Double Dose of Horror at the Midway Drive-In

I know everyone (or most everyone) reading this has seen the original Halloween (1978) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) before. Many times, before, I’m guessing. But have you seen it projected on a screen 90 feet across? Then now is your chance because next weekend, June 24th & 25th, they will be having a special double feature screening both of these classic horror films that were game changers for the genre.

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Movie Review: Tales from the Crypt Documentary

(2004)
Directed by Chip Selby
Starring John Carpenter, Jack Davis, Digby Diehl, Al Feldstein, William M. Gaines, George Romero, Bernie Wrightson

I grew up in the late 60’s / early 70’s, so the horror comics that I remembered reading in my youth were titles like Creepy and Eerie. The moniker Tales from The Crypt was from a movie as far as I knew. Once I started really getting into horror, I kept coming across references to these comic books from the ‘50s. Eventually, I would learn a little more about what EC comics had done a good 10 years before I was born. Then when the reprints started to come out, I was able to see and enjoy these wonderfully created images and stories that caused such a roar back in the mid 50’s.

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Horrors at the Music Box in Chicago

While we all wait for news of this year’s Music Box of Horrors, Chicago’s best 24-hour horror movie marathon, there are more than a few interesting screenings coming up there that might peak the interests of local fans!

This Wednesday, at 9:15pm, they are screening the 1982 epic Boardinghouse, one of the earlier shot-on-video films that actually did play theaters. I know this for a fact because it played at the theater I worked at and was both confused and blown aways by it! Plenty of nudity and gore, as well as a lot of W-T-F moments, it is definitely like nothing else you’ve seen. And getting to see it on the big screen is a whole other experience! There will be an introduction to the film by author and film critic Preston Fassel, author of the book Landis: The Story of a Real Man on 42nd Street, the first ever biography of Sleazoid Express found Bill Landis. There will also be a post screening conversation as well.

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Soundtrack Review: The Thing (1982)

The Thing (Re-Release)
Released in 2011 by BuySoundtrax Records
16 Tracks with a total running time of 61 min.
Music by Ennio Morricone & John Carpenter

I can’t believe I had never reviewed this score here! Next to Carpenter’s score for The Fog, this has been my favorite of his work. Yes, this is a collaboration between him and Ennio Morricone, but since I’m not sure either of them came out and said specifically who did each of the bits of music, I’m going to concentrate this review on the score as a whole. Though, I will say that when I first bought the LB soundtrack to this, listening to it over and over again, I do remember thinking “damn . . . there are some parts in here that sound a LOT like something Carpenter would have done!”

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Super Monster Movie Fest Next Weekend!

Just in case you might be late to the party, next weekend, Aug. 27th & 28th, at the Skyline Drive-in, they are holding their 10th annual Super Monster Movie Fest, with the theme this year of The Devil Made Us Do It, featuring 10 films dealing all things with the devil! We’ve been coming out to this event pretty much every year since 2012, and once again, we’re excited as hell to head out there next weekend as well!

Here is the final lineup and times for this year’s features:

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Book Review: Assault on the System – The Nonconformist Cinema of John Carpenter

Assault on the System: The Nonconformist Cinema of John Carpenter
Published by WK Books, 2020. 460 pages.
By Troy Howarth

The latest volume from our buddy Troy Howarth is on one of my favorite directors. Next to Romero, you’d find at least two John Carpenter’s films in my top 15 films of all time. So how could I not dive into this once I got it? Yes, Mr. Howarth is a friend of mine, full disclosure here, but I think you know me by now not to pull any punches, no matter what I’m reviewing. But honestly, I never have to worry about that with his books because they are always so enjoyable to read, always feeling like a conversation with an old friend. Filled with wonderful stories, great information, and just an easy-going way of telling us this information that it just sinks in.

