Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Happy Birthday Asia Argento! Trauma (Dario Argento, 1993)

By six degrees of Brad Dourif, I'm finally updating this dusty old blog. Meant to post this on Dario's birthday (7th September) but life intruded and it went on the back burner. But as it's his daughter Asia's birthday today (she's turning 41), seemed an ideal time to finally finish it, with her being one of the stars of course. Spoke about this before briefly as part of My First Moviethon but been meaning to come back to it in depth ever since. So here we go...

The movie opens by showing us some kind of mechanical diorama that I'm guessing is about the French Revolution. What's important for our purposes though is that some poor bugger has got their head chopped off via le guillotine. In a way, it's a curious way to begin (though it does have significance to the plot) and one of many quirky moments to be found throughout that have Argento's prints all over them. Also, it's the first of quite a few instances in which Trauma seems to be riffing on Deep Red

Following this, it's off to the chiropractor's... and also off with their head, as an unseen assailant uses a rather nifty device that mechanically closes a noose of piano wire or something around this poor lady's neck and allows the killer to collect their first trophy. As a side note, this scene also introduces an element that instantly predisposes me to love the movie... that is, it's frickin' pissing it down! And without getting into why (cause spoilers), rain will prove to be very important throughout the film.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Happy 70th Birthday David Lynch! And 30 Years of Blue Velvet (1986)

For today's post, we're wishing a very Happy Birthday to another living legend and U.S. born film director. Now 70 years young, David Lynch is, like John Carpenter, arguably one of the finest and most unique film-makers America has produced during the past 50 years. But while the former is pretty much universally loved by horror film fans, the latter is, understandably, much more polarising within this crowd and, of course, outside it... no doubt due to his surrealist bent and a taste for absurdist humour that's often in uncomfortably close proximity to the more disturbing and nightmarish content the films also contain. Which is of course a long winded way of saying Lynch isn't going to be everyone's cup of coffee. 

For myself though, I've long been a fan, ever since first seeing the likes of Eraserhead (1977) and the underrated Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992) late night on TV as a young 'un. It's hard to articulate the effect these and other films of his had on me upon first seeing them but for one thing, they (along with others by the likes of Dario Argento and John Carpenter) are among a select group of films ultimately responsible, but better or for worse, for igniting my interest in and insatiable hunger for "midnight" movies... i.e. those that seem like broadcasts from another planet and/or dredged up from the depths of the unconscious sleeping mind.

Working in tandem with this tantalising, dreamlike quality his films so potently exude, was Lynch's power to pull me completely into his world... a world which while strange and often unsettling, also feels completely real, living and breathing, down to the smallest tactile details. In fact I struggle to think of many directors who are as adept at conjuring mood and atmosphere and creating such a believable sense of place. A lot of this I'd attribute to Lynch's background as a painter giving him an eye for texture and also, his brilliant use of sound design and music. I mean in this latter capacity alone, Lynch is still probably ahead of most of the cinematic curve. 

Anyway, enough hero worship from me for now. I could of course go on but I realise y'all have busy lives to be living and all. So yeah, David Lynch rocks in my book. Aside from the great man himself though, we're also here today to talk about what's perhaps his most well regarded film, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Yup, it's...

Undoubtedly one of the most talked about and analysed movies of the 1980s, there's not a huge amount I can add to what's been discussed and recited over and over about Blue Velvet. Most of the theory and trivia behind the film is, I'm sure, well known enough already. So instead I figured I'd share my own history with/opinions of it with you. And maybe we will get into a little bit of behind the scenes stuff too as we progress...

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Happy Birthday John Carpenter! Two Underrated Films from the 1980s: Big Trouble in Little China (1986) & Prince of Darkness (1987)

All things considered, John Carpenter is probably my favourite American director... especially as far as horror is concerned. And as I knew the great man's birthday was coming up, I decided to have a double feature last night in order to have something to post today to mark the occasion. I went for these two films for a few reasons. Firstly, they appear next to each other in JC's filmography. Secondly, one is a light-hearted action-fantasy romp and the other a serious supernatural horror film, so it seemed a good way to mix it up. But most importantly, while well loved by many cult film fans, I still feel these two fall somewhat in the shadow of some of the other movies made by Carpenter both before and afterwards and am therefore of the opinion that any extra affection and attention thrown their way is more than welcome.

First up, and celebrating its 30th anniversary this year (on July 2nd), is Big Trouble in Little China. Starring Carpenter favourite Kurt Russell as wise-cracking truck driver Jack Burton, a man who gets more than he bargained for while waiting to collect on some gambling debts owed by friend Wang Chi (Dennis Dun), ending up right in the middle of some supernatural shenanigans involving kidnapped green-eyed Chinese girls, cursed sorcerers and a few gangs all apparently intent of kicking (and sometimes shooting) the absolute shit out of each other. 

A hybrid of comedy, fantasy and martial arts action, this was met with mixed reactions when it was first released, seemingly being misunderstood by those who didn't pick up on the humourous undertones, but, three decades on, it's now better appreciated and has become a firm favourite of many.