Halloween Horror Marathon: Suspiria

poster - Suspiria
The final Italian mind bender this week is Suspiria, the crown jewel of Dario Argento‘s giallo crown, according to critics and film scholars. It’s not my favorite — I like Goblin’s score for Profundo Rosso a lot more, and Cat O’ Nine Tails far outstrips Suspiria in terms of plot twists and insane kills. However, Suspiria is the big giant to slay — and, perhaps not coincidentally, the one Argento film I have with a good transfer and subtitles.

The plot is surprisingly straightforward: a bunch of weird things happen at a ballet school, we find out it was ran by a coven of witches, they all die. Now, actually motive and intent are entirely absent, and the deaths of all these people go unexplained, but you know what was going on, if not why, and that’s better than usual for most giallo.
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Halloween Horror Marathon: House By the Cemetery

poster - House By the Cemetery
It’s best to think of the Gates of Hell trilogy as something unofficial, rather than a planned thing. Catriona MacColl is in all three films, under three differently-spelled version of her name. She’s the heroine in each, but a different character each time, but always fighting creatures from hell. One would like to think Fulci planned this to create some sort of through line, but’s far more likely just because she was available.

The other two films in the trilogy are absolutely sane, compared to House By the Cemetery. I’ve seen it half a dozen times and read the plot summary on Wikipedia, and I still have no idea what this is all about. It doesn’t help that I have a pretty rough copy of the film, likely edited all to shit. However, I’ve little faith that a better DVD release would make even the slightest improvement.
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Halloween Horror Marathon: City of the Living Dead

poster - The City of the Living Dead
A Lucio Fulci movie is something I enjoy watching quite a bit. Understanding, not so much. This marks my fifth viewing of City of the Living Dead, and it still makes no sense whatsoever. I can’t explain why most things in the movie happen, only that they do, and look really cool as they occur.

The basic plot is that a priest kills himself, opening a gate to hell, and it has to be closed before All Saints’ Day or the dead will never rest peacefully again. Everything that happens around that is due to the open gate, and you just have to accept it.
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The Halloween Horror Marathon returns tomorrow

terror tuesdays 01Last year’s Halloween Horror Marathon kind of fell apart. Longtime readers may have noted that it stopped after nine movies, less than halfway through the month. Long story, but it involved me having a mental collapse and quitting my job.

ANYWAY. This year, we’re doing it up properly. In addition to trying to tackle some of the classics — Lucio Fulci’s Gates of Hell trilogy, Mario Bava’s Bay of Blood, Dario Argento’s Suspiria — as well as some more recent classics like The Conjuring, You’re Next, and House of the Devil.

You may also notice that awesome poster. We’ll be skipping movie reviews on Tuesdays because we’ll be showing them instead! Every Tuesday at 7:00 and 9:00pm at Frank’s North Star Tavern here in Lawrence, Kansas, we’ll be doing free screenings of classic horror flicks. We’re starting with Tom Atkins Rules! That features The Fog and Halloween III. Future installments will be announced soon. In the meantime, save your pennies for $2 tallboys.

Big thanks to Zach Trover for making the poster.

Greg Mank’s latest, “The Very Witching Time of Night” a surprisingly cohesive collection of leftovers

book cover - Very_Witching_Time_of_NightThe books on classic horror cinema seem to be coming rather regularly these days. The latest in the march of essays is The Very Witching Time of Night: Dark Alleys of Classic Horror Cinema, by Gregory William Mank, out now from McFarland.

Comprised as it is of pieces the author couldn’t fit into other books, the various chapters still manage to gel nicely in terms of thematic elements. Taken as a whole, this is a fun, interesting read that dips and delves into some unexplored corners of early film history.

That said, the chapters themselves seem incomplete. Mank is quite fond of production timelines, and while those provide invaluable data with dates and times of each film, they come off more as outlines for potential chapters than actual work itself. After making it through the book, you wonder if Mank’s capable of creating an actual narrative.
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“The Zombie Film” alternates frustrating vagueness with in-depth analysis

book cover - zombie filmAlain Silver and James Ursini‘s new tome, The Zombie Film: From White Zombie to World War Z, is out now from Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, and despite some flaws, it’s worth grabbing, especially for those newly interested in the genre, although longtime horror buffs can find a few new grains of information.

The Zombie Film essentially waffles between seriously in-depth analysis and what seems like a galloping rush to include as much material as possible. While Silver and Ursini should get a huge pat on the back for organizing the book into chronological and locale-specific chapters, rather than just churning out an A-Z list of reviews and summaries, few films get near the analysis they deserve.
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Downright Creepy’s Tim Canton on Screenland Armour’s upcoming Panic Fest

logo - panic fest
Over the weekend of Friday, January 31, through Sunday, February 2, North Kansas City’s Screenland Armour will play host to the second annual Panic Film Fest. In addition to a slew of classic horros films like Deep Red, Driller Killer, and the infamous Cannibal Holocaust, the fest will feature a selection of newer genre fair from Magnet Releasing. Additionally, there will be some interesting left-of-center selections like Spaceballs and Serenity to offer a bit of variety — to say nothing of beer from Tallgrass Brewing and a wide number of vendors.

It’s obviously right up our alley here at Rock Star Journalist, so we reached out to one of the organizer, Tim KC Canton, of Downright Creepy He was kind enough to answer a bunch of our questions via e-mail.
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Joseph Bishara, “11-11-11” and “Insidious Chapter 2” soundtrack LPs

joseph bishara lps
Listening to Joseph Bishara‘s scores for 11-11-11 and Insidious Chapter 2 have made for a really uncomfortable week. Bishara’s work, which is currently available on vinyl from Void Recordings, isn’t exactly easy listening. While the majority of horror movie soundtracks that have been making the rounds lately have their roots in more synth-driven avenues, Bishara’s work hearkens back further to the likes of Bernard Herrmann. Utilizing a string quartet as the bed, then augmenting with piano and vocals, Bishara’s work is familiar in spots — in opening movements and recurring themes, you hear the uncomfortable build and release inherent in most traditional film scores.
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The 2013 Halloween Horror Marathon starts tomorrow

tom atkins
As we’ve done the last few years, we’ll be covering a different horror movie each and every weekday during the month of October, going all the way up through Halloween. I’m going to try and organize some sort of theme each week this year, in the interest of keeping things interesting for both me and you. This week, we’re going with Tom Atkins, and we’ll be going in chronological order through his greatest hits: The Fog, Halloween III, Creepshow, and Night of the Creeps. Get excited.

Giallo Disco’s label heads talk horror, their influences, and upcoming plans

logo - giallo disco
The scads of reissue labels which have appeared over the last few years all seem to have their focus — Death Waltz has a John Carpenter / Fabio Frizzi thing going on, focusing on grimy, creepy things; One Way Static is tackling Wes Craven’s exploitation years; and Waxwork appears to have the ’80s splatter genre tied up. Giallo Disco might be the only label putting out music that fits that soundtrack niche, yet it differs in one notable aspect — these albums aren’t soundtracking anything other than a great dance party.

Situated out of Berlin and Vienna, and respectively ran by Anton Maiof and Gianni Vercetti Balopitas (aka Vercetti Technicolor), Giallo Disco rocks your socks with creepy, yet totally danceable tracks that hearken back to late ’70s and early ’80s analog synth soundtracks. There’s heaps of Moroder here, but everything is still unique. Maiof and Balopitas were both kind enough to answer questions via e-mail about the label and its future plans.
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