Saturday, August 21
Monday, May 3
I just found out that my interview with Bruce Campbell in Scary Monsters Memories #116 won a Rondo Award for Best Interview! I am truly honored, and very surprised! I didn't campaign at all this year, just mentioned it once on the social media sites. It was a blast talking with Bruce - this one was actually the idea of the Scary Monsters editors, Don and Vicki Smeraldi, who asked me to try and interview him. It turned out really well and my favorite fact from the interview is that Sam Raimi once sent a short film to the horror host The Ghoul - which he played on the air!!
Again - Thank you to everyone who voted for this interview, thank you to Scary Monsters for the space to write it. Long live the Rondos.
Tuesday, February 16
Not every movie I watch is a horror film, and that's certainly been true lately. I've been on an Italian crime binge lately. One of the recent ones I watched in that genre was Vengeance Cops (1971).
Vengeance Cops is an Interesting little cop film with a great title and some suspenseful moments, including the car chases, one of which takes place in a drive-in movie theater!
I love when drive-ins pop up in movies! IMDB lists the country of origin on this one as South Africa. Apparently drive-ins were big in South Africa at one point, so that makes sense. This particular one might have been a 5-screener too, as they pull into one lot with a big 5 at the sign of the lot entrance. There is also a blurry shot of what I think is the main marquee as they enter the drive-in, but I couldn't make it out.
I'd love to know the name of this drive-in where this was shot. I doubt it's still around but would be good to know some more details about it. It was concreted and had the humps for cars to angle toward the screen as well as speakers on poles - they did it up right! Vengeance Cops was a fun little Saturday afternoon action flick. I watched it on Amazon Prime.
Wednesday, October 14
Dr. Gangrene's Halloween countdown continues with a look at the 1991 version of The Pit and the Pendulum from director Stuart Gordon.
Monday, October 12
Nocturne is part of the Welcome to Blumhouse series of films from Blumhouse Studios, which features 8 films that will debut on Amazon streaming. The first four air this October, the rest in 2021.
A pair of twin girls named Juliet and Vivian (Sydney Sweeney and Madison Iseman) are enrolled in a prestigious arts school. Vivian is outgoing and popular, while Juliet more reserved and withdrawn. Both are gifted at playing the piano, but Vivian has always been the more successful – and favorite of their parents. When they arrive at the school, they learn that the soloist in the school concerto – a girl named Moria (Ji Eun Hwang) – died a week prior, having committed suicide, and there will be an open competition to decide the new lead. Vivian is the assumed forerunner. One day Juliet stumbles upon a notebook that previously belonged to Moira, her theory book, containing strange drawings, musical notations and messages written backwards. She finds herself drawn to it, and into a world of the supernatural, using it to channel her own talents and try to win the lead in the concerto…
Nocturne was written and directed by Zu Quirke, who is seriously channeling Suspiria with this tale of a musical academy with a supernatural secret lurking beneath its facade. However, unlike the 1977 Argento film (and its 2018 remake) this one doesn’t lean into the horror element fully, rather swerving at the last second to a more pedestrian ending that, while still good, falls short of the potential it was building toward. The acting is good across the board and Sydney Sweeney really shines in the role of the tormented Juliet.
Nocturne is a stylish and well-made tale of jealousy, ambition and sibling rivalry. I just wish it had embraced the horror fully. Just before she goes onstage to perform Juliet’s principal tell her to, “Give them hell.” Unfortunately, it didn’t quite go there.
Available on Amazon starting October 13, 2020.
Evil Eye is part of the Welcome to Blumhouse series of films from Blumhouse Studios, which features 8 films that will debut on Amazon streaming. The first four air this October, the rest in 2021.
Evil Eye is about a girl named Pallavi (Sunita Mani) who lives alone in the US while her parents live back home in India. Her mother Usha (Sarita Choudhury) worries about her daughter, especially as she’s almost 30 and hasn’t been married. She constantly tries fixing her daughter up and seems overly concerned with the topic, almost to the point of obsession. When Pallavi meets a handsome boy named Sandeep (Omar Maskati ) you’d think her mother would be thrilled, but quite the opposite. She becomes even more concerned, convinced that Sandeep is the reincarnation of the man who attempted to murder her 30 years prior, and who cursed her with the evil eye while she was pregnant.
Evil Eye was originally written by Madhuri Shekar as an audio play that debuted on Audible, where it was on the Best-Seller list. She also wrote the screenplay for the film, which was directed by Elan and Rajeev Dassani, twin brothers who were born right here in Nashville, TN. The story is as much a drama as a horror story, albeit one with supernatural overtones. Both Shekar and the Dassani brothers are of Indian descent, which shows through in the film. It feels authentic to the culture, even to a Westerner like me with little familiarity to it. It was interesting and engaging, even if the ending is a little heavy-handed with social messaging – although to be fair that is probably exactly what many viewers will like best about it.
Sarita Choudhury was especially good as the matriarch of the family. I looked her up on IMDB and the only film I think I’ve previously seen her in is Lady in the Water, which I really don’t remember that well. I hope to see her in more movies though, she was great, as were all of the cast. Produced by Amazon Studios in conjunction with Blumhouse Productions. Available on Amazon starting October 13, 2020.