Welcome to The Last Horror Blog, a biweekly column on all things horror.
Big Bad Wolves trailer snarls its way on to the Internet — No less than Quentin Tarantino is already hailing Big Bad Wolves as the film of the year — but if you haven’t had a chance to see this movie about a cop and a vengeful father getting medieval on a serial killer’s ass yet, you can check out this new trailer. Tarantino might be on to something here…
Scott Derrickson’s Beware the Night gets a new name – Sinister director Scott Derrickson is hard at work getting his new fright fest ready for a release next summer and I hope they hadn’t printed all the advertising materials yet, because it’s getting a new name. Beware the Night – the story of an Irish-Catholic cop teaming up with a renegade priest to take on the supernatural – will know be called Deliver Us from Evil. Not gonna lie – liked the earlier title better.
The film will hit theaters on July 2 – and could spawn a franchise if it hits with audiences.
FrightPIX brings free streaming horror to the Web — There are countless movie streaming options available to film lovers with an Internet connection, but few of them are aimed squarely at horror fans — until now. Popcornflix has unveiled its very own dedicated horror channel (which you can watch here) named FrightPIX. The new streaming venture is offering up 300 scary movies for free and promises to add 30-50 more per month. There’s no subscription required and you won’t have to pay a dime to watch these titles — so what are you waiting for?
We Are What We Are headed to home video – I’ve been eagerly awaiting an opportunity to see Jim Mickle’s Stakeland follow-up – a remake of the 2010 Mexican film We Are What We Are – for what feels like an eternity. Well, that wait is about to be over. The film, which has been hailed as a “gruesome and suspenseful portrait of an introverted family trying to keep their macabre traditions alive,” is headed to Blu-ray and DVD on January 7. Check out the trailer to get you in the mood.
Every February for the past few years, genre lovers across the Internet have celebrated Women in Horror month. The goal of this event has been twofold – to honor the achievements of women in a genre where women are often little more than victims and body parts, and to hopefully inspire more women to work in the genre both in front of and behind the camera.
It’s too soon to say definitively if the annual event has achieved that latter goal (there are still very few women making horror films these days), but I suspect that WIH Month has at least created interest in the issue – which has helped younger female filmmakers like Jen and Sylvia Soska find an appreciative audience for their work.
The Soska Sisters first blipped onto horror fans’ radars with their 2009 film Dead Hooker in a Trunk. With a title like that, they were sure to garner attention – and they did – but rather than just keep traveling a career trajectory filled with sensationalist titles, the sisters have branched out for their latest feature: the oddly mesmerizing American Mary.
Perhaps best described as the bastard love child of David Cronenberg and Lucky McKee, American Mary is a darkly sensual film comprised of feminist social commentary and disturbing body modifications. It reminds me a lot of Kei Fujiwara’s Organ in some ways – although it’s arguably a more polished and well-realized piece of cinema overall. Only a rushed ending holds this disturbing cinematic treat back from cult classic status.
Katherine Isabelle stars as Mary Mason, a promising future surgeon still working her way through med school. Financial hardships find the fledgling doctor considering a masseuse gig in a seedy strip club to make ends meet, but Mary soon discovers that her surgical skills are more valuable than her ability to rub sore muscles.
That revelation leads her into a world where she performs extreme body modifications on people looking to be different from the vanillas of regular life. Mary’s good at the gig – earning the nickname “Bloody Mary” in the community – but an unfortunate encounter sends her life spiraling out of control.
While not a straight horror effort in the traditional sense (there are no crazed psychopaths stalking coeds, nor is there a ghost or supernatural presence in sight), American Mary succeeds by creating atmosphere in spades. The Soska Sisters have taken the girl-power slant of Lucky McKee’s work and the uncomfortable ideas of bodies in revolt that powered the early Cronenberg films, and mixed them into a concoction that is just unique enough to work as both a stand-alone feature and an homage.
Isabelle is the catalyst that makes it all work in American Mary, bringing a wide range of emotions to her performance. Mary is both headstrong and vulnerable, brilliant and slightly disturbed, sexual and aloof. The actress pulls off the challenging balancing act with the deftness of one of the Wallendas traversing a tightrope hundreds of feet above the ground, and gives the film a genuine sense of depth that would have almost assuredly been missing had a lesser actress been cast in the lead role.
The Soskas bring their own gifts to the table – offering up a script with some interesting observations on gender and body politics that one rarely expects to find in a genre film. Not all of it hits the mark (the film’s presentation of most of its male characters is a bit on the nose), but the effort is appreciated. Mary’s something we don’t see too often in horror films – a legitimately strong female character.
The problem with American Mary is that it peaks too soon. After a first half of setup that is masterfully executed, the film sort of unravels in the latter stages of the second act and limps across the finish line. I’m not sure why this is – it’s almost as if the Soskas felt rushed or simply painted themselves into a narrative corner where they weren’t really sure what they wanted to ultimately say. This is the feature’s biggest disappointment. The ending is not a failure – it just feels wan when compared to the expectations the first half of the film raises.
Despite this, there’s no denying that the Soska Sisters are talented filmmakers with a bright future ahead of them. It’s unfortunate that some will think of them as “women horror directors” instead of just horror filmmakers in general, but perhaps the duo will help pave the way to a day when we no longer need a Women in Horror Month or where ladies are so underrepresented behind the camera. These women aren’t a novelty act – dismiss them as such at your own risk.
Horror on the Horizon
Despite the lyrics of Andy Williams’ “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” proclaiming there will be “Scary ghost stories” at Christmas time, such is not the case at the box office as December rolls through. The only new horror film hitting a multiplex for the next few weeks is the Spanish chiller Here Comes the Devil – and odds are that’s not playing anywhere near you unless you live in a major city. Keep an eye out for it on December 13.
Things are a little more cheerful on DVD and Blu-ray.
December 17 sees the arrival of Mario Bava’s The Whip and the Body, along with an updated version of The Witch who Came from the Sea. If those don’t move you, there’s also The Beast Within and a new version of Darkman on the list. Christmas Eve, meanwhile, doesn’t have a lot of new discs, but it does have Insidious: Chapter 2 just in time for the holidays.
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