Archive for david cronenberg

My TEN Favourite 1990s CRITERION Films

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2013 by goregirl

Have you entered my contest to win a $50 Criterion gift certificate? And if you haven’t; why in the hell not? For rules and to enter click here. In keeping with my 90s theme here are my ten favourite Criterion films from the 1990s. This is a rotten cheat of a post; it really is just an elaborate excuse to remind you about my contest and whore out some of my previous lists.

1990s Criterion films Shortlisted but not making the final cut were: Hoop Dreams (1994), Insomnia (1997), Three Colors: White (1994), Three Colors: Blue (1993), The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Short Cuts (1993), Ratcatcher (1999), Cronos (1993), Clean, Shaven (1993).

The following list is in no particular order; every single one of these titles received a 5/5 from me…

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Being John Malkovich (1999)

being john malkovich

Blurb from Criterion

Have you ever wanted to be someone else? Or, more specifically, have you ever wanted to crawl through a portal hidden in an anonymous office building and thereby enter the cerebral cortex of John Malkovich for fifteen minutes, before being spat out on the side of the New Jersey Turnpike? Then director Spike Jonze and writer Charlie Kaufman have the movie for you. Melancholy marionettes, office drudgery, a frizzy-haired Cameron Diaz—but that’s not all! Surrealism, possession, John Cusack, a domesticated primate, Freud, Catherine Keener, non sequiturs, and absolutely no romance! But wait: get your Being John Malkovich now and we’ll throw in emasculation, slapstick, Abelard and Heloise, and extra Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich!

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Crumb (1994)

Here is a video I posted from the soundtrack for Crumb: Cocaine – Dick Justice – Music from Crumb: A Terry Zwigoff Film…

Blurb from Criterion

Terry Zwigoff’s landmark 1995 film is an intimate documentary portrait of the underground artist Robert Crumb, whose unique drawing style and sexually and racially provocative subject matter have made him a household name in popular American art. Zwigoff candidly and colorfully delves into the details of Crumb’s incredible career and life, including his family of reclusive eccentrics, some of the most remarkable people you’ll ever see on-screen. At once a profound biographical portrait, a riotous examination of a man’s controversial art, and a devastating look at a troubled family, Crumb is a genuine American original.

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Europa (1991)

europa

I recently posted my 50 favourite directors and Lars Von Trier was number 18.

Blurb from Criterion

“You will now listen to my voice . . . On the count of ten you will be in Europa . . .” So begins Max von Sydow’s opening narration to Lars von Trier’s hypnotic Europa (known in the U.S. as Zentropa), a fever dream in which American pacifist Leopold Kessler (Jean-Marc Barr) stumbles into a job as a sleeping-car conductor for the Zentropa railways in a Kafkaesque 1945 postwar Frankfurt. With its gorgeous black-and-white and color imagery and meticulously recreated (if then nightmarishly deconstructed) costumes and sets, Europa is one of the great Danish filmmaker’s weirdest and most wonderful works, a runaway-train ride to an oddly futuristic past.

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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

fear and loathing in las vegas

Terry Gilliam is another favourite director featured on my list of 50; he is number 20.

Blurb from Criterion

It is 1971, and journalist Raoul Duke barrels toward Las Vegas—accompanied by a trunkful of contraband and his slightly unhinged Samoan attorney, Dr. Gonzo—to cover a motorcycle race. What should be a cut-and-dried journalistic assignment quickly descends into a feverish psychedelic odyssey. Director Terry Gilliam and an all-star cast headlined by Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro show no mercy in bringing Hunter S. Thompson’s excoriating dissection of the American way of life to the screen, creating a film both hilarious and savage.

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La haine (1995)

la haine

Did you know I have a list of my favourite non-horror films from the 1990s on this blog? I do! Here it is.

Blurb from Criterion

Mathieu Kassovitz took the film world by storm with La haine, a gritty, unsettling, and visually explosive look at the racial and cultural volatility in modern-day France, specifically the low-income banlieue districts on Paris’s outskirts. Aimlessly passing their days in the concrete environs of their dead-end suburbia, Vinz (Vincent Cassel), Hubert (Hubert Koundé), and Saïd (Saïd Taghmaoui)—a Jew, an African, and an Arab—give human faces to France’s immigrant populations, their bristling resentment at their marginalization slowly simmering until it reaches a climactic boiling point. A work of tough beauty, La haine is a landmark of contemporary French cinema and a gripping reflection of its country’s ongoing identity crisis.

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Hard Boiled (1992)

hard boiled

Sadly, Hard Boiled has been discontinued from Criterion’s library. It is well worth seeking out just the same!

Blurb from Criterion

Violence as poetry, rendered by a master—brilliant and passionate, John Woo’s Hard Boiled tells the story of jaded detective “Tequila” Yuen (played with controlled fury by Chow Yun-fat). Woo’s dizzying odyssey through the world of Hong Kong Triads, undercover agents, and frenzied police raids culminates unforgettably in the breathless hospital sequence. More than a cops-and-bad-guys story, Hard Boiled continually startles with its originality and dark humor.

