Netflix Hidden Gem #91: Blue Jay

Blue Jay (2016) Director: Alex Lehmann Genre: Drama Netflix Synopsis: Past lovers meet unexpectedly in their hometown and reconnect through one meaningful night. Overview: I don’t like crying at movies just for the sake of crying. It’s just not my idea of a good time. Sometimes it feels like movies of the romance/drama genre aim to shoot little darts at the ovaries/brovaries of viewers just to get a cheap reaction rather than relying on solid writing and performances to get the message across. Quite frankly, outside of the random repeat viewing of Bridges of Madison County, I never go looking for that kind of “get me some ice cream”...

Netflix Hidden Gem #90: The Wailing

The Wailing (2016) Director: Na Hong-jin Genre: Horror 20th Century Fox Synopsis: A mysterious, violent illness descends on a village and impacts a family, testing their spiritual limits. Overview: Korean horror has been sitting deservedly high on its throne for decades. Fans who appreciate its elegant style eagerly anticipate each new release or return to the classics with admiration for the genre that’s well-earned. Creeping through the festival circuit this year was The Wailing, an epic story of the lengths a father will go to save the life of his daughter, and how destructive our fear of “the other” can be. One word that always...

 The Controversies of Straw Dogs 30 Years Later

“Bloody Sam” Peckinpah made a name for himself with his vicious western The Wild Bunch in 1969. After controversy surrounded his professional methods, he took to England to film Straw Dogs, a movie that 30 years later remains as controversial as the director himself. Straw Dogs is certainly a frustrating film to watch. Those familiar know that it’s generally praised or condemned for its content to two extremes: is it a misogynistic, self-fellating film or an insightful look at humanity’s savagery? Looking at it on its 30th anniversary I aimed to ask, why can’t it be both? The truth is that it is both – but not equally or without...

Hysteria & Heartbreak: The Devil Dec16

Hysteria & Heartbreak: The Devil

Overview: A man is rescued from prison by a strange character who leads him through a dark look at his life. Facets Media; 1972; Not Rated; 119 minutes. Sophomore Effort: The Devil is Andrezj Żuławski’s second film and the first to be a victim of censorship by the Polish government, having been banned for 16 years for its political statements. The film opens on a fiery ordeal in 1793 Poland. A scattering frenzy of soldiers and bloody screams greet the viewer as we’re led into a world of oppression. At the end of a war to protect the constitution from the Russian invasion, The Polish Commonwealth ultimately lost a total of 307,000 km² of...

Hysteria & Heartbreak: Possession Will Still Leave You Shaken Dec13

Hysteria & Hear...

Overview: A husband and wife face their own monsters within through a horrifying divorce. Gaumont; 1981; Rated R; 124 minutes. I’ll Be the Way That She Wants: In 1981 Andrzej Żuławski released what would become the most prominent and enduring piece of work in his lifetime. Much like...

Bangarang! Hook Turns 25

Originally published December 12, 2016.  Hook was the first movie I ever saw in a theater. I was just three years old when the magic of the experience was made known to me. I was enamoured with those thick plush seats, the enormous screen, and the smorgasbord of treats available. More importantly, it was Steven Spielberg who introduced me through Hook to the joy and awe of being transported somewhere unbelievable when its magical scenes were first burned into my tiny toddler mind. It’s because of memories like these that this film holds a special place in the hearts of so many people who saw it as youngsters. Watching it as an adult 25...

Netflix Hidden Gem #88: The Paperboy

The Paperboy (2012) Director: Lee Daniels Genre: Drama Millenium Films Synopsis: A writer and his partner investigate a murder that put a potentially innocent man on death row. Overview: Every person on this earth probably likes a movie that’s objectively bad. The Paperboy isn’t exactly unique for being booed at Cannes, but that should give some indication of its questionable appeal. The Paperboy is an absolutely southern-fried finger-licking guilty pleasure; It’s trashy, sweaty, and dirty – literally. The heat is palpable and everyone is sweatin’ up a storm. It was the summer of 1969 and “it was so hot God must have been sweating.”...

Netflix Gem #87: Stake Land

Stake Land (2011) Director: Jim Mickle Genre: Horror Dark Sky Films Synopsis: A vampire hunter and his teen apprentice seek a free life in the wake of a vampiric apocalypse. Overview: The Walking Dead premiered in 2010 amidst a slew of post-apocalyptic scenarios. As an obvious artistic response to culture, audiences were both enthralled with watching the fall of mankind and inspired by the will to survive they saw onscreen. This isn’t a new phenomenon; since humanity was able to comprehend life and death we’ve been fascinated or afraid of our own end. Unfortunately this theme of apocalyptic horror has become well-worn  by now but there is...