After a couple of chapters introducing us to Carpenter, giving us his upbringing and background (which really shows the impact on his later life, with his love of film and music), we start to go over his film career. Starting off when he is in film school in California, we do get a lot of information about each of the projects, while Howarth throws in other information about other things that are going on at the same time. It doesn’t just cover the films he directed but the scripts that he wrote, as well as the films he almost made or was even the slightest involved with. It really does show the range that Carpenter had in the different projects that “could have been”. Continue reading

Movie Review: Prince of Darkness

(1987)
Director John Carpenter
Starring Donald Pleasence, Jameson Parker, Victor Wong, Lisa Blount, Dennis Dun, Susan Blanchard, Annie Marie Howard, Ann Yen, Ken Wright, Peter Jason, Alice Cooper, Thom Bray, Robert Grasmere, Ken Wright

This is another one of those examples where you have an opinion of a film from the first time you view it, but then at some point in your life, you revisit it to find yourself seeing something more than that first time. I was there opening weekend for this new Carpenter flick and don’t remember if I actually knew anything about the story before hand, but would never miss out on seeing his latest. My first thoughts were that even though I loved the music, I didn’t feel the same way about the film. I felt it was too slow and honestly the idea of a liquid evil or monster was just damn silly. I was also a little confused at who they were trying to bring from the other side, Satan or Satan’s father? Just a little too disjointed for me. At least, at that time. While my love of the score Carpenter did never wavered, eventually scoring a copy from a Japanese CD release (at a pretty penny), I never thought to go back to the film. I mean, if you don’t like something, why go back? But when one of Shout Factory’s Blu-rays came out, I picked it up during a sale and I figured I better give it another shot, trying to be a little more open-minded this time. Continue reading

Friday Favorites: John Carpenter

Since I just started reading Troy Howarth’s latest book, Assault on the System: The Nonconformist Cinema of John Carpenter, I thought it might be an interesting (though probably an easy one to call) question to see what your favorite John Carpenter film is. Now, as I said, I know there is going to be a lot of answers for the obvious choice, which would be Halloween (1978), which is fine because you can’t be wrong in what is your personal favorite. I’m sure The Thing (1982) is going to be up there as well. But I am curious to see if there will be any other titles named, such as The Fog (1980) or maybe even In the Mouth of Madness (1995). Continue reading

Assault on the System: The Nonconformist Cinema of John Carpenter

Author Troy Howarth, in his free time between all the amazing and informative audio commentaries he’s been cranking out, has finished his newest book, this time focusing on the one and only John Carpenter. Few directors these days can have more than a few titles in their filmography that are considered classics, not to mention damn good films, but Carpenter is definitely one of them.

This book “charts Carpenter’s trajectory from screenwriter-for-hire to director of low-budget oddities like Dark Star (1974) to his meteoric rise and fall within the very system he came to distrust. All of Carpenter’s films are analyzed in detail, including his forays into made-for-TV fare, and his various sideline projects as a writer, a composer, and a producer are also examined.”

It also contains brand new interview’s with actor/director Keith Gordon, Carpenter’s wife Sandy King-Carpenter, as well and Carpenter himself. It also features guess essays by Matty Budrewicz & Dave Wain, Lee Gambin, John Harrison, Randall D. Larson, Robert Russell LaVigne, Francesco Massaccesi, Paul Poet, and Nick Smith.

The book is now available on Amazon in the color edition, but soon will be available in a black and white version as well. I can’t really see how this could not be a welcome edition to any film fan’s library. I know it will soon be in mine!

 

Horror History: Dean Cundey

deancundey

Dean Cundey
Born: March 12th, 1946

If you are a fan of horror movies from the ’70s and ’80s, then you just might have seen Cundey’s work. If you’re a fan of the early works of John Carpenter’s, such as Halloween (1978), The Fog (1980), and The Thing (1982), then you definitely know his work, as well as his talent! Cundey is now one of the top rated cinematographers in the business. But before all of that, he was working quite often in the horror genre, shooting some classic titles and making them look better than they ever should have.

Just look at his early resume and you’ll see a lot of favorites listed there, such as The Witch Who Came from the Sea (1976), Creature from Black Lake (1976), Ilsa: Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks (1976), Satan’s Cheerleaders (1977), Without Warning (1980), Jaws of Satan (1981), and the list goes on. But it probably his work with Carpenter that he is most known for, making five pictures with him, which now are all considered essential titles in the genre.

So even while he may have gone on to work more in the bigger budgeted Hollywood films, we owe this man a lot of thanks for the way that some of these great films looked.