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Man Bites Dog (1992)

man bites dog

Man Bites Dog was my number three pick for my top 10 favourite horror films from 1992. To read it click here.

Blurb from Criterion

Documentary filmmakers André and Rémy have found an ideal subject in Ben. He is witty, sophisticated, intelligent, well liked—and a serial killer. As André and Rémy document Ben’s routines, they become increasingly entwined in his vicious program, sacrificing their objectivity and their morality. Controversial winner of the International Critics’ Prize at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival, Man Bites Dog stunned audiences worldwide with its unflinching imagery and biting satire of media violence.

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Naked Lunch (1991)

naked lunch

Naked Lunch was my number one pick for favourite horror film from 1991! To read it click here. A full review for this one will be forthcoming before months end!

Blurb from Criterion

In this adaptation of William S. Burroughs’s hallucinatory, once-thought-unfilmable novel Naked Lunch, directed by David Cronenberg, a part-time exterminator and full-time drug addict named Bill Lee (Peter Weller) plunges into the nightmarish Interzone, a netherworld of sinister cabals and giant talking bugs. Alternately humorous and grotesque—and always surreal—the film mingles aspects of Burroughs’s novel with incidents from the writer’s own life, resulting in an evocative paranoid fantasy and a self-reflexive investigation into the mysteries of the creative process.

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Night on Earth (1991)

night on earth

Jim Jarmusch is number 31 on my 50 favourite directors list.

Blurb from Criterion

Five cities. Five taxicabs. A multitude of strangers in the night. Jim Jarmusch assembled an extraordinary international cast of actors (including Gena Rowlands, Winona Ryder, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Beatrice Dalle, and Roberto Benigni) for this hilarious quintet of tales of urban displacement and existential angst, spanning time zones, continents, and languages. Jarmusch’s lovingly askew view of humanity from the passenger seat makes for one of his most charming and beloved films.

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Shallow Grave (1994)

shallow grave

Blurb from Criterion

The diabolical thriller Shallow Grave was the first film from director Danny Boyle, producer Andrew Macdonald, and screenwriter John Hodge (the smashing team behind Trainspotting). In it, three self-involved Edinburgh roommates—played by Kerry Fox, Christopher Eccleston, and Ewan McGregor, in his first starring role—take in a brooding boarder, and when he dies of an overdose, leaving a suitcase full of money, the trio embark on a series of very bad decisions, with extraordinarily grim consequences for all. Macabre but with a streak of offbeat humor, this stylistically influential tale of guilt and derangement is a full-throttle bit of Hitchcockian nastiness.

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Goregirl’s Favourite Composers of the 1990s: HOWARD SHORE

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2013 by goregirl

Fellow Canadian Howard Shore is best known in my world as being a frequent collaborator with another Canadian; director extraordinaire David Cronenberg. Shore scored Cronenberg’s 1979 film The Brood and has scored almost every one of Cronenberg’s films since. These days Shore is best known for composing the award winning score for Peter Jackson’s immensely popular The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the recent The Hobbit; but his work with Mr. Cronenberg will always remain my personal favourites. Shore was a member of the Canadian band Lighthouse (1969 – 1972) and created his musical magic for Lorne Michaels and Hart Pomerants’s The Hart & Lorne Show. He followed his short lived stint on The Hart & Lorne Show with another Lorne Michael project and became music director for the long running show Saturday Night Live from 1975 – 1980. Shore composed a ton of scores through the 80s but since this is a feature focusing on the 90s I included only his resume from that decade. By no means do I love every film on this list but Shore sure did score a lot of popular films from the decade.

1990 Made in Milan (documentary short)
1990 Scales of Justice
1990 The Local Stigmatic
1991 A Kiss Before Dying
1991 Naked Lunch
1991 The Silence of the Lambs
1992 Prelude to a Kiss
1992 Single White Female
1993 Guilty as Sin
1993 M. Butterfly
1993 Mrs. Doubtfire
1993 Philadelphia
1993 Sliver
1994 Ed Wood
1994 Nobody’s Fool
1994 The Client
1995 Moonlight and Valentino
1995 Se7en
1995 White Man’s Burden
1996 Before and After
1996 Crash
1996 Looking for Richard (documentary)
1996 Striptease
1996 That Thing You Do!
1996 The Truth About Cats & Dogs
1997 Cop Land
1997 The Game
1999 Analyze This
1999 Dogma
1999 eXistenZ
1999 Gloria

I was surprised how much Howard Shore I had in my collection and yet I had not a single piece from the composer posted on my YouTube channel! Clearly that needed to be rectified! Music and images from James Mangold’s 1997 film Cop Land. Mashed Potatoes Don’t Mean Gravy composed by Howard Shore.

There will be more Howard Shore tracks to come but here is one more newly posted piece; one of his excellent collaborations with Mr. Cronenberg. Music and images from David Cronenberg’s 1996 film Crash. Music composed by Howard Shore.

