Monday, October 31, 2011

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 31: Phil watches HALLOWEEN (1978)-October 31, 2011

Good evening everybody and Happy Halloween!! Well folks, this is it! The end of the road. The last day of my horror movie marathon. Hard to believe it's all over after tonight. So to celebrate this evening's All Hallow's Eve, I decided to watch the film that transformed Halloween, and the horror genre, forever. Thanks to director John Carpenter, his low budget film HALLOWEEN became one of the scariest movies ever made, and helped make its villain Michael Myers into a horror movie icon.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1978)
To be honest, this one of my all-time favorite horror films ever. The movie helped establish the "rules" for the slasher genre that would come charging in with the release of FRIDAY THE 13th just two years later. The film launched Jamie Lee Curtis' film career, and Carpenter became a legendary director within the horror genre.

The film has been discussed, written, dissected, reassembled, and worshiped since its release on October 25, 1978. There is nothing I can say about the film that hasn't already been said. The film can be classified as a "perfect" film. With Carpenter's beautiful directing, Curtis' down to earth performance, and thanks to Carpenter's simplistic soundtrack, there isn't one flaw to be found within the movie. If by chance you have never seen the film, you really need to see it! In fact, it is against the law to live your life without seeing this movie!

With this film, my horror movie marathon comes to an end. I've had so much fun this month, watching all these great films in the theaters and on DVD and Blu-Ray! There were still so many films that I didn't have time to watch, but there is always next Halloween. However, I encourage all of you out there to keep the spirit of Halloween alive all year round! There are many horror films coming to the big screen, so be sure to read my blog so you too can check them out at your local theater. I hope that all the films that I watched this month will inspire you to view them too. Next month I shall be returning to the Camera Cinemas for my weekly movie fix, as well as travel back to Niles and the Castro Theatre too. Thank you all for joining me for Phil's Horror Watch!! Good night and have a Happy Halloween!!

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 30: Phil watches MANIAC COP (1988)-October 30, 2011

Hello everybody!! Welcome to Day 30 of Phil's Horror Watch!! We are getting down to the wire, so let's jump right in to tonight's film. Another great horror cult classic from the 1980's, MANIAC COP is a no-hold barred, slice and dice, action packed, slasher film that will grab you from the first frames and it doesn't let go til the final credit rolls!

Theatrical Movie Poster (1988)
When series of brutal deaths involving innocent people plague the streets of New York, the prime suspect is rogue cop gone berserk. While City Hall covers up the murders, Detective Frank McCrae (Tom Atkins) heads up the investigation. Soon a young police officer named Jack Forrest (Bruce Campbell) is mistakenly arrested for the crimes. After escaping from his holding cell, McCae, Forrest, and his girlfriend, officer Theresa Mallory (Laurene Landon), to stop the maniac cop (Robert Z'Dar) from killing them all.

The film was directed by legendary B-Movie William Lustig, who also directed such cult classics as MANIAC, VIGILANTE, and the two MANIAC COP sequels. The screenwriter, who was another B-Movie legend, was none other than Larry Cohen, the director responsible for such legendary exploitation films such as BONE, BLACK CAESAR, GOD TOLD ME TO, Q: THE WINGED SERPENT, ORIGINAL GANGSTERS, and the IT'S ALIVE trilogy. Actor Tom Atkins has played in several cult/horror/action films, such as THE FOG, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH, LETHAL WEAPON, and NIGHT OF THE CREEPS. With Bruce Campbell from the EVIL DEAD trilogy and Robert Z'Dar from SOULTAKER (which became more well known after appearing in an episode of MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000), RETURN TO FROGTOWN, TANGO & CASH, and the two MANIAC COP sequels, the film seemed destined to be a smash hit, but it was panned by the critics. However, it soon became a cult classic on home video. The film was originally released to theaters on May 13, 1988.

MANIAC COP is a slick, entertaining, action packed, exploitation, horror flick with an awesome cast and some excellent gory kills! The film is perfect for your next midnight movie party at your place. But be careful when going out to get it, because there may be a maniac cop out there, and he's waiting for you!

MANIAC COP is currently on DVD and was just recently released on a special Blu-Ray from Synapse Films. To purchase a copy, visit your local retailer or visit Synapse Films' website at http://synapse-films.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 29: Phil sees THE MAN WHO LAUGHS (1928) at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum-October 29, 2011

Welcome to Day 29 of my horror movie marathon! Tonight's film adventure took me back to the Edison Theatre, home of the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, for its annual Halloween show! This year the museum screened a silent horror classic, as well as three cool and funny shorts. So grab some popcorn and some ice cold beverage, and enjoy the wonderful world of silent films!

The first short film of the night was FORTUNE TELLER (1923), a funny animated Koko the Clown short. Koko and his creator Max Fleischer have a gypsy fortune teller come by to tell them that they are hunted my ghosts. When the gypsy hands Koko a deck of cards, wouldn't you know, a ghost pops out! Spooky!!

The second sort was another Koko the Clown short. THE OUIJA BOARD (1920) has Max Fleischer tormenting poor Koko when he drew a haunted house. In the meantime, Max and his employees fool around with a Ouija board. When Koko leaps of the drawing board and onto the Ouija board and makes it move, Max and the boys get freaked out, thinking it's a ghost! Double spooky!!

The third short was HER BRIDAL NIGHT-MARE (1920) starring the beautiful and funny Coleen Moore. In this hilarious love triangle, Collen is about to marry her fiancee, but thanks to her jealous former suitor, he gets him arrested. Then the ex-suitor hires a vagrant to steal her wedding presents. Soon it's a cornucopia of hysterical mistaken identity, goofy running around, hilariously failed suicide attempts, and Coleen Moore being funny! And in case you were wondering, the happy couple gets married and the jealous ex-suitor gets hauled away to jail. And they all lived happily ever after!

Theatrical Movie Poster (1928)
After a brief intermission, the show continued with the main attraction. Based on the novel by Victor Hugo, THE MAN WHO LAUGHS stars Conrad Veidt as Gwynplaine, who as a young boy was horribly disfigured by roving gypsies by the order of King James II of England as a punishment to one of his disobeying nobles. He is forced to bear a permanent smile on his face. He wonders the frozen wasteland and discovers a woman frozen to death, but her blind, infant daughter Dea (Mary Philbin) survived. He rescues her from the cold and soon finds shelter courtesy of a mountebank named Ursus (Cesare Gravina).  Fast forward several years later and Gwynplaine and Dea are all grown up and in love. They both still travel with Ursus as part of his show, with Gwynplaine as the star. However it is soon discovered (by former court jester Barkilphedro) that Gwynplaine's deceased father's estate is currently owned by the Duchess Josiana and Queen Anne decrees that the royal duchess must marry Gwynplaine, as its rightful heir, to make things right.
But will he choose to be one of Britain's new Peers or will he choose the love of Dea.

The film was made here in America, but it was directed by German Expressionistic filmmaker Paul Leni. While in Germany Leni directed films such as PATIENCE (1920) and WAXWORKS (1924). Universal Picture's president Carl Laemmle had seen WAXWORKS and wanted Leni to direct his next big, Gothic picture. Since Lon Chaney was now under contract with MGM Studios, Laemmle also persuaded Veidt to star in the film. Viedt was already a well known German actor, having appearing in THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI (1919) as well as WAXWORKS with Leni, so it would seem a match made in heaven. However, upon the film's release, both audiences and critics found the film too bleak and the film did poorly at the box office. Now it is regarded as a magnificent work of art, one of the pinnacles of the silent era. The film was released on November 4, 1928.

Another amazing night at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum!! If you would like to learn more about the museum, their weekly film schedule, and how to become a member, please visit their website at www.nilesfilmmuseum.org

THE MAN WHO LAUGHS is currently available on DVD thatnks to the great folks at Kino International. To purchase a  copy, visit your local retailer or visit Kino's website at www.kino.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 28: Phil watches THE HUMAN CENTERPIEDE (FIRST SEQUENCE) (2009)-October

Welcome back to Day 28 of my horror movie marathon! Tonight's movie is one of the most disturbing horror films ever. A film that shocked audiences and critics alike upon its original release. With the release of the sequel hitting theaters this weekend, I thought it would appropriate to view THE HUMAN CENTERPIEDE (FIRST SEQUENCE) for tonight's choice.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2010)
A gifted but mad scientist named Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser) kidnaps a trio of tourists: best friends Lindsay and Jenny (Ashley C. Williams and Ashlynn Yennie respectively) and a man named Katsuro (Akihiro Kitamura). In his secret lab in the basement of his home, he performs an inhuman experiment of stitching their mouths to their rectums, thus creating a "human centipede."