Criterion Discovery: Mon Oncle

Background: Mon Oncle is a French comedy film released in 1958 by Jacques Tati. There are two Criterion versions; the first released in 2001 now out of print, and the second as part of The Complete Jacques Tati Criterion set in 2014 (Spine #729). It is one of three of Tati’s films (and the first in colour) centered on a lovable, bumbling mime-like character Monsieur Hulot. Mon Oncle is his most widely celebrated work, receiving both the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and Special Prize at the Cannes Film Festival among other awards. Story: Monsieur Hulot enjoys the freedom and charm of village living and struggles to adapt to...

Three Rivers Film Festival: Apprentice Packs a Punch That Leaves You Bruised Nov29

Three Rivers Film Festival: Apprentice Packs a Pun...

Overview: A man transitioning from the army to work in a prison is given a weighty opportunity to assist an executioner. Akanga Film Productions; 2016; Not Rated; 115 minutes. The Cupboard: Aiman (Firdaus Rahman) lives with his older sister in an apartment which mirrors the prison he works in: restrictive and grey. Suhaila (Mastura Ahmad) cares for their ailing grandmother and lovingly nags like only an older sister can. They’re in each other’s hair and each other’s business at all times, each making choices the other doesn’t agree with. Aiman struggles with his sister’s romantic relationship, fearing abandonment but pushing her...

Netflix Hidden Gem #85: Cosmos

Cosmos (2015) Director: Andrzej Żuławski Genre: Drama Kino Lorber Synopsis: Two men at a crossroads looking for some time away to refocus rent a room in a strange family’s home and find themselves solving one important mystery: who hung the sparrow? Overview: It had been fifteen years since Andrzej Żuławski gifted us with a film, and then Cosmos came along. Knowing his work, there couldn’t possibly be a better swan song for his sad passing in February of this year. Cosmos is an adaptation of the book by the same name by Witold Gombrowicz,  “A dark, quasi-detective novel, Cosmos follows the classic noir motif to explore the arbitrariness of...

Netflix Hidden Gem #84: Sun Choke

Sun Choke (2015) Director: Ben Cresciman Genre: Drama XLrator Media Synopsis: A troubled young woman is subjected to strange treatments while developing a dangerous obsession with a stranger. Overview: Fans with their eye on a festival horror roundup have been anticipating the streaming release of Sun Choke for quite some time. This art house gem is gorgeous to look at with with its sterile, clean white palette and hazy dream-like sequences. Sarah Hagan plays Janie, a woman who may be suffering from an undisclosed mental health issue and recovering from a psychotic break. You might remember her as Millie, the well-meaning and awkward...

Demon Takes Effort t...

Overview: On the eve of his wedding, a man discovers a secret that once kept to himself possesses his mind and body. The Orchard; 2015; Rated R; 94 minutes. Tragedy: Any viewing of Demon comes with extra weight when one considers the tragic suicide of its director, Marcin Wrona. The director...

Carrie White Burns in Hell: Carrie’s 40th An...

Forty years later, Carrie is still one of the most popular horror movies of its time. As is the case with any successful adaptation, it would be a disservice to neglect to consider the source material. 1976: In the middle of one of the hottest decades for horror, Stephen King’s first film adaptation was born. This would spark the beginning of a successful book to film career that took King from a job making $1.60 an hour in a laundry to where he is today as one of the most successful writers of all time. Carrie’s Hollywood success largely has to do with the stylish direction of Brian De Palma, but also its ability to speak to a large...

Everlasting is a Feisty Little Mystery Oct27

Everlasting is a Fei...

Overview: Distraught by his girlfriend’s murder, a teen uses his school video project to track down the killer. Indie Rights; 2016; Not Rated; 85 minutes. People We Know: Everyone knew a girl like Jessie Martell in high school. She’s young and beautiful, marred by the all-too-common story of...

The Eyes of My Mother is Hauntingly Poignant Horror Oct26

The Eyes of My Mothe...

Overview: After witnessing an act of brutal violence, a young woman deals with her trauma and isolation with creative and depraved methods. Magnet Releasing; 2016; Rated R; 76 minutes. Open Eyes: Shot in stunning black and white, The Eyes of My Mother is a gorgeous looking film that has the...