Goregirl’s TOP 10 Favourite Horror Films From 1991

Posted in horror, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2013 by goregirl

There was a tremendous amount of truly awful films from 1991. I seen sixty-eight films from the year and gave twenty-five of them a failing mark. That left me only 43 films to choose from, and twenty of those received just a pass (2.5/5). I have compiled these top ten lists for every year of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s and have never failed that many films in a single year. Sitting through some of these films was like stabbing myself repeatedly with a blunt object. In any case, this is what I came up with; I rated the film in the number one spot 5/5, the film in the two spot was rated 4.5/5, films three, four and five were rated 4/5 and films six through ten were rated 3.5/5. I rated just one other film 3.5/5 and that was Bloodsucking Pharaohs of Pittsburgh.

*Have you entered my Grunge Cinema Criterion Contest to win a $50 Criterion gift certificate? You still can here.

*Only feature-length films will be included on the top ten lists for the decade; I do not include shorts, documentaries or made for television movies.

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#10 THE BONEYARD
Directed By: James Cummins

The Boneyard is a little oddity that I missed out on in the 90s and only discovered a few years back. Two cops attempt to enlist the aid of a psychic who has helped them solve cases in the past. This exchange is quite bizarre and strangely serious considering what occurs later in the film. The case they need her assistance with involves a man who has been arrested for keeping children locked in his basement. The accused claims he had no choice due to a family curse that must be fulfilled. The two cops and the psychic end up at the morgue which is where the majority of the film’s action takes place. This film is far more fun than it is frightening. It obviously doesn’t want to be taken too seriously. The effects are cheesy and over the top and quite wonderful! The little zombie children had delightfully nasty looking makeup and the creatures were ridiculous but definitely a blast. There is a 50 foot tall zombie poodle for god’s sake! Most of the comedy comes from the visuals and not the dialogue. This is a wee bit of a shame since they cast Phyllis Diller as a cranky night clerk named Miss Poopinplatz and Norman Fell as coroner Shepard. More effective verbal humour would have gotten this one even higher marks. However, the visual humour is impressive and really is a hoot! Have I mentioned there is a 50 foot tall zombie poodle?!! If you are a fan of the horror-comedy genre and you like it cheesy I think The Boneyard is a must see!

BONEYARD

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#9 HIRUKO THE GOBLIN
Directed By: Shin’ya Tsukamoto

I am definitely a fan of Shin’ya Tsukamoto’s films and particularly his outrageously creative visuals. The man knows how to make the most of camera angles, lights and color and while Hiruko the Goblin is definitely a more light-hearted affair than some of his other entries like Tetsuo, Tetsuo II: Body Hammer and Tokyo Fist it certainly screams of his visuals. Professor Yabe and a young female student discover a creature in a cave nearby the school and are quickly attacked after which all hell breaks loose. Soon a nasty little goblin named Hiruko who was buried under the local high school that is closed for summer holidays is suddenly lively and stealing heads. Hiruko the Goblin has a spirited enough pace and a decent body count and features a possessed Janitor, human heads on mechanical spider bodies, gore, strange crustacean/insect creatures, and a character with a penchant for creating bizarre Macgyver-esque gadgets from kitchen implements. Hiruko the Goblin is a horror comedy with outrageously fun albeit cheesy effects. The effects are really as amusing as they are creepy. While I would not say Hiruko the Goblin is a film for children it does have a child-like joy about it full of silliness and crazy creature effects. Hiruko the Goblin’s story is a bit needlessly complicated and characters could have been better developed but it was pretty damn fun despite that and well worth a look.

HIRUKO THE GOBLIN

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#8 POISON
Directed By: Todd Haynes

Poison is a weird but interesting collection of three intertwined stories, each shot in a unique way. One story is about a boy named Richie who allegedly shot his father to death who than, according to his mother flew out the window. The segment is done in a documentary style and is a collection of interviews with various people who knew Richie including classmates, teachers, his family doctor and his mother. Another story is filmed in black and white seemingly intended to mimic the sci-fi horror from the fifties. A scientist succeeds in isolating the elixir of human sexuality. When visited by a fellow female scientist and a great admirer of his work he becomes distracted and accidently drinks the elixir. The elixir transforms the scientist into a murderous leper. The third story is about a gay inmate named John Broom. Broom becomes attracted to a fellow prisoner who he recalls in flashbacks was taunted and tortured as a youth when they were both in an institution for juvenile delinquents. In the early part of Poison I thought perhaps the stories were connected in some way, but really the only thing that connects them is a theme of sexuality. The sexuality in the science fiction and prison stories is obvious from my summary. The story of the boy Richie also has its sexuality as the young boy witnesses his mother having sex with another man. In two of the interviews a doctor comments on Richie’s genitals and a student claims Richie exposed himself. To say the film is ambiguous is an understatement. I enjoy an ambiguous story but Poison leaves behind a little more mystery than I cared for. I can’t say I found it unappealing though. The visuals throughout were intriguing, alluring, disturbing and at times mesmerizing. I especially enjoyed the black and white sci-fi segment. Although Poison does contain some horror elements I would not classify it as a horror film. It is more art house fare than anything.