OK, this is a hard film to watch. Just the sheer thought of stitching someone's mouth to another person's anus is grotesque and shocking. Director Tom Six pushes the envelope with the film, and dares go to places that other filmmakers never thought of or dreamed of.

The film played on the festival circuit in 2009, including the London FrightFest Film Festival, Sitges Film Festival, and the Screamfest Horror Film Festival. It opened in New York the following year and soon was had a limited theatrical release thanks to its distributor IFC Films.

OK this is all I'm gonna say about THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE. This one of those films that has to be seen to believe. So if you are brave enough to see this film, prepare to have you vomit bag handy!

THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE (FIRST SEQUENCE) is currently available on Blu-Ray and DVD from IFC Films. To purchase a copy, visit your local retailer or visit the IFC website at www.ifcfilms.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 27: Phil watches RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1986)-October 27, 2011

Here it is folks: Day 27 of my horror movie marathon! I took another trip back to the 80's (hey, there were a lot of great horror films from that era) and picked out another great zombie film that stayed to the conventions of the genre, while adding its own spin to the mix. So if you haven't seen RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD yet, you are missing out on a splatter zombie film classic!

Theatrical Movie Poster (1985)
The film's about two dim-witted medical supply warehouse employees Frank and Freddy (James Karen and Thom Mathews respectively) who accidentally release a deadly gas from a government drum into the air, which the vapors causes the dead in the nearby cemetery to rise up and feed on the brains of the living!

Also appearing in the film are Clu Gilager, Don Calfa, Beverly Randolf, and legendary 80's scream queens Linnea Quigley and Jewel Shepard. The film's soundtrack boasts some the best punk bands from that era, such as The Cramps, T.S.O.L., The Damned, 45 Grave and others.

The film was written and directed by Dan O'Bannon, who got his start when he and iconic director John Carpenter collaborated on his student film DARK STAR (which O'Brannon wrote and starred in). He then went on to write the screenplay for ALIEN (1979) and DEAD AND BURIED (1981). Originally O'Bannon was hired to write the script and horror director Tobe Hooper was set to direct the film. But when Hopper backed out of the project to make LIFEFORCE (which O'Bannon wrote as well) producers Tom Fox and John Russo offered O'Bannon the job as director. He accepted on the one condition that he could totally rewrite the film so that it differed from George Romero's zombie films. The film is more "splatstick" style morbid humor and eccentric dialogue. While the first half of the film is comedic, the second half is pure horror.

Another note worthy fact: Long before the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake and 28 DAYS LATER, the film boasts of having the image of FAST running zombies. Another one of O'Bannon's twists to the rewrite. The fast zombies were a total surprise to audiences who were use to the slow moving undead in Romero's films. Another fun aspect to the film is the combination of the old time actors (Karen, Gilager, and Calfa) blending perfectly with the young, inexperienced actors of the film. You have this great contrast of young and old in the film, which gives the film a great universal appeal.

Upon completion, the studio Orion Pictures deemed the film "unreleasable" and supposedly re-cut the film, then quietly released the film to theaters. However, audiences reacted positively to the film, and as a result, has become a huge cut classic. The film spawned four, count 'em, four sequels! But those films don't even come close to the original.

THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD is a gory, scary, funny, and entertaining horror film that deserves to be part of everybody's film library. The film is the lasting legacy of Dan O'Bannon, who passed away from Crohn's Disease on December 17, 2009. So a big "Thank You" to Mr. O'Bannon for giving us this film to enjoy for the past twenty-six years!! You did good my friend!!

THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD is currently available on both Blu-Ray and DVD. To purchase a copy, visit your local retailer, or visit the Amazon website at www.amazon.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 26: Phil watches DRAG ME TO HELL (2009)-October 26, 2011

The final days of my movie marathon are coming close to an end, so let's get right into Day 26! So for tonight's pick, I chose a film that was one of my top ten films of 2009, and it herald the return of a iconic horror director to his roots. Sam Raimi's DRAG ME TO HELL contained everything that we love about his films, plus some new elements to his arsenal.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2009)
Alison Lohman portrays Christine Brown, a loan officer in a bank. She tries to impress her boss (she' looking to be promoted to assistant manager) by refusing to grant an extended loan to an old gypsy woman named Mrs Ganush (Lorna Raver). In an act of revenge, Ganush places a curse on young Christine, that in three days, she would be dragged of to hell to burn for an eternity. Christine's boyfriend Clay (Justin Long) tries to console her, but when supernatural occurrences begin to happen, she must find a way to break the gypsy's curse.

The film marked the return of Sam Raimi to the horror genre, and the horror fans welcomed him back with open arms. For those of you who don't know who Sam Raimi is, he is responsible for directing THE EVIL DEAD trilogy as well as the SPIDERMAN trilogy. With the first EVIL DEAD, Raimi created a horror film classic, and made his lead actor Bruce Campbell into a cult icon (he stars in the television show BURN NOTICE). Raimi was only nineteen years old when he made the film, but what made him stand out was his style of directing, which is totally his own and has become his signature. This unique style would serve him well when he was tapped to direct the SPIDERMAN films. Combining unique camera set ups, panning and pacing, Raimi is like a kid in a toy store, playing with everything there and figuring out how to make it all come together. With DRAG ME TO HELL, Raimi used the experience he gained from the SPIDERMAN trilogy and applied it to this film. Much like his famous horror film trilogy, he was able to get great scares, bodily fluids spewing, and his trademark sense of humor. The only difference is that he got to have a bigger budget ($30 million budget to be exact) and he made the most of this.

The film was released to theaters on May 29, 2009. It was so well received by both fans and critics, and soon topped several horror lists later in the year. The film grossed over $90 million worldwide! Fans of Raimi were so excited that there has been talk of future horror films. Maybe with that Bruce Campbell guy again, but it's all rumors at this time. However, it's a helluva cool rumor!

DRAG ME TO HELL is a great horror films that will gross you out, make you laugh a bit, then scare the hell out of you! Find out what you're missing and go check out the film, but be careful to to cross any old gypsy ladies out there!

DRAG ME TO HELL is currently available on both Blu-Ray and DVD. To purchase a copy, visit your local retailer or visit Amazon's website at www.amazon.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 25: Phil watches THE BURNING (1981)-October 25, 2011

My horror film marathon continues with Day 25!! Hard to believe that October is almost over! Tonight's film is another long, lost slasher film that isn't too well known, but is an unsung classic. THE BURNING is one of the best overlooked horror films from the early 1980's.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1981)
The film tells the story of an alcoholic, sadistic summer camp caretaker named Crospy, who after a prank gone horribly wrong, is horrendously burned and disfigured. Five years later, he is released from the hospital and returns to Camp Barefoot to begin his murder spree on a fresh, new batch of campers.

The film came out on the heels of the highly successful (and influential) FRIDAY THE 13TH. While the plot is now conventional, the film boasts some truly great scares and gruesome deaths. Created by F/X icon Tom Savini, the film contains some of the goriest death scenes ever up to that point. Crowly (nicknamed cause of the huge garden sheers he carries) cuts, slices, and gouges the summer camp kids in the most brutal fashion possible. Now I don't want to go into to much detail about the killings, but be rest assured, they are that damn cool!

The film was produced by the then fledgling new film company Mirimax Films, run by Harvey and Bob Weinstein. Harvey wrote and produced while Bob co-wrote the screenplay. Also worth noting are some of the actors in the film, who went on to have successful careers. Brian Backer (who played Alfred in the film) went on to appear in other films such as FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH and THE MONEY PIT with Tom Hanks and Shelly Long. Jason Alexander (Dave) would become a household name with his portrayal of George Costanza on the hit television show SEINFELD. Also making a cameo in the film is Holly Hunter, who starred in such films as RAISING ARIZONA, BROADCAST NEWS, THE PIANO, and had her very own television show SAVING GRACE. The film was originally released to theaters on May 8, 1981.

