David Cronenberg’s become quite respectable with age (despite his penchant for naked Viggo Mortensen fights and hints of ultra-violence), so digging into his first commercial feature can be a little unsettling. This is cheap and sleazy stuff, with that frayed ’70s film stock and harsh, green-tinted lighting of the best drive-in trash. But underneath it is Cronenberg’s obsession with bodily change and image, and his darkest sense of humor — the stuff that would be made perfection in his adaptation of The Fly. It’s really about slugs that get in your body and make you horny. So yeah, pure Cronenberg.
Archive for October 2013
31 Days of Horror: Shivers (aka They Came From Within, 1975, D: David Cronenberg, W: David Cronenberg)
31 Days of Horror Films: Shock Waves (1977, D: Ken Wiederhorn, W: John Kent Harrison, Ken Pare, Ken Wiederhorn)
Tourists are shipwrecked on an island ruled by an SS commander with a dark secret: undead super soldiers still kicking years after World War II. It sounds ludicrous, and it absolutely is, but the cast includes Hammer’s Peter Cushing as the villainous commandant, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ Brooke Adams, minus her shaking eyeball trick. Some of the images are indelible. People love Dead Snow, but if you only have the chance to watch one underwater Nazi zombie movie this month, this is the one.
An exceedingly outlandish sci-fi monster movie, The Hidden has alien Kyle MacLachlan assisting angry ’80s cop Michael Nouri in tracking down a body-hopping alien who likes Ferraris, metal and shooting people in the face. Lots of stuff blows up, gets mowed down or driven over. He also did Alone in the Dark, in which Jack Palance and Martin Landau terrorize “Howling Mad” Murdock Dwight Schultz, and the homoerotic themed Nightmare on Elm Street 2, about which Sholder says, “I simply didn’t have the self-awareness to realize that any of this might be interpreted as gay.” In other words, he’s not big on nuance. But The Hidden is pretty awesome. Plus you can watch the whole movie on YouTube.
Tobe Hooper staked his claim with Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and this is one of his more successful later films. This one isn’t as corrupted as his more Hollywood pictures — Poltergeist (which is good in its own right but more Spielberg than Hooper, and features way too much whispering for my taste; can’t stand mouth sounds), Lifeforce (which I love in its own weird way, but that’s more about Mathilda May and Patrick Stewart’s brain being sucked out), and Invaders From Mars (a mistake, albeit with the late Karen Black who is always great to watch) — but instead is a genuine thrill-ride horror story with a mostly sympathetic villain. An underrated film. The film’s premise alone — being stuck on a funhouse ride after the carnival closes — is a real fear, and the film exploits it in just the right manner. If Texas Chainsaw is Hooper’s Halloween, to make a Carpenter comparison, this is his The Fog.
It’s October 1, so that means it’s time to embark on 31 days of horror films, in which I’m going to write a little bit about a horror movie I love or loathe every day. If anyone else wants to join me in the challenge, feel free, just tag me somewhere or let me know so I can read yours too. (I know Marc Mueller, Jon Hunt and Trixi Michelle Hunter are doing similar month-long horror fests so I can’t wait to see if we cross streams at any point). First one up is “Pieces,” which has one of the greatest horror trailers (make that meta-horror trailers) ever: “You don’t have to go to Texas for a Chainsaw Massacre” reads one title card, while another simply says “It’s exactly what you think it is.” (I do wonder if this is the original trailer?) This one’s trash, but for fans of the genre it’s prime-slasher-era trash.