Movies for Mother’s Day [LIST]

Happy Mother’s Day! Let’s celebrate how awesome Moms are with some freaky movies about moms.

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The Others I remember seeing the film for the first time and being so completely blown away. The trailers under sold what ended up being one of the best horror movies of the early 2000s. For those unfamiliar with the film, Nicole Kidman plays widow and mother to two children who are allergic to sunlight. What follows is a ghost story for the ages.

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Serial Mom is more of a black comedy than a horror comedy. But watching as Beverly causes mayhem and blood shed in suburban Baltimore is hysterical. John Waters completely subverts the archetype of the perfect mother in a way only the Pope of Filth could manage with such style.

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Inside isn’t a feel good movie for Moms. It is however a completely terrifying movie for mothers. French Extremism and home invasion collide in a sparse minimal story of a woman, pregnant and recently widowed as she defends herself from a woman who is willing to do anything to get her hands on the unborn child.

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Carrie wouldn’t be Carrie without Piper Laurie’s completely bat shit take on shut in religious fanatic Margaret White. Whether she is screaming about dirty pillows, throwing Sissy Spacek in closets or misquoting the Bible, she is the mom we are all glad we didn’t have. I mean imagine if Carrie had a cool mom?

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The Babadook is equal parts modern fairy tale and character study as horror. A mother unravels as she is overwhelmed by the stresses of motherhood and her own darkness. Original as it is scary, there is a reason it topped so many best of lists when it dropped 2 years ago.

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Goodnight Mommy got into my bones the first time I saw it. The cold aloof Mommy. The mischievous twins. The bugs. The way it plays with audience perception. It is a film that uses a slow and ever building sense of dread that bursts into horror while completely changing your view of the events depicted.

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Rosemary’s Baby is any list complete without you? I think not. Mia Farrow is iconic as Rosemary as she slowly becomes convinced something isn’t right. With her apartment, her husband, neighbours and even her unborn child. Mother hood can be terrifying, let alone when you are mother to the Antichrist.

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Friday The 13th Pamela will always be scarier than Jason. That hair. The sweater. The turtle neck. And most importantly the completely unhinged look in her eyes. A mother driven by grief and out for blood, even if it’s symbolic revenge. I mean come on, she brings her mentally handicapped son to camp, and he drowns cause horny teenagers weren’t paying attention. She has a pretty compelling reason for going crazy and massacring teens.

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Aliens: The Director’s Cut, yes the director’s cut! Why? Well the original cut had WAY MORE MOM STUFF. One of the most important parts being a scene in the first act where Ripley finds out her daughter died two years ago at the age of 66. Ripley promised to be home for her 11th birthday. It makes Newt that much more important. Her parents are killed by Aliens. Aliens prevented Ripley from being a mom to her daughter. Not to mention Aliens has the Queen Xenomorph. It’s a theme you guys.

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Psycho is the mother of all modern horror films. See what I did there? Norman and his Mommy Dearest are part of the greatest misdirect in film history. Hitchcock starts Psycho off as the story of a woman who stole some money from her boss, cause apparently she was dickmatized. But then suddenly the movie is peepholes, shower murders, cross dressing and mummified mothers. The perfect combination of classy and terrifying for Mother’s Day.

Don’t Leave Me Hanging On The Telephone [IN MY DAY]

Sometimes watching horror movies in 2016, I find myself feeling old. I once watched a horror movie that took place solely on social media/via Skye etc. Seriously. How have I gotten so old that I remember thinking the Blair Witch Project was actually found on a bunch of buried tapes, to literal ghosts in whatever the hell Snapchat is. I mean I know what it is but still. I sometimes just want to yell at children playing, about how they don’t appreciate horror like we did as youngsters.

A big thing I realized I miss in horror is the role phones have always played.  Now a days, a strange number or blocked call comes to our cell phones and we ignore it. We can dial 911 from a magic computer in our hands. But back in the day! You were tied to the phone like a life line if a killer is coming to get you. What if the line gets cut? Or you call your friend, and a stranger answers. The horror can be endless. So without further adieu some horror movie phone moments.