POISON

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#7 SUBSPECIES
Directed By: Ted Nicolaou

The good people at Fullmoon contributed a few gems to the 90s and Subspecies is the first of two to make the list for 1991 (the second is in the three hole). The film opens with the return of Radu an evil vampire and the estranged son of King Vladislav. Radu has come to claim the bloodstone an ancient vessel that contains the blood of saints. Radu craves power and believes it is his birthright as the eldest son. The king isn’t having any of it and attempts to cage Radu, but Radu easily escapes and kills his father. We are than transported to a train station where we meet three young college students. The lovely ladies are the only guests staying in a historic stone building with the exception of a handsome zoologist who only studies at night. The women intend on studying the customs of the small superstitious village. The handsome zoologist Stefan as it turns out is the half brother of Radu and the two vampire brothers engage in a battle of good versus evil. Subspecies is filmed in Romania and the location and its amazing old architecture is absolutely beautiful. The effects are slim and not particularly well executed but I got a kick out of them nonetheless. As sketchy as they were I enjoyed Radu’s little demon helpers! And Radu himself is an absolute delight. He is one ugly freaking vampire. Radu is in desperate need of a manicure, drools like a leaky faucet and has a voice as smooth as sandpaper. Radu is evil to the core and is a crapload of fun! The acting in the film was tolerable enough but some of the minor characters were horribly flat. Angus Scrimm’s name is featured prominently but has only the brief appearance in the films opening scene as King Vladislav. Seems a shame they didn’t use him more, at least in some flashback scenes or something. More concentration on the vampire family and less on the women would have been most welcomed. There is a little bit of gore and nudity but overall it just barely warrants its R Rating. Subspecies is all about Radu who is one of the most entertaining vampires to grace the subgenre.

subspecies

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#6 LA SETTA
Directed By: Michele Soavi

La Setta or The Sect if the name didn’t tip you off is a satanic worship/cult sort of thing. It is a rather convoluted one at that, although not unenjoyable. La Setta begins with a flashback to 70s California but the balance of the film takes place in present day (present day 1991 that is) Frankfurt Germany. We begin with a man who kills and takes the heart of a woman who “disobeyed” and later shoots himself in the head when he is caught by police. We than meet a well meaning school teacher named Miriam Kreisl who nearly hits a man with her car and offers to take him to the hospital. The man, Moebius Kelly ends up resting on Miriam’s couch where he uses the opportunity to slip some sort of insect into her nasal passage while she is sleeping. Miriam unwillingly becomes involved with the cult who has chosen her as the mother of their unholy leader’s baby. That is probably a bit of a spoiler but I think it is blazingly clear quite early that this is the direction it is going. Soavi’s visuals are fantastic. One particular dream sequence is very trippy-terrific and the downright bizarre ritual towards the films finale that incorporates a birdman and a birthing well is still firmly imprinted on my brain. Kelly Curtis is a likable protagonist and the great Herbert Lom is solid as Moebius Kelly. La Setta has a good atmosphere and an appropriate pace that builds some decent tension. My biggest bones to pick were Pino Donaggio’s disappointing score that at times was just plain awful. I actually thought the ending was great prior to the twoish minutes they tacked on prior to the credits but this final revelation left a bit of bad taste in my mouth. I do enjoy me some devilish hi-jinx and despite its flaws I found La Setta entertaining.

la setta

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#5 THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS
Directed By: Wes Craven

I hadn’t seen The People Under the Stairs in several years before this recent viewing and remembered very little about it. I was slightly scared off by the fact a child was at the centre of the action as this can often result is a ball-less affair but The People Under the Stairs has a little something for everyone. Fool and his family have been evicted from their home by their landlords the Robesons. It is decided that they should rob the Robeson’s home. What they don’t know however is that the Robesons and their huge labyrinth-like residence are full of nasty surprises. The psychotic and incestuous brother and sister are ruthless killers that have a basement full of cannibals who were once children of the Robesons who disobeyed them. Fans of Twin Peaks will remember the delightfully coo-coo eye patch wearing Nadine Hurley and her brow-beaten hubby Ed who are both just spectacularly nuts as the Robesons in The People Under the Stairs. The performances are pretty strong across the board. The film has a spirited pace and tons of action. While gore is somewhat limited there are some nasty tidbits here and there and the effects included are very good. The house is simply magnificent with its endless labyrinth of passageways and its aging and crumbling bricks and plaster. You can practically smell the dust and decay in your living room. For me the Robeson’s and their sick twisted history was a major highlight. They throw in a kidnapped girl, a vicious dog and a little S&M for good measure. The People Under the Stairs is a fun-filled, nasty, thrilling, action-packed adventure.

the people under the stairs

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#4 964 PINOCCHIO
Directed By: Shozin Fukui

