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Posts Tagged ‘horror’

Vampire Horror Movie Reviews: the Nosferatu films 1922, 1979, 1988 & 2000.

Posted by Harbinger451 on May 8, 2016

The Horror of it All Category

A Short History of the Nosferatu Vampire in Cinema, from 1922 to 2014.

Here we will be (mostly) looking at the classic silent-movie Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (F. W. Murnau, Ger. 1922) with Max Schreck as the nosferatu. It’s remake Nosferatu: Phantom Der Nacht (Werner Herzog, Ger/Fra. 1979) and then the later sequel (of sorts), Nosferatu a Venezia (Augusto Caminito, Ita. 1988) – both with Klaus Kinski playing the nosferatu. Followed by Shadow of the Vampire (E. Elias Merhige, USA. 2000), which is a fictional account of the making of the original movie, with Willem Dafoe playing the actor Max Schreck as a real vampire.

But first, a brief discussion of the origins and meaning of the word Nosferatu, reputedly to be of Romanian etymology – but it is absent, in written form at least, from any known historical phase of Romanian that precedes the publication of Bram Stoker‘s popular Gothic novel Dracula in 1897. Its first written appearance (anywhere) was actually in an 1865 German-language article by Wilhelm Schmidt which discusses Transylvanian customs, in which he implies that nosferatu is the Romanian (or, at least, a local Transylvanian dialect) word for vampire. British author Emily Gerard, whom Stoker identified as his source for the term, was the first to record the word in an English-language publication in her article Transylvanian Superstitions in 1885 – and, like Schmidt, she refers to it as the Romanian (or a Transylvanian dialect) word for vampire. It seems likely that the word’s etymology is probably derived from the similar Romanian forms Nesuferitu (insufferable/repugnant one) or Necuratu (unclean one), terms typically used when referring to Satan or the Devil.

Max Shrek in Nosferatu: eine Symphonie des Grauens (Friedrich Wilhelm Mornau, Ger. 1922)

Max Shrek in Nosferatu: eine Symphonie des Grauens (F. W. Mornau, Ger. 1922)

Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (F. W. Murnau, Germany. 1922)

AKA: Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (UK, USA) | Nosferatu (UK, USA)

Nosferatu 1922 Poster

This German Expressionist Horror Movie directed by Friedrich Wilhelm Mornau and starring Max Schreck in the titular role is the first film adaptation, though a fairly loose one, of the novel Dracula (Bram Stoker, 1897). It was made without the permission of the then copyright holders (Stoker’s heirs) and despite changing the Count’s name to Graf Orlok, paring down the story line and characters dramatically and never mentioning the word vampire (using nosferatu instead) the film makers were sued and a court ruled in 1925 that all prints of the film should be destroyed. Luckily, they weren’t – just a few survived – for this is a brooding, melancholic master work of early horror cinema with some truly nightmare-like scenes utilising shadow and darkness to spell-binding effect. The use of speeded up sequences and negative images make the slow pace mesmeric and fascinating while Schreck’s depiction of the Count remains one of the most horrific, and iconic, to date. The idea that sunlight is fatal to vampires originates from this movie.

The plot: In the (fictitious) German town of Wisborg, Thomas Hutter (played by Gustav v. Wangenheim) is sent by Knock, his boss, to Transylvania to meet with a wealthy client named Count Orlok who wishes to buy a house in their home town. Before leaving for Romania, Hutter entrusts Ellen (Greta Schröder), his young wife, to the care of friends Harding and Annie. After a long journey Hutter reaches the Carpathian Mountains and stops at an inn for the night, he tells the locals his destination but they become frightened and try to dissuade him from going on to meet with the Count. The next morning he travels on by coach till, as nightfall approaches, they reach a bridge at a mountain pass and the coachmen refuse to go any further so Hutter is left alone by the roadside. After night-fall a mysterious dark clad coach driven by a mysterious dark clad figure arrives to pick him up and take him the rest of the way.

Once ensconced at his client’s crumbling old castle Hutter starts to enjoy dinner with the decidedly spooky looking Count and accidentally cuts his thumb with a knife – Orlok takes his wounded hand and tries to drink Hutter’s blood but, repulsed, the young man pulls his hand away. The next morning Hutter awakes to find he has two puncture wounds on his neck and, after exploring, discovers that the castle is apparently deserted. He writes a letter to his wife, which he gives to a courier – who just happens to be passing by. (Odd that, considering how the locals won’t come near the place). That night, after seeing a photo of Hutter’s lovely young wife, the Count immediately signs the documents granting him possession of a suitably dark and crumbling premises back in Wisborg – just across from the young man’s own house and just across from his wife’s lovely young neck. After retiring for the night, Hutter finally gets round to reading a book he had picked up at the inn earlier… and it’s all about the nosferatu. Now suspicious of the Count’s true nature, Hutter explores the castle further during the next day. He finds the crypt and discovers the dormant Graf Orlok in a coffin. Terrified he retreats to his room to cower. As another night comes in Hutter sees from his bedroom window the count piling coffins on a cart and then climb into the last one as the cart drives away. He realises Orlok is heading for Wisborg and for Ellen. The desperate young man’s only escape route from the castle is to climb out of the window, which he does, but then falls and is knocked unconscious.

Count Orlok and his coffins get shipped by raft downriver to the sea, and then by schooner to Wisborg. During the journey the crew of the schooner fall victim to the nosferatu one by one till the craft sails into the town port a ghost-ship – the dead captain tied to the wheel – and its hull full of plague rats. Hutter, not yet recovered from his injuries, leaves the hospital in which he awoke and rushes home to warn the town and Ellen of the impending danger.

Watch the 1922 Nosferatu movie (English Version) here for FREE:

Runtime: versions vary from about 65 to 94 min – Black & White or Tinted Monochrome – Silent.
Harbinger451’s Rating: 8/10
(Very Good) – though silent era movies can often seem clunky and the acting style comically over-exaggerated to modern audiences you really should persevere with this one for it is an iconic and influential piece of cinema history that still manages to be creepy, unsettling and even beautiful to watch. A must see for any movie buff and especially for fans of the horror genre. Although various versions of this movie are available for free (like the one above), I can’t recommend enough getting a fully restored version through the links below:

Buy Nosferatu (1922) on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.com
Buy Nosferatu (1922) on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.co.uk

Poster for Nosferatu the Vampire (Werner Herzog, Ger/Fra. 1979)

Poster for Nosferatu the Vampire (Werner Herzog, Ger/Fra. 1979)

Nosferatu: Phantom Der Nacht (Werner Herzog, Germany/France. 1979)

AKA: Nosferatu: fantôme de la nuit (France) | Nosferatu: Phantom of the Night (UK) | Nosferatu the Vampyre (USA)

A hauntingly creepy reworking of F. W. Mornau’s classic 1922 original, with Klaus Kinski in the title role, now renamed Count Dracula as opposed to Orlok. Isabelle Adjani is Lucy Harker (Ellen), the main object of his thirst, and Bruno Ganz is Jonathan Harker (Hutter), the hapless victim who sets Dracula onto Lucy’s trail.  The performances and visuals are striking indeed and the musical score very atmospheric. Despite being infuriatingly slow at times – especially in the first half – his film is probably more palatable to a modern audience than the 1922 version.  It features some excellent scenes of bats and thousands of rats, and incorporates heavy symbolism as the town of Wismar descends into chaos with Dracula’s illicit arrival among a hoard of plague carrying rats. It follows the same basic plot as the silent original but the ending is definitely a turn up for the books.