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The Witch [REVIEW]

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There’s evil in the wood – William

Sometimes a movie gets so hyped that when you watch it, you find yourself going hmmm is this really that good? In the case of The Witch, the moment I found myself confronted with such a delightfully shocking moment I found myself smiling afterwards.

The film plays for large stretches like a drama about isolation, religion and character study, when suddenly it throws something at you that changes the context of the film. The Witch is not a movie that you see coming. Some movies you can see the twists coming a mile away. The Witch plays in a way that some how feels wholly original while also being strongly connected to films of the past.

The incredibly detailed sets, costumes and period accents are the kind one normally sees in the kind of movie that would sweep awards season but mixed with the kind of horror one might expect from the love child of Argento and Lynch.

It is difficult to say more without getting into specifics that would ruin the surprises in the film. Suffice to say, The Witch will chill you, thrill you and if you have a heart condition possibly kill you.

You Weren’t Always An Only Child [VIDEO]

Check out this amazing deleted scene from the original A Nightmare on Elm Street. One of my favorite characters is Marge Thompson aka Nancy’s drunk mom. But in this Ronee Blakley is giving me life as she explains to the truth to Nancy. That the reason they took the law into their hands was because Freddy had killed the siblings of Rod, Tina, Glen and Nancy.

This puts a whole new perspective on the Elm Street story. And Heather and Ronee nail it.

Baskin [REVIEW]

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Are you ready to be one with the cosmos? – Baba

Going in to Baskin I was expecting Clive Barker level craziness and boy did it deliver! The story concerns a group of cops responding to a call to an abandoned police station who discover hell waiting for them. Thing is, the narrative is more complicated than that. It has a very Lynchian vibe with visions within dreams within nightmares. The film is very gory. Like the goriest I have seen in 2016. But the film does it in such a way that will delight genre fans. The whole film is cast in these beautiful shades of red, purple, blue and yellow. The kind of horror candy that reminds us of Argento before he was making 3D movies with giant praying mantis and visually molesting his grown daughter with his camera. I won’t go deep into the plot because the finer points will spoil it. But I will say, I googled it and I am pretty sure that dude’s lips are real. And by real I mean that they are not prosthetics. Pretty sure someone injected his mug full of silicone in a back alley in Istanbul.

Point of story? If you like movies like Hellraiser, you need to get your eye balls on Baskin.

More Romantic Horror Movies For Valentine’s Day

I was checking in on my previous list of horror movies to watch for Valentine’s Day, for inspiration this V-Day since it’s minus 25 Celsius here in Toronto aka a the perfect weather to be anti-social and avoid others. To my shock I seem to had left off some of the most romantical horror films! So I figured now was a good time to list some more great romantic horror films for everyone to watch while eating cheesecake alone.

It is worth noting this is a list of romantic horror films, rather than Valentine’s themed ones. There aren’t any slashers like Valentine’s Day, My Bloody Valentine. I also avoided movies like The Voices or Maniac where the protagonist can’t discern the difference between romance and chopping up the girls he likes.

So without further ranting I humbly present the follow up list-sequel (hasn’t the internet come up with a portmanteau for that yet?)

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Candyman: How could I have left this film off my previous list? Tony Todd’s flawless baritone purr calling out to beautiful grad student Helen Lyle from across a parking garage, his voice some how a whisper in her mind! A movie whose romance is only rivalled by it’s scares.

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Hellraiser: If you think about it, Hellraiser’s plot is essentially a Lifetime movie on acid. A woman in a loveless marriage reconnects with her brother in law, with whom she had a torrid affair with years previously. Only in order for them to be together she must bring him men to consume. How I managed to leave this off my list is beyond me. I mean seriously, who doesn’t want someone to want them as much as Julia wants Frank? Even after Frank ends up a skinless cannibalistic attic dweller.

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The Fly: A large percentage of Cronenberg’s Oeuvre would work for V-Day. I mean Crash, Videodrome, A Dangerous Method, M. Butterfly, Map to the Stars or Dead Ringers would be great viewing for the weird on V-Day. But The Fly is Cronenberg at his most gooey and romantic. Brundle-Butt aside, the sheer glamour of Geena Davis and the top notch practical effects should have you sold.

