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            Today is the day, and this is the movie for it! The sire and still best of all the slasher films, John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN broke the mold of the psycho-killer movie and remade it in its own image. Think of all the current tropes of the slasher film (Killer in a blank mask, butcher knife, teenagers in danger, etc.) and you will find their genesis in this movie. Intelligently directed, perfectly cast, and brilliantly constructed, John Carpenter’s micro-budgeted Horror opus was a standard-setter in 1978 and continues to influence Horror films of every type. From the opening strains of Carpenter’s “Halloween Theme” of the opening credits, to the eerie, muted breathing of the boogyman over the montage at the end, HALLOWEEN was a thoroughly new, exciting, and harrowing experience.

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Happy Halloween everyone!!!!

100%18 votes

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    We have a tendency as humans to want everything to fit.  

    We want the things in our lives to be easily defined and categorized.  We tend to deride that desire as being something that the “elites” foist upon us - most of the time wrongly, we like to believe.  There is nothing wrong with wanting this type of order.  It’s natural.  It makes things easier to find, define, and place into our worldview.  And, let’s face it, most of the art that we create fits neatly into the categories in which we place them.  Sure, we might hyphenate the categories to make them a little more “fair”, but we really don’t like to do much more than that.  

    Every now and then though, we get a work of art that transcends category.  We get a work that takes what it needs from several genres and in so doing elevates itself above category, above definition.  If it utilizes its genres well, it can be claimed by each - and it is in this spirit that I offer, as an example of great Horror, Guillermo del Toro’s incomparable 2006 masterpiece; PAN’S LABYRINTH.

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Tomorrow is Halloween! Who's ready?

56%13 votes
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              The Horror genre is much-maligned amongst critics - both professional and otherwise.  This has always been a sore spot with those of us who believe that the genre plays an important role in our cultural and psychological identity.  We who love and work in Horror take it very seriously as an art form.  It is therefore always a joy to be able to point out such a critic that one of the most universally acclaimed, award-winning films in the history of cinema is indisputably a Horror film.   I speak, of course, of Jonathan Demme’s 1991 masterpiece THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS - the 'prestige' film that gleefully embraced being a Horror movie much the same way that Hannibal Lecter embraced being a monster.

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Halloween Horror Movies' most requested film is tomorrow...

15%8 votes
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45%23 votes
27%14 votes
1%1 votes

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              Vampires have gone through a lot of changes over the past several years.  Although the sexualized nature of the vampire has been accepted and thoroughly explored for almost a century in film, something happened once contemporary pop culture got their hands on these monsters.  They became tortured, brooding, and sympathetic creatures rather than beasts.  Although vampires have always been romanticized to some extent, somewhere along the way they became humanized - thereby stripped of their ability (and even inclination) to give us nightmares.  

    However, there were some creative minds who rebelled at this modern, softer vampire.  Some who wanted the old brutal, predatory monsters back.  One such person was writer Steve Niles, whose groundbreaking 2002 vampire comic book was brought to theaters as a feature film in 2007.  That film was 30 DAYS OF NIGHT.

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Having 30 straight days of darkness would be...

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            After directing some episodic television, T.V. movies, and one feature film in the early ‘70s, a young director was making an ambitious, if moderately budgeted studio film.  It was a monster move based on a best-selling book, and to say that the production was troubled would be an understatement.  The weather was uncooperative, some of the cast were unreliable, and most troublesome of all, the mechanical monster didn’t work.  Adjustments were made, and the young director pressed on.  Nobody doubted the young man’s talent, but everyone agreed that this production was at the very least, a test.  A test to see if this kid was the real deal.  

    He was - and in 1975 Steven Spielberg established himself as a bona-fide wunderkind director when he unleashed JAWS.

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Jaws

87%49 votes
12%7 votes

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             In 1977, actor turned producer/director Richard Attenborough had just come off of “A Bridge Too Far”; an award-winning epic war drama that put him on the map as a director.  He was in development on another epic about the life of Mahatma Gandhi, but the project was running into difficulty.  Attenborough was having a rough time raising the money needed to make the movie.  So he teamed up with screenwriter William Goldman (who had co-written “A Bridge Too Far”) to adapt a well-received novel Goldman had written in 1976.  Attenborough’s thought was to make a commercially viable film that would make good money at the box office, then use the profit to fund the film he really wanted to make.  The movie that came of this plan was 1978’s psychological Horror film MAGIC.

