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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

More Rainy Day Horror Movies.

I like to do these little poster art pieces from time to time. Nothing like seeing a old poster from your childhood to bring back the nostalgia of video stores and better times. This time, inspired by the weather outside, I am posting the art of some of my favorite Rainy Day Horror Movies and sleeper slashers:

Burzum: Fallen(2011)


Since Varg Vikernes was released from prison a little over a year ago, he hasn't wasted a bit of time. Fallen is his second full length record since that release. Last year's Belus was a pretty great record, but Fallen takes what he started on that epic, and expounds on it ten fold. The guitars are still the signature Burzum sound that we are all accustomed to. The vocals are the big surprise this time around. On Belus, he used a more deathly growl than his earlier records, this time he adds Viking/Clean vocals all over the place. I personally was really surprised at this new style, as I was hoping for the "banshee-screech" vocals that Varg used on his earlier work. Surprisingly, these viking style vocals blend perfectly with the sombre atmosphere that Varg paints with his guitar parts. The only thing that most people seem to complain about is Varg's drumming, but I have no such issues, and I think that his lack of drumming skill complements the music perfectly. This record could have been easily issued between the 2nd and 3rd record and no one would have complained. The return of old-school Norwegian Black Metal? I think it would be great if Varg's quality of releases urged the other bands of Norway to up the ante so the same. 9/10

White Dog(1982)


If there has been a more polarizing and controversial film that is not deserved of this reputation, I do not know it. Samuel Fuller, the director, had already been involved with several controversial films already.The Steel Helmet(1950) was attacked by the F.B.I and J. Edgar Hoover as "Unpatriotic".One of my favorite films, Shock Corridor, was also viciously attacked, and it seemed that Samuel Fuller couldn't make a film, without the law and the government glaring over his shoulder. It had been a while since he had made a film, and the script for White Dog, had already made stops with 3 different directors, including Roman Polanski. It had been adapted from the 1970 Romain Gary novel of the same name, and Paramount was beginning to give up on the project. Fuller was an excellent choice, because he had to read the novel and the script, and re-mold into a whole new script and have it ready in 10 days! He changed a lot of minor details to the story to make it more Hollywood friendly. The film had a 7 million dollar budget and was shot very quickly. There is a reason that most people still haven't seen this film. Upon showing the film to only a handful of critics, they decided that the film was too racist, and in no way would movie goers go for this kind of film. The film was shelved and never shown, outside of a few cable viewings here and there. In 1991, it had a limited theater release, but no one really saw it then either. Criterion has put the film out on DVD, and it looks gorgeous.

Kristy McNichol plays a young, struggling actress named Julie, on her way home one night when she hits a white dog with her car. The dog is near death, and she rushes it to the vet, where it mysteriously recovers. She takes the dog home with her and it takes an instant liking to her. She makes flyers and puts them up around town to try and find the rightful owners of the dog. Her boyfriend Roland(Jameson Parker) tries to convince her to keep the dog because it would be good protection for a single girl who lives alone in the hills. Nothing seems to be awry until an attacker breaks into Julie's house and attempts to rape her. White Dog(he is never given a name) attacks the assailant and kills him! The police tell Julie that she is lucky to have a dog that loves her so much. A few days later, White Dog escapes from the yard while chasing a rabbit, and ends up killing a black man that is driving a street sweeper. Soon after he attacks a black woman that Julie is making a movie with, but is stopped from killing her. When he kills a black man in a church, it becomes apparent that the dog has been trained to attack and kill black people.

Julie takes him to an animal specialist played by Burl Ives, who explains the origins of "White Dogs", and tells her that she needs to put the dog to sleep, that there is no helping it. By now, Julie really loves the dog, and she can't bear putting the dog to death, despite it's atrocities. After all, the dog was made that way by some subhuman trash, and it really isn't the animals fault. At the animal facility, she meets another trainer, who is black, and played masterfully by Paul Winfield. In an interesting element that was left out of the film, but was in the book, the Winfield character was actually a black Muslim. He tells Julie that he will need 5 weeks, but he will fix the dog. The dog escapes at one point and kills another black man, and somehow they still decide not to put the dog down. After all of the training, Julie goes to see the dog, and it acts like it is going to attack the Winfield character and then Julie herself, but in the end runs and kills the Burl Ives character in a crazy turn of events. It seems that the black animal trainer has now reconditioned the animal to attack and kill white men.

It is such a shame that this film, was dismissed so easily, and accused of actual racism, when it's obvious intention was to expose the horrible racism that was still going on, and still is to this day. In a scene late in the film, Julie actually meets the owner of the dog, the one that trained him to be a "White Dog". It's a very old, southern man, with his two very young granddaughters, and they try to come and claim the dog back. In Kristy's best scene in the film, she attacks the man with such vitriol, for being the racist and monster that he is. She warns the children to never listen to a word that the old man has to say! The scene gives you hope that there are actually good people left in the world. I have seen far more disgusting portrayals of racism, like American History X, or Higher Learning, and neither of those films were shelved or banned? If it sounds like something that would interest you, definitely pick up the Criterion DVD it's easily worth the 35 bones that they are asking for it!!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Strangers(2008)

The Strangers is one of those films that horror films have hated on since it came out, and I cannot fathom why? It is very scary and creepy, compact, no needless dialogue, and a hell of a fun ride. Although the filmmakers have denied that the film is a remake of the 2006 French film They, anyone who has seen the film, no that it is exactly that. There is nothing wrong with that, in fact, it is one of the better Americanized versions of a foreign horror film.

The film is about a young couple(Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman) who upon leaving a wedding/reception, go to an isolated country house for some relaxation. We notice from the beginning that there is some real tension between the two. We learn that James has just proposed to Kristen, and she has turned him down. The reason that she has given him of "not being ready", does not seem entirely true. The couple are getting into a deep discussion when there comes a knock at the door. The see a teenage girl at the door who is asking for Tamara. The couple explain that there is no such person at the residence and continue their discussion. Kristen sends James to the store for some cigarettes for herself, despite the fact that it is 4 a.m. As soon as he leaves, the knocks at the door begin again. Things are slammed against windows, and Kristen sees a hooded man outside the window. She calls James, and the phone dies inexplicably, she also notices that her cell phone has been stolen from the outlet in the wall. Concrete evidence that someone has been inside the house.

By the time that James arrives back, they see 3 different strangers lurking outside of the house, each in a different creepy mask. For the next few hours the two are attacked repeatedly, and are the victim of all kinds of mind games. There are several very well done scenes of extreme suspense, and there is very little gore in this film, it's not that kind of movie. Later in the film, James' brother shows up at the house but meets a grisly fate. The real fear in the film resides in the fact, that we do not know who the attackers are, or what their motives are either. The ending is slightly different in the two different version of the film. It is longer in the "extended" cut, but there is a hint of why Kristen wouldn't marry James in the theatrical version's ending. There is only a few seconds difference in the 2 versions of the film, so it doesn't really matter which one you watch.

If you are a fan of old school "suspense" horror, and not just "body count" films, I really think that you will enjoy this film. In fact, I felt a similar vibe in this film that reminded me of classics like "Wait Until Dark" and "The Spiral Staircase". If you want a creepy night at home with a nail-biter of a film, you could do a lot worse than The Strangers.