Blu-ray Review: ‘The Living Dead Girl’ (1982)


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Some unscrupulous schlubs decide to dispose of some toxic garbage in the catacombs of an abandoned Valmont chateau and quickly meet their horrifying fates at the hands of Catherine Valmont, the zombie in the title of Jean Rollin’s 1982 effort The Living Dead Girl. It’s a gory opener, playing against the film’s gore-soaked resolution like a bloody bookend. The Living Dead Girl was my first Jean Rollin film. I watched it on a whim on Netflix one day, familiar with the director’s reputation for French “lesbian vampire” films, and was taken aback by how much I enjoyed the movie. Since then, I’ve watched what I could through Netflix and through the release of Kino-Lorber’s Redemption series of Blu-rays (ten of the seventeen releases in the Redemption line are Jean Rollin films). If you were looking to explore Rollin’s work, The Living Dead Girl is a great start.

The film is about Catherine Valmont’s (Francoise Blanchard) relationship with her best friend and lover Helene (Marina Pierro). A blood oath promise that they made as children is Rollin’s thin explanation of Catherine’s resurrection, but what he’s really getting at with their story is the way we allow ourselves to become trapped within co-dependent relationships. The undead Catherine needs fresh blood to stay alive, and Helene drops any moral regards to sustain her lover. She leads people to the Valmont estate so that Catherine can feed, and once Catherine becomes fully aware of the unholy abomination she has become, Catherine begs for a death that Helene will simply not allow.

Blu-ray Review: ‘Two Orphan Vampires’ (1997)


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I have to admit – I was a little worried about Two Orphan Vampires. I’d never seen a Jean Rollin film from the 1990s and I imagined something with synthesized saxophone music and lots of softcore lesbian sex. Rollin wears this mantle from cinephiles as the king of lesbian vampire sexploitation, but I’d never really found that title fitting when examining his work. It’s mostly artsy, with only the briefest flirtations with sleaze. “Maybe this is the one,” I thought, picturing this later effort as something that would be right at home on Cinemax in 1997.

Well, Two Orphan Vampires is definitely not that. It’s unmistakably a Jean Rollin film, with its dual lead female roles and midnight jaunts through graveyards and train stations. Aside from the score (unimpressive noodling around with a synthesizer), it would be hard to pin a year to the film. It looks, sounds, feels, and tastes, for better or worse, like Jean Rollin.

There’s actually a pretty cool gimmick at the heart of Two Orphan Vampires, one that I’d like to see explored within a stronger narrative, in which the titular vampires (Alexandra Pic and Isabelle Teboul) are blind during the day but have full vision at night. They’re taken in by a doctor who thinks he may have a cure for their blindness, unaware of the secret they share. He doesn’t realize they’re leaving the house every night to feed and generally get into trouble.

Sins of Omission: ‘Psycho’ (1960)


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These are sins before horror. I am here to make amends.

Welcome to the new Sins of Omission column here at Horror’s Not Dead. It’s not really new, it’s just renamed. Think Tide with Color Guard; same soap, new label. This iteration is going to cover a huge sin of omission: Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 masterpiece Psycho.

The Omission

Psycho is the the story of Marion Crane (played by Janet Leigh) a secretary who embezzles $40,000 from one of her employer’s customers. Marion makes a run for it, eventually checking into The Bates Motel, a roadside hotel owned and operated by the Bates family.  Marion is checked in by Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). Norman takes a liking to Marion, inviting her to dinner. Before dinner Marion hears an argument between Norman and his overbearing mother.

Soon after dinner we witness on of the most iconic scenes in all of cinema: the murder of Marion Crane in the shower. I have viewed this scene dozens if not hundreds of times, and it stands up to the test of time. A women at her most vulnerable is murdered by a complete psychopath. The remainder of the film is following Marion’s friends and family in their search for her. Eventually the family figures out what happened.

I have two reasons for my sin. First, I was not born when it was made, Psycho came out a decade before my birth. Secondly, and horrifyingly simply, I just never got around to seeing it.

Horror News: Enter the ‘Citadel’ by Watching the Teaser


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There are two types of horror protagonists.

The first are well-armed, well-trained, and unstoppable. Demons? Hollow points filled with holy water. Zombies? Cannon fodder. Mighty Cthulhu? Airstrike. These characters may break a sweat, and they may bleed, but in the end, they’ll light a cigar, utter a macho pun, and strut on to the sequel.