Runtime: 107 min – Colour – German, English & Romanian.
Harbinger451’s Rating: 7/10
(Good) – it has moments of genius but doesn’t quite live up to the original, inexplicably missing out some of the more iconic scenes. Kinski is brilliant as the Count however, not only making him a repulsive character but also a strangely sympathetic one full of pathos and even prone to the occasional (unintentionally?) comic moment, and Adjani is suitably pale and ethereal as the classic Gothic heroine who must stand (or lay) alone against him.

Buy Nosferatu (1979) on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.com
Buy Nosferatu (1979) on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.co.uk

Kurt Barlow, the Master vampire in Salem's Lot (1979)

Salem’s Lot

Salem’s Lot

1979 saw a hugely popular television mini-series adaptation of Stephen King’s vampire novel Salem’s lot (1975) – directed by Tobe Hooper and starring David Soul and James Mason. Reggie Nalder plays Kurt Barlow, the ancient Master vampire who has come to the small American town of Salem’s Lot with evil and, of course, vampiric purpose. The visual appearance of Barlow (left) is very reminiscent of the Nosferatu vampire, even down to the long and sharp rat-like front incisors instead of the (now) more common fangs.

Nosferatu a Venezia (Augusto Caminito, Italy. 1988)

Klaus Kinski in the 1988 movie Nosferatu in Venice

Nosferatu in Venice

AKA: Nosferatu in Venice (UK) | Vampire in Venice (USA)

This underrated (at the time of its limited release) semi-sequel to Werner Herzog’s 1979 homage to Mernau’s seminal vampire horror followed almost a decade later. It picks up the pace and spices up the blood and nudity quota a couple of notches, though not necessarily for the better, and fans of modern horror may still find the pacing a little too slow and the performances a little too brooding for their liking. Kinski (right) reprises his role as the nosferatu, with hair this time (apparently, he refused to wear the make-up from the first film again), who is revived by a ill-conceived séance during carnival time in Venice. Christopher Plummer appears as the rather ineffectual vampire hunting Professor Paris Catalano and Donald Pleasence as the pious priest Don Alvise – the pair pit themselves against the anguished but immensely powerful and murderous immortal (known only as Nosferatu in this movie) who has set his sights on the beautiful Helietta Canins, played by Barbara De Rossi.

Runtime: 97 min – Colour – Italian.
Harbinger451’s Rating: 6.5/10 (Pretty Good to Good) – The film looks great, benefiting from the awesome setting, and Kinski continues to carry himself with an evil indignation that fits the part perfectly. The movie is let down by a rather disjointed plot that many may have trouble making sense of. Definitely a case of style over substance but still very much worth hunting down for that style is often breathtaking.

Buy Nosferatu in Venice (1988) on DVD at Amazon.com
Buy Nosferatu in Venice (1988) on DVD at Amazon.co.uk

The Master Vampire from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

In the 1994 movie adaptation of Anne Rice’s novel Interview with the Vampire the vampire character Luis (Brad Pitt), presumably in 1922, visits a cinema that is showing Mornau’s Nosferatu: eine Symphonie des Grauens, and Count Orlok’s death scene is shown.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The look of the main antagonist (or Big Bad) in the 1997 first season of Josh Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series was heavily influenced by the appearance of Nosferatu. Mark Metcalf played The Master (left), a centuries-old vampire determined to open the portal to hell below Sunnydale High School in the fictional town where Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Buffy lives.

Shadow Of The Vampire

Shadow Of The Vampire

Shadow of the Vampire (E. Elias Merhige, Luxembourg/UK/USA. 2000)

This black-comedy horror is a highly fictionalised account of the making of Nosferatu: eine Symphonie des Grauens (F. W. Mornau, Ger. 1922) that depicts director Mornau (John Malkovitch) as an obsessive and ruthless perfectionist who will do anything to create his masterpiece of horror. The film requires a ruined castle, so he finds a real ruined castle. The film requires superstitious peasants, so uses real superstitious peasants. The film also requires an ancient evil vampire, so he uses a real ancient evil vampire… what could possibly go wrong? Willem Dafoe plays the unnamed vampire who is playing Max Schreck playing Count Orlok – without the need for makeup. Eddie Izzard plays Gustav von Wangenheim (Hutter) and Catherine McCormack plays Greta Schroeder (Ellen), while Udo Kier plays producer Albin Grau and Cary Elwes plays cinematographer Fritz Arno Wagner. The creators of this film clearly have a great deal of affection for their source material and took pains to lovingly recreate many of the classic scenes from the original.

Runtime: 92 min – Colour – English, German and Luxembourgish.
Harbinger451’s Rating: 5.5/10
(Average to Pretty Good) – This is a great idea for a movie and it has a really good cast, but it fails as a black-comedy, a horror and a homage. The whole, in this case, is NOT greater than the sum of its parts. I really wanted to love this movie for its concept has potential (and most critics can’t seem to praise it enough), but at best, its a darkly amusing and interesting portrait of vampirism and early motion picture making. I, for one, was disappointed – but that may be because I had such high expectations.

Buy Shadow of the Vampire (2000) on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.com
Buy Shadow of the Vampire (2000) on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.co.uk

What We Do in the Shadows

What We Do in the Shadows

In 2002 Max Schreck’s Count Orlock made a brief appearance (via manipulated stock footage) in the SpongeBob SquarePants animated series (Season 2, Episode 16, Graveyard Shift) flicking a light switch on and off… the gag ending revealed that it was he who was responsible for the lights flickering on and off mysteriously throughout the horror trope filled episode.

What We Do in the Shadows

In 2014, the New Zealand horror comedy mocumentary film What We Do in the Shadows featured an 8000 year-old nosferatu type vampire named Petyr, played by Ben Fransham (left), who lives in a stone coffin on the bottom floor of the house he shares with three other (much younger) vampires. The film is presented as a fly-on-the-wall style documentary as the four mis-matched immortals are forced to adjust to early twenty-first century life, relationships, and technology when a new rookie vamp is introduced to the fold… and all while being followed by a very mortal film crew. For the most part it is very funny, but it does lag a little in places.

Count Orlok flickering the lights on and off in Spongebob Squarepant.

Count Orlok flickering the lights on and off in SpongeBob SquarePants.

Please feel free to comment on these reviews – or add your own – by replying to this post below.