THE BURNING is a great, blood-soaked slasher film that is perfect viewing during this wonderful time of the year! So grab a bag of popcorn, get all your friends together, and be prepared to hid underneath your blankets. This Halloween, lookout for the return of the man known as Crospy!

THE BURNING is currently available on DVD by MGM. To purchase a copy, visit your local retailer, or visit the Amazon website at http://www.amazon.co/

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 24: Phil watches DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1920)-October 24, 2011

Here it is folks: Day Twenty-Four! It's amazing how time flies when you're having fun..watching horror films all month! So for tonight's film I once again traveled back in time and watched another horror gem from the silent film era. The film DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE has been made several times throughout the years, but the John Barrymore 1920 version is still by far the greatest film adaptation ever.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1920)
Based on the classic Robert Louis Stevenson novel of the same name, Barrymore stars as the great Dr. Jekyll, a brilliant and caring man whose scientific experiment unleashes the dark side of his humanity named Mr. Hyde. Eventually the Hyde persona begins to dominate Jekyll's affairs, which leads to preventing Hyde murdering Jekyll's beloved Millicent.

Directed by John S. Robertson, actor John Barrymore, who at the time was the matinee idol known as "The Great Profile," with this film became immortalized as a genuine horror star. Barrymore's Dr. Jekyll is full of life, optimism, love for life and science; basically the man is a saint. However, he's portrayal of the maniacal Mr. Hyde is just riveting and haunting! Hyde is the perfect personification of the dark side of humanity; the evil that resides in all of us. Portraying polar opposite personalities is quite a challenge, and Barrymore was able to achieve this amazingly.

By 1920, there was at least seven different film adaptations of the book. This film version became the most famous of those from the silent era. By 1931, Paramount Pictures, who released the Barrymore version, remade the film into a talkie starring the great Frederick March in the lead role. Outside of Barrymore's, March's is the other version that is ranked as one of the all-time great horror films from the early talkies. The 1931 film also won an Academy award for is groundbreaking special effects. The silent film was released to theaters on April 18, 1920.

DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE is another of the great horror classics from the silent film era. Much like classical music, the film becomes more and more required viewing. For a film that was released 91 years ago, to still be talked about and watched in this day and age, it just shows us that they don't make them like they use to.

DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE is currently available on special edition DVD by the great folks at Kino International. To purchase a copy, visit their website at www.kino.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 23: Phil watches MANIAC (1980)-October 23, 2011

My horror movie marathon continues with Day Twenty-Three! The days are growing shorter and the nights are getting longer my friends. Which means all sorts of evil will now come out of their resting places and walk among us. Tonight's eerie sense of evil inspired me to watch one of the most controversial slasher films ever produced. Directed by William Lustig, the film MANIAC is considered one of the most disturbing and graphic horror films of the 1980's.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1980)
 A mentally disturbed schizophrenic serial killer named Frank Zito (co-writer/co-executive producer Joe Spinell). Frank misses his mommy, a prostitute who was killed in a terrible car accident which left Frank an orphan. His mother was a very abusive to him, but still loved her, and so he roams the streets of New York, stalking and killing innocent young women in vain of trying to save her from her sinful ways. Frank scalps them and takes their scalps home and displays them on his collection of mannequins. Soon Frank meets a beautiful photographer named Anna D'Antoni (the lovely Caroline Munro), but will be she be the one for him or just another wannabe mother and victim?

Spinell became a well known actor, appearing several Hollywood films, including THE GODFATHER and ROCKY. With his portrayal as Frank Zito, Spinell crossed over to the horror genre and audiences couldn't believe what they were seeing. Having perfected his Mafia persona in the previously mentioned films, Spinell took a gamble with director Lustig, by being the co-writer, co-producer, and starring in one for the sickest and autrocious films ever made in the annals of horror.

All of the special effects in the film were done by F/X icon Tom Savini. Savini became well known as the makeup artist for George Romero's groundbreaking film DAWN OF THE DEAD, the second entry of his Zombie films. Savini went all out in the film, creating some of the most outrageous and violent effects ever captured on celluloid.

Lustig has directed some of the most interesting horror and exploitation films, including VIGILANTE, UNCLE SAM, and the MANIAC COP trilogy. However, Lustig is now more famous for is forming and running the outstanding DVD label Blue Underground which restores and re-releases popular and little seen cult movies and other grind house action, drama, and horror films. The film was originally released by Analysis Film Releasing Corporation (the same company the distributed BASKET CASE) into theaters on December 26, 1980.

MANIAC is an brutal examination of the scared psyche of man and the ramifications of his upbringing. The film paved the way for other psychological horror films to be made, such as MANHUNTER and HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER. With MANIAC, both Lustig and Spinell created one of the most important and bloody horror film to come out of 42nd Street. Not too bad of a legacy to leave behind.

MANIAC is currently available on both Blu-Ray and Special Edition DVD. To purchase a copy for yourself, visit your local retailer or visit the Blue Underground website at http://www.blue-underground.com/

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 22: Phil sees TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL at the Osio Theater-October 22, 2011

My horror film marathon continues with this, Day Twenty-Two! My horror film thirst knows no boundaries. Today's film adventure took me back to my other hometown: Monterey! There at the Osio Theater (home of fine indie, foregin, and documentary films) in downtown Monterey, they were showing the horror/comedy film TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL. So ladies and gentlemen, prepare to start laughing your asses off!

US Theatrical Movie Poster (2010)
Two hillbilly buddies named Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are off to fix up Tucker's new vacation home as well as go fishin' and beer drinkin'. However, along the way, they meet up a bunch of preppy, college kids who mistake them for backwoods, redneck, inbred, hillbillies who want to kill them all. As a result of this misunderstanding, our good 'ol boys' vacation goes from hilariously bad to outrageously worse, in a comical way.

This was such a funny movie! Both Labine and Tudyk are hysterical and portray their country bumpkin characters perfectly, with touches of believability, naivety, and humor. Also Dale's love interest Allison (Katrina Bowden) is fun, spunky, and very, very sexy. But what would our hero be without a nemesis. Dale must save his love from the evil, preppy, and slightly deranged college student Chad (Jesse Moss) who thinks he's saving Allison from the evil hillbillies.

Director writer/director Eli Craig, along with screenwriter Morgan Jurgenson, are geniuses. They took the conventions and cliches of your typical backwoods hillbilly horror (ie THE HILLS HAVE EYES, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, and WRONG TURN), a spun in it in a complete 180 degrees and told the film from the hillbillies perspective, and taking it into the comedy genre, all the while providing all the gore, blood, and half naked girls that's required. By switching the protagonist and antagonist roles, Craig and Jurgenson added a new dimension to the film. Of course, Moss played Chad so evil and demented that I was so blown away by his performance.

The film was supposed to take place in the woods of the country, the film was actually shot in Canada. Also having a great cinematographer named David Geddes was also a major factor. The Canadian forest never looked so tranquil and breathtaking.  The film toured the festival circuit and received unanimous acclaim.  The film was distributed by Maple Pictures and it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2010. It finally found an American distributor, Magnet Releasing, to release the film to theaters earlier this year.

TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL is the best horror/comedy film since 2004's SHAUN OF THE DEAD. The film has such much heart in it that you can't help but to take it all in. So go out and see this film, so when it comes out on DVD, you can brag to your friends that you saw the film first in the theater.

TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL is currently playing in limited release in theaters nationwide, including at the Osio Theater in Monterey. To view showtimes, visit their website at http://osiocinemas.com. To view the film's website for future screenings, visit www.magnetreleasing.com/tuckeranddalevsevil

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 21: Phil watches FREAKS (1932)-October 21, 2011

Welcome to Day Twenty-One of my horror movie marathon! So for tonight's film, I decided to back to the Pre-Code Hollywood. For those who don't know what I'm talking about, the term refers to the era in  Hollywood between the late 1920's until 1934 when postmaster General William Hays created a set of censorship guidelines for the studios to follow. These guidelines became know as the Motion Picture Production Code (or better known as the Hays Code). However these guidelines were not truly enforced until July 1, 1934. The films that were made before the code was enforced are known as Pre-Code films. Tonight's film fall into this category, and as the result, director Todd Browning's FREAKS has become the most famous Pre-Code film to have ever been made in Hollywood.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1932)
The film is the stuff of legends. Based on the Tod Robbins' 1923 short story SPURS, the film's about a beautiful and self serving circus trapeze artist named Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova) who agrees to marry Hans (Harry Earles), the leader of the circus' sideshow freaks. However the honeymoon is short lived, as when it becomes known to the freaks that Cleopatra only married Hans to get her hands on his wealthy inheritance, they ban together to punish her for her deceitful lies. The ending of the film shocked audiences back in 1932, and its shock value still holds up to this very day.