964 Pinocchio is a lobotomized cyborg sex slave who is sold to a couple of rich eccentric women. When their sex slave is unable to maintain an erection they throw him out on the street. A young woman named Himiko befriends Pinocchio after he flops down and puts his head in her lap. Himiko tries to help Pinocchio adapt and teaches him how to speak. Eventually Pinocchio begins to question who he is and both himself and Himiko take one bizarre, insane, dizzying journey through hell. I think most of us are familiar with the story of Pinocchio; the little wooden doll who wants to become a real boy. To say 964 Pinocchio is a unique interpretation of the story is probably a grand understatement! There are several, long dizzying POV shots, insane angles, quick cuts, stop motion animation not to mention one of the longest vomiting scenes of all time. A scene where Pinocchio’s skin melts off looked like they used paint for the effects judging by the thickness and bold coloring of the ooze. Pinocchio running at breakneck speed down a busy pedestrian littered street with huge clamps around his neck chained to a concrete block he is pulling behind him is really something else! The film’s effects are definitely creative! 964 Pinocchio is not always an easy film to follow with its lack of dialog, tweaked-out visuals, abrasive sound effects and the screaming. Flashback scenes are shot at you like a machine gun and you would miss something if you blinked. Obviously the film relies heavily on its visuals. The ending mystified me, but it was nonetheless a trip. 964 Pinocchio was a fascinating, bizarre and creative bit of insanity! To read the full review click here.

964 pinocchio

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#3 THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM
Directed By: Stuart Gordon

The Pit and the Pendulum is not a remake of Roger Corman’s 1961 film and it also has very little to do with Edgar Allan Poe’s story with the exception of its titular device. Set in 1400s Spain the Grand Inquisitor Torquemada reigns with bloody supremacy enacting torture on the populace in the name of religion. A woman named Maria airs her grievances during a public torture and is herself accused of being a witch. The evil Torquemada is perplexed and disoriented by his desire for the beautiful Maria and throws her in the prison where she befriends Esmerelda a confessed witch. Meanwhile Maria’s husband Antonio makes a failed attempt to free his innocent wife and is sent to the torture chambers. Lance Henrikson is absolutely top notch evil as Torquemada. He enacts his torture in the name of god with such utterly nasty conviction! He tortures and kills a shitload of people without blinking an eye. Rona De Ricci is a lovely and likable choice as the innocent Maria who challenges Torquemada’s vows. Jeffrey Combs is fun as Francisco and is really the only character that doesn’t seem to get a thrill from the unsavory duties he enacts. He is pretty kooky looking with that hair and those giant horn-rimmed glasses though. And Oliver Reed has a brief but memorable cameo as the Cardinal. There is a little humour throughout the film which seemed a bit unnecessary but is occasionally effective. There is not a moment of downtime from The Pit and the Pendulum’s brutal opening to its action packed and crazy finale! It is bad fecking news to be accused of witchcraft; confess or don’t confess either way you are tortured. There is more violence than you can shake a stick at! The visuals are solid and the sets and costumes are fantastic. Stuart Gordon’s The Pit and the Pendulum is a thrilling and unsavory bit of nasty wonderfulness not to be missed!

the pit and the pendulum

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#2 THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS
Directed By: Jonathan Demme

I don’t really consider The Silence of the Lambs a horror film. It also did not come up on the IMDB horror search for 1991. I felt somewhat obligated to include it since I included Misery which also did not come up on the IMDB horror search. It does in fact feature not one, but two serial killers even if it is more interested in the hunt to track down a serial killer than the serial killer’s dirty deeds. Frankly, it was a weak year and The Silence of the Lambs is a solid film, so here it is nonetheless. FBI agent in-training Clarice Starling is tasked with enlisting the aid of imprisoned psycho psychiatrist Hannibal “the cannibal” Lecter. The FBI believe Lecter may have information that could lead them to a serial killer coined Buffalo Bill who has abducted a prominent Senator’s daughter. Starling wins Lecter’s confidence but the cannibal psychiatrist makes the fledgling FBI agent work for her answers while the life of the Senator’s daughter hangs in the balance. The Silence of the Lambs heavily focuses on the relationship between Starling and Lecter which is good because it is the film’s best asset. Outside of Starling and Lecter’s back and forth and the outstanding performances from Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins The Silence of the Lambs is a fairly standard thriller. It is definitely the performances that elevate this film to a higher tier. Lecter is one of celluloid’s most intriguing killers; intelligent, charismatic and well-spoken as well as a master manipulator and mind fucker who hungers for human flesh. Hopkins is truly chilling and fascinating as the brilliant albeit psychotic cannibal psychiatrist. Starling when forced into a quid pro quo lays her soul bare and it is not impossible to understand how Lecter might find her honesty and frankness alluring. I would certainly question the wisdom of sending a student FBI agent to deal with such a foe but Foster is a great actress who brings strength to the Starling character that makes it work beautifully. The Silence of the Lambs is an outstanding character-driven crime thriller to be enjoyed with some liver, fava beans and a nice Chianti.

silence of the lambs

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#1 NAKED LUNCH
Directed By: David Cronenberg

