019, GO BIG OR GO HOME)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/05/11/horrorfest-2019-presents-zombieland-double-tap-2019-ruben-fleischer/
35. Jack Frost (1997, Killer Snowman)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/05/14/horrorfest-2019-presents-jack-frost-1997-michael-cooney/
36. Dark Water (2002, CREEEEEPY)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/05/14/horrorfest-2019-presents-dark-water-2002-hideo-nakata/
Halloween:

37. Happy Birthday to Me (1981, Slasher)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/06/03/horrorfest-2019-presents-happy-birthday-to-me/

Coda:

38. The Lighthouse (2019, WUT)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2020/06/08/horrorfest-2019-presents-the-lighthouse-2019-robert-eggers/

Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Phenomena (1985, Dario Argento)


Jennifer Connelly had a busy year with both Labyrinth and Phenomena, both strange films although only one is a Dario Argento horror film. This is one of the stranger Argento movies, even by his standards, because in this film Connelly’s Jennifer has the ability to communicate with insects. This ability is established early on when a bee lands on her finger and does not sting her, as if it has become her friend. Of course this film also opens with a typically horrific and startling Argento style murder, and in a way this film reminded me of Suspiria since both movies take place at boarding schools for young women. Naturally both involve the supernatural, too, something that Argento also touched upon in Inferno and some of his later movies, too.

Not only do you have horror icon Donald Pleasence playing a professor stuck in a wheelchair but you also have Argento veteran Daria Nicolodi as Jennifer’s chaperon. Plus there is even a ridiculously smart chimp named Inga, who assists Pleasence and proves to be important later on in the film. You have numerous nasty murders, Jennifer summoning up insects after the students foolishly mock her, and a cool traveling sequence where Jennifer puts her bug powers to investigative use. All set to a wicked soundtrack featuring Goblin and songs by Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Bill Wyman and Andi Sexgang. Even though some of the movie doesn’t quite work (a few of the scenes come off as silly, not magical or creepy) this is still a wonderfully eerie and well made film. Oh and I’m naturally biased in favor of movies with a monkey as one of the main characters for some reason. Perhaps they amuse me.

Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Opera (1987, Dario Argento)


In the grand tradition of murder and mayhem Opera stands out, even if it isn’t Argento’s best film-although I’ll take it over his animal trilogy, Inferno, and Phenomena. The main heroine, Betty (Cristina Marsillach) remains tormented during the entire movie by the famous Argento cliche: the mysterious psycho killer rampaging, horribly murdering people in unique and creative ways. Only in this case poor Betty suffers a fate worse than death: the killer takes needles and tapes them under her eyelids so that she is forced to watch the murders the killer commits. This adds to the main Argento motif of the potential victim being tortured one way or another, hunted and unable to escape.

The soundtrack is also interesting, as since the movie centers on an opera there is mostly opera music, save for jarring heavy metal songs, which are used to great effect, particularly in moments when Betty is trying to save herself from the killer. Despite this being a well crafted, freaky and haunting movie it has some limitations that prevent it from being more than just near great/very good. First, I was able to guess the killer and I have not been able to do that in any of the Argento movies I’ve viewed so far. That sucks the fun out of the movie a little, although maybe its my own fault for being a lucky guesser. Second, the movie loses something in the last act and a bit of the tension falls away. Sometimes Argento’s movies don’t sustain momentum, and in a few cases the last act isn’t as strong as the first act or the middle act.

However the majority of this film is a walking nightmare, a dark journey into madness, one that relies on eerie dreams of the past and centers on a crazed murderer’s obsession with Betty, who was able to seize an opportunity at stardom. In a way this is another film where Argento deals with his career, although the meta aspects are not half as strong as they were in his best film, Tenebre. The kills in this one are also horrifying and nasty, which is another of his trademarks and which is the hallmark of his 70s and 80s films based on what I’ve seen so far, which is almost all of his work before the 1990s. Regardless no one can craft a beautiful and awful death scene like Dario Argento.