With the film, director Browning created autobiographical piece of art. Browning once worked for a circus as a sideshow freak, so the film was sacred to him. As the result, he created a film that was so outrageous and so misunderstood, the studio MGM didn't want to release the film. The studio went so far as to cut the picture down from its original 90-minute running time to just over an hour. Also the studio approached Browning with idea of a "happier ending" for the film. A new prologue and epilogue was filmed for the movie. The film was finally released to theaters on February 20, 1932.And despite all the extensive cuts, audiences still rejected the film.

Controversy surrounded the film even before the film was even released. During one of the many disastrous test screenings, one woman threatened to sue MGM after claiming that watching the film caused her to have a miscarriage. Following the release of the film, Browning had difficulty find work in the business. As a result, his film had destroyed his directing career. However, by the late 1960's, the growing counterculture discovered the film and embraced it, appearing at midnight screenings across America. In 1994, the Library of Congress added the film to its list of preservation in the Nation Film Registry.

FREAKS is a landmark film, a true and honest piece of work that projected the director's vision and his plea of understanding and acceptance. Now, 79 years after the film's original release, it seems like society has finally accepted Browning's artistic masterpiece.

FREAKS is currently available on DVD. To purchase a copy for yourself, visit your local retailer or checkout the Amazon website at www.amazon.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 20: Phil watches the HATCHET double feature-October 20, 2011

My horror movie tribute to Halloween continues with Day Twenty! So as I've stated before oh so many times, modern horror films lack the gusto, the in-your-face scares, the immense buckets of blood and gore, the insane make-up and special effects that made the horror films of yesteryears so enjoyable to watch! However that all changed in 2008, when a small independent horror film caused so much hype that it marked the return of what has been dubbed "old school horror." So for tonight's viewing pleasure, I thought it would be great to treat myself to a HATCHET double feature! What's that you say? You've never heard of the films? Well then, sit back, relax, and let me tell you the legend of Victor Crowley...

Theatrical Movie Poster (2006)
The film HATCHET involves a group of tourists who take a midnight tour of the haunted New Orleans swamps of the local legend know as Victor Crowley. But when the the legend proves to be a reality, the group must do whatever it takes to stay alive.

This was writer/director Adam Green's first big commercial hit, and it ushered him as one of the new guns within the horror genre. Combining fun characters (Joel David Moore and Deon Richmond as best friends Ben and Marcus are hilarious while Tamera Feldman was simply amazing as the Crowley hunting Marybeth), a smart script, great production team, beautiful cinematography, clean directing style, and buckets of blood, boobs, and gore, the filmed herald the return to old school horror films. Relying on traditional special effects, latex rubber outfit, and no CGI in sight, the film also boasts the rise of a new slasher star as well as the return of horror film legend. Kane Hodder, known for portraying horror icon Jason Voorhees in FRIDAY THE 13TH VII-X, returned to the big screen with a vengeance with his portrayal the horribly deformed Victor Crowley. Tony Todd, who played the title role in the film CANDYMAN also has a bit cameo playing resident voodoo priest Reverend Zombie, but we would see more of his character again in the sequel.

The film was selected for countless film festivals, including the Hollywood Screamfest Horror Film Festival, the London Fight Night Film Festival, and Montreal's Fantasia Film Festival just to name a few. Upon the film's theatrical release, it was branded with the infamous NC-17 rating due to its extreme violence and gore. After some minor trimming to the film, it was finally released for its limited theatrical release. The film was released by Anchor Bay Entertainment on April 26, 2006, and was released on DVD in theatrical and uncut editions on September 7, 2007.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2010)
The sequel HATCHET II picks up exactly at the last few frames of the first film. Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder) looks to finish off Marybeth (now portrayed by scream queen icon Danielle Harris, who took over the role from Tamera Feldman) but manages to escape her death. Upon returning to New Orleans, she meets with Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd once again) and learns the truth about her family’s connection to the hatchet-wielding madman. Marybeth then returns to the Louisiana swamps along with an army of hunters to recover the bodies of her family and exact sweet and bloody revenge against the infamous Bayou Butcher himself.

With the sequel, director Adam Green ups the kills, almost doubling it than the first film. The sets were built on a soundstage and looks incredible on film! When it looked like Green wasn't going to be able to bring back Feldman, Harris was brought in (which was Green's first choice to cast for the first HATCHET). As with all her roles, Harris is convincing, strong, and does an incredible job! Harris is most famous for her roles as Jamie Lloyd in HALLOWEEN 4-5 and as Annie Brackett in Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN 1-2. The fight to the death between Crowley and Zombie is awesome, with plenty of blood to go around. And the end scene with Marybeth and Victor, needless to say, I can't wait to see how HATCHET III will start!

As with the first film, the sequel played around the film festival circuit, before being released to theaters. And once again, Green faced the same problems with the MPAA ratings board. Fighting to keep his original vision intact, the film was released uncut, which has never happened before. The film played AMC Theaters as part of their AMC Independent program on October 1, 2010. The film was also released to theaters as well as Blu-Ray and DVD by Dark Sky Films. In March 2011,  the company already gave the green light for HATCHET III, however Green has turned over the directing duties to his cameraman from the first two films BJ McDonnell.

Both HATCHET I & II are amazing horror films that rank as the new horror classics of the new millennium.  Adam Green and his team have made horror film history by sticking to their guns, believing in themselves, and saying no to censorship from the MPAA (which have committed several censorship crimes against filmmakers and their art). This Halloween, take a trip down to the New Orleans bayou, and maybe, just maybe, Victor Crowley will greet you with open arms...and maybe a hatchet too.

HATCHET I & II are available on both Blu-Ray and DVD. Visit your local retailer to purchase you copies today or visit both www.darkskyfilms.com and www.anchorbayentertainment.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 19: Phil watches SUSPIRIA (1977)-October 19, 2011

My horror movie marathon continues with Day Nineteen! Now you might be asking yourself how in the world do I have time to watch all these great horror films? And how many do I own? I'll answer them both for you: I go to bed late and a lot! Ok, now that we've gotten the Q&A session out of the way, it's time to talk about tonight's film. Directed by Italian filmmaker Dario Argento, SUSPIRIA is one of the most frightening films ever made!

Theatrical Movie Poster (1977)
The film stars Jessica Harper as Suzy Bannion, an American ballerina who has come to Munich, Germany on a terrible stormy night to study at the prestigious Tans Dance Academy in Freiburg, which is run by the mysterious Madame Blanc (Joan Bennett) and Miss Tanner (Alida Valli). But when a series of bizarre incidents and horrific crimes turn the school into a waking nightmare of the damned, Suzy must escape the academy's unspeakable secret of supernatural evil.

Using a kaleidoscope of colors, SUSPIRIA is the most beautiful horror film ever made. Every single frame of this film is expertly lit and colorful. With this technique Argento manages to create an almost unbearable amount of tension and the extremely brutal and bloody murder sequences look so good one can only admire their beauty. The music score by Goblin is one of the most effective score ever to grace a horror movie.

The film was also the first chapter in Argento's infamous "The Three Mothers" trilogy, which included 1980's INFERNO and 2007's MOTHER OF TEARS. There are three Fates and three Graces and there are three Sorrows: "Mater Lacrymarum, Our Lady of Tears," "Mater Suspiriorum, Our Lady of Sighs," and "Mater Tenebrarum, Our Lady of Darkness." This would become the basis for the trilogy.

Shock rocker Alice Copper has said that the film is one of his top three films of all time. The Village Voice ranked the film #100 on their list of the 100 Greatest Films Made During the 20th Century. Entertainment Weekly ranked SUSPIRIA #18 on their list of the 25 Scariest Films Of All Time. Argento's films have been shown at retrospectives all over the globe, and this film has been the centerpiece of his career. The film was released in Italy on February 1, 1977. It would be released to American theaters on August 12th of that same year.

