"A REALLY INTELLIGENT INTERVIEWER." -- Lance Henriksen
"QUITE SIMPLY, THE BEST HORROR-THEMED BLOG ON THE NET." -- Joe Maddrey, Nightmares in Red White & Blue

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Random Ramblings from the Vault...

  • Just picked up the amazing Taschen coffee table book Horror Cinema, at the advice of Tenebrous Kate. Excellent stuff, highly recommended.
  • I think it's a ridiculous travesty that the only copy of Psycho I own is the version I taped off television 15 years ago on one of those low-grade 8-hour BASF VHS tapes. This must be remedied forthwith.
  • Less than two weeks to Shutter Island. Can you feel the excitement?
  • How amazing is it that the legendary Famous Monsters of Filmaland cover artist Basil Gogos just did a new poster for the remake of The Wolfman?
  • I'm going to put this out there, and I don't care what anyone thinks. The portrayal of the Frankenstein Monster in Van Helsing may be the most faithful to Mary Shelley's novel ever put to film.
  • If I was stranded on a desert island and could only watch the horror films of a single director, I think it would probably be James Whale--even though there are only four of them. Of course that would be provided I could find someplace to plug in my DVD player.
  • Confession: A large part of what got me into horror movies as a boy was the fact that the horror section at my neighborhood video store was on the other side of the shelves that contained the adult section. There, I said it. I feel so liberated!
  • So when is Toho getting back into the Godzilla business? And dare I wonder if there's any truth to the CGI rumors??
  • If you've voted on the current Walking Dead poll here in the Vault and are wondering who my pick is to play the lead on the TV series, I'm leaning toward Peter Krause. However, I do believe he is currently in the midst of another TV series, so that may be impossible. Sad face.
  • Despite the usual attendant nonsense, it is pretty cool that Bloody-Disgusting is doing a horror blog award, and I encourage everyone who hasn't done so to head on over there and vote.

VAULT VLOG: Cyber Horror Award Nominees Coming This Week!

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For more on the Cyber Horror Awards, go to the official site...

Friday, January 29, 2010

VAULTCAST: Conversations in the Dark... w/Katiebabs

Welcome to another episode of the Vaultcast, currently among the top 10 horror podcasts featured on PodOmatic.com! Tonight I bring you a special Zombie Edition of Conversations in the Dark, in which I'm joined by preeminent book blogger Katiebabs of Babbling About Books...and More. Listen in as we take a break from the zombie apocalypse to discuss all thing ghoulish. From the infamous slow vs. fast dilemma, to our real-life zombie nightmares, to the cutting edge of zombie fiction, we chat it up as the hordes of the undead fight to get inside...

Check it out in the player below, or on the Vaultcast page, or download the podcast directly right here.



Thursday, January 28, 2010

Zelda Rubinstein 1933-2010

Zelda Rubinstein was not an actress whose career was enmeshed in the horror genre, and yet the entire horror community is currently mourning her passing with deep sadness. This is because Ms. Rubinstein brought to life one of the most beloved and identifiable supporting characters in horror movie history--the tiny medium Tangina Barrons from Poltergeist, whose trademark line "Don't go into the light" is right up there with "We all go a little mad sometimes," "They're coming to get you, Barbara," and "Here's Johnny!"

She reprised the role in both of the later Poltergeist sequels--the only character to do so besides little Carol Anne herself, portrayed by the late Heather O'Rourke. Zelda will forever live in our memories, a true horror movie icon just by virtue of this one unforgettable part--the gentle, diminutive psychic who aided the Freeling family in taking their little girl back from the clutches of the Beast.

She got her start in movies playing in the obscure 1981 comedy Under the Rainbow, in which she portrayed one of the Munchkins from the Wizard of Oz. She was a regular on the critically acclaimed 1990s TV series Picket Fences with Tom Skerritt, and ironically her last film appearance would be in a horror film, as well--2006's Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. Fun fact: She returned to the role of Tangina for a cameo in the 1995 Casper movie (as did Dan Akroyd as ghostbuster Ray Stantz), but her scene was unfortunately left on the cutting room floor.

Ms. Rubinstein suffered a heart attack late last year, and had been in grave condition ever since. Her family took her off life support some weeks ago, and yesterday she finally succumbed at the age of 76.