Horrorfest 2014: Still Not Quite Dead


Since 2008 I have watched horror movies from August to early November ever year. Its a grand tradition, one that I will probably keep on doing until I’m finally tired of horror movies…..or more likely run out of the free time necessary to binge every year. There is no set schedule this time, and the theme is horror franchises. Buckle up folks: its going to be another fun ride.

The Dry Run:

1. Zombie (1979, Lucio Fulci)-Zombies=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/08/07/horrorfest-2014-presents-zombie-1979-lucio-fulci/
2. Phantasm II (1988, Don Coscarell)-Supernatural=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/08/08/horrorfest-2014-presents-phantasm-ii-1988-don/
3. A Field In England (2013, Ben Wheatley)-Crazy People=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/horrorfest-2014-presents-a-field-in-england-2013-ben-wheatley/

Netflix Instant Viewing Films:

1. Phantoms (1998, Joe Chappelle)-Creature Feature=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/horrorfest-2014-presents-phantoms/
2. The Ninth Gate (1999, Roman Polanski)-Satanic=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/09/08/horrorfest-2014-presents-the-ninth-gate-1999-roman-polanski/
3. Red State (2011, Kevin Smith)-Rednecks=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/10/17/horrorfest-2014-presents-red-state-2011-kevin-smith/
4. Sharknado (2013, Anthony C. Ferrante)-Creature Feature
5. V/H/S/2 (2013, Simon Barrett, Jason Eisener, Gareth Evans, Gregg Hale, Eduardo Sanchez, Timo Tjahjanto, Adam Wingard)-Anthology=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/10/29/horrorfest-2014-presents-vhs2-2013-simon-barrett-jason-eisener-gareth-evans-gregg-hale-eduardo-sanchez-timo-tjahjanto-adam-wingard/
6. Ravenous (1999, Antonia Bird)-Crazy People=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/10/31/horrorfest-2014-presents-ravenous-1999-antonia-bird/
7. Below (2002, David Twohy)-Ghosts-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/12/09/horrorfest-2014-presents-below-2002-david-twohy-2/
8. Wishmaster (1997, Robert Kurtzman)-Supernatural-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/12/09/horrorfest-2014-presents-wishmaster-1997-robert-kurtzman/
9. Grabbers (2012, Jon Wright)-Aliens-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/horrorfest-2014-presents-grabbers-2012-jon-wright/
10. Candyman (1992, Bernard Rose)-Slasher-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/horrorfest-2014-presents-candyman-1992-bernard-rose/
11. Orca: The Killer Whale (1977, Michael Anderson)-Creature Feature-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/horrorfest-2014-presents-orca-the-killer-whale-1977-michael-anderson/
12. Nightmare City (1980, Umberto Lenzi)-Zombies-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/01/30/horrorfest-2014-presents-nightmare-city-1980-umberto-lenzi/
13. Humanoids From The Deep (1980, Barbara Peeters)-Creature Feature-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/01/30/horrorfest-2014-presents-humanoids-from-the-deep-1980-barbara-peeters/
14. Black Sabbath (1964, Mario Bava)-Anthology-Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Black Sabbath (1964, Mario Bava)
15. Visiting Hours (1982, Jean-Calude Lord)-Slasher-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2022/01/14/horrorfest-2014-presents-visiting-hours-1982-jean-calude-lord/
16. Dust Devil (1992, Richard Stanley)-Slasher-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/08/26/horrorfest-2014-presents-dust-devil-1992-richard-stanley/
17. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920, John S. Robertson)-Creature Feature
18. Event Horizon (1997, Paul W.S. Anderson)-Instant Viewing-WTF
19. You’re Next (2011, Adam Wingard)-Slasher/Crazy People
20. Big Ass Spider (2013, Mike Mendez)-Creature Feature-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/06/12/2014-horrorfest-presents-big-ass-spider-2013-mike-mendez/

The Franchises:

Listed are only ones that I have not seen yet. I might think of more later. I’ve viewed most of the Halloween series and all of the Friday the 13th films so they will not be featured.