Like The Silence of the Lambs, I have never really considered Naked Lunch a horror film, but it actually did show up on the IMBD horror search, so it instantly qualifies. Also, I fucking love this film! Naked Lunch is only loosely based on William S. Burroughs’ novel Naked Lunch. Cronenberg turns the story into more of a semi-autobiographical account of Burroughs life. Characters are based on real life acquaintances Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Joan Vollmer and Paul and Jane Bowles. Bill Lee is an exterminator whose wife Joan is addicted to the insecticide he uses to kill bugs. Bill too is affected by the substance which causes him to have severe hallucinations. So severe are his hallucinations that he believes he is a secret agent for an organization called Interzone and is assigned tasks by a giant insect! Naked Lunch is an epic film that can not and should not be summed up in a short paragraph. I intend on doing a detailed review later in the month so I shall not dwell on its wonderfully bizarre story. I can’t think of a single director who could capture Burroughs vibe better than David Cronenberg! This film is such a trip! The visuals are mind-bendingly phenomenal and the perfect casting of Peter Weller as Bill Lee and Judy Davis in her dual roles as Joan Lee and her doppelganger Joan Frost are spot on. Weller and Davis get perfect support from the likes of Roy Scheider, Ian Holm, Julian Sands and Canadian mainstay Nicholas Campbell (who also made appearances in Cronenberg’s Fast Company, The Brood and The Dead Zone). Naked Lunch is a film that has withstood countless viewings and always leaves me awestruck; it is a brilliant mind twist with unforgettable images and fantastic performances that is truly a one of a kind experience.

naked lunch1

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DUNGEON DIRECTOR PROJECT: My 50 Favourite Directors #5 – #1

Posted in movies with tags , , , , on August 9, 2012 by goregirl

My 50 Favourite Directors #5 – #1

This is it…the final five! Two things bothered me a wee bit when I reviewed my final list; I only had two Canadian directors and no women at all in my entire top 50. I did shortlist the Canadian directors Denys Arcand, Bruce McDonald and Atom Egoyan, but to be honest I did not have any women shortlisted. I even tried to reach for a woman or two to add. I loved Mary Harron’s American Psycho, Patty Jenkins’ Monster, Sophia Coppolla’s Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation and Lucrecia Martel’s The Headless Woman. Alas, at the end of the day the women just did not have enough credits for films I loved. So the list is what it is. You can really consider every single director in my top 10 a number one! Starting on Monday August 13 it will be all about the zombies in anticipation of the 2012 Vancouver Zombie Walk on August 18! Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! Zombies right through to the end of the month! If you have any zombie art, books, trailers, shorts or pics I would be happy to post them during the next few weeks with a link! BRAINS!!!!

*NOTE: I did not include any made for TV movies in the numbers I used for each director’s full-length feature films.*

#5. Mario Bava

What I’ve Seen: Shock (1977), Rabid Dogs (1974), Lisa and the Devil (1974), Baron Blood (1972), Bay of Blood (1971), Hatchet for the Honeymoon (1970), 5 Dolls for an August Moon (1970), Danger: Diabolik (1968), Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (1966), Kill Baby, Kill (1966), Viking Massacre (1966), Planet of the Vampires (1965), Blood and Black Lace (1964), The Whip and the Flesh (1963), Black Sabbath (1963), The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963), Hercules in the Center of the Earth (1961), Black Sunday (1960), I vampiri (1956), Ulysses (1954)

I have seen 20 of Italian director Mario Bava’s 30 full length feature films. Mario Bava paved the way for every great horror and Giallo director. His film The Girl Who Knew Too Much is generally considered the first Gialli and his film Bay of Blood is considered one of the first of the slasher sub-genre! Apparently Bava’s Planet of the Vampires was the inspiration for Ridley Scott’s Alien! Horror in Italy might have been a completely different looking beast if it was not for the groundbreaking film work and effects of Mario Bava; evidently Bava created all his own special effects for his films! My personal favourite Bava is Black Sunday, Blood and Black Lace, Bay of Blood, Kill Baby, Kill, The Girl Who Knew Too Much, The Whip and the Flesh and Black Sabbath. I actually enjoyed in varying degrees all 20 of Mr. Bava’s films I’ve seen! I highly recommend checking out the documentary Mario Bava: Maestro of the Macabre. I happen to think “Maestro of the Macabre” is a great title for the brilliant multifaceted Mario Bava!

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#4. Akira Kurosawa

What I’ve Seen: Dreams (1990), Ran (1985), Kagemusha (1980), Dersu Uzala (1975), Dodes’ka-den (1970), Red Beard (1965), High and Low (1963), Sanjuro (1962), Yojimbo (1961), The Hidden Fortress (1958), Throne of Blood (1957), I Live in Fear (1955), Seven Samurai (1954), Ikiru (1952), The Idiot (1951), Rashômon (1950), Stray Dog (1949), The Quiet Duel (1949), Drunken Angel (1948), No Regrets for Our Youth (1946)

I have seen 20 of Akira Kurosawa’s 31 full-length feature films. Kurosawa is probably Japan’s best known director; he was certainly one of the first I had ever heard of. Kurosawa is hard-core hands-on in the making of his films. Kurosawa acts as not only director, but screenwriter, producer, and editor. He was a stickler for accuracy in everything from his period piece costumes to his fight scenes and went to infamous lengths to achieve perfection. Kurosawa was well-known for using multiple cameras which had the most phenomenal effect; particularly in fight scenes like the spectacular battle in the rain in Seven Samurai! Not every Kurosawa film is about Samurai/Ronin but a good chunk of my personal favourites are. What can I say? I love a Samurai! My favourite Kurosawa films are Seven Samurai, High and Low, Yojimbo, Throne of Blood, The Idiot, The Hidden Fortress and Rashômon. Every single film on this list is at very least good. Every freaking single one! I am also extremely fond of Kurosawa’s three handsome regular actors Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura and Tatsuya Nakadai! Akira Kurosawa’s films are stunning and engrossing masterpieces; the man is a bloody legend!