SUSPIRIA is one of the scariest films you will ever see! Honestly, it is that terrifying. In this age of CGI, forgettable sequels and lame remakes, take a journey and visit the house that Argento bulit. Then compare SUSPIRIA with all the other supposed "horror" films and see which one will give you nightmares tonight. But don't worry, it will all over before the dawn.

SUSPIRIA is available on DVD from the masters of horror over at Blue Underground. To purchase a copy, visit their website at www.blue-underground.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 18: Phil watches BASKET CASE (1982)-October 18, 2011

Phil's Horror Watch continues with Day Eighteen! So for this evening's cinematic fright, I thought it would be fun to stroll down memory lane and visit the old grindhouse theaters that populated New York's 42nd Street. There, you could see some of the most outrageous films ever made! Take for example tonight's film. I guarantee that you have never seen a film like BASKET CASE before, nor could you ever forget it!

Theatrical Movie Poster (1982)
According to Something Weird Video, the film goes something like this: "Carrying a mysterious wicker basket around with him, Duane Bradley (Kevin Van Hentenryck) arrives in Manhattan and checks into a sleazy Times Square hotel. What’s in the basket, you ask? Why, Duane’s hideously misshapen Siamese twin brother, Belial, of course! Originally born attached to Duane’s side, the little monster was surgically removed by some quack doctors and rudely left for dead in a plastic garbage bag. But Belial survived, and Duane has hit the Big Apple with his beastly bro to wreak havoc on the surgeons who separated them. Things get complicated, however when Duane gets romantically sidetracked by the sexy, wig-wearing receptionist of one of the doomed doctors, and his jealous telepathic sibling reacts...well, poorly."

Now doesn't that sound like a fun film to watch in a 42nd street grindhouse theater? Well guess what? It DID play at a 42nd street grindhouse theater! Budgeted at only $35,000, the film was released by Analysis Film Releasing Corporation in April of 1982, but it gained a cult following once it was released onto home video by the mid 80's. The special effects for Belial consist largely of a puppet in some scenes and stop motion in others, which only added to the magic and the allure of the film.

The film was written and directed by Frank Henenlotter, and it was his film debut. Henenlotter would go on to direct other classics such as BRAIN DAMAGE, FRANKENHOOKER, and two sequels: BASKET CASE 2 and BASKET CASE 3: THE PROGENY. His latest film, a documentary called HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS: THE GODFATHER OF GORE, was just released on DVD by the good folks at Something Weird Video.

BASKET CASE is a bonafide cult classic and still one helluva fun ride to watch! Take from me folks. Horror, B-movies, and exploitation films are my main passions in life, and I can assure you that this film is just awesome to watch!

BASKET CASE was just released on Blu-Ray by Something Weird Video this past September and is still available on special edition DVD. To purchase a copy, visit their website at www.somethingweird.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 17: Phil watches THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925)-October 17, 2011

Here it is: Day Seventeen of my horror movie marathon! I hope all of you have enjoyed reading my blog thus far, and I hope it's inspired you to see some of these movies. Tonight's film came out of the silent era, and is without question a true horror film classic. Starring "The Man of a Thousand Faces" Lon Chaney, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA brought us one of cinema's most iconic horror characters, and cinema's first true scare!

Theatrical Movie Poster (1925)
Based on Gaston Leroux's 1909 novel of the same name, the film stars Chaney as Erik, the mysterious phantom that haunts the Paris Opera House. Through a series of catacombs and secret passages underneath the opera house, he lives in the shadows, and vows vengeance on the human race. However Erik falls in love with the opera's soon to be star Christine Daae (Mary Philbin) and soon threatens the life of the lead actress if Christine doesn't take her place. Eventually Erik leads her to his underground lair where he revels his true identity, which cemented Chaney's Erik as horror's first true monster.

Chaney's performance in the film is without question absolutely incredible. Born to deaf parents, Chaney learned to communicate to them through sign language and body language, which helped him to became one of the greatest actors of the silent film era. Another attribute that Chaney had was his make-up capabilities. Having to put himself through long and often painful make-up, Chaney played everything form scared-faced gangsters to deformed cripples. With his role as Erik, Chaney outdid himself by creating horror's most iconic characters, and scaring audiences for generations to come.

The film was released by Universal Pictures in 1925, but was re-released in 1929. In the '29 version, several scenes that were shot from a second camera were integrated with the film. In 1953 Universal failed to renew the copyright, and thus the film became in the public domain. But regardless, the film was chosen by the Library of Congress for preservation in its National Film Registry.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA has been hailed as masterpiece by both silent and horror fans, as well as by film scholars and critics. Its impact has never diminished, and because of its success, there has been no less than six remakes of the film, has become a Broadway musical, parodied, and Chaney's Erik, along with several other Universal monsters, became immortalized by appearing on a postage stamp. Eighty-six years after the film's original release, there seems to be no stopping this phantom!

PHANTOM OF THE OPERA will be released on Blu-Ray by Image Entertainment on November 1, 2011. To pre-order your copy, visit their website at www.image-entertainment.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 16: Phil sees THE EXORCIST double feature at the Castro Theatre-October 16, 2011

Welcome back to Day Sixteen people! Again for the second time this weekend, I traveled back to the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, where they were having an EXORCIST double feature! And I for one couldn't wait for the show to begin!

Theatrical Movie Poster (1973)
The night began with the scariest film of all time: THE EXORCIST. When actress Chris MacNiel (Ellen Burstyn) notices that her 12-year old daughter Regan (Linda Blair) is possessed by the Devil himself, she enlists the aid of two priests: Father Karras (Jason Miller), a young priest who is doubting his faith because of his mother's terminal illness, and Father Merrin (Max von Sydow), who came out of retirement to face his old nemesis one last time.

The film was released by Warner Brothers the day after Christmas in 1973, and the world hasn't been the same since. It would be foolish of me to try and state the importance of the film, or discuss the impact it has had on society. The film has been declared as the scariest film of all time by several media outlets. Entertainment channels such as E!, Bravo, MTV, VH1, and fearNET have cited that film," forever changed the face of horror, and we are still terrified of the film after all these years." In 2010 THE EXORCIST was selected to be preserved by the Library of Congress as part of its National film Registry. With this, we are guaranteed that the film will continue to terrify us for years to come!

Theatrical Movie Poster (1990)
The second half of the double feature is an overlooked and dismissed film that really deserves another look at. THE EXORCIST III is quite a frightening film.  Set fifteen years after the events in the original EXORCIST, the film follows police lieutenant William F. Kiderman (George C. Scott) from the first film, as he investigates a series of brutal murders in Georgetown. The murders have contain the same theme: the torture, decapitation and the desecration of religious icons. Also, the murders all have the hallmarks of "The Gemini Killer" (Brad Dourif), a serial killer presumed to have died more than fifteen years ago. Baffled by these murders, Kiderman meets with friend Father Dyer (Ed Flanders) go see the film "It's A Wonderful Life," to try to cheer each other up on the anniversary of the death of their mutual friend, Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller from the first film). But when Father Dyer is discovered dead, Kiderman begins his search for the vicious killer.

The film was written and directed by William Peter Blatty and was based on his book LEGION, which was the original title of the film. However, the producers of the film (Morgan Creek) changed the name of the film to make it more commercial. Adding insult to injury, they also informed Blatty that a new ending had be shot because they wanted an exorcism in the film. To make matters worse, the film was severely edited and new scenes were shot. The final film was not Blatty's original version, and we'll probably never see it. All the cut footage of the film is apparently lost, although the search for the missing footage is still ongoing. The film was released to theaters by 20th Century Fox on August 17, 1990.

Another fun-filled night at the Castro!! But I always have a good time out here, and you can too! To view the Castro Theatre's film schedule, visit their website at www.castrotheatre.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 15: Phil watches SCREAM (1996)-October 15, 2011

Hello there and welcome to Day Fifteen of Phil's Horror Watch. So after a long day at work, I meet up some friends, had a few drinks, and pondered what film to watch when I got home. A friend of mine suggested the film SCREAM, and I thought, "That's not a bad idea."

Theatrical Movie Poster (1996)
Ok, now I usually talk about the film plot right here, but since it's late at night (and I had quite a few drinks), I think I'll skip this part. But I mean, let's face it. If you have never seen the film yet, then you really need to come out from under that rock you've been living in! Or come out of that dark, dank cave!