1. A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989, Stephen Hopkins)=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/09/18/horrorfest-2014-presents-a-nightmare-on-elm-street-5-the-dream-child-1989-stephen-hopkins/
2. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991, Rachel Talalay)=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/09/30/2014-horrorfest-presents-freddys-dead-the-final-nightmare-1991/
3. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994, Wes Craven)=
https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/horrorfest-2014-presents-wes-cravens-new-nightmare-1994-wes-craven/
4. Child’s Play (1988, Tom Holland)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/06/24/horrorfest-2014-presents-childs-play-1988-holland/
5. Child’s Play 2 (1990, John Lafia)-Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Child’s Play 2 (1990, John Lafia)
6. Child’s Play 3 (1991, Jack Bender)
7. Bride of Chucky (1998, Ronny Yu)
8. Seed of Chucky (2004, Don Mancini)
9. Curse of Chucky (2013, Don Mancini)
10. Halloween: Resurrection (2002, Rick Rosenthal)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2022/01/14/horrorfest-2014-presents-halloween-resurrection-2002-rick-rosenthal/

Other Films:

1. Body Bags (1993, John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, Larry Sulkis), Public Library-Anthology=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/10/18/horrorfest-2014-presents-body-bags-1993-john-carpenter-tobe-hooper-larry-sulkis/
2. Perfect Blue (1998, Satoshi Kon), Public Library-Crazy People=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/horrorfest-2014-presents-perfect-blue-1997-satoshi-kon/
3. Opera (1987, Dario Argento), Slasher-YouTube=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/10/24/horrorfest-2014-presents-opera-1987-dario-argento/
4. Phenomena (1985, Dario Argento), YouTube-Slasher=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/phenomena-1985-dario-argento/
5. Night of the Demons (1988, Kevin Tenney), Public Library-Demonic=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/11/03/horrorfest-2014-presents-night-of-the-demons-1988-kevin-tenney/
6. The Innocents (1961, Jack Clayton), Netflix-Ghosts=
https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/horrorfest-2014-presents-the-innocents-1961-jack-clayton/
7. The Wicker Man (1973, Robin Hardy), Netflix-Satanic-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2022/01/22/horrorfest-2014-presents-the-wicker-man-1973-robin-hardy/
8. The Premature Burial (1962, Roger Corman), Netflix-Revenge
9. The Masque Of The Red Death (1964, Roger Corman), Netflix-Satanic-Horrorfest 2020 Presents: The Masque of the Red Death (1964, Roger Corman)
10. Tales From The Crypt (1972, Freddie Francis), Public Library-Anthology=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/10/14/horrorfest-2014-presents-amicus-double-bill-tales-from-the-crypt-1972-freddie-francis-and-the-vault-of-horror-1973-roy-ward-baker/
11. The Vault Of Horror (1973, Roy Ward Baker), Public Library-Anthology=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/10/14/horrorfest-2014-presents-amicus-double-bill-tales-from-the-crypt-1972-freddie-francis-and-the-vault-of-horror-1973-roy-ward-baker/
12. Prom Night (1980, Paul Lynch), Netflix-Slasher-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/horrorfest-2014-presents-prom-night-1980-paul-lynch/

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: City of the Living Dead (1980, Lucio Fulci)


Hungry for the flesh of the living, they emerge from the earth to prey upon the living and devour them whole. Ravenous and unrelenting, they are the undead: zombies, creatures of the night, unholy terrors that lurk beneath the pretty facade of normal everyday life. Lucio Fulci doesn’t just shoot his 1980 film City of the Living Dead in the darkness because its a low budget movie. No its because he is choosing to lay bare the terrors that await us when the sun goes down and the light fades away.

Light is peace and a refuge from what nasty beasts lie in wait for man and woman as they stumble around in the empty black of nighttime. There is no telling what may lay around the corner, and usually its something that is very hungry and has plenty of teeth. Although I guess these zombies are decaying and lack teeth so they make due by tearing your flesh apart. Quite chilling, really. That’s not even without touching upon the horrific and famous death by drill scene that occurs in the movie as well, and is rather bloody.

Despite the low budget limitations that plagued his entire career Fulci always managed to create films that were pure experiences in terror and City of the Living Dead does not fail in that area. I liked the scene where a child discovers a zombie dwelling in their closet and makes the mistake of opening the door. Its a truly creepy moment in a movie that depends heavily on atmosphere, and in that regard Fulci was in touch with his fellow horror filmmakers Mario Bava and Dario Argento.