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Pumpkin flavored stuff?

16%3 votes
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    Most remakes are studies in folly.  

    No matter how much more ‘modern’ you make it or how much you dress it up in contemporary cinematic technique, the original film will always be the one an entire generation or more has grown up with.  It is the rare remake that captures the imagination as thoroughly as the original, and  John Carpenter’s THE THING is arguably the greatest remake of any film ever made. This movie is so good it has almost completely supplanted the 1951 original (“The Thing from Another World”) as the definitive telling of this story.  THE THING boasts the kind of paranoid, claustrophobic atmosphere that John Carpenter excelled at.  The tour-de-force ‘blood testing’ scene is a microcosm of how this entire film plays - lulling you with compelling dialogue and rhythmic comfort, then springing the Horror trap and unleashing some of the most terrifying creature designs you’ll ever see.

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Which is better?

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             There was a time when some of the most influential cinema in the world came from Germany.  In the silent era, an entire cinematic style - German Expressionism - was named after the county that perfected its techniques.  The style is a kind of warped and amplified Art Deco - featuring heavily painted and stylized sets, heavily caked-on make up effects, and intimidating angular design.  Elegant, yet distant.  Accessible, yet fantastical.  Although German Expressionism was a form known in each storytelling genre, it reached its full potential when it was employed in what is legitimately considered the worlds first Horror feature.  That movie was 1920’s THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI.

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Expressionism

90%20 votes
4%1 votes
4%1 votes

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             The formula is basic enough; Take an simple idea, put it in an interesting context, and then present it in an original way.  It’s not quite as easy as it sounds, of course, but most successful Horror films will follow this formula to some extent.  What takes a film beyond simple success and makes it more is a matter of timing.  Of tapping into a cultural shift as it happens, not just commenting on it from behind.  In 1999 directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez brought just such a film to the Sundance film festival.  It made such a splash that the film was immediately purchased and put into theaters that July.  The film was THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, and if its release caused a stir, its marketing campaign was a phenomenon.

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Favorite fun size candy bar?

22%7 votes
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Horror blends well with any genre.  We have seen classic Horror/SciFi, Horror/Comedy, and Horror/Romances.  The one genre that seems to overwhelm whatever genre is paired with it, though, is the Action film genre.  For some reason, once a film has a few fights or chase scenes, it is immediately labeled “Action” to the detriment of any other genre that contributes to the film’s overall life.  This is true of the Horror genre, too, where a great Action movie that might feature a monster or a serial killer will have the Horror aspects ignored in favor of the action.  This is something that should be rectified, so it is in this spirit that I offer one of the great examples of Horror/Action; Guillermo del Toro’s 2002 Vampire-fest, BLADE 2.

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Action/Horror

52%12 votes
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             In 1951, Val Lewton had just started to hit his stride as a producer.  He had produced 11 films at RKO in addition to three independent films.  He had a successful producing filmography that contained classic films such as “Cat People”, “The Ghost Ship”, and “Bedlam”.  He had just come off the western “Apache Drums” when he was signed as a producer with Columbia Studios.  Then suddenly, a pair of heart attacks ended his life and career far too early at the age of 46.  He is now remembered fondly as a champion of the Horror genre - and one of the greatest of his Horror films was the 1945 Boris Karloff vehicle; THE BODY SNATCHER.

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Karloff or Lugosi?

78%15 votes
21%4 votes

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            In the world of animation , over the last 20 years or so, there has been an change of the guard.  The release of “Toy Story” in 1995 began a trend in which CG animation slowly but inevitably supplanted all other methods of telling a story in animated form.  Today, virtually all of the new animated films are CG, and there are only a handful of studios that are making them at any real level of quality.  The result is that CG animated films have become a little stale.  Even the films put out by companies with amazing track records have found themselves repeating themselves a bit.  The interesting by-product of this is that smaller studios utilizing techniques that have fallen out of fashion with the “big boys” are producing far more interesting, more daring films.  There is no better recent example than Laika, an animation studio in Hillsboro, Oregon, and the their stop-motion Horror/Comedy romp; PARANORMAN.

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Animated Horror?

76%13 votes
23%4 votes
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