By the early 90's the horror genre was literally dead. The slasher genre was over. Major studios were not making any real horror films. Psychological thrillers were popular at this time. Films like MISERY (1990) and THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991) were hugely popular and very successful. Combining strong storytelling, popular actors, and real scares (and in some cases some very cool gore), these films were deemed acceptable, but in disguise, these were horror films. When you have a serial killer cut up person, peels his skin off and makes a suit out of it, if that isn't a horror film then I don't know what is! Thankfully, by 1996, along comes director Wes Craven screenwriter Kevin Williamson to inject new life into the horror genre.

It cannot be overstated just how important SCREAM is. It single-handedly revitalized not only horror films, but slasher films as well. With its very clever script, the film recognized and acknowledged all the horror films that came before it (HALLOWEEN, FRIDAY THE 13TH, and Craven's own masterpiece A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET) while also reinitiating the rules of the genre and poking fun at them, while scaring the audience with those same rules. The film was a boxoffice success, leading to three sequels. The fourth film of the franchise was released earlier this year to great fanfare. The original film was released by Dimension Films on December 20, 1996.

SCREAM is one of the top ten horror films to come out in the past fifteen years. Combining horror and fun, it is now become part of pop culture. If you don't believe me, on Halloween night, count how many kids dressed up in Ghostface you see. Then tell me that I'm full of it! That's right!

SCREAM is available on DVD and on Blu-Ray. To purchase a copy, visit your local retailer, or visit the Amazon website at www.amazon.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 14: Phil sees the FRIGHT NIGHT/CHILD'S PLAY double feature at the Castro Theatre-October 14, 2011

Welcome back to Day Fourteen of Phil's Horror Watch! Tonight my friends and I journeyed back up to San Francisco, where at the world famous Castro Theatre, they were having a fantastic 80's horror double feature! So let's not waste any time people!!

Theatrical Movie Poster (1985)
The first film of the night was the classic (and original) FRIGHT NIGHT! Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) is a huge fan of traditional Gothic horror films. He stays up late at night to watch the horror movie TV series "Fright Night" hosted by Hammer Horror style actor, Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowell), who played a vampire killer for many years in horror movies. He also has a great girlfriend named Amy Peterson (Amanda Bearse) and a wacky friend named "Evil" Ed (Stephen Geoffreys). But when he suspects that his new next door neighbor Jerry Dandrige (Chris Sarandon) is a vampire, his only hope to saving his life, and Amy's, is to enlisted the aid of the renowned vampire killer himself.

I love this movie! Sarandon is fantastic in the film, and brings a new form of sophistication to the vampire mythos. Charming still, but with a fresh 80's sense of style and behavior. Plus when he's in his full vampire mode, watch out!! Great acting, great story, and great special effects equals a classic horror film! And to see the film projected on the humongous Castro screen was incredible! Also the film was from an original 35mm print, so it had all the lovely scratches, pops, and it looked awesome! The film was distributed by Columbia Pictures and originally released to theaters on August 4, 1985.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1988)
The second film was another 80's horror classic that, in my humble opinion, still holds up. CHILD'S PLAY is about Charles Lee Ray, the serial killer known in Chicago as "The Lakshore Strangler" (portrayed by Brad Dourif). Trapped in a toy store by Chicago Detective Mick Norris (once again Chris Sarandon), Ray chants a voodoo spell that transfers his soul into a child's doll named Chucky. Soon he's bought by Karen Barclay (Catherine Hicks) for her son Andy's (Alex Vincent) birthday. Once Alex tells of Chucky's true identity, it might too late for him, as Chucky plans to transfer his soul into Alex's body.

Once again a great 80's horror film that, at the time, was going to be just one film. The film's distributor United Artists sold the right of the film to Universal, who then churned out FOUR sequels. While some of those films are forgettable, the original still stands up. Plus, the Chucky doll is downright creepy. Dolls that come to life are always creepy, and to watch it on the Castro screen made it even creepier! Again, the film came from a 35mm print, and like  FRIGHT NIGHT, had all the same scratches, hisses, an pops that you can only get from celluloid! The film was originally released to theaters on November 9, 1988.

Another great time at the Castro Theatre! If you would like to know more about their film schedule, visit their website at www.castrotheatre.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 13, Phil watches MARTYRS (2008)-October 13, 2011

Hey folks! My horror movie marathon continues with Day Thirteen! I decided to stay in France for one more day to watch another of the country's most disturbing horror films of all time. With MARTYRS, the French offer up another modern European horror classic that will be talked about for years to come!

French Theatrical poster (2008)
The film's about two young girls named Lucie (Mylene Jampanoi) and Anna (Morjana Alaoui). In the beginning of the film, we are told via a flashback that Lucie escaped from a disused abattoir where she has been imprisoned and physically abused for a lengthy period of time. No signs of sexual abuse are identified, and the perpetrators and their motivations remain a mystery. Lucie is placed in an orphanage, where she is befriended by a young girl named Anna. Lucie vows to Anna that she will one day exact painful vengeance on her captors.

Fast forward fifteen years later and we see Lucie and Anna still together and Lucie thinks she has located two of her initial captors via a picture in a newspaper. With Anna warily in tow, Lucie pays a visit to the couples home with a loaded shotgun. She hopes by exacting some revenge that she will be exorcising a creature that plagues her, a creature in the form of a girl she left behind at the slaughterhouse and who takes delight in cutting Lucie to shreds at any opportune moment. But, in the end, it is Anna, not Lucie, who learns the truth of the girl as well as the real secret behind Lucie's captors and their terrifying mission.

The film is an extraordinary example of how we watch a horror film, but it examines what makes it horror. For starters, the subject matter is one of the true horrors that people wished it didn't exist: child abuse. Now while the film exposes Lucie as a test subject for her captor's experiments, the bottom line of it all was that Lucie was abused, and came from an abused home, thus her mental abuse haunted her till it was frothing for retaliation. Juvenile delinquency has been an issue for years, but has anyone really paid attention to the plight of the children? We create the environment for these kids, and as a result, a poor upbringing leads to an unhappy child. Child abuse is caused by many different reasons: lack of loving and caring parents, happy childhood, violence, drugs, drinking, bullying, physical and sexual abuse, lack of attention, and so forth. With Lucie, it was a variety of reasons that culminated with her committing murder to silence her inner demons. However, as the film progresses, sometimes those demons can be passed on. In this case, it was passed on to Anna, who by the end of the film, suffered the fate that was destined to be Lucie's.

The film was directed by Pascal Laugier, who also wrote the screenplay. The film was categorized as a new example of new French horror films; much like HIGH TENSION, FRONTIER(S), and INSIDE with regards to the level of violence it depicts. Laugier has said that he is in the middle of negotiations to have the film remade in America. The remake will be directed by Daniel Stamm (THE LAST EXORCISM) and the screenplay will be written by Mark Smith (VACANCY). The film was released by Canal Horizons in France on September 3, 2008. It was released on DVD by the Weinstein Company in April of 2009.

MARTYRS is harrowing, thought-provoking, brutal horror film that fans have been enjoying since the films release. For those who have weak stomachs may want to skip this film. But for those who are brave enough to sit through this film for the grotesque and enlightening 99 minutes, you will have seen one of the most original horror films in years!

MARTYRS is currently available on DVD. To purchase a copy, visit your local retailer or visit the Amazon website at www.amazon.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 12: Phil watches INSIDE (2007)-October 12, 2011

Welcome back my friends to Day Twelve of my horror movie marathon. For the last couple of blogs I have been in Italy, visiting my good friend Lucio Fulcio. Now I've made my way to France where, since 2003, has been the home for some of the most original and the most shocking and gruesome images of horror that has been seen since the 1980's. Tonight's film INSIDE is just one of the many horror films that France (of all places) has been releasing onto unexpected audiences worldwide.

Original French Theatrical Poster (2007)
The film starts with a car accident that kills pregnant Sarah’s (Alysson Paradis) husband but she survives as well as her unborn baby. Four months later, she’s going home alone for the last night she has to herself before she is admitted into the hospital to deliver. That night, she is terrorized by a seemingly psychotic woman (Beatrice Dalle) who, wielding a pair of scissors, has a burning desire to cut the baby out of Sarah’s stomach and keep it for herself.