All three were gifted at ignoring plot conventions and simply making horror films that struck at the nerve of the viewer, although Bava and Argento were more talented than Fulci. Still I rather enjoyed City of the Living Dead. Its kind of dumb, and yet it has a nasty charm that can be admired. Besides that opener is perfect: a nice day in a cemetery shattered by the suicide of a priest that happens to release the Gates of Hell. That’s truly something.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: Cemetery Man (1994, Michele Soavi)


The dead won’t stay dead, that pretty girl you met loves someone else and the mayor won’t listen to you. At least you have a mentally challenged fat man and your best friend for company. Otherwise you would take that pistol you use to silence the dead and off yourself. Life feels empty and pointless. Being in charge of a cemetery doesn’t really help matters either.

Dellamorte, the film’s protagonist decides to shoot other people instead. He goes on a violent rampage that accomplishes nothing. He falls in love with a girl twice only to lose her multiple times (the same woman each being played by the gorgeous Anna Falchi). Each of the ways he loses her are cruel, existing as if they are nasty cosmic jokes being played upon poor Dellamorte. A nice old lady calls him the Engineer, a title he rejects even if it is true. This film alternates between comedy and drama, all contained within a bleak horror movie featuring plenty of ghoulish moments.

Chief among them is a bus crash resulting in dead old people and children. In a scene that is both horrific and really funny Dellamorte sits in his chair drinking wine, talking on the phone and blasting each and every one of the bus crash victims. Death comes to us all without warning and yet in this universe it is far from being the ending. Oh and it occurs to all, even those who are important and also feel important.

I love the interactions between the dour Dellamorte (Rupert Everett in an inspired and career making performance) and Gnaghi (François Hadji-Lazaro, who is really quite funny and likable). The two have a natural rapport that makes the film work, and what happens to them forms most of the film’s darkest and most humorous moments. This film is what you get when a man-in this case Michele Soavi-spent plenty of time working with two excellent directors in Dario Argento and Terry Gilliam. I feel that this film is kind of a mix of those two’s styles, although I sense more Gilliam and less Argento.

Events continue in a circular motion and only too late does Dellamorte realize he cannot escape his fate. Or is it destiny? I’m not sure. But the ending blew my mind and I think this is a truly marvelous film. Man believes he is master of his world until someone or something proves him wrong otherwise.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: The Lords of Salem (2012, Rob Zombie)


After witnessing a bunch of old witches having a huge devil worshiping orgy in the middle of the woods many things will seem tame after wards. In this case though the film The Lords of Salem decides to up the level of insanity after a slow buildup that establishes the main characters. Rob Zombie effectively channels Dario Argento, Mario Bava, Roman Polanski, and even Stanley Kubrick while managing to make a slightly better and frightening woman targeted by satanists movie than Ti West did with The House of the Devil. I’m impressed, to say the least, although I’ve only viewed his two Halloween films. I much prefer his latest over each of them, and I do plan to go backwards and view his first two movies. Say what you will about his music but Zombie has a knack for camera placement, haunting visuals, and fairly good plots. The problem with the two movies I mentioned have been more of the acting and dialogue variety, coupled with H2 ending up being way too concerned with overly extreme and pointless violence instead of its far more interesting psychological center.

Lords of Salem however lacks most of the issues that plagued his previous works, and has some rather starkly wonderful and creepy moments. Such as the eerie hallway moments, or the inside of Heidi, the main protagonist’s, apartment-there is only dim light in there, and it has the feel and look of a tomb. With a great big amazing poster from the classic A Trip To The Moon inside, also. I read that the moon is involved with fertility, and that makes sense because poor Hedi’s seemingly nice landlord may not be who she actually is. Spooky. Of course we are also left with the possibility that all of Heidi’s troubles are the result of her struggling to stay clean from drugs, which only adds to the dark proceedings. Oh they are dark indeed, bleak and terrifying nightmares that plague Heidi and cause her to question reality. Its bad enough when you are facing normal problems, yet suffering from possible hallucinations is even worse.