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#3. Sergio Leone

What I’ve Seen: Once Upon a Time in America (1984), A Genius, Two Friends, and an Idiot (1975), My Name is Nobody (1973), A Fistful of Dynamite (1971), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), For a Few Dollars More (1965), A Fistful of Dollars (1964), The Colossus of Rhodes (1961)

I have seen 9 of Italian film director, producer and screenwriter Sergio Leone’s 13 full-length feature films. I was really surprised when I initially learned Leone had only directed 13 full length feature films! The man is such a legend in my mind and heart I guess I just expected the list to be more grand. It may be a small list but it sure is mighty! Sergio Leone is best known for his considerable contributions to the “Spaghetti Western” genre. I am still exploring the Italian westerns but with just about every Django film and perhaps a half dozen others, I am still waiting for one to top Leone’s quartet of perfection; Once Upon a Time in the West, A Fistful of Dynamite, For a Few Dollars More and My Name is Nobody. I literally love every single one of the 9 films I’ve seen from Sergio Leone; outside of the quartet of perfection I am especially keen on Once Upon a Time in America and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly! So much is said with visuals in Leone’s films which have very spare dialogue. Leone also understands the importance of music in a film and Ennio Morricone’s brilliant scores truly are the ultimate compliment! Whilst perusing another blog, I found myself watching Grover from Sesame Street explaining “near” and “far” with visuals. It made me think of Sergio Leone! Yep. Sergio Leone and Grover should have teamed up because Leone also likes to visualize “near” and “far”! Extreme close-up on Clint’s face, a distance shot of three duellers, close up shot of another face, and another distance shot. You get the gist! I also happen to think that Leone more than anyone else has put the slow-mo shot to its best and most effective use! And of course the cast of amazing talented actors is icing on the cake. I absolutely love Sergio Leone and his beautiful, violent epic contributions!

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#2. Lucio Fulci

What I’ve Seen: Voices from Beyond (1991), Demonia (1990), Nightmare Concert (A Cat in the Brain) (1990), Zombi 3 (1988), Touch of Death (1988), Aenigma (1987), Murderock (1984), The New Gladiators (1984), Manhattan Baby (1982), The New York Ripper (1982), The House by the Cemetery (1981), The Beyond (1981), The Black Cat (1981), City of the Living Dead (1980), The Smuggler (1980), Zombi 2 (1979), The Psychic (1977), The Four of the Apocalypse (1975), Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972), The Eroticist (1972), Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (1971), Perversion Story (1969)

I have seen 22 of Lucio Fulci’s 53 full length feature films. Fulci has directed films in a variety of genres but I have concentrated mainly on his magnificent horror entries. From his brilliant 70s Giallo Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, Don’t Torture a Duckling and The Psychic to his groovy gorefest Zombi 2 which would unleash a series of gruesomely entertaining delights like City of the Living Dead, The Beyond, House by the Cemetery and The New York Ripper. Four of Fulci’s films are on my top 100 favourite horror films of all time; Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, Don’t Torture a Duckling, The Beyond and Zombi 2. Not all of Fulci’s horror is as magnificent as the aforementioned but what shines is 100% gold! Practical gore effects really turn me on! Fulci’s visuals are superb. He does some pretty trippy stuff in his early 70s films and of course there is his deliciously gag-worthy gore effects and makeup in his later stuff. His zombies are the cream of the crop with the addition of real worms and maggots! I freaking love it!! One of the great masters of the horror genre who has earned his nickname The Godfather of Gore!

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#1. David Cronenberg

What I’ve Seen: Cosmopolis (2012), A Dangerous Method (2011), Eastern Promises (2007), A History of Violence (2005), Spider (2002), eXistenZ (1999), Crash (1996), M. Butterfly (1993), Naked Lunch (1991), The Fly (1986), The Dead Zone (1983), Videodrome (1983), Scanners (1981), The Brood (1979), Fast Company (1979), Rabid (1977), Shivers (1975)

I have seen 18 of Canadian director David Cronenberg’s 20 full length feature films. I have not seen David Cronenberg’s first two films; Crimes of the Future (1970) and Stereo (1969). I dig this term “body horror” that has been associated with Cronenberg’s horror films big time. Although “venereal horror” also has a nice ring to it! Cronenberg so beautifully melds the physical with the psychological and it certainly makes for a unique viewing experience. The kind of experience that burrows under the skin and stays with you for days on end. I recently did a post called Fifty Wishes: The horror film edition. My number twenty-five wish was that David Cronenberg would make another horror film. Not that Cronenberg’s non-genre films haven’t been good. As a matter of fact I loved Naked Lunch, Eastern Promises and especially Dead Ringers. I know there is a strong argument that Dead Ringers is a horror film but I really consider it more of a psychological thriller. In any case, it is a freaking awesome film! But Cronenberg won my heart with his horror films; Shivers, Rabid, The Brood, Videodrome and The Fly. That is a hell of a horror quintet! Cronenberg’s wild, weird, wonderful and grotesque films are the holy grails of horror. Not only is David Cronenberg a bloody Canadian national treasure he is one of the most dauntless, imaginative and unique directors working today.