The second are real. They are regular people with no special training, no weapons beyond what they can find, and they can very easily be killed in the most brutal and painful ways. Assuming they survive the horrors they are doomed to face, they will most likely suffer the side effects of extreme psychological trauma. Their battle will not just be physical (and even that will be bone-shatteringly, eyeball-gougingly hard to watch), but mental as well. These are not people used to the horrors of every day life, much less those of a monstrous, a supernatural, or even a human origin. When they leave this metaphorical arena of blood, they will be forever changed. They won’t have any military awards ceremony to go back to, and they will not be eager to share their stories. They will have their experiences permanently seared into their minds, with no hope of ever overcoming what they had to do to survive. If you can even call it survival.

Clearly, one of these character types is far more impressive and intriguing than the other.

Blu-ray Review: ‘Twins of Evil’ (1971)


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I can imagine in the context of the time, with Hammer Films entering its final creaky decade and with the stunt casting of twin Playboy Playmates, that Twins of Evil would’ve been received as one of Hammer’s lesser efforts. No matter; time and distance have been kind to Twins of Evil. The Collinson Twins carry none of the baggage of their time, having faded from the public eye, and Hammer’s old-fashioned gothic approach feels appropriately classic now, not as dusty as it did in the wake of eye-opening contemporaries like Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist.

Synapse has brought the film to Blu-ray (in a Blu/DVD combo pack), the first time the movie has been available since the days of VHS (Synapse also did the same for Hammer’s Vampire Circus, which is a great disc, even if the feature isn’t as strong as Twins of Evil). For Hammer fans, Twins of Evil is a must-own. The HD transfer is vivid with sharp contrast and lively, organic film grain. It’s not that Twins of Evil has never looked better — it’s that no Hammer film I’ve seen has ever looked better. Synapse ups the game in the special features department by including a feature length documentary (also in anamorphic HD) that specializes on Hammer’s three-film approach to J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla story.

Horror News: ‘The Apparition’ Trailer and Pics Show Potential


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Sometimes, I find trailers more entertaining than the finished product. Nevertheless, I continue to hope for the best. When the writing and acting in modern horror films finally manages to match the imagery, atmosphere, and visual effects that draw us into the theaters, we will enter the real golden age of the genre. Of course, with my luck, that will be the same day that the portals to R’lyeh open up and all film is destroyed in the resulting invasion.

With all of that in mind, several new pics and a (mostly) well-crafted trailer have been released for The Apparition, the upcoming horror film from Warner Bros. Pictures and Dark Castle Entertainment. The film is directed by Todd Lincoln and stars Ashley Green, Sebastian Stan, Luke Pasqualino, and Tom Felton. I’ll be honest. The trailer is very impressive. Visually, anyway. And the story is actually quite unique.

The plot centers around the hypothesis that ghostly apparitions are products of the human imagination. In an attempt to prove this as scientific theory, a group of students attempt to create a specter using only their minds. After they are successful, the entity that they have created begins to spread like a virus, infecting a young couple’s home.

Review: ‘Hoax Hunters #2′


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Possible the greatest fear in the entertainment industry, for both artists and fans alike, is the sophomore slump. A band releases that first moving album. A director creates their first visual masterpiece. And a comic brings paint and ink to life from inside that plastic-protected first edition. And then comes the second, and it is nowhere near as impressive as the first. And then, you can only wait in desperation for the third one, hoping to recapture that same magic.

I am pleased to report that this is not the case with Hoax Hunters #2.

Once again, Michael Moreci and Steve Seeley deliver a fast-paced horror action piece helped along by the detailed, colorfully compelling art of Axel Medellin. And fortunately, the mystery pace described in our review of Hoax Hunters #1 remains present. For every question answered, two or three more rise up to take its place, including yet another magnificent twist ending even more shocking and exciting than in issue #1. Are there still unanswered questions? Most certainly. But, if you’re like me, you love a good mystery, and nothing is more disappointing than a mystery giving you the bloody answer in the first ten minutes.

