Seeding of a Ghost (1983)
Directed by Yang Chuan
Starring Man Biu Baak, Jaime Mei Chun Chik, Norman Chu, San Nam Hung, Maria Jo, Philip Ko, Sha-fei Ouyang, Mat Tin
Back in the late 90’s, Hong Kong films started to make their way into the American cult market, while it would be a few more years before Hollywood took notice of the likes of Jackie Chan and John Woo. At that time, while I was diving head first into the action stuff, I was also discovering the horror flicks coming from there as well. Just like they did with their action titles, some of their horror titles were like nothing we’d seen here in the states. For those who might not be familiar with Hong Kong horror, some may be more fantasy based, and even had some strange humor about, there were more than a few titles that you better have a strong stomach! When you get to hear about a sub-sub-genre of films referred simply as “bug-barfing movies”, you kind of know what you’re getting into.
The Sadist (1963)
Directed by James Landis
Starring Arch Hall Jr., Richard Alden, Marilyn Manning, Don Russell, Helen Hovey
One of the things that always set low budget filmmakers apart from the big studios is that they were always willing to take risks and tackle subjects the bigwigs wouldn’t touch. In 1958, Charles Starkweather went on a killing spree, taking his 15-year-old girlfriend Caril Fugate along for the fun. When it was over, they had murdered 11 people, including Fugate’s own 2-year-old step-sister. At that time, Hollywood wouldn’t dare touch a subject like this one. It wouldn’t be until 1973, when Terrence Malick would direct the film Badlands. But in 1963, only after 5 years since those tragic crimes, James Landis wrote and directed a film inspired by this murderous rampage. The film was called The Sadist.
The Ruins (2008)
Directed by Carter Smith
Starring Jonathan Tucker, Jena Malone, Laura Ramsey, Shawn Ashmore, Joe Anderson
When this movie first came out, just by watching the trailer, it didn’t do much for me, other than to make me think it was another lackluster attempt from Hollywood at making a cheap horror movie. So I never bothered with it while it was at the theater. But by the time it hit DVD, I had already been hearing that it was actually pretty good. So against our better judgement, we took that journey to The Ruins. And now I regret not seeing it in the theater, even better with a packed house. Continue reading
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)
Directed by William Dieterl
Starring Charles Laughton, Cedric Hardwicke, Thomas Mitchell, Maureen O’Hara, Edmond O’Brien, Alan Marshal, Walter Hampden, Harry Davenport
It’s amazing how a movie can change over the years. Or does it? As the saying goes, a movie never changes, but the viewer does. The more movies that we watch, the more we learn about films. And the more we learn, the more we learn to appreciate them. So watching something at an older age, compared to watching something younger, can result in quite a different of effect, and opinion. This film is proof of that theory.
Directed by Greg McLean
Starring Radha Mitchell, Michael Vartan, Sam Worthington, Caroline Brazier, Stephen Curry, Celia Ireland, John Jarratt
Ever since Jaws, I’m not too fond of movies where there is some underwater beast making meals out of people. It is the one sub-genre that can still under my skin. I don’t completely avoid them, but I’m usually not in a hurry to run out and watch them. But I made an exception for Greg McLean’s Rogue when it first came out over here in the states. This film is about a very large crocodile that doesn’t like the fact that a boat tour has come into its territory and decides to make sure they don’t leave.
The Unnamable (1988)
Director Jean-Paul Ouellette
Starring Mark Kinsey Stephenson, Charles Klausmeyer, Alexandra Durrell, Laura Albert, Eben Ham, Blane Wheatley, Mark Parra, Delbert Spain, Katrin Alexandre
The first feature films to be based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft (at least officially credited to him) started in the ’60s with Roger Corman’s The Haunted Palace (1963), based on the story “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward” (even though they billed it as a Edgar Allan Poe movie!). Then we had Die Monster Die! (1965), The Shuttered Room (1967), and The Dunwich Horror (1970). We did see some adaptations in different series like The Night Gallery, but for the most part, it never really brought a lot of attention to the author and his work. Then in the mid ’80s, there was a slight resurgence of his work, starting with Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator (1985), followed by From Beyond (1986), each based on stories of the same name. Granted, these versions were probably a little more intense than what the author intended, it still got the ball rolling and brought attention to Lovecraft’s name and his work. The following year we got David Keith’s The Curse, based on the story “The Colour Out of Space”, and soon more were to follow.
Clark Ashton Smith: The Emperor of Dreams (2018)
Directed by Darin Coelho Spring
Featuring Donald Sidney-Fryer, Harlan Ellison, S.T. Joshi, Cody Goodfellow, Skinner
Clark Ashton Smith, one of the “Three Musketeers” of the legendary pulp magazine Weird Tales (with H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard) has sadly not received the popular attention that the creators of Cthulhu and Conan have benefited from. This new documentary hopefully will remedy that situation.
Smith lived from 1893 to 1961, primarily in the Gold Rush town of Auburn, CA. For about 50 years, he resided in a cabin there without electricity or running water. He never attended high school, but educated himself by devouring all of the books in the local library. He developed an incredible vocabulary and style that soon established him as a promising poet and the protégé of the “Keats of the West Coast,” George Sterling.
Lovecraft encountered Smith’s poetry and began a correspondence to state his admiration that blossomed into a lifelong friendship, all expressed through the mail, as the men unfortunately never met in person. The title of the documentary comes from the first line of Smith’s poem “The Hashish-Eater”, which Lovecraft praised in his Supernatural Horror in Literature. Continue reading