The Many Faces of Elsa Lanchester










Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hump-Day Harangue: Bruce Campbell--What's the Big Deal?

Another guest-harangue from Marilyn Merlot, who dares to question the appeal of one of horror's most beloved thespians...

The more important question after this might be how many women are not going to be a fan of me? Yes, I’m putting it out there. I never saw the big appeal of Bruce Campbell.

I know he’s a big fan favorite with horror websites, blogs, etc. But when I started reading through the interviews for Ms. Horror Blogosphere that the handsome Mr. Solomon put together, I started to ask myself the same question that he was asking some of the lovely contestants. “So what is it about Campbell that you all like, anyway?”

So I thought about it, too. I started off like many other people, catching him as Ash in the Evil Dead movies. At first glance back then, I thought, not bad, easy on the eyes, nice body. Then I was like, okay, this is what everyone’s talking about? Here he’s supposed to be a “real man”--a hero, even. But instead, he’s this whiny little bitch who is just as scared as the girls, and screaming like one. So, if you were his girlfriend, he would be someone you cannot rely on. He would be more likely to throw you in front of himself in self-defense.

Then there is the disaster of Evil Dead II. He is fighting with a possessed hand--enough said. I’ll be honest, I actually had a hard time getting through that movie. I found it laughable at times. I understand that he is a B-movie guy and definitely a B. or maybe C-actor at best. Don’t get me wrong, I like my B-horror movies, but with Bruce and his movies it’s just the same old thing after a while.

For instance, let’s jump ahead to My Name is Bruce. Here, he is still trying to capitalize on the character of Ash from The Evil Dead. Seriously, Bruce? Ash is long gone and done with, let him go. Even Corey Feldman knew he made a mistake when he went back to make Lost Boys: The Tribe. Then, to see someone in his 50s still chasing young starlets around who may be just turning 20 is a little creepy.

When all is said and done, you have a huge fan following, Bruce Campbell, and have made a fine living out of your movies. So until the next Evil Dead movie, I will continue to laugh at your expense.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

21st Century Terrors, Part 5: 2004

By the middle of the first decade of the century, the horror genre renaissance was in full effect. And perhaps no other single year was more indicative of this than 2004. A few specific movies were at the heart of it, and for various different reasons they all made a major impact on fans and critics alike. To a certain extent, we're still talking about them today as if they just came out, which is more indicative of their influence than anything.

Perhaps most ironically of all, the most beloved of these--and perhaps the most beloved horror film of the entire decade--was actually a horror comedy. Birthed from the minds of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg via their obsessive love of all things Romero, Shaun of the Dead was more than a movie--it was a movement. The zombie fad had been cooking for a couple of years already, but SOTD distilled it into a single, transcendent experience--a film that celebrated not only the zombie genre, but zombie fandom as well.

The misadventures of Shaun and Ed have since become iconic in a relatively short period of time. They were perhaps horror's finest comedy duo since Abbott & Costello tangled with the Frankenstein Monster. And the brilliance of the film was that it managed to be so genuinely funny while still being true to the genre it so blatantly worshiped. The movie works equally well as a zombie picture and as a romantic comedy, hence the now famous subgenre title, "rom-zom-com".

Shaun of the Dead was the kind of film that defines a generation of fandom, and without question represents horror in the 2000s for many people. Yet there is also another film which does that for others, and that's James Wan's Saw, the film that, for all intents and purposes, thrust the "torture porn" subgenre into the limelight (along with Hostel a bit later).

Yet ironically, the film itself doesn't quite conform to the stereotype of that subgenre, not having the trademark explicit depictions of graphic violence and sadism for the ostensible purpose of audience titillation. The original Saw, taken apart from its never-ending stream of sequels, is actually an imaginative, psychologically based thriller, which manages to put a unique spin on the slasher motif and packs one hell of a punch with its rollercoaster of a storyline.

Jigsaw is a character very much of his time, just as Dracula, Norman Bates and Freddy Krueger were of theirs. And his sinister m.o. of byzantine traps and warped morality--inspired strongly by the previous decade's Seven--definitely touched a nerve with audiences. Saw would go on to become one of the most successful franchises of the decade, becoming almost what Friday the 13th was for the 1980s--for better or worse.