The opening of the film is important to how the rest plays out, and in the beginning we see that Sarah is just completely miserable. She’s outwardly rude to people and keeps only to herself, even shutting out her mother (Nathalie Roussel). She thinks so much about her husband that it is very clear to the audience that this baby is the last thing she wants. If she has the baby, it’s very possible that she will never be able to move on from what happened to her husband and be quite miserable all her life. Sympathy is sparked more towards the baby than it is towards its mother. Because of this, there is already an unconscious desire in the audience for the baby to end up with whomever will love it the most. Of course there is a feeling of sympathy for Sarah as well, because otherwise the film would stop being interesting right then and there. Because she is so miserable, there is another unconscious desire for her to move on from her tragedy and find something that can be fulfilling for her.

The mysterious woman is never known by any name other than “La Femme,” and is rather terrifying, but in a different way from any other movie villain. She’s not really trying to hurt Sarah, but she does want that baby and she will do anything to get it. She is almost completely un-sadistic. It’s her determination that makes her so frightening. She’s not doing this for fun; she really has a motive (which is revealed toward the end of the film). Another thing that really makes the audience sympathize with her is that she doesn’t always win. She gets stabbed and burned and kicked around and, at one point, nearly arrested. Making La Femme sympathetic is where this film crosses the line from mediocre horror to near-masterpiece. With this film, first-time directors Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury made a powerful explosion into the horror genre.

INSIDE is a powerful, emotional, tour de force horror film that prays on your emotions while simultaneously satisfies the bloodlust in all diehard fans of the genre. While it seems somewhat unbelievable, the French have demonstrated once again that they are a country that should no longer be made fun of. In fact, after watching the film again, we should be very scared of them.

INSIDE is currently available uncut on DVD. To purchase a copy for yourself, visit your local retailer of visit the Amazon website at www.amazon.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 11: Phil watches THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY (1981)-October 11, 2011

Welcome back my friends to Day Eleven of my horror movie marathon! Tonight I decided to visit my old friend Lucio Fulci one more time and watched another one of his classic films, THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY. With Fulci, you can always count on being scared out of your mind and grossed out all at the same time!

Original Theatrical Poster (1984)
 Dr. Norman Boyle (Paolo Malco) moves his wife Lucy (Catriona MacColl) and his son (Giovanni Frezza) out of their tiny, cramped New York apartment and into a beautiful old New England home. However, unknown to the new owners, the previous owner, the deranged Dr. Jacob Freudstein (Giovanni De Nava), who has been living in the house's basement for the past 100 years, feeding on the flesh of those who found themselves at the wrong place at the wrong time.

The film was Fulci's final installment of what has been called his unofficial Gates of Hell trilogy, which also includes CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD and THE BEYOND. The camerawork is careful, creating atmosphere as well as a sense of polish. The makeup and gore effects are also well-crafted, and the Dr. Freudstein character is fairly creepy to see. Also, there are fewer splatter scenes, and they come more out of the story than any gratuitous attempts to add gore.

Italian Movie Poster (1981)
While many have said that the film was not one of his best, the film has genuine creepiness and scares that will make you shiver. However, the film ran into censorship issues, thus the film suffered several and severe edits to. Eventually the film was restored to its original gory version when it was released in 2001 by Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film was released in Italy in 1981. The film was released here in America on March 1, 1984.

THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY is a Fulci film that will forever stand the test of time as a horror classic! What's impressive that 30 years after the film's original Italian release, we are still talking about the film, and thus, keeping alive the film legacy of Lucio Fulci alive, as well as his name. This Halloween, treat yourself to this Italian shocker. I promise you that after watching the film, you will never go downstairs into a basement ever again.

THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY will be released on Blu-Ray and DVD special editions on October 25, 2011 courtesy of Blue Underground. To pre-order your copy, visit their website at www.blue-underground.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 10: Phil watches ZOMBIE (1979)-October 10, 2011

Hello folks and welcome back to day ten of my horror movie marathon! After seeing THE DEAD yesterday, I decided to go on a zombie binge. So for tonight I visited the land of Italy, home to some of the most intense, gruesome, gory, and celebrated horror films of all time! If you don't believe, then you have never seen the film ZOMBIE. If you have, then you are one of the brave ones, because this is a very sick and disgusting film. And I love it!!

Original Theatrical Poster (1980)
Directed by infamous Italian filmmaker Lucio Fulci, the film begins when what appears to be an abandoned boat is found in the harbor of New York City. Soon the local police units investigates the boat when an undead zombie attacks them and then plunges into the harbor waters below, leaving the living with a big mystery on their hands, which news reporter Peter West (Ian McCulloch) smells a story and decides to go investigate. Soon Peter teams up with Anne Bowels (Tisa Farrow), the daughter of a scientist said to have gone missing in the Caribbean some time ago. Together they dive deeper into the mystery, meeting and traveling with another couple (Al Cliver and Auretta Gay) to a remote region of the Antilles Islands. There they hope to discover the answers, however for them, they only thing they will find is desolate place where the dead walk once again to feed on all that still live.

Sounds like a very intriguing film indeed, but the backstory of the film is even more fascinating. In 1977, American filmmaker George Romero teamed up with Italian filmmaker Dario Argento, who would help with the financing to make DAWN OF THE DEAD. In exchange Argento would distribute the film in Europe, where it was retitled as ZOMBI. Director Fulci decided to capitalize on the film's success by making his own gore-infested, living dead film. Thanks to a legal loophole, Fulci was able to slap a sequel number to his film, allowing moviegoers to think that his film was an actual follow up to Romero's film. Unbelievably true, but in the end Fulci's ZOMBI 2 did phenomenal at the European boxoffice. When the film was imported to America, it was retitled ZOMBIE, as to not confuse American audiences.

Original Italian Poster (1979)
The film itself is highly regarded as Fulci's best film ever, and a welcomed entry to the annals of horror. The special effects by F/X wizard Gianetto de Rossi are very impressive, and they still hold up to this very day. When Auretta Gay has her throat torn out is just gore-tastic. The scene when Olga Karlatos' eye is shoved into a large piece wood splinter is just so gruesome and painful to watch that I dare you to not look away. And of course, the film's most famous scene is when a zombie attacks and eats a shark. Yes my friends, that is a REAL person fighting a REAL shark! There is no CGI in this film people! Real sharks, real special effects, and real gore drenched the screen as it has never before. The Italians very much celebrated gore and violence, and in the process, made it into an art form that has influenced several big name horror directors. From Sam Raimi and Sean Cunningham to Eli Roth and James Wan, the Italian horror films from the late 70's to the mid 80's had a huge impact here in America. Films like SAW and HOSTEL owe a debt to the theses Italian shockers, especially with this film. The film was released in Italy on August 25, 1979. It was imported and released to theaters here in America on July 18, 1980.

ZOMBIE is one of the all-time greatest zombie films ever made! For it's shock value and sheer madness, no other zombie film can compare to nor come close to it. With this film, director Fulci was given the mantle "The Maestro of Gore." It is without hesitation to say that, after its initial release 32 years later, it is a title that no one has come close to achieving. When Luci passed away on March 13, 1996 at the age of 68, the world mourned the loss of a true artist. But in the end, Lucio Fulci continues to live on his films, which are not only his legacy, but a gift to us to enjoy over and over again. So Mr. Fulci, where ever you are, I just wanted to say, "Thank you."

ZOMBIE will be released on Blu- Ray and DVD special editions courtesy of Blue Underground on October 25, 2011. To pre-order your copy, visit their website at www.blue-underground.com. To those of you who would like to see the film on the big screen, Blue Underground will be having the film released to select theaters this Halloween! For those in San Francisco, the film will be playing at the Roxie Theater on October 29-31! Buy your tickets on their website at www.roxie.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 9: Phil sees THE DEAD at the Camera 12-October 9, 2011

Hello again and welcome back to day nine of my horror movie marathon! So for today, there was a new British horror film that opened up this past Friday at the Camera 12 in Downtown San Jose that sounded like a winner to me. The film is called THE DEAD, and I was totally caught off guard by just how original and great the film was! This was a welcomed surprised!!

