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 Presents: Perfect Blue (1997, Satoshi Kon)


Deciding to go from being a successful pop singer to an up and coming actress, Mima thinks that she has made the right decision, although an insane stalker doesn’t seem to think so. In fact this person is not only watching and following her, but has also created an online diary where they pretend to be Mima. Still Mima goes ahead with her plans, even though this results in the stalker escalating and even killing people, all in a plan to drive Mima insane. There is a moment where the audience is almost tricked into thinking that Mima has gone crazy, and it’s executed beautifully in a horrific and violent way. This film’s animation is fluid and stunning, another prime example of how the Japanese have quite possibly surpassed the Americans, although both have their own unique styles and contribute greatly to animation and cinema.

Another thing I love about this film is how it proceeds two other great films about talented people going crazy in Black Swan and Mullholland Drive, although Mullholland is more complex and better than either Swan or Perfect. Regardless this film builds up Mima’s descent into madness very slowly, coming to a fever pitch and at times leaving the viewer unsure of her state of mind. The last act is a walking nightmare, and what occurs is both creepy and stunning.

Plus this whole business starts when Mima chooses to be a part of a moment on the TV show she’s on that leaves her disturbed and haunted, as the film showcases in close ups that reveal that her mind is damaged by the experience, even though what she went through was pretend, not real. However it also causes her stalker to drive to new heights of rage, and in a way some of this film also reminded me of Opera, too, another film where an actress is in grave danger from a homicidal admirer. Not to mention the nods to Hitchcock, as he previously featured films where the protagonist-be they male or female-thought they were going crazy.

The last act is particularly captivating, as reality and fantasy blend together in a way that is rather unhealthy. I rather liked how the film ended, and this is one of the best horror films of the 90s. The score for this also is rather great, going from the fake pop music ballads of the group Mima leaves to creepier, more horror movie style scores that underline the film’s darker moments. Perfect Blue by the final shot is a memorable and excellent experience, a kaleidoscope of colors and moments in time. In a way it also is a social commentary on how people worship celebrities, obsessing over them in unhealthy ways and not realizing that they are not myths, but actual people, flesh and blood just like anyone else.

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/

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