We are building a whole section dedicated to the wider genre of horror on our website HERE.

Brought to your attention by Harbinger451.

Copyright © 2016 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved

The Horror of it All

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Lovecraftian Horror Movie Review: Re-Animator (1985)

Posted by Harbinger451 on April 22, 2016

 The Lovecraftian CategoryRe-Animator (Stuart Gordon, USA. 1985)

An adaptation of (the first two parts of) H. P. Lovecraft‘s short story Herbert West – Reanimator but updated to a more contemporary setting and infused throughout with some very campy and decidedly black humour. All the actors involved play it entirely straight and the dry jokes are delivered so dead-pan that it just makes this movie even funnier.

UK movie poster for Re-Animator (1985)

UK movie poster for Re-Animator (1985)

Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) is a very intense, dedicated and some-what weird medical student who comes to the Miskatonic University in New England in order to further his studies after an unfortunate incident at the University of Zurich’s Institute of Medicine in Switzerland, resulting in a(n un)dead professor, caused him to leave there rather unceremoniously.

West rents a room and basement space (for his experiments) from fellow student Dan Cain (Bruce Abbot) who eagerly takes him in for the extra income and despite his girl-friend Megan Halsey (Barbara Crampton)’s reservations that West is too “creepy” for a house-mate. Soon after, Dan’s pet cat Rufus goes missing so he and Megan search the house top to bottom and finally find its corpse in West’s refrigerator… along with some mysterious vials of strangely glowing green liquid. Dan later confronts West about the dead cat and West explains that the cat was already dead when he found it but didn’t want Dan or Megan finding it in such a condition so he refrigerated it till he could break the bad news to them gently.

Dan then asks West to explain the green liquid and West tells him that it is the result of his ongoing experiments to find a cure for death itself. Dan, of course, is sceptical so West proves the efficacy of his “reagent” by injecting it into the dead cat. Rufus is reanimated and immediately goes crazy – attacking them both – so they kill the cat a second time. Both shocked and exited by this event Dan agrees to assist West in his experiments and the pair decide to try to perfect the reagent by experimenting on corpses stored in the University’s morgue. The chaos resulting from this experiment causes the medical school’s Dean Halsey (Robert Sampson), Megan’s father, to stumble into the pair in the morgue but the Dean is killed by a reanimated corpse – which West re-kills with a bone-saw.

Realising the Dean’s corpse is the freshest they’re likely to get, West injects it with the reagent and it too is reanimated… but it too behaves violently toward them. When police and security officers arrive and subdue Halsey, West and Dan – to explain the scene of carnage – claim that the Dean simply went crazy and attacked both them and the corpses in the morgue. The reanimated Dean is strapped into a straight-jacket and taken away – put into the care of his brain specialist colleague Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale). After lobotomising Halsey, Dr. Hill soon realises that the Dean is in fact dead and reanimated. Realising that West must be onto something with his research, which the doctor had earlier scoffed at, Hill determines to get West’s secrets for himself.

Little does Hill realise quite how unhinged Herbert West was becoming with each increasingly disastrous and chaotic experiment. Hill tries to blackmail West into handing over his secrets, West plays along just long enough to decapitate Hill with a shovel… and then West wonders how his reagent will work with body parts…

Content Warning: be prepared for very dark humour with very gruesome and bloody scenes… also some nudity and a particularly controversial depiction of a sexual assault (that gives new meaning to the phrase “giving head”).

Watch the trailer here:

Re-Animator – Tagline: Herbert West Has A Very Good Head On His Shoulders… And Another One In A Dish On His Desk
Runtime: 86 min (unrated) / 95 min (R-rated) / 106 min (extended cut) – Colour – English.
The Lovecraftian’s Rating: 9/10
(Extremely Good) – this might be schlock, but it is schlock of the highest order – a very funny and gory horror comedy. Jeffrey Combs‘ performance is particularly brilliant and it cements in place the foundation for his (as well as director Stuart Gordon‘s and producer Brian Yuzna‘s) prominent position in Lovecraftian cinema history.

Buy Re-Animator on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.com
Buy Re-Animator on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.co.uk

Please feel free to comment on this review – or, if you’ve seen the movie, add your own review – by replying to this post.

Go HERE for a full list of Lovecraftian film and TV adaptations. We have an expanding section of our website dedicated to The Lovecraftian – purveyor of all the latest news, updates, chatter and trends from the field of Lovecraft lore – the man, his works and his weird worlds of Yog-Sothothery.  Stay up-to-date with the news and join The Lovecraftian’s adventurous expeditions into the world of the Cthulhu Mythos by following him on Twitter where fact and fiction become entwined! The Lovecraftian’s main webpage can be found HERE.

Also: Check out The Lovecraftian Herald, an online newspaper concerning all things Lovecraftian in the world of social media and beyond. Published daily by us here at Harbinger451.

For the uninitiated:

H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) was an influential and prolific American writer of early twentieth century cosmic horror fiction who saw himself chiefly as a poet – though many believe that it is his immense body of often literary correspondence that is in fact his greatest accomplishment – he wrote over 100,000 letters in his lifetime. He inspired a veritable legion of genre writers then, and to this day, to set their fiction within his strange cultish world.

The Cthulhu Mythos: Lovecraft, somewhat light-heartedly, labelled the “Mythos” that he created in his body of work Yog-Sothothery – and also, on rare occasions, referred to his series of connected stories as the Arkham Cycle. It was his friend August Derleth who coined the term “Cthulhu Mythos” (named after one of the monstrous beings that featured in Lovecraft’s tales) to encapsulate his epic vision of a chaotic and dark universe filled with unspeakable horror.

Brought to your attention by Harbinger451.

Copyright © 2016 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved

The Horror of it All

Posted in The Horror of it All!, The Lovecraftian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Lovecraftian Horror Movie Review: The Dunwich Horror (1970)

Posted by Harbinger451 on April 17, 2016

 The Lovecraftian CategoryThe Dunwich Horror (Daniel Haller, USA. 1970)

A contemporary and not entirely faithful adaptation of Lovecraft’s short story of the same name with some 70s counter-culture and Crowley-esque occult-ness added for good measure… oh – and a young Dean Stockwell hamming it up to the max!

The Dunwich Horror Movie Poster

The Dunwich Horror Movie Poster

The enigmatic young warlock Wilbur Whateley (Dean Stockwell) is twin to a monstrous entity locked in the attic of his family’s Dunwich farm-house. The pair were born to Lavinia Whateley (Joanne Moore Jordan) who was driven insane by the trauma of the birth and (presumably) by their conceiving – since the father of the “brothers” was Yog Sothoth, an Outer God summoned briefly by Lavinia’s own father Old Whateley (Sam Jaffe) twenty-five years earlier.