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THE BROOD (1979) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in Canada, horror, movies with tags , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2010 by goregirl

“The Ultimate Experience Of Inner Terror”

I did a little blurb about David Cronenberg when I first started this blog, but I am shocked that The Brood is my first full-length review of one of his films. What the hell is wrong with me?! Cronenberg is without a doubt one of my favourite directors of all time. I am particularly fond of Cronenberg’s older stuff referred to as “body horror” which is certainly apt as the body is transformed, infected and diseased in the most grotesque of ways. While the premise of his films seem wildly outrageous, Cronenberg’s intelligently written plots make you believe the impossible may actually be possible. Cronenberg’s films boast unforgettable scenes of gore and violence and some of the genre’s most perfectly cast leads. Jeff Goldblum in The Fly, James Wood in Videodrome, Christopher Walken in The Dead Zone, Jeremy Irons in Dead Ringers to name a few. Cronenberg includes social commentary, humour and various obsessions in his stories and character development is always an important component. I could go on for days about Cronenberg, but I’ll sum it up by just saying I think the man is brilliant. His flicks get under my skin and that really turns me on.

Psychotherapist Dr. Hal Raglan is using an unconventional treatment with his patients called Psychoplasmics. The method encourages the patient to work through the emotion until it physically manifests itself. Dr. Raglan demonstrates with an audience attended therapy session where we see one man abused by his father develop welts on his skin. Nola Carveth becomes the focus of Dr. Raglan’s unorthodox treatments due to her extraordinary adaptation to the therapy. Nola receives weekend visits from her young daughter Candy that is important to her therapy. But after ex-husband Frank picks up Candy after one such visit and finds her bruised and scratched he puts an immediate end to the visitations. Dr. Raglan attempts to reason with Frank, understandably to no avail. Shortly after, Nola’s abusive mother is found brutally murdered. Even more disconcerting they discover the dead body of a mutated child who appears to be the one responsible for the death.

Oliver Reed is the perfect choice for Dr. Raglan and brings charisma, strength and authority to the mad doctor role. The idea of Psychoplasmics is eerie. The ability to materialize your anxiety, fear or anger would be a pretty unsettling ability to have if you ask me. I’m not sure the Psychoplasmic therapy is actually helpful to the patients in any way. It seems more of a burden than anything. A rather horrifying burden as a matter of fact! The wonderfully wide-eyed Samantha Eggar plays Nola Carveth exquisitely. There is no disputing that Nola is disturbed, but along with the psychosis and rage she brings a certain amount of empathy to the role. Cindy Hinds who plays Candice Carveth barely speaks the entire film. The solemn little girl sees some pretty disturbing things but has this numbness to it that is chilling. The films final shot of Candy suggests that the apple may not fall far from the tree. My one and only complaint about The Brood is the casting of Art Hindle as Frank Carveth. Frank is supposed to be the sane character in the story, and Hindle isn’t awful in the role, he’s just kind of generic and flat. Sharing the screen with Oliver Reed and Samantha Eggar doesn’t do Hindle any favours. He is the only minor blemish on an otherwise brilliant piece of filmmaking.

The mood and atmosphere in The Brood is perfect, and hints from the start that something is not quite right. When Frank finds bruises on his five-year-old daughter after picking her up from a weekend visit with mom, we get our first hint of the horror to come. The film is well paced and the steadily building tension is spot on. There isn’t a ton of violence but what there is will certainly leave an impression. The climax is one of the greatest horror moments of all time! It’s a visual assault even after multiple viewings! (I intentionally included no spoilers in this review, but if you want the films monumental moment ruined you will have no trouble whatsoever finding reviews with spoilers galore and pictures to back it up). Another great scene takes place in a kindergarten class with a bunch of child actors who probably grew up seriously traumatized thanks to Cronenberg! The effects are impressive, particularly those featured in the finale. The makeup on the mutant children is very creepy. From the back or a distance the mutant tikes blend in nicely bundled in their winter snowsuits. Little kids in snowsuits scared the hell out of me for years after seeing this film.

As mentioned in my opening statement, Cronenberg has a way of making the impossible seem horrible possible and The Brood is a perfect example. The minds power over the body is a fascinating topic, which Cronenberg takes to a whole new frightening level with his Psychoplasmics. Harnessing negative emotion and creating something physical may seem absurd but it is completely believable in Cronenberg’s world. The Brood is full of anger, bitterness and trauma with some seriously ass kicking final scenes that will stay with you long after you’ve turned off the DVD player. The Brood is suspenseful, intense and chilling. Hell hath no fury like Nola Caveth scorned. Highest of recommendations.

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: David Cronenberg

Starring: Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar, Art Hindle, Henry Beckman, Nuala Fitzgerald, Cindy Hinds, Susan Hogan, Gary McKeehan