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Interview with the Vampire: Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt as immortal boyfriends? Yes please. While director Neil Jordan definitely subdued the gayness of the original text, the movie comes out hella gay none the less.A beautiful and sumptuous film with some of the last great practical effects of the 90s.  As romantic as it is bloody.

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Byzantium: A spiritual sequel to Interview with the Vampire, Neil Jordan stuns with a more subtle vampire story. Set in modern times with flashbacks to centuries previous, two vampires on the run hide in a small seaside town. But when the younger attends classes at a local school, she puts not only herself and her companion at risk, but also a haemophiliac boy she has feelings for. Truly stunning both visually and in terms of the way it reinvents the vampire mythos, it makes the perfect double feature with Interview.

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Bride of Frankenstein: “We belong dead.” The movie that brought Tiffany Charles, noted murderess and voodoo dabbler to tears is a V-Day must. Glorious black and white horror that lept over the bar set by James Whale’s first instalment.

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Honourable Mention Hannibal: The Red Dragon: While it isn’t a film, Hannibal is one of the best/goriest/most romantic things to be put on screen in the last decade. A particular stand out in the romance department is the final run of episodes which were essentially a 6 episode miniseries was a highlight of the series run and arguably the epitome of the homoromantic subtext turning text that drew so many to the critically acclaimed series. Episodes 8 to 13 of the third season tell a complete story that while enhanced by the preceding episodes would still make for a great V-Day watch and certainly play better after repeated viewings compared to Manhunter and Red Dragon the two previous attempts at adapting the Thomas Harris novel.

 

 

The Saw Is Family [R.I.P]

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Gunnar Hansen who played the original Leatherface has passed away. He was 68 years young. While he only played Leatherface once, he went on to appear in numerous other horror films as well as parodies over the years. The title quote is actually from Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (which Gunnar was not in), but it seemed very apt for horror fans mourning an icon.

The first time I saw Texas Chainsaw Massacre was on Christmas day. I’d heard about it for years, but living in a small town it was nearly impossible to track down a copy. Sam The Record Man didn’t carry it. The remake was still a couple years away. It had been stolen so many times at the two video stores my family went to, they stopped replacing it. That was actually a big issue in the area.

Anyway, I was an awkward teenager who had graduated from being obsessed with spooky kids movies (Dark Crystal, Monster Squad, The Addams Family, Gremlins, Tim Burton’s early works) to being a full blown horror fan. In no small part due to a VHS copy of Nightmare on Elm Street 1 through 3 that my babysitter taped off the movie network; whose daughter had shown it to an impressionable 12 year old me. I quickly became obsessed and was introduced to Halloween, Hellraiser, Carrie and countless other classics. But Chainsaw was rumoured to be banned in Canada (this was before the internet was big in Canada). What was a baby gay gore fan to do?

My father was a long haul truck driver, and in his attempt to encourage my more “manly” interests, had taken to my new found horror love. While definitely not a horror fan himself, we had always had a strained relationship for a number of reasons we won’t get into. He was the one who got me my Nightmare On Elm Street box set for my birthday in 2002. At the time Amazon wasn’t a thing, and stuff like that wasn’t available at the Mall. That year for Christmas, my mom told him I wanted a copy of a movie that was banned in Canada. Since he worked in the states for the most part, he picked up a copy on dvd and brought it home to place under the tree.

As a weirdo with vague authority issues, I of course brought it with me to my Aunt’s house where the family would hang out while my mom, aunt and grandmother made Christmas dinner. Since my aunt is what one might call rich (unlike us), she had several rooms with TVs. So after being resolutely bored with cousins who view reading as something one only does because children are legally required to attend school. I snuck off to a small den with a dvd player and popped the movie in. It was unlike anything I had seen before. And Leatherface was mind blowing. He had all the unspeaking terror of Michael Myers. The bizarre home full of skeleton furniture like something from Pinhead’s home decorating blog. The mad cap weirdness of Freddy Krueger.