Wilbur wants to get his hands on a copy of the Necronomicon and a virgin so he can perform a ritual to open the trans-dimensional door that will let the Old Ones, heralded by Yog Sothoth himself, through to this world and bring about their dominion over humanity. At the Miskatonic University in Arkham he finds both the eldritch tome he’s looking for and a suitable young virgin, Nancy Wagner (Sandra Dee). He successfully ensnares Nancy but the book proves to be a bigger problem as a suspicious Dr. Henry Armitage (Ed Begley) refuses to “lend” it to him.

After getting Nancy ensconced, drugged and mesmerised at his Dunwich home Wilbur sets out to steal the Necronomicon. Meanwhile, Dr Armitage sets out to rescue Nancy from the warlock’s influence and then slowly realises it will fall to him to prevent any magical skullduggery from coming to fruition.

Pedagogic nit-picking: everyone in this movie pronounces the town’s name as “Dun-witch” when in fact it should be pronounced “Dun-itch”.

Content Warning: some nudity, sexual situations and orgiastic scenes.

Watch the trailer here:

The Dunwich Horror – Tagline: A few years ago in Dunwich a half-witted girl bore illegitimate twins. One of them was almost human!
Runtime: 90 min – Colour – English.
The Lovecraftian’s Rating: 7.5/10
(Good to Very Good) – an underrated (by most) cheesy 70s horror but a minor classic of Lovecraftian cinema that is very entertaining, even if the ending is a bit rushed. Much better than the director’s previous Lovecraftian effort – Die, Monster Die (1965). Stockwell steals the show!

Buy The Dunwich Horror (1970) on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.com
Buy The Dunwich Horror (1970) on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.co.uk

Please feel free to comment on this review – or, if you’ve seen the movie, add your own review – by replying to this post.

Go HERE for a full list of Lovecraftian film and TV adaptations. We have an expanding section of our website dedicated to The Lovecraftian – purveyor of all the latest news, updates, chatter and trends from the field of Lovecraft lore – the man, his works and his weird worlds of Yog-Sothothery.  Stay up-to-date with the news and join The Lovecraftian’s adventurous expeditions into the world of the Cthulhu Mythos by following him on Twitter where fact and fiction become entwined! The Lovecraftian’s main webpage can be found HERE.

Also: Check out The Lovecraftian Herald, an online newspaper concerning all things Lovecraftian in the world of social media and beyond. Published daily by us here at Harbinger451.

For the uninitiated:

H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) was an influential and prolific American writer of early twentieth century cosmic horror fiction who saw himself chiefly as a poet – though many believe that it is his immense body of often literary correspondence that is in fact his greatest accomplishment – he wrote over 100,000 letters in his lifetime. He inspired a veritable legion of genre writers then, and to this day, to set their fiction within his strange cultish world.

The Cthulhu Mythos: Lovecraft, somewhat light-heartedly, labelled the “Mythos” that he created in his body of work Yog-Sothothery – and also, on rare occasions, referred to his series of connected stories as the Arkham Cycle. It was his friend August Derleth who coined the term “Cthulhu Mythos” (named after one of the monstrous beings that featured in Lovecraft’s tales) to encapsulate his epic vision of a chaotic and dark universe filled with unspeakable horror.

Brought to your attention by Harbinger451.

Copyright © 2016 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved

The Horror of it All

Posted in The Horror of it All!, The Lovecraftian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

We made a Promo Video for our upcoming free H. P. Lovecraft eBook

Posted by Harbinger451 on April 13, 2016

451 ePublishing Haus CategoryPromo Video for our upcoming free H. P. Lovecraft eBook.

The first volume of our free Dark Matter series of ebooks is proving to take quite some time to compile and format. It collects all of H. P. Lovecraft’s creepy cultish fiction with a good spattering of his relevant essays, poetry, letters and his only sketch of Cthulhu. This eBook will also take a look at the legacy of his Cthulhu Mythos – an epic vision of a chaotic and dark universe filled with unspeakable horror – which inspired a veritable legion of genre writers then, and to this day, to set their fiction within his strange cultish world. It will have 144 of Lovecraft’s weird works; including ALL of his extant tales, with his juvenilia, his collaborative and his revision works. It will also include selected examples of those poetical and non-fiction works that we think will be of interest not only to fans of his fiction and Mythos in particular – but also to fans of horror and weird fiction in general.

Anyway – to the main point of this post. We thought a little promo video would serve well to drum up some interest in the aforementioned e-book… and, without further ado (except, put your headphones on people – the soundtrack will knock your socks off),  here it is:

Made using entirely free software with the addition of some open-source sound files from freesound.org. All the graphics were made using the open-source vector graphics editor Inkscape. The Cthulhu illustration was created using the GNU Image Manipulation Program GIMP. These graphics and images were then incorporated into video format using Microsoft’s Movie Maker.

The soundtrack featured in the video was made using the free, open source, cross-platform software for recording and editing sounds Audacity. This soundtrack includes a special guest appearance by Bloop the mysterious ultra-low-frequency and extremely powerful underwater sound detected by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1997. Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu quote “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn” was voiced by Harbinger451 himself… here it is in isolation:

For a break down of who was responsible for each individual sound used in the soundtrack see the credits at the end of the video… but also presented here for your convenience:

Video Credits

Video Credits

Details of the free ebook Dark Matter Vol 1: The Weird Tales of H. P. Lovecraft can be found HERE – including a full list of its contents.

Brought to your attention by Harbinger451.

Copyright © 2016 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved


451 ePublishing Haus

Posted in 451 ePublishing Haus, Free for All, The Horror of it All!, The Lovecraftian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Lovecraftian Horror Movie Review: Curse of the Crimson Altar (1968)

Posted by Harbinger451 on April 12, 2016

The Lovecraftian CategoryCurse of the Crimson Altar (Vernon Sewell, UK. 1968)

AKA: The Crimson Cult (USA) | The Crimson Altar (USA poster title)

Very loosely based on Lovecraft’s short story The Dreams in the Witch-House – and we do mean loosely, the only connections we could see are the facts that there are dreams and they are indeed experienced in a witch-house. This was the last film featuring Boris Karloff to be released during his lifetime.

Poster for Curse of the Crimson Altar

Poster for Curse of the Crimson Altar

Set in contemporary England an antiques dealer, Mark Eden (Robert Manning), searching for his missing brother is led to a large and Gothic country house occupied by J. D. Morley (Christopher Lee) and Eve (Virginia Wetherell) his niece – descendants of the infamous Black Witch of Greymarsh Lavinia Morley (Barbara Steele) who was burned at the stake by the local villagers three hundred years earlier. The obligatory creepy butler, named Elder, is played very well by the excellently doomy Michael Gough while an elderly Karloff appears as the dour and forbidding wheel-chair bound expert on witchcraft, Professor Marsh.

The drug induced dream sequences have to be seen to be believed – they’re both trippy and kitsch and some of the costumes are in turn awesome (the green/blue skinned Lavinia’s regalia), sinister (the animal-masked jurors) and sometimes hilarious (the PVC bondage-esque blacksmith/torturer’s outfit for example).