The two giants of Shaun of the Dead and Saw gave horror a relatively high profile in 2004, but there was even more going on. For one thing, in addition to the Romero zombie parody, there was also a Romero zombie remake, in Zak Snyder's Dawn of the Dead. For a film that had a lot of ill will pointed toward it, Snyder's film made the most of it, and shut a lot of people's mouths in the process.

James Gunn's script upset many purists with its fast-moving zombies and the ejecting of most of Romero's social commentary, but the finished product can nevertheless stand on its own merits. It's an effective, energetic horror film with characters we can get behind, and quite possibly one of the most impressive opening sequences of all time. For a movie that seemed doomed to fail, Dawn of the Dead stands as one of the decade's triumphs.

Beyond the big triumphs, zombie cinema continued full speed ahead with no end in sight. We got the first sequel to the movie that arguably kicked off the whole craze, with Resident Evil: Apocalypse. And in addition to SOTD, there was another foreign zombie comedy, Night of the Living Dorks, which although far less inspired and extremely overrated, was another testament to the subgenre's worldwide staying power.

Sequels were also in full effect, as they always seem to be in our beloved genre. Yet just as with everything else in 2004, even the sequels seemed to stand out--although not always for the best reasons. Case in point: Aliens vs. Predator, a clunker of a film that managed to murder two adored franchises in one fell swoop. Although long followed enthusiastically by comic book fans, the battle of everyone's two favorite space monsters just didn't add up to cinematic magic.

It seemed like studios were anxious to bring back successful series and characters amidst the burgeoning interest in horror that was going on at the box office. The Child's Play franchise puttered on with Seed of Chucky, a subversive little flick that admittedly went in a completely bizarre and unique direction, delivering laughs as well as scares. Blade hit the wall with Blade: Trinity, a movie that proved that even horror comics aren't immune to the "third movie curse" of comic book franchises. Even the classic Universal monsters got back into the mix with Van Helsing, a poorly received action vehicle from Stephen Sommers, the same guy who resurrected the Mummy in similar fashion the 1990s.

And then there was the infamous Exorcist: The Beginning, the granddaddy of all troubled horror sequel/prequels. Looking to reap more financial rewards from the most successful horror film of all time, Warner Bros. commissioned a new film that would explore the origins of Father Merrin's relationship with the demon. Unfortunately, when Paul Schrader's version was a little too artsy for them, they brought in Hollywood mercenary Renny Harlin and created a whole different picture, which was a notorious disaster. In an unprecedented maneuver, Schrader's version would see the light of day the following year.

Leading the pack of foreign remakes was The Grudge, an American version of the acclaimed J-horror thriller of two years earlier. It seemed like a logical follow-up to the highly successful The Ring, yet failed to similarly capture the power of the original.

Yet don't let that mediocre final note fool you. The year 2004 was a banner one for horror films, and in some ways, it can be argued that it was highpoint of the decade.

Also from 2004:
  • Dead and Breakfast
  • Ginger Snaps Back
  • Ginger Snaps Unleashed
  • Satan's Little Helper
  • The Village
Part 1: 2000
Part 2: 2001
Part 3: 2002
Part 4: 2003

Monday, January 25, 2010

TRAILER TRASH: Bruce Campbell Edition!
















And stay tuned later this week for the sure-to-be-controversial guest rant from Ms. Marilyn Merlot, "Bruce Campbell: What's the Big Deal?"...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

VAULT VLOG: Magazine Madness!

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Fun with the Post-Apocalypse!!

Just when I thought there were no more reasons for me to feel superior and arrogant as a native New Yorker, along comes the Kevin Geeks Out series at the 92Y Tribeca in downtown Manhattan. A very unique comedy-variety film clip show, it was first brought to my attention back in October by Tenebrous Kate of Love Train for the Tenebrous Empire, back when Emmy-nominated comedy writer Kevin Maher was hosting an installment of Kevin Geeks Out pertaining to Vincent Price.

Sadly, I couldn't make it to that particular event, but I did leave my suburban stronghold last night to at last take in the majesty that is Kevin Geeks Out. The subject of last night's event: Visions of the Future! And let me tell you, I never realized the future could be so hysterically funny.