The rest of the film continues to unfold in a suffocating atmospheric manner, growing more and more odd and entering further into the world of the bizarre. Mysteries are answered only resulting in new questions, and by the film’s last act the final connections to reality are completely severed. Rob Zombie has given us a freaky new horror film, an experience in terror that is bold, well crafted, and different. By the time the end credits rolled I was almost glad that the film had ended only so that I could witness something happy to cleanse my thoughts. However the images still lingered on long after the screen had faded to black.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: Tenebrae (1982, Dario Argento)


Opening in front of a crackling fire with a narrative voice over describing an unknown person sitting and reading a novel, Tenebrae  begins in typical Dario Argento mysterious fashion. Clearly we are being shown the murder of his film, and yet the black gloves and shadow cast by the deranged psychopath are the only clues given to us, the viewer. A famous novelist named Peter Neal is the creator of the book read by the killer, and upon arriving in Rome to promote his latest book and also pen another one he is beset by threats from the murder. Early on we get a horrific and shocking kill, where a young woman is slaughtered brutally in her apartment while having pages from Tenebrae shoved into her mouth. Even by Argento standards I found the murder to be rather graphic, and illustrated the film’s bleak tone early on. Sure all of Argento’s films are that way, yet I found Tenebrae to be almost beyond the pale, and even more nasty than his other films that I’ve viewed so far (most of his 70s works and two 80s films-this one and Inferno). That’s something that makes it arguably the best out of the ones I’ve seen, and yes I’m placing this movie above his other classics Deep Red and Suspiria.

Plus the fact that in some ways this is Argento discussing his own work, or at least critiques of it, as filtered through Neal’s works. Just like Argento Neal is responsible for works that feature graphic murder, sex and violence, and in one scene Neal is even attacked by a female journalist for what she argues is his “Hatred of women.” There is also the classic scene of the seemingly tortured killer, portrayed in strange vivid flashbacks that are haunting to watch. Yet at the same time Argento puts on display his technical prowless as well in a fantastic tracking crane shot that covers an apartment building housing two women lovers who end up being attacked later on. With the theme music, as scored by the remaining members of Goblin, no less. It’s an amazing moment that feels as if you are looking over a beautiful woman, peeking into her secrets-or in this case, the windows of two females. Watching them in a voyeuristic manner, which is what the killer is doing anyways.

What especially stood out to me besides the gruesome kills was that unlike some of Argento’s other films there is little humor involved, no silly moments. This was meant to be an unflinching and completely stark portrayal of a person’s murderous rampage, reportedly inspired by the works of Peter Neal. The fact that Argento made this film after receiving threats from an unhinged fan only gives the film an added dose of realism and additional terror. Sporting one of Goblin’s best soundtracks and existing as a pure form of death onscreen, Tenebrae just could be Argento’s masterwork. Love that ending, too-absolutely bone chilling.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: Four Flies On Grey Velvet (1971, Dario Argento)


That mask was insanely creepy. Really it was another one of Dario Argento’s stylistic flourishes, a nice touch early on in his  famous Four Flies On Grey Velvet (1971). One of his earliest works and another fine example of his contributions to horror cinema. I also liked how Argento works in a Hitchcock style plot about a man tormented by a psychopath who knows about his accidental killing of a man that had been following him.

Ah Roberto you are in over your head, unable to go to the police, a prisoner in your own home. The list of suspects is long and the body count piles up fast. Best put on the old thinking cap if you want to survive, and Roberto is lucky that he has friends capable of aiding him. Plus a private detective that is not as incompetent as he seems.

There are some typically freaky deaths in this film and Argento deploys his wonderful and usual brutal tricks. I’ve always liked how Argento would use what scares people in real life-actual fears-and not things that scare people that only happen in the movies. That is highly effective and there were several moments in the film where I was freaked out.

Despite having a so-so last act redeemed by a great, fatalistic ending, Four Flies On Gray Velvet is another really good entry in Argento’s library. I look forward to continuing his filmography, even though his 90s and 2000s works have received mixed and bad reviews. He is still a master of horror regardless of a decline in his work, and I imagine I might even like some of his later movies more than others do.

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