Ice Cream’s Not Dead: Little Baby’s Ice Cream Goes for the Total Freak-Out


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There ain’t no cure for the Summertime blues like ice cream! And this happens to be the single most disturbing, uncomfortable, creepy ice cream advertisement in the product’s history. Horror filmmakers, take note. This clip for Little Baby’s Ice Cream is more genuinely terrifying than most feature-length horror films.

(Source: The Laughing Squid)

Horror News: The Weekly Offering


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Welcome, mortals, to The Weekly Offering. Here, we present our dark gifts in hopes that we please the Ancient Ones, that they might spare us. They are satisfied with our humble sacrifices of news, images, reviews, and commentary through the week, but on Fridays, they desire more. Their weekends, their unholy Sabbath, know no bounds. And so, to satisfy their bloodlust, as well as yours, we bring you these short, savory offerings.

 

Hide Your Kids; La Llorona is Returning to Universal Halloween Horror Nights

We gave you a taste of what is waiting for you at Universal Halloween Horror Nights this year. And now, we’re bringing you another way you might die in central Florida. Universal has announced the return of one of last year’s most terrifying characters: La Llorona.

Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time living in central Texas, as I have, is familiar with the legend of La Llorona, although you may know her by a different name. La Llorona, or the Weeping Woman, is the story of a young girl scorned by the man she loves who drowns her children in a creek. From here, I’ve heard many different versions. Sometimes, she commits suicide. Sometimes, dies from grief. Either way, she haunts the region, her tortured soul crying out for her lost children.

The maze will take you through a labyrinth of her victims. The intent is to provide a journey through the nightmares of a child’s mind. If my own childhood nightmares are any indication, then this is likely going to be one of the most terrifying haunted houses ever constructed.

Blu-ray Reviews: Redemption Presents the Original ‘Burke & Hare’ and Cushing in ‘The Blood Beast Terror’


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It’s a good time to be a Blu-ray collectin’ horror fan. Almost all of the classics of modern horror have gotten solid high-def releases, while classics and curiosities continue to get released in a steady stream that reminds me of the heyday of DVD and companies like Anchor Bay. Kino-Lorber has really stepped up their game with the Redemption line, which I’ve praised before, most recently with the release of the forgotten Marquis De Sade adaptation Justine. The movies are unusual, the special features are robust when offered, and the picture quality of these films is taken from the best possible sources (some fare better than others).

There’s not a real unifying element in the Redemption line, other than the films’ European origins, and I appreciate their grab bag nature. Eight of the fourteen current releases are Jean Rollin films, but there’s also trash like The Virgin Witch and underrated chillers like The Asphyx. Burke and Hare (1972) and The Blood Beast Terror (1968) have only a director in common, Vernon Sewell, but they still feel right at home with the Redemption branding. Both have been forgotten by time, and both are worth viewing by curious horror fans.

Horror News: You May Go Into Shock After Seeing These ‘Aftershock’ Pics


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What is it that holds society together?

I would hypothesize that the answer to that question has changed over time. A thousand years ago, it was stone. Today, it’s concrete and steel. And no, I am not speaking in just a literal sense. When the great societies that we have built begin to crumble around us, how long will it take before we as a species descend into animalistic violence?

If you have to ask that question, you clearly have not been watching enough horror films. Or your faith in humanity is much too strong. Either way, remedy that immediately.

The Chronicles of Horror Movie Night: ‘Don’t Go in the House’ (1980)


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After starting in Washington D.C. nine years ago Horror Movie Night has expanded to include chapters in Austin, Dallas and Chicago. Horror’s Not Dead’s own Brian Kelley is the originator and programmer of this illustrious weekly Wednesday night tradition which features a “classic” horror film. Each week I will be reviewing/commenting on the past week’s selection so do your best to find the film, most of which have not made it past VHS, and follow along. Better yet, start your own chapter!

VHS cover for Don't Go in the House

A creepy house is not an uncommon thing in our beloved genre. Countless films have centered around a horrible building of some sort. Look at the horrors that awaited people in films like Psycho, or the possession which took place in Poltergeist, even all the way back to the silent days and the terrors that awaited the couple knocking on the door to Orlock’s castle in Nosferatu. If there is one thing that all of the victims in these films should have done, it was stay the hell away from those houses! I guess Joseph Ellison decided to take that message to heart when he created his first film (of only two): Don’t Go in the House. You might think it’s your average slasher, but it’s quite a bit different than all that, and definitely much slower.




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