Dressed as Orson Welles from when he narrated the 1981 Nostradamus "documentary" The Man Who Saw Tomorrow, Kevin regaled the unsuspecting audience with a series of vintage film clips, and brilliant presenters who walked us through various bizarre interpretations of the future from pop culture past, including lots and lots of stuff about the world being destroyed by nuclear war. In fact, Kevin's co-host, Scott Christian Carr, is an award-winning author and filmmaker whose favorite theme is the post-apocalypse.

What really got me down to Tribeca was the participation of Kate herself, who introduced some inspiredly awful clips from the Italian post-apocalypse cheese-fest The New Barbarians, featuring Fred "The Hammer" Williamson and that little boy from The House by the Cemetery. Clearly I need to track this film down post-haste and watch it from beginning to end.

But we also got Daily Show writer Elliott Kalan taking us through his own personal obsession, the 1939 World's Fair, complete with stories from his own grandmother, who attended the event. This fascinated me very greatly, as I too, had always heard the stories of this legendary futurist extravaganza, and even own an authentic collector's coin from the exhibition given to me by my grandfather.

Plus, Popular Mechanics technology editor Seth Porges was a riot dissecting his periodical's woefully inadequate attempts to predict the future over the past 100+ years. Real-life psychic Jane Doherty enthralled the crowd with some creepy Criswell-like predictions of what is to come (woman president in 2020, and a vegetarian fast food chain by 2015, who knew?) And of course, we learned all about the sad saga of Electro the smoking robot (pictured at top).

And there was much more, including perhaps most importantly of all, generous servings of Dippin' Dots, the Ice Cream of the Future, for everyone on-hand. So generous, in fact, that I was actually given the rest of the unconsumed Dippin' Dots to take home to my appreciative kids in a giant styrofoam case filled with dry ice. Said case was later mistaken for a container of body parts by a group of inebriated party-goers who spotted me walking back to my car. To prove them wrong, I happily shared my Dippin' Dots with said drunken revelers before disappearing into the night, the mysterious Dippin' Dots Guy, as I'm sure they'll forever remember me...

But back to Kevin Geeks Out. If you happen to be in the NYC area, I implore you to check this show out. You can find out more about it on the 92Y Tribeca website, where you will also learn that Kevin's next installment, Kevin Geeks Out About... Monkeys!, is coming up next month. Judging by the trailer alone, I will say it's a safe bet I will be there again. I had a blast watching the brilliant Kate do her thing, and also enjoyed the company of Emily I. from The Deadly Doll's House of Horror Nonsense, as well as Dylan and Christine of Paracinema Magazine. In short, a splendid time was had by all, and I look forward to geeking out with Kevin more... in the future!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Psycho Semi-Centennial: This Movie's for the Birds

Welcome to the first installment of a brand new feature here in the VoH that will be running through 2010, celebrating the 50th anniversary of one of the finest horror films ever made (possibly the finest), Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. And no, contrary to what you might think from reading the title of this initial post, I'm not about to bash this seminal classic. Rather, I mean what I wrote in a very literal sense.

Let me explain. I won't be the first one to break any new ground here, as anyone who's ever taken a rudimentary film course is likely to have come up against this interesting phenomenon. Nevertheless, I've always been fascinated by it, and figured this would be the perfect opportunity to expound upon it. What I'm talking about is Hitchcock's very apparent avian obsession. Because there is a bird motif about a mile wide running through his 1960 masterpiece.

Hitch was a master of symbolism, and he weaves it all in with great dexterity, but it's there--watch the flick closely a couple times and the bird imagery will start hitting you in the face like guano from the sky.

Let's break it down, shall we?