20 Great Horror Posters Oct26

20 Great Horror Posters

The horror genre has some of the most striking and visually interesting posters in cinema. Here are 20 to appreciate (in order of release) whether they’re framed on your wall or just in your heart. Don’t forget to check out the other posters we’ve highlighted here! Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) There’s something really special about the style of horror/sci-fi thriller posters of the 1950s. Creature from the Black Lagoon is a classic favourite, but take your pick: they’re all charming and pulpy as hell. Black Sunday (1960) Starting off strong with, “Stare into those eyes!” Barbara Steele has a pair of the most iconic eyes in the...

Is It Still Scary: Dumbo Pink Elephants on Parade ...

You might be wondering why Dumbo is being considered for the question, “Is It Still Scary?” If you were a sensitive child who remembers the “Pink Elephants on Parade” scene, you already know why, and you’re nodding your head emphatically in affirmation. Besides the fact that it’s bizarre and scary that we still have circus animals in 2016, that scene scarred childhoods and imprinted itself in many memories. As a child you have a pretty limited understanding of what inebriation is. You’re not quite sure if someone can get drunk from soapy water or if you should be worried about swallowing the water in your bubble bath in case it...

We Are the Flesh is Art at Its Most Disgusting Oct18

We Are the Flesh is ...

Overview: A brother and sister stumble into an abandoned building inhabited by a strange man who tempts their deepest desires. Arrow Films; 2016; Not Rated; 79 minutes. Surgery Channel: Perhaps the best indicator of what We Are the Flesh entails happened to be in a conversation overheard in...

20 Horror Movies from 20 Countries

Horror is thriving around the world and is enjoyed by people from every country. Some of the best is produced outside of North America, so sometimes it’s necessary to take a little trip to find something fresh and fun. Join us on a trip across the map (from East to West) with 20 horror movies from 20 countries – there’s something for everyone here no matter what kind of fear you prefer to indulge in. Australia: The Loved Ones (2009) Lola wants a prom date, and she’ll make you pay for turning her down. Not to be confused with the 1960s Australian band, The Loved Ones is a slice of torture in the desert. Lola’s daddy’s girl and he’ll do...

Lavender is an Ambitious Hometown Horror Oct14

Lavender is an Ambit...

Overview: After suffering an accident, a young woman returns to her childhood home to confront her demons. AMBI Group; 2016; Rated PG; 92 minutes. Diorama: Lavender begins ambitiously with a stylish still-life look at a farmhouse in bloody chaos. Flash forward 25 years later to photographer...

Under The Shadow: Wrapped Up in Layers of Fear Oct10

Under The Shadow: Wrapped Up in Layers of Fear

Overview: Under The Shadow is the story of a mother and child coping with the realities of war while being haunted by something much more sinister. Netflix; 2016; Rated PG-13; 84 minutes. The Big Debut: This year, the Vancouver International Film Festival boasted over 300 titles, several of which are promising horror contenders timed perfectly for our month of HÆlloween. First on the list is Under The Shadow, an Iranian debut directed by Babak Anvari that follows a mother and child under the threat of the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. Anvari uses ghostly Arabic folklore and political issues to move the film forward, though some might...

Blue Velvet 30th Anniversary Retrospective

Blue Velvet is the type of film that lingers in your mind long after your first viewing. One that inspires focused and passionate discussion amongst friends. Love it or hate it, it still has people talking to this day, 30 years after its initial controversial release. My friend Eddie says it best: “I don’t like how this movie makes me feel.” Neither did Roger Ebert, by the looks of his infamous scathing review in which he referred to Blue Velvet as “…a story that’s marred by sophomoric satire and cheap shots” but many viewers today find his opinion somewhat misinformed. To this day it is considered one of the best films of the...

The 11 Scariest Women in Film and Television Aug26

The 11 Scariest Women in Film and Television

Horror is arguably the most subjective and personal genre. While it has been lambasted in former eras for being misogynistic, there are currently many very talented women who contribute enormously to the genre, and they deserve to be celebrated. As a horror fan, it just made sense that to celebrate Women’s Equality Day I’d bring you 11 terrifying women in film. No matter her role, these artists prove they can bring out the terror you crave, so be prepared to get inspired…to death!   LYNN LOWRY At age 68, Lynn Lowry is still killing it. I had the pleasure of meeting her at this year’s Northwest Horror Show where she gave a...