Content Warning: There are some brief scenes of mild nudity… and the sight of the middle-aged Eden letching and pawing at the lovely young Eve in the supposed romantic angle of the story is quite literally stomach churning.

Watch the trailer here:

Curse of the Crimson Altar – Tagline: What obscene prayer or human sacrifice can satisfy the Devil-God?
Runtime: 89 min – Colour – English.
The Lovecraftian’s Rating: 6/10
(Pretty Good) – benefits from a strong cast, a terrific setting and a some-what psychedelic sixties vibe but is otherwise pretty lacklustre… especially the rather perfunctory ending.

Buy Curse of the Crimson Altar on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.com
Buy Curse of the Crimson Altar on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.co.uk

Please feel free to comment on this review – or, if you’ve seen the movie, add your own review – by replying to this post.

Go HERE for a full list of Lovecraftian film and TV adaptations. We have an expanding section of our website dedicated to The Lovecraftian – purveyor of all the latest news, updates, chatter and trends from the field of Lovecraft lore – the man, his works and his weird worlds of Yog-Sothothery.  Stay up-to-date with the news and join The Lovecraftian’s adventurous expeditions into the world of the Cthulhu Mythos by following him on Twitter where fact and fiction become entwined! The Lovecraftian’s main webpage can be found HERE.

Also: Check out The Lovecraftian Herald, an online newspaper concerning all things Lovecraftian in the world of social media and beyond. Published daily by us here at Harbinger451.

For the uninitiated:

H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) was an influential and prolific American writer of early twentieth century cosmic horror fiction who saw himself chiefly as a poet – though many believe that it is his immense body of often literary correspondence that is in fact his greatest accomplishment – he wrote over 100,000 letters in his lifetime. He inspired a veritable legion of genre writers then, and to this day, to set their fiction within his strange cultish world.

The Cthulhu Mythos: Lovecraft, somewhat light-heartedly, labelled the “Mythos” that he created in his body of work Yog-Sothothery – and also, on rare occasions, referred to his series of connected stories as the Arkham Cycle. It was his friend August Derleth who coined the term “Cthulhu Mythos” (named after one of the monstrous beings that featured in Lovecraft’s tales) to encapsulate his epic vision of a chaotic and dark universe filled with unspeakable horror.

Brought to your attention by Harbinger451.

Copyright © 2016 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved

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Lovecraftian Horror Movie Review: Die, Monster, Die! (1965)

Posted by Harbinger451 on April 8, 2016

The Lovecraftian CategoryDie, Monster, Die! (Daniel Haller, UK/USA. 1965)

AKA: Monster of Terror (UK) | Colour Out of Space (USA working title) | The House at the End of the World (UK working title)

Loosely based on Lovecraft’s short story The Colour Out of Space (and possibly conflating some elements of The Dunwich Horror – the Witley family history having similarities to the Whateley’s – along with some other Lovecraftian tropes) this movie directed by Daniel Haller transposes the action to a small country village named Arkham in contemporary England.

Die, Monster, Die! - lobby card

Die, Monster, Die! – lobby card

Stephen Reinhart (Nick Adams) is an American scientist come to visit his girl-friend Susan Witley (Suzan Farmer) at her family’s estate at the invitation of her mother, Letitia (Freda Jackson). On arrival at the village Reinhart is treated with suspicion as soon as it becomes known that he’s looking for the Witley Estate, where none of the villagers will go, and is forced to make his own way on foot across the heath to the house.

While on the heath he passes a huge crater surrounded by a large area of scorched earth and the dessicated remains of burnt vegetation. Moving on he comes to the forbidding grounds of the Witley house – liberally posted with “No Trespassing” signs and guarded by at least one man-trap – persevering on he finally gets to the house itself where he is confronted by Susan’s father Nahum Witley (Boris Karloff) and bluntly told to leave – but, of course, he doesn’t – especially when Susan appears immediately and greets him with welcoming and open arms.

Cue lots of mysterious shenanigans involving weird illnesses, unearthly noises, missing and dying servants, a family history of sorcery, a locked and glowing green-house with mutated plant life leading to a glowing potting shed full of strange mutated creatures of indeterminate origin… and, lets not forget, the large luminescent meteorite in the cellar radiating the purest green.

Lovecraftian trivia; Reinhart finds a book in Witley’s library entitled “Cult of the Outer Ones” – a passage from which reads, “Cursed is the ground where the Dark Forces live, new and strangely bodied… he who tampers there will be destroyed…”

Watch the trailer here:

Die, Monster, Die! Tagline: Can you face the ULTIMATE in DIABOLISM!… can you face PURE TERROR!
Runtime: 80 min – Colour – English.
The Lovecraftian’s Rating: 5/10 (Mediocre)
– for the most part an interesting blend of Gothic and Science Fiction horrors but unfortunately it really gets into the realms of the ridiculous toward the end.

Buy Die, Monster, Die! on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.com
Buy Die, Monster, Die! on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.co.uk

Please feel free to comment on this review – or, if you’ve seen the movie, add your own review – by replying to this post.

Go HERE for a full list of Lovecraftian film and TV adaptations. We have an expanding section of our website dedicated to The Lovecraftian – purveyor of all the latest news, updates, chatter and trends from the field of Lovecraft lore – the man, his works and his weird worlds of Yog-Sothothery.  Stay up-to-date with the news and join The Lovecraftian’s adventurous expeditions into the world of the Cthulhu Mythos by following him on Twitter where fact and fiction become entwined! The Lovecraftian’s main webpage can be found HERE.

Also: Check out The Lovecraftian Herald, an online newspaper concerning all things Lovecraftian in the world of social media and beyond. Published daily by us here at Harbinger451.

For the uninitiated:

H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) was an influential and prolific American writer of early twentieth century cosmic horror fiction who saw himself chiefly as a poet – though many believe that it is his immense body of often literary correspondence that is in fact his greatest accomplishment – he wrote over 100,000 letters in his lifetime. He inspired a veritable legion of genre writers then, and to this day, to set their fiction within his strange cultish world.

The Cthulhu Mythos: Lovecraft, somewhat light-heartedly, labelled the “Mythos” that he created in his body of work Yog-Sothothery – and also, on rare occasions, referred to his series of connected stories as the Arkham Cycle. It was his friend August Derleth who coined the term “Cthulhu Mythos” (named after one of the monstrous beings that featured in Lovecraft’s tales) to encapsulate his epic vision of a chaotic and dark universe filled with unspeakable horror.

Brought to your attention by Harbinger451.

Copyright © 2016 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved

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Lovecraftian Horror Movie Review: The Haunted Palace (1963)

Posted by Harbinger451 on March 30, 2016

The Lovecraftian CategoryThe Haunted Palace (Roger Cormen, USA. 1963)

Although marketed as Edgar Alan Poe’s The Haunted Palace this movie, directed by Roger Cormen, is actually based on H. P. Lovecraft‘s short novel The Case of Charles Dexter Ward with the screenplay adapted by Charles Beaumont. It’s not an entirely faithful adaptation of the short novel but it does have Vincent Price in dual roles as Joseph Curwen and Charles Dexter Ward.