Horror fans often have very vivid memories of certain films and seeing them for the first time. Texas Chainsaw Massacre was one of only a handful of movies I actually watched for the first time with an adult. It was a formative experience to say the least. We lost Marilyn Burns and now Gunnar, but we will always have the memories. Rest in peace Gunnar.

Nancy One More Time [SHOCKTOBER]

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I’m back with another attempt to capitalize on someone else’s popularity more Shocktober! Shocktober is a month long celebration of all this Halloween that was started by Stacy at Final Girl. It’s kinda like that part of the show where Martha Stewart shows pictures of the cakes made by the fans at home. I watched her 2nd film pick ATM, and honestly I can’t with that movie. I tried to review it, but I’m trying to be a better person this weekend and had nothing nice to say beyond it wasn’t so much terrible as painfully mediocre. I had hoped for a super bleak ambiguous ending and when that seemed to be the direction near the end, I was like oh well this justifies this dull ass trapped in the ATM vestibule thing. But then it just went on and on and explained all this stuff that we didn’t need explained. I hate when a movie keeps nudging you being like ‘get it? get it? this is exactly how it all went down!’. Like sorry movie, I figured this all out when you showed the same stuff during the opening credits.

As for her 3rd pick, Baby Blues. It does not appear to be on the Canadian Netflix, so far be it from me to feel included. Thanks Stephen Harper!

But lo and behold, Final Girl‘s attempt to “class up the joint” just happens to be as the kids used to say My Jam!

That’s right everyone one! The best meta horror deconstruction film of the 90s! If you said Scream in your head when you read that, go stand in the corner. The greatest meta horror deconstruction of the 90s is Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. I could literally spend a year of my life knocking on doors and spreading the good word of New Nightmare to the world. It’s just that good.

For those not in the know, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare tells the fictional story of a group of non-fictional people. Wes Craven returned to the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise with a film that tells a story that takes place in our world rather than in Springwood. Heather Langdenkamp who played Nancy Thompson, plays a fictionalized version of herself. She is plagued by some sort of stalker who sends bizarre letters and makes obscene phone calls, all inspired by Freddy Krueger. Soon her son (played by the same child actor who plays Gage in Pet Sematary), begins to exhibit bizarre behaviour after watching part of the first Nightmare film. As the nature of reality begins to warp, Heather struggles to save her family from a primordial evil which has manifested itself within the real world through the power of Freddy’s cult status.

The film is not only a pre-cursor to the meta horror that would become so popular starting with Scream. It is also a truly incredible thought experiment on the idea of Freddy Krueger as this icon that at the time had become like Elvis.

Going back and watching the movie, you realize that it’s not just Heather who is being subtly manipulated. Bob Shay head of Newline Cinema, Wes Craven and Robert Englund all play themselves in the film, to fantastic effect. From Englund playing the lovable ham who is seemingly haunted by nightmares of Freddy, to Bob Shay seemingly threatened into green lighting a new instalment in the franchise despite declaring Freddy Dead years prior. Craven gives a fantastic performance as this meta version of the horror miester who is writing the film as it happens to Heather.

The film itself is even structured similar to the franchise. We start off with the horror mostly centered on Heather’s home, before it travels to hospital to the dream/underworld.

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare is definitely a high water mark in the late Wes Craven’s career. A bit too high brow and smart for the fans that had grown to love the wisecracking asshole Freddy had become, the film didn’t get much recognition upon release. But it will always be the perfect end to a triple feature with of A Nightmare On Elm Street and Dream Warriors.

Virginia Masden is Helen Lyle in Candyman [KILLER BEAUTY]

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Did you know that during Candyman, any time where Helen (Virginia Masden) sees Candyman (Tony Todd), Virginia was in a hypnotic state? During pre-production director Bernard Rose went with Virginia to a hypnotist who gave the director a key phrase that would induce a hypnotic state in the actress. Notice the dilation of her pupils and pronounced blood vessels in the whites of her eyes.

By the time filming was nearing conclusion, Masden spent an entire day of filming in a trance, unable to recall the day when she was brought back to herself. After that she says she refused to go under again.

Thanks Candyman DVD Special Features!