  • The opening shot of the film appears to occur in mid-air, as we approach the window-ledge of an apartment building. Like a bird flying over the city.
  • Our story begins in the city of Phoenix. Phoenix, get it? The legendary bird that rises from its own ashes? Myth and folklore majors, quit looking through the unemployment section and help me out here.
  • Our main character (well, until she's bumped off halfway in) is named Crane.
  • This same woman is later described as "eating like a bird" by Norman Bates.
  • Speaking of Norman, and this is a bit more abstract, but Anthony Perkins actually is somewhat bird-like in his physical features. I'm willing to bet this was a conscious casting criterion. (Oooh--alliteration!)
  • OK, where was I? Oh, Norman. Yes, our favorite momma's boy has a creepy little hobby, doesn't he? Taxidermy! Specifically, stuffing dead birds. Many of which are birds of prey.
  • My favorite of all: During Norman and Marion's lunch conversation, Norman turns away from her and twists his neck in a very odd way to look up at something. The camera shoots him at such an angle that the silhouette of his neck, chin and nose actually resemble the head of a bird. Check it out if you don't believe me -------->
  • During conversation, Norman mentions that his mother is "as harmless as one of these stuffed birds". Hence directly comparing her to the predators.
  • Bernard Herrmann's famous score, with its instantly recognizable screeching violins, literally sounds like birds attacking. And when do we hear it most prominently? During the shower murder scene.
  • And finally, what was Hitchcock's next movie? Yeah, I think you know.

And there's lots more too, including the picture of the bird that Norman knocks off the wall upon "discovering" Marion dead in the bathroom (oops, spoiler y'all! *rolls eyes*). It's all there right in front of you--birds, birds, birds. But what's it all mean?

Well, this is where the wonderful world of film criticism comes in. I'm firmly of the belief that as long as you can back it up with evidence, then any theory of interpretation is valid--whether the filmmakers intended it or not. So I can't speak for Hitchcock, or even Robert Bloch for that matter, when trying to analyze this movie. Who knows why he did it, but I do not I have my own theory.

More than anywhere else, the bird motif seems to hinge upon Norman himself. Marion may be the one with the bird name, but Norman is the one actually represented as a bird-like character. Yet, he's certainly not a mature bird--rather, he's more a child, a weak little chick, who needs to be protected by his momma, the mother bird. The mother who is not only compared to a bird, but literally stuffed like one by Norman.

This mother bird is, even after her death and living only in the mind of her offspring, out to shelter and protect him from the harsh outside world. The home, or nest, is high on a hill, elevated off the ground like an actual nest. And it's most imperative that Norman, the baby bird, be kept in that nest, that he not leave and go out into the world to become a mature adult. In this way, the bird motif serves the purpose of driving home the relationship between Norman and his mother, how it warps his development, and how it informs his sublimated murderous rage.

Just a theory, but I'm pretty convinced of it after repeated viewings. Let me know if the bird thing has ever occurred any of you as well. And if it has, what's your take on it?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

VAULTCAST: Conversations in the Dark... w/T.L. Bugg

It's that time again, when I sit down with a fellow blogger and chat up some weighty topic or another. This week on Conversations in the Dark, it's the lord and master of The Lightning Bug's Lair, and we get pretty in-depth on some of the hottest projects hitting theaters within the next 12 months. So join us as we delve into the trials and tribulations of The Wolf Man, the potential of Shutter Island, and why Let Me In is just so incredibly depressing...

Listen in below, visit the Vaultcast page, or download directly right here.



Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Exclusive Interview: Author and Film Buff Ron Hogan Talks '70s Horror

I've mentioned it on here before, but Ron Hogan's The Stewardess Is Flying the Plane is one of my favorite books on cinema, in no small part because it deals with my favorite era in cinema, the 1970s. Hogan is an influential force in the literary blogosphere, having founded the groundbreaking book website/blog Beatrice.com in 1995, and currently earning his keep as director of e-marketing strategy for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Mr. Hogan was recently kind enough to sit down and answer some questions I posed to him about the movie era we both love so much, the '70s. In particular, given the nature of this blog, I thought it might be a worthy idea to focus on the horror films of the '70s in particular. I'll always have a soft spot for that decade in horror filmmaking, and having read Mr. Hogan's book, I figured he'd have a lot of interesting things to say on the topic. Turns out, I was right.

I happen to be a big fan of the '70s era of film in general, which is what attracted me to your book. What is it about that decade that really distinguishes it in cinema history, and made you want to focus on it in the first place?
I was inspired by Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls--basically, if that book was about a handful of directors who transformed Hollywood, I wanted to know, well, what did the rest of
Hollywood end up looking like? And it turns out to be a quite fascinating period: The studios' motives for hiring young directors like Altman, Bogdanovich and Coppola may have been largely financial, but they (and many others like them) played an important part in making the counterculture of the late 1960s the mainstream culture of the 1970s.