The haunted Palace lobby card

The haunted Palace lobby card

In 1875, Charles Dexter Ward inherits a Gothic castle-like Palace that, about 110 years earlier, had been brought over stone by stone from Europe and re-built overlooking the New England town of Arkham by his great great grandfather, Joseph Curwen. Curwen was effectively burned at the stake by the town’s people for being a Necromantic Sorcerer (responsible for the impregnating of local young women by demonic entities) who cursed them all before he died – he vowed to return from death and get revenge on each of those responsible and all their descendants.

Curwen apparently had a back up plan ready to go should an angry mob end up murdering him, using his Necromantic Sorcery he ensured that his disembodied Spirit would remain “vital” within the Palace till he could find a suitable victim to possess and through whom he would be able to exact his revenge. Ignorant of his ancestor’s history Ward decides to move to Arkham and into the Palace with his wife Anne, played by Debra Paget… big mistake.

Cue 60s Gothic Horror Movie melodrama hardened by a dark Lovecraftian weirdness. It has a good solid cast, that includes Lon Chaney Jr as Simon Orne – a loyal cultist/servant of Curwen’s, and a sumptuous look typical of Roger Cormen’s “Poe Cycle” for American International Pictures. The film itself is titled after an Edgar Alan Poe poem and in the closing scenes the final verse of that poem is narrated – ‘…While, like a ghastly rapid river, through the pale door, a hideous throng rush out forever and laugh – But smile no more’

The Haunted Palace marks the first time actual names of Lovecraftian Monstrosities, such as the Elder Gods Cthulhu and Yog-Sothoth, are uttered on celluloid. It is also the first time Lovecraft’s legendary black magic book, the Necronomicon, is not only mentioned but also makes its premier appearance in the history of motion-picture tropes as an integral prop and plot-device.

Watch the trailer here:

The Haunted Palace Tagline: A warlock’s home is his castle…Forever!
Runtime: 87 min – Colour – English.
The Lovecraftian’s Rating: 7/10 (Good) – not one of Cormen’s best but certainly his most Lovecraftian. Vincent Price’s performance is, as ever, a delight to watch.

Buy The Haunted Palace on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.com
Buy The Haunted Palace on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.co.uk

Please feel free to comment on this review – or, if you’ve seen the movie, add your own review – by replying to this post.

Go HERE for a full list of Lovecraftian film and TV adaptations. We have an expanding section of our website dedicated to The Lovecraftian – purveyor of all the latest news, updates, chatter and trends from the field of Lovecraft lore – the man, his works and his weird worlds of Yog-Sothothery.  Stay up-to-date with the news and join The Lovecraftian’s adventurous expeditions into the world of the Cthulhu Mythos by following him on Twitter where fact and fiction become entwined! The Lovecraftian’s main webpage can be found HERE.

Also: Check out The Lovecraftian Herald, an online newspaper concerning all things Lovecraftian in the world of social media and beyond. Published daily by us here at Harbinger451.

For the uninitiated:

H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) was an influential and prolific American writer of early twentieth century cosmic horror fiction who saw himself chiefly as a poet – though many believe that it is his immense body of often literary correspondence that is in fact his greatest accomplishment – he wrote over 100,000 letters in his lifetime. He inspired a veritable legion of genre writers then, and to this day, to set their fiction within his strange cultish world.

The Cthulhu Mythos: Lovecraft, somewhat light-heartedly, labelled the “Mythos” that he created in his body of work Yog-Sothothery – and also, on rare occasions, referred to his series of connected stories as the Arkham Cycle. It was his friend August Derleth who coined the term “Cthulhu Mythos” (named after one of the monstrous beings that featured in Lovecraft’s tales) to encapsulate his epic vision of a chaotic and dark universe filled with unspeakable horror.

Brought to your attention by Harbinger451.

Copyright © 2016 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved

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Read Gaea Parallaxis and join the adventure in a monumentally strange parallel world!

Posted by Harbinger451 on March 24, 2016

Gaea Parallaxis CategoryRead Gaea Parallaxis and join the adventure in a monumentally strange parallel world!

Gaea Parallaxis: the chronicles and testaments of Citizen No Name Kane is a free epic techno-gothic fantasy and sci-fi horror-comedy… yes, really! It follows the weird adventures of the perplexed amnesiac narrator (forced to use the name No Name Kane for legal and – as far as he can tell – purely bureaucratic reasons far beyond his control) as he explores the strangely familiar and yet alien world into which he has been mysteriously transported. The first five chapters of the chronicles are now up for you to read – and the plot is most definitely thickening – like the massive pool of coagulating goblin blood left on the floor in the Grey Wayfarer’s Inn at the end of chapter five. More action, adventure and romance will be coming your way soon as our hero tries to unravel the mystery of his presence in a dark and futuristic land of faerie… oh, and blood – there’ll be a lot more blood. Please feel free to comment on, discuss or debate these chapters by replying to this post.

The robot seemed largely oblivious to the cat, but a couple of times I would swear that it, almost playfully, nudged her away

Illustration for Chapter Three: A question of Time.

As well as the chapters that make up the chronicles there are also added some appendices that will make up the testaments. These supplementary articles detail No Name Kane‘s attempts to make sense of and record the peculiarities, cultures and societies of the world that he has rationalised as the anti-verse – Gaea Parallaxis. There are four testaments presented so far; 1. the Common Tongue, 2. the Lunar Cycle & the Days of the Week, 3. the Solar Cycle & the Months of the Year and 4. Times of the Day & the Tolls of the Watch. These fascinating and sometimes humorous articles are purely meant as additional information for those who are interested – they are by no means essential with regards enjoying the more narrative driven chronicles (but you’ll really be missing out if you don’t read them 😉 ). You can also comment on these appendices by replying to this post.

Join Citizen No Name Kane in Gaea Parallaxis!

Join Citizen No Name Kane in Gaea Parallaxis!

Chapter Six (The Shadow Watch Interrogation) and Appendix 5 (Economy of the Sovereign Coin) will be coming VERY SOON!

Enter the weird anti-verse that is Gaea Parallaxis

Harbinger451.co.uk

Copyright © 2016 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved

Gaea Parallaxis: the chronicles and testaments of Citizen No Name Kane

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Horror Poll: Which actor’s portrayal of Dracula is the Best?

Posted by Harbinger451 on May 26, 2015

The Horror of it All CategoryHorror Poll: Which actor’s portrayal of Dracula is the Best?

