Horrorfest 2019 Presents: All The Colors of the Dark (1972, Sergio Martino)


Edwige Fenech has that wide eyed, haunted look down pat, and she channels her character’s nightmarish journey in Sergio Martino’s cult film All The Colors of the Dark. One thing I liked about this movie is how you are not sure if anything is real, if Fenech’s Jane is going mad or if she is falling prey to evil. Martino clearly has an eye for visuals and he also is able to craft a film that has a high level of strange, the eerie just dwelling beneath the surface of what appears to be reality. There is a reason I enjoy giallos so much: they feature stylized violence but also make the viewer pay attention by offering up scenes that are engaging even if they do not add to the film’s overall plot. Well that and they have scenes that sometimes do not make any sense.

Despite being a tad dull at times I really enjoyed this movie, and I think another viewing is in order to discuss it’s twists and turns. Midway through the movie goes down a strange and rewarding path, and the ending was nicely done if a bit expected. I got some Rosemary’s Baby vibes, however I was also reminded of the belief that if it happens in a dream, it can happen in real life. While I don’t believe that, I often wonder if perhaps I am mistaken. Is it a nightmare if you are wide awake and it is happening before your very eyes? Are we doomed to create new mistakes that echo those of the past? And why in horror movies is it often always fall weather? Watch this movie and find out. Maybe.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Holidays (2016, Kevin Smith, Gary Shore, Matt Johnson, Scott Stewart, Nicholas, McCarthy, Dennis Widmyer, Kevin Kolsch, Sarah Adina Smith, Anthony Scott Burns)


From past experience I have enjoyed anthologies. Holidays is another fine modern entry into that sub genre of horror filmmaking, and this one has a batch of talented folks creating short films that range from excellent to slightly disappointing. Usually that’s how anthologies go, anyways. This one isn’t among the best ever but it’s still pretty good, maybe even almost great in some regards.

The first two segments are among the best in the film, which centers around, well, holidays. Valentine’s Day is equal parts Carrie inspired and dark comedy mixed with shocking bleak moments and a hilariously awesome ending. St. Patrick’s Day, which follows, is at first eerie and features a sinister ginger girl. Yet in this oddly wonderful segment, things are not what they seem.

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The next two are less great yet stil work to certain degrees. Easter is creepy and makes you think twice about the Easter Bunny in a horrifying way. Mother’s Day is too much of a rip off of Rosemary’s Baby, yet I did like the payoff. However despite an ending that leaves one with more questions than answers the eerie and sinister Father’s Day is a nice unnerving recovery.

Despite being made by Kevin Smith his segment Halloween is a bit too crude and unsatisfying to be good. I liked some of the humor but I prefer his feature length film style, as he doesn’t seem to work well in short form. The film finishes strong with Christmas, which is a bleak comedic take on the holiday and stars Seth Green as a man who finds out what they mean by “Christmas is hell.” The last segment, New Year’s Eve is twisted beyond measure. I love it.

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The film has an entirely feminist driven perspective that I found unique considering the horror genre is usually described as being aimed towards males. Ashley Greene is the other main star in this film, as most of the cast is relatively unknown to me. I would love to see more films like this that have a twist on famous days or certain aspects of American and world culture.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: Starry Eyes (2014, Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer)


After some thought, I realize something: if one digs further within themselves, a proper understanding of Sarah emerges. You feel her desperation and frustration, the willingness to do whatever it takes to become a star in Hollywood. Her friends don’t get this and they really don’t care, existing as parasites draining her life force. Masterfully played by Alex Essoe, suffering from a mental disorder and unsure of reality, Sarah is easy prey for the aptly named  Astraeus Pictures. This is not the first or last time someone has a dark commentary on Hollywood and stardom, yet despite Starry Eyes‘ flaws Essoe is captivating. Events unravel in disturbing fashion, and her roommate and friends only comprehend too late who they were dealing with. Oh and body horror comes into play because hey becoming a different person requires sacrifice, loss of innocence, and oh yeah some body parts.

Also the difference between hiding your dark side and embracing it becomes clear in brutal terms. This is a creepy movie, utilizing such classics as Rosemary’s Baby and All About Eve, resulting in a nightmarish film that I’m still pondering. I wonder if a second viewing wouldn’t make me appreciate this film more, or if I would notice more flaws. I do hope that Essoe gets more parts thanks to this movie, and that Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer have more to offer the horror genre. If Sarah could do it all over again would she make the same choices? Is rebirth truly worth the price of one’s soul? How many successful people have paid a price that only they know about to achieve the American dream of stardom? There might not be any answers to these questions.

Horrorfest 2014 Presents: The Ninth Gate (1999, Roman Polanski)


Although more of a thriller than a horror movie, The Ninth Gate is rooted in both the supernatural and reality, something that Polanski did with Rosemary’s Baby, The Tenant and Repulsion. Johnny Depp portrayals a book dealer and collector who is hired by a rich collector named Boris, played by Frank Langella to prove his copy of a book written by the Devil is not a fake. Even though the reasons are never revealed, Depp’s Corso presses on with the search, brushing past increasing dangers and witnessing horrible things in the process.

This, like all of Polanski’s films is rather well made and is engaging throughout. However it almost falls apart in the second act and the ending is a tad unsatisfying, and the film could have been shortened by at least 20 minutes. The mystery woman (the rather gorgeous Emmanuelle Seigner)  that aids Corso is a little too convenient and the film itself dives into silliness in certain parts. Yet I was still mostly entertained and the film has the hallmarks of many of Polanski’s best works. A much better modern Polanski thriller is The Ghost Writer, a film that has a better cast and is more tightly paced.

 

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