You devote a chapter in your book to the horror genre. What place do you feel it had in that whole era? What part did it play? How would you characterize the effect on the genre caused by the new-found freedom of this era in terms of what you could get away with depicting?
The elimination of the Production Code in the late 1960s is absolutely essential to horror's development in the 1970s, and you see a lot of envelope-pushing throughout the decade, as filmmakers see just how explicit they can make scenes. You only have to look at the use of
tension and indirection in, say, a Val Lewton-produced film of the 1940s like Cat People, then compare it to the spectacular gory deaths of The Omen and Damien: Omen II to see the shift in emphasis.
Horror tends to take a back seat in most considerations of 1970s film; it's not a genre of Academy-recognized serious message films, nor a genre of all-access blockbusters like Star Wars or Jaws. But it was a consistently popular genre--look at how many horror films from the
1970s have been remade in the last decade, and you'll understand how these films wedged themselves into our popular imagination.

What would you say are the most important horror films of the era and why? How about the most important directors?
Most of my answers are the fairly obvious ones: Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist for pushing horror into the mainstream, directors like George Romero and Tobe Hooper for their maverick ambitions. I would like to see greater recognition for Larry Cohen--God Told Me To is
one of the most unsettling films of the entire decade.
And although it's a TV-movie, Steven Spielberg's Duel reminds us that he learned a lot about cinematic storytelling from horror movies, and what he learned about pacing and tension is used to masterful effect later on in the decade in Jaws and Close Encounters.

Do you think there was still a stigma at that time with regards to horror, or was it becoming more mainstream?
Probably a bit of both, actually: Horror WAS becoming more mainstream, but there was still a critical stigma attached to the genre, not least of all because it was one that was frequently imitated on the cheap. (Which is the same reason it took blaxploitation films, for example,
to gain enduring respect as anything more than time-period artifacts.)

What was it that led so many filmmakers to explore such intense and disturbing themes at this point in movie history? What kind of an effect, if any, would you say that horror cinema had on non-horror film during the 1970s? Taxi Driver, for example, almost feels like a horror film at times!
It was an intense and disturbing time in American history, that's the main thing--and, as I mentioned earlier, the removal of the Production Code meant that filmmakers could be more explicit, whatever they were trying to say, and they didn't have to tack on a moralistic or happy ending to make everything alright in the final reel. The pervasive loss of faith in major institutions, from the government on down, plays perfectly into horror's unsettling of the normal world, and vice versa. The visual tropes of horror were a perfect mirror for the psychological fear and uncertainty of 1970s America.

Let's talk about The Exorcist. Most consider it the finest horror film of this era (or perhaps any). Would you agree, and why do you think this opinion is so commonly held? I'd agree, because William Friedkin, working off the William Peter Blatty screenplay, works from fundamental premises: We care about the film because we care about the characters. Father Damien's crisis of faith matters to us; the visual spectacles of Regan's torment resonate more because we've come to recognize her as a character, not simply a victim of horror pyrotechnics. The film isn't a roller-coaster ride through a series of horrific set-pieces; it's a serious story that
happens to have horrific elements perfectly integrated into its emotional core.

Why was Satanism such a prevalent theme in 1970s horror?
Again, the removal of the Production Code explains a lot, but it's also worth noting the general apocalyptic tone of the Cold War era was an effective breeding ground for a "God vs. Satan" mythology. Throw in a tireless self-promoter like Anton LaVey pressing at the fringes of
Hollywood society, and the rise of explicit Satanism as a metaphor for the pervasive corruption of American society becomes a lot clearer.

Whats your opinion on the slasher phenomenon, and why do you think it arose at that particular point in time with a movie like Halloween?
When I mentioned horror films as "a roller-coaster ride through a series of horrific set-pieces" up above, I had the worst knock-offs of the slasher film in mind. Not so much Halloween--which, like most of John Carpenter's work in this period, is a testament to what a determined filmmaker can achieve on a limited budget--but dozens of films that came afterwards, where everybody comes into the theater not only knowing they're going to see a string of brutal murders, but
cheering for them. To me, I'm not even sure that's really horror--more like bread and circuses.