Bram Stoker’s famous villainous vampire, from his massively influential Gothic novel – Dracula (1897), is one of the most portrayed horror characters in Movie and TV history… but whose portrayal is the best? We’ve selected our top 21 most notable, memorable or worthy performances – from which you can choose your favourite three in our Poll HERE – helping us decide who’s Dracula is the greatest. I’d just like to make two points before starting the list – 1, Max Schreck’s Count Orlok IS Count Dracula (but that name couldn’t be used for copyright reasons), and – 2, Christopher Lee is listed twice on purpose (once for his role in the famous Hammer movie series and again for another entirely separate movie role in Jess Franco’s Count Dracula).

Max Shrek in Nosferatu: eine Symphonie des Grauens (Friedrich Wilhelm Mornau, Ger. 1922)

Max Schreck in Nosferatu: eine Symphonie des Grauens (Friedrich Wilhelm Mornau, Ger. 1922)

So… Which actor’s portrayal of Dracula is the Best?

Vote for your favourite three in our Poll HERE.

1. Max Schreck in Nosferatu: eine Symphonie des Grauens (Friedrich Wilhelm Mornau, Ger. 1922)

2. Bela Lugosi in Dracula (Tod Browning, USA. 1931) and in only one of Universal’s many sequels/spin-offs Abbot and Costello meet Frankenstein (Charles Barton, USA 1948)

3. Carlos Villarías in Drácula (George Melford & Enrique Tovar Ávalos, USA-Spanish language. 1931)

4. Lon Chaney, Jr. in Son of Dracula (Robert Siodmak, USA. 1943)

5. Christopher Lee in Dracula (Terence Fisher, UK. 1958) and in six of Hammer’s sequels Dracula: Prince of Darkness (Terence Fisher, UK. 1966), Dracula has Risen from the Grave (Freddie Francis, UK. 1968), Taste the Blood of Dracula (Peter Sasdy, UK. 1969), Scars of Dracula (Roy Ward Baker, UK. 1970), Dracula AD 1972 (Alan Gibson, UK. 1972) and The Satanic Rites of Dracula (Alan Gibson, UK. 1973)

6. Christopher Lee in Count Dracula (Jess Franco, Spa-Ita-Ger. 1970)

7. Paul Albert Krumm in Jonathan (Hans W. Geissendorfer, Ger. 1970)

8. Udo Kier in Blood for Dracula (Paul Morrissey, Fra/Ita. 1973)

9. Jack Palance in Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Dan Curtis, USA. 1974)

10. David Niven in Vampira (Clive Donner, UK. 1974)

11. Louis Jourdan in BBC TV’s Count Dracula (Philip Saville, UK. 1977)

12. Frank Langella in Dracula (John Badham, UK/USA. 1979)

13. Klaus Kinski in Nosferatu: Phantom Der Nacht (Werner Herzog, Ger/Fra. 1979) and in its sequel, Vampire in Venice (Augusto Caminito, Ita. 1988)

14. George Hamilton in Love at First Bite (Stan Dragoti, USA. 1979)

15. Duncan Regehr in The Monster Squad (Fred Dekker, USA. 1987)

16. Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Francis Ford Coppola, USA. 1992)

17. Leslie Nielsen in Dracula: Dead and Loving It (Mel Brooks, USA. 1995)

18. Gerard Butler in Dracula 2000 (Patrick Lussier, USA. 2000)

19. Richard Roxburgh in Van Helsing (Stephen Sommers, USA. 2004)

20. Thomas Kretschmann in Dracula 3D (Dario Argento, Ita/Fra/Spa. 2012)

21. Luke Evans in Dracula Untold (Gary Shore, USA. 2014)

Vote for your favourite three in our Poll HERE.

Luke Evans in Dracula Untold (Gary Shore, USA. 2014)

Luke Evans in Dracula Untold (Gary Shore, USA. 2014)

Discuss and debate this list or suggest other performances you think deserve to be listed here by replying to this post. Don’t forget to vote in our Poll HERE.

Check out more of our Horror Polls HERE.

The Horror of it All… enter HERE all those who delight in horror, death, the macabre, the occult, black humor, weird tales, dark fantasy – and all such nefarious pleasures.

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What would be your Perfect Halloween Horror Movie Marathon?

Posted by Harbinger451 on October 30, 2014

The Horror of it All CategoryHalloween night is the perfect excuse for a horror movie marathon (like you need an excuse)… but what movies do you choose? Do you go for an eclectic selection of personal favorites or all-time classics… or have a themed night of related movies – say by following a famed franchise from start to finish or a selection of movies using the Halloween season as its backdrop? Difficult choices have to be made when embarking on the enterprise of choosing the perfect Halloween Horror Movie Marathon… so hopefully I’m here to help you out with a few suggestions and alternatives. I’d be really interested in hearing your own suggestions for the perfect horror movie marathon so please enter them in the comments section below.

1. Halloween

John Carpenter's Halloween (1978)

John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978)

First up on my list is easy, John Carpenter’s 1978 Halloween – a tale of an escaped lunatic returning to his home town to continue a killing spree he started 15 years earlier. This seminal slasher first introduced the unstoppable psycho-killer Michael Myers to the movie going public and, bonus, the action takes place during Halloween and features some cool clips and sound-bites from classic old horror/scifi movies just to set the creepy mood. It stars the excellent Jamie Lee Curtis and the indomitable Donald Pleasence who delivers some of horror movie history’s most memorable lines with petrifying aplomb. Of course this classic spawned a whole franchise – nine more films (plus numerous novels and comic books) – but they are all a rather hit and miss affair. Choosing carefully among them can give you a decent marathon run of Halloween flavoured movies for the big night’s viewing.

Following directly from the first, Halloween II (1981) is definitely worth a watch – Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1882) isn’t, it doesn’t feature Michael Myers at all and the ever-present “its (however many) days to Halloween” jingle is just horrifyingly annoying and makes the movie practically unwatchable. Halloween‘s IV to VI (1988, 1989 & 1995) are decent enough but its probably worth skipping to the seventh chapter – Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) – which ignores numbers III to VI and continues the events from the first two movies… but 20 years later. You could follow that, if you’ve got time, with the eighth movie, Halloween: Resurrection (2002), which is set 2 years after the events in H20. In 2007 Rob Zombie’s bold, if pointless, remake was released – not a patch on the original though much more violent – and he released a follow-up in 2009 (which I have to admit I haven’t seen – and I’m not inclined to after his first effort).

As a foot note to this suggestion, and as an alternative Halloween Marathon, you could pair Carpenter’s brilliant original with  the classic movies playing on TV in the background of various scenes – Howard Hawk’s astounding scifi horror tale The Thing From Another World (1951) (which Carpenter himself would go on to remake in 1982 as the excellent The Thing) and the Fred M. Wilcox’s spooky scifi classic based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest – Forbidden Planet (1956).

