Cleansing the doors of cinematic perception since 1987

Friday, October 22, 2010

Halloween Fever: Acidemic Horor Writing Collection

As I prepare to pack up my lair and move to horrifying Park Slope, here's a Halloween horror film writing round-up of my online writing from the past seven years or so... Don't be traumatized, just be scared! It's healthier! 

Argento Family Reunion: MOTHER OF TEARS
(2007) Dir. Dario Argento / Starring: Asia Argento, Udo Kier, Dario Nicoldi
"The end of this film, which is basically watching gallons upon gallons of yucky ooze get poured onto Asia as she climbs to freedom, is something that, taken at an incestuous Elektra-complex meta-textual level, would be at home in Eraserhead"  (Bright Lights, 2008)

(2004) starring Jessica Biel, Eric Balfour, R. Lee Emery
"The family of crazies that inhabit the terrain are, as with the original, mostly nonsexual or coded homosexual, and are interested in Erin solely as meat product or art supplies for their bone sculptures. Indeed, it's only the men we see getting hooked and abused, kept alive in Leatherface's dirty basement to be tortured, skinned, and defiled. It's Kemper's face Leatherface wants to try on, not Erin's. This actually only further reduces her power, as her sexual hotness holds no value either on the Texas flatlands or in Leatherface's dank, drippy basement workshop." (Bright Lights, 2005)

There ought to be freaks: THE SENTINEL
(1977) Starring: Cristina Raines, Beverly D'Angelo, Eli Wallach, Sylvia Miles
"If it's not quite in the same league as its 1970s compatriots (like LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH), THE SENTINEL'll do until some other movie with Bevery D'Angelo as a creepy lesbian masturbating in a leotard comes along. And as for the poor freaks, I am sure they appreciated the humanitarian concerns of not being exploited after this film, but they probably missed the paychecks."

What it Takes to Make a Softie: THE LEOPARD MAN
(1943) Dir. Jacques Tourneur. Prod. Val Lewton
"In Lewton's films, the horror/evil element stands at an abstract crossroads where psychiatry, the unconscious, and their exterior manifestation — the supernatural — fade into one indistinguishable form. The supernatural always "exists" in these film, if not in our consensual reality then in a reality that is just as valid, if not more so." (BL 2005)

Someone to Fight Over Me: Feminism, S&M and the Daemonic in TWILIGHT
(2009) Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson
"Compare how in their second life on DVD, the decadence of seventies Eurosleaze auteurs like Rollin, Franco, and Vadim seems almost quaintly nostalgic compared to the ferocious enjoyment — the nearly unbearable jouissance — caused by Twilight's total chastity. Who in the early 1970s would have thought that abstinence would one day be sexier and more revolutionary than freeform drug-fueled debauchery?"  (BL 2010)

Un dionnee mangifique: SPIDER BABY
(1968) Director: Jack Hill. Starring: Jill Banner
 "No one can climb into the lap of a tied-down uncle Peter (Redecker) or mix girly baby doll sexuality and creepy murderousness like Jill Banner."

(1971) Director: Dario Argento
"Good guys are hipster artists driven to risk their friends' lives in finding the killer, more out of perverse fascination than genuine empathy for the victims; the killers have their reasons--usually mental illness caused by brutal child abuse, and police hardly matter, except as deadpan mashers waiting around on the sidelines with their pages of red herring exposition."

Halloween Recommendation: TRICK-R-TREAT
(2007) Starring: Brian Cox, Anna Paquin
"Clearly a labor of love for writer-director Michael Dougherty (he wrote X-Men 2), it's the kind of thing that can turn you completely around on Halloween and horror films, the way THE WARRIORS can turn you around on urban grime!"

"Why Don't You Call Your Insects?" PHENOMENA!

(1985) Director: Asia Argento, Starring: Jennifer Connelly, Brian Cox
"It takes all the hot topics of the early 1980s/late 1970s and mashes em up real nice for a tasty b-movie stew: chimps avenging their slain masters (with a razor found in the park trash can), THE SWARM-style bug attacks, CARRIE-esque telekenetic revenge against bratty schoolmates (replete with wind blowing the hair back ala FIRESTARTER), deformed Jason-like freaks, flaming lakes, beheadings, maggots, POV killers shots with a knife on a pole ala PEEPING TOM, etc., all scenically filmed around the base of the Alps in what wheelchair bound Donald Pleasance dryly refers to as "the Transylvania of Switzerland."

Get in my Arachnid Black Belly: BLACK BELLY OF THE TARANTULA:
(1971) Music by Ennio Morricone
"It would all be just much ado about nothing, except for the aforementioned Morricone score, which provides a cacophonic counterpoint whenever it can. You don't even need a story when Ennio is at the top of his game like he is here: all crumbling electric guitars, atonal mashes of the keyboard, deep breathing and and wheezy organs, he catches and balances the woozy mise-en-scene the way a patient friend might help a stumbling drunk to his car."


  1. Hi there Erich! - I followed your link and read your review for 'Mother of Tears' over at Bright Lights...I enjoyed it very much, thanks for directing me there. Have you got any money out of Scrooge Argento yet?, You'll have to wait behind Adrian Brody!

  2. Hahah! Could you tell, Shaun, that it was your own thrashing of Mama Tears that inspired this post??