Theatrical Movie Poster (2011)
American Air Force Engineer Lt. Brian Murphy (Rob Freeman) is the lone survivor of a plane crash that was fleeing the zombie infested land of Africa. Along on his journey of survival, he meets Sergeant Daniel Dembele (Prince David Osei) who is searching for his missing son, which he soon finds out that he is still alive at an army base north of their location. To reach their destination, the two men must travel through the unforgiving African landscape, filled with an army of the dead.

Right off the bat, I want to say that this film is like a breathe of fresh air. One reason being is that it is set in a different location, meaning Africa. Some of the images in the film, like scenes of the African sunset are quite breathtaking, juxtaposing to see several undead zombies walking in front of said sunset brings a level of realism to the film.

Second is the fine acting from both Freeman and Prince Osei. Though they have minimal dialogue, they are realistic enough that we are able to sympathize with them during the course of the film. Third is that the zombie makeup effects were really quite gruesome and real looking. The filmmakers actually used real amputees to portray some of the zombies that were missing limbs. Again, making it even more creepier than the overused CGI effects that take away the believability of any zombie or horror film. There isn't a lot of gore in the film, but when the bloodshed happens, it is a outstanding and gruesome.

Another aspect of the film that I personally enjoyed was that it took the conventions of the zombie genre, and went in a complete 180 degrees, and not once in the film was there wasn't any humor to be found. It stayed serious, grounded in the realm of reality. The film never explained how or how or where did these zombie creatures come from. They're just there, eating every human being they can find. While tranquil and beautiful Africa is portrayed in the film, this magnificent land has a dark side, and will find you and eat you alive!

The film was directed by Howard and Jonathon Ford. These two brothers have clearly demonstrated that they are a force to be reckoned with. With this, just their third film, the Ford brothers have created a film that is a worthy entry to annals of not just the zombie genre, and not just the horror genre, but for the world of cinema. These two deserve a standing ovation!

THE DEAD is the most daring and original zombie film that I have ever seen since George Romeo's 1968 masterpiece NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Combing simple directing, a great story, and genuine fear, THE DEAD is the best zombie film to come out in a very long time!

THE DEAD is currently playing in select theaters in the country, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the South Bay. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cameracinemas.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 8: Phil watches HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME (1981)-October 8, 2011

Hello everybody and welcome back to day eight of my horror movie marathon! So I decided that I'd return to the land known as the 1980's and get back to my slasher/horror roots. As a result of this decision, I decided to view HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME. I had forgotten just how great this film was and I after the film was over, I was so damn impressed with it.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1981)
The film's about Virginia "Ginny" Wainwright (Melissa Sue Anderson) and the aftermath of a car accident that she was involved, which also caused her mother's death. Due to the car accident, she had undergone extensive brain surgery, which causes her to suffer from frequent blackouts. Also Ginny isn't very popular and doesn't have any friends. Once at the Crawford Academy, she finally started getting along with the popular kids. But just before Ginny's 18th birthday, one by one all her friends start to be killed off. Who is the killer, and are Ginny's blackouts related to this murders?

 The film was produced by the same people who did MY BLOODY VALENTINE, and was filmed up in Canada. Anderson was mostly recognized for her portrayal of Mary Ingalls on on the television show LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE. Anderson wanted to find a role that was against type, and she sure pulled it off in the film. The film was directed by J. Lee Thompson, who made such legendary films like THE GUNS OF NAVARONE, CAPE FEAR, and KINGS OF THE SUN. Columbia Pictures released the film to theaters on May 15, 1981.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME is such a great little slasher film and it contains a sharp, clever script, top notch acting, great directing, and some awesome gore and killings! One of my favorite slasher films of all time! Definitely worth checking out, especially during this festive holiday season!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME is currently available on DVD and can be purchased at local retailers or at Amazon. Visit their website at www.amazon.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 7: Phil attends the MIDNIGHTS FOR MANIACS: MONSTERS IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD triple feature with Joe Dante in person-October 7, 2011

The Castro Theatre marquee
Hello everybody and welcome back to day seven of my horror movie marathon! Tonight's cinematic adventure took me back to the Castro Theatre in San Francisco for the Midnites for Maniacs triple feature. Tonight's theme was "Monsters in Your Own Backyard" and on hand was director Joe Dante himself, who was premiering his shelved teen horror 3D film as well as participating in a Q&A session! So tonight I saw three amazing films that offered me adventure, excitement, and, of course, some chills and thrills. Continuing the ten year anniversary of the series, creator and host Jesse Hawthorne Ficks pulled out all the stops for tonight.

As soon as I walked in I saw Ficks and greeted him. To my surprise, standing right next to him was Joe Dante! I introduced myself to him and told him how much I am looking forward to seeing his films tonight. I then asked him for an autograph, so I pulled out my Blu-Ray copy of PIRANHA and had him sign it for me! What a way to start off the night!!

Theatrical Movie Poster (1985)
Ficks came out and did his famous introductions and also thanks the audience for coming out to the show! The first film of the night was THE GOONIES. Long before SUPER 8 and THE MONSTER SQUAD, the film boasts an amazing cast of young stars that many went on to have successful acting careers. Starring Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Jeff Cohen, Cory Feldman, Martha Plimpton, Kerri Green, Joe Pantollano, Anne Ramsey, and Jonathan Ke Quan, the film's about a group of kids (calling themselves the Goonies) that find a real treasure map that once belonged to the infamous pirate "One Eye" Willy. They set off to find the treasure, but hot on their heels are the Fratelli crime family. Their only hope lies in their new friend named Sloth! A true kid's film classic, it was released into theaters on June 7, 1985. The film was preceded by trailers of WEIRD SCIENCE, HOME ALONE, CAREER OPPORTUNITY (all three films will be shown at the December tribute show to John Hughes), FERNGULLY and PAPER HOUSE.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2009)
After the film was over, Ficks introduced Joe Dante up to the stage. The topic of the interview was about the second film of the night: the US theatrical premiere of his most recent film THE HOLE IN 3D! The film won the Venice Film festival Best 3D film award in 2009, and the distributor Bold Films were going to release it into theaters, but because the film didn't have any big names stars, and at that time theaters were being flooded with 3D film from the major studios, Bold decided to shelved the film! To me, this is a crime because the film was fantastic! The film's about brothers Dane (Chris Massoglia) and Lucas (Nathan Gamble) and their next door neighbor Julie (Haley Bennett) discover a hole in their basement that brings their fears and nightmares to reality. With genuine scares and great performance, the film truely deserves to be released theatrically, but according to Joe Dante, the distributor has no plans for it to be shown anywhere! It was a miracle that Jesse was able to get the film shown tonight! So thank you Jesse and Joe for bringing the film to the Castro!!

Theatrical Movie Poster (1990)
The third and final film of the night was Joe Dante's other masterpiece GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH.Before the film, Ficks brought back up Joe Dante and a surprise guest, the screenwriter of the film Charles Haas! They both talked abut making the film and how the studio gave him "complete creative control" to make the movie that he wanted to make. The end results is a madcap, Loony Tunes inspired, French New Wave influenced, social satire, movie referencing film that showcased Joe Dante's sense of humor! The film is an under appreciated sequel classic, and still holds up to this very day. Starring Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Christopher Lee, John Glover, Robert Picardo, and Dick Miller, Warner Brothers released the film on June 15, 1990. The film received lukewarm responses and to this day still hasn't made its money back on its $50 million budget (it's grossed $41, 482, 207 thus far). However, despite this somewhat setback, Joe Dante was able to make the film on his terms, which is a rare feat to have in Hollywood. Before the screening, Ficks presented a present to Joe Dante by showing every trailer to every one of his film. From HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD to LOONY TUNES: BACK IN ACTION, it was the best present ever!!

Joe Dante, Jesse Hawthorn Ficks, & Charles Haas
Tonight's show was awesome!! With each month comes new surprises and new discoveries for me as well as for everyone else attends this series. Celebrating ten years of Midnites for Maniacs, I encourage everyone out there who hasn't attended the show yet, you should! The next show is at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco on Saturday, October the 29th, where Ficks will be having a "20th Anniversary Tribute to Twin Peaks." Then on Friday, November 11th, the show returns to the Castro Theatre for its next triple feature. So make plans to attend these next shows. Also, to learn more about Midnites for Maniacs, visit their website at www.midnitesformaniacs.com. To view the Castro Theatre movie schedule, visit their website at ww.castrotheatre.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!