Other Horror Movies set during Halloween

Numerous other horror movies have been set during or around the Halloween season – here are some of the better ones: The Crow (1994) is an excellent supernatural action movie – a young goth couple planning a Halloween marriage are murdered the night before and the male of the pair (Brandon Lee) returns as a reanimated corpse a year later to seek violent and bloody revenge. Idle Hands (1999) is a very bloody but extremely fun horror comedy about a lazy stoner teenager who’s right hand gets possessed on Halloween night and starts murdering everyone around him… even after it’s been amputated. Trick ‘r Treat (2007) is an extremely well made and suspenseful horror anthology of four stories centered around Halloween, its traditions and its legends… highly recommended.

2. The Exorcist

William Friedkin's The Exorcist (1973)

William Friedkin’s The Exorcist (1973)

William Friedkin’s famous (and infamous) 1973 possession movie The Exorcist is based on William Peter Blatty’s bestselling novel – which in turn is based on a (supposedly) true story – and is consistently voted one of the scariest movies ever made. I’d advise you to get the most un-cut version of this movie you can – the movie’s impact has been severely dulled by over-the-top censorship over the years. It’s a tour-de-force of shock story telling, directing and acting that tells the tale of Regan (Linda Blair), a young girl (apparently) possessed by the Devil, and her mother’s attempts to get an exorcism to free her daughter from the Devil’s thrall. Eventually the services of one of the Catholic Church’s few remaining Exorcists (Max von Sydow) are called upon and a devastating confrontation ensues. The massive success of this movie ensured that it, like Halloween, would have a number of sequels, prequels and parodies – as well as many many, much poorer, imitations. A very good Exorcist Movie Marathon can definitely be had for Halloween Night should you choose to go that way.

John Boorman’s sequel Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) takes up Regan’s story four years later and deals with the Catholic Church’s investigation into the events of the first film. Personally I’d skip that one and go straight to The Exorcist III (1990) written and directed by Blatty himself and based on his follow-up novel Legion which is a direct sequel to his The Exorcist novel. Centered on Lieutenant Kinderman’s (George C. Scott) investigation into a series of apparently demonic murders fifteen years after those in the first movie and apparently having the hallmarks of a (known to be deceased) serial killer. This movie has some very effective suspense and tension building scenes that lead to truly outstanding shock moments. After faltering attempts to produce a prequel to The Exorcist two were eventually released in 2004. The first to be made was Dominion: Prequel to The Exorcist but it was thought (by the studio) to be too slow and a second was re-edited with new footage to make a more conventional horror movie and Exorcist: The Beginning was released. “The Beginning” received a pretty poor reception by critics and audiences though so “Dominion” was also released – to an only slightly better reception. It is my opinion that “Dominion is by far the better of the two but for the purposes of an Exorcist Movie Marathon perhaps Bob Logan’s spoof Repossessed (1990) starring the brilliant Leslie Nielson (along with Linda Blair) would be a better (and certainly more fun) option.

3. Alien

Ridley Scott's Alien (1979)

Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979)

Ridley Scott’s science-fiction horror masterpiece Alien (1979) is, in my opinion, even scarier than The Exorcist. It is a claustrophobic terror ride of building suspense and shocking frights as a deadly alien picks off the crew of a spaceship one by one after they answer an apparent distress call from a distant hostile planet. With a stellar cast (headed by the inimitable Sigourney Weaver), amazing special effects that hold there own (even against the best of today’s CGI) and probably the best and most memorable movie monster (or monsters if you consider the face-hugger and chest-burster phases) in horror history. The movie spawned sequels, prequels and loads of lesser imitations – the best of which has to be James Cameron’s Aliens (1986), the direct sequel, picking up the story 57 years later and changing the mood somewhat into a scifi horror action adventure movie with a bunch of (space) marines trying to take on a whole colony’s worth of the alien bad-guys… great stuff.

If you want to put together an Alien movie marathon I would also recommend a movie that inspired screen-writer Dan O’Bannon when drafting his Alien concept – Edward L. Cahn’s It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) about a rescue mission to Mars that leads to an alien presence hunting down the space-rocket’s crew up through the confined decks till the remaining members are holed up in the control room at its apex. He also cited the previously mentioned The Thing From Another World and Forbidden Planet as influences. Also, there’s Mario Bava’s cult classic Planet of the Vampires (1965) which has some striking design and narrative similarities with Alien – though both Ridley Scott and Dan O’Bannon have said that neither of them had seen Planet of the Vampires at the time.

Alien was criticized by some as being just a haunted house movie set in space… but WHAT a haunted house movie! And anyway, what’s wrong with haunted house movies? In fact, I think one the best (and scariest) haunted house movies ever would make a good complement to Alien in a Halloween Horror Movie Marathon – and that would be Robert Wise’s The Haunting (1963) which is based on Shirley Jackson’s excellent 1959 novel The Haunting of Hill House. A small group of people endeavor to stay at an infamously haunted house under the guidance of a paranormal investigator to try and get to the bottom of the house’s murderous reputation… BIG mistake!

4. The Return of the Living Dead

Dan O'Bannon's The Return of the Living Dead (1985)

Dan O’Bannon’s The Return of the Living Dead (1985)

Written and directed by Dan O’Bannon The Return of the Living Dead (1985) is an extremely black comedy horror about a brain-eating zombie outbreak originating from a small town medical supply warehouse where inept duo – old-hand foreman Frank (James Karen) and young new employee Freddy (Thom Mathews) – stupidly break open a canister (left in the warehouse by mistake) containing one of the living-dead left over from a military experiment (involving a gas called Trioxin) that went horrendously wrong. When a bunch of Freddy’s friends turn up – hilarity and mayhem literally ensue in equal measure.

Ken Wiederhorn’s follow up, Return of the Living Dead Part II (1988), reunites James Karen and Thom Mathews – this time playing a duo of hapless grave robbers named Ed and Joey – in an entirely different small town about to be over run with brain-eating zombies after another stray military canister is mistakenly opened. Not quite as good as the first but still a very entertaining romp into horror comedy territory. Brian Yuzna’s third installment Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993) ditches most of the comedy elements from the previous two and replaces them with a darkly romantic storyline. When Curt’s girlfriend, Julie, is killed in a motorcycle crash he knows what he must do to “fix” her – go to his colonel father’s military base where they’ve been experimenting with Trioxin to create living dead super-soldiers and turn her into one of the living dead… which just causes a heap load of new problems for the pair – not least the army chasing them in the hopes of making her a super-soldier. There are two more movies in the franchise – Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis (2005) and Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave (also 2005) – but these have little to do with the original movies.

The premise of these movies is that a form of the events depicted in George A. Romero’s iconic Night of the Living Dead (1968) actually happened – but that that movie was a spin on the truth to hide the military’s cock-up… to quote Freddy – “You mean the movie lied?!” Needless to say Romero’s first living dead movie would make a great first feature to play before a selection of the The Return of the Living Dead movies and – it has to be said – it also has its own franchise that would make for a good (though not AS good) alternative living dead marathon.

 
Enter HERE all those who delight in horror, death, the macabre, the occult, black humor, weird tales, dark fantasy – and all such nefarious pleasures.

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