How would you compare the horror of the 1970s, in terms of what came after, in the 1980s and 1990s? It seems to me they became a bit more light-hearted in the '80s, and then much tamer in the '90s.
That sounds about right to me--I didn't watch much horror in the 1990s, but I firmly remember the increasing ridiculousness of '80s horror, particularly the franchises where, as I complained above, a bunch of cardboard cutouts get killed in visually extravagant ways and then maybe evil gets pushed back into its box at the end or maybe it slinks away to kill another day.

Any future projects you might want to let my readers know about?
I've been thinking a lot about action films lately...

I want to thank Ron Hogan for taking some time out to discuss one of my favorite topics. I hope you enjoyed our little talk, and if you're a fan of 1970s film in general, I encourage you to have a look at The Stewardess Is Flying the Plane. You can also follow Ron on Twitter here.

Leaked Piranha 3-D Trailer! Shhh, Don't Tell the Weinsteins!

Better hurry up and check this out before Bob and Harvey find out about it. The guy at 00:50 looks uncannily like Larry David--even though I know it's not him, I would pay serious cash to see a 3-D movie about carnivorous fish starring Larry David. Also, I seriously hope that Ving Rhames gets to say "I have had it with these mother****ing piranha in this mother****ing lake!!"



Thanks to Katiebabs for the heads-up!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Visceral Visionaries: Gustavo Lopez Mañas


Today I have a very special edition of Visceral Visionaries for you. I'm taking to visionary Spanish horror photographer Gustavo Lopez Mañas, whose work has appeared in the worlds of music, fashion, advertising and the movies. Yet despite the thriving mainstream career of this native of the gorgeous city of Granada (they didn't write a song about it for nothing), Mañas has always had a deep, abiding love of the macabre, and has thus always made a place for it in his work.

In fact, his sweetest gig of all has to be that he was an actual on-set photographer during the filming of the 2007 Spanish horror film [REC]. Despite being insanely jealous of this, it was nevertheless a pleasure to discuss it, as well as many other things, with Mr. Mañas...

I understand you were originally influenced by comics, tell me a little about this.
Yes, I started drawing comics books when I was 15, and then worked as an inker on super hero comics. Later, I finally discovered photography, and this gave me the way to express my ideas.

You're a formally trained photographer, what led you to want to explore horror-related themes in some of your work?
I've loved horror movies since I was a child, and I always have been interested on the feelings that they give us. That feeling is the one I also want to provoke.


You created an entire series on the theme of Le Fanu's Carmilla, what was it about that story that inspired you?
Carmilla is a very special story to me. Because it shows us how the relationship between two teenage girls can be as frightening as the fact that Carmilla is a vampire. And of course, it's one of the most important stories about vampires, which inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula.

What is it about vampires that make them such a ripe theme for photography?
Well, vampires are very attractive characters, because they are synonymous with sex and seduction.


You also did some photography on the set of [REC], how did that come about?
I sometimes work for “Filmax”, one of the most important Spanish film production companies. They make many horror movies. I made around 10 horror movies with this company, and [REC] is only one of them.

What do you think made that such a successful horror film?
I think they thought it out so well--they knew how make a movie that people would like. And especially, they knew how to promote the movie. Sometimes it's almost more important to do good promotion than a good movie, if you want to sell it.


Your Hair Museum photography contains horror themes as well, particularly the Bride of Frankenstein... Tell me a bit about this project.
This project was created in 2002 with my friend and hair artist Jesus Martos. He thought it could be great to make a characters gallery, and wanted they it to have a very disturbing look.

Why do you think it is that there are images which can simultaneously be beautiful and frightening?
I think it's because morbid and frightening go together.


Of what work are you the most proud? Both horror and non-horror related.
Carmilla, is the work with which I really showed what appeals to me. Thanks to the help of a lot of friends, that was a fantastic experience for me.

Do you find that your horror-themed works informs your more "mainstream" work in any way?
I enjoy very much doing both, but for me, the mainstream work is just to pay the bills. All artists have personal and mainstream works.


What future projects can my readers look forward to from you?
Very soon, I´m going to finish a video clip that we made for [NYC rock band] Anthony and the Johnsons featuring performance artist Johanna Constantine, which is really special.

* Thanks to Stu of Buy Zombie for putting me in contact with Gustavo.
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