Torture Chamber (2013)

A family struggles to end the evil reign of their youngest son, Jimmy, who they believe to be possessed by the devil, but is Jimmy's condition a result of his oppressive religious upbringing, or something far more sinister? Cult director Dante Tomaselli returns with another ambitious and highly original approach to hallucinatory horror in TORTURE CHAMBER, his fourth and most recent film. As always, Tomaselli instills a personal approach to the writing and directing of this low-budget shocker, drawing once more from a deeply-religious background that seems to condemn the dogmatic practices of the Catholic church. We are the ones that are left to decide whether Jimmy's twisted appearance and demonic powers are a result of nature or nurture, or whether the events portrayed in the film are even real to begin with. Jimmy's fiery vengeance can just as easily be an expression of his inner anguish and psychological turmoil as it could be an outward expression of true horror. Tomaselli sets the mood with a stellar score, which draws us deep into the bowels of hell portrayed on screen. For all of its strengths, however, TORTURE CHAMBER may prove to be too challenging for most audiences. It is laid out through a series of flashbacks and hallucinations which defy linear structure. The result is a living, breathing nightmare that conforms solely to the director's unique vision of horror. Those fringe film fans that are seeking a breakaway from the standard conventions of the genre will find TORTURE CHAMBER to be a refreshing release.

Rating: 6/10.



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Top Ten Reasons Why 'Jaws: The Revenge' Is the Best Movie Ever Made

1. This shark is out for REVENGE! Because, naturally, sharks are cognizant beings that seek revenge against their transgressors. This was a key factor that was missing from the previous films. Before, the sharks would just eat for food or out of boredom. Now, its motives are much more brooding and calculated.

2. The shark roars like a dinosaur. Another fact that was overlooked in each of the other sequels. Lead scientists in the field of underwater research have proven that the great white has an impressive vocal range that sounds very similar to several large species of dinosaur. This makes Jaws 4 the most accurate portrayal of the great white in film.

3. Lance Guest. Lance Guest's award-winning performance as Mike Brody is intense and sincere. It is the introspective moments in the film that truly define his character, where we find him staring at himself in the mirror, contemplating whether or not he should keep tagging sea snails for a living. He outshines even the great Roy Scheider in the series.

4. Banana Boat. Need I say more?? I'll be damned if I ever ride another banana boat in the Caribbean after seeing this movie. Honestly, what did you think was going to happen? The ratio between Women Riding Banana Boats in a Horror Film and Dying is 1:1. Want to save money before your next vacation? Show your kids the banana boat scene.

5. It built Michael Caine's house. And what a fine house it is! Michael Caine has been quoted as saying this about Jaws - The Revenge: "I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific."

6. They made a Nintendo game out it. Yeah, that's right. It may have just been called Jaws for brevity's sake, but we all know it was about Jaws - The Revenge. The fast-paced action and suspense has you assume the role of Mike Brody as you shoot helpless sea creatures with your monstrous harpoon gun. If you're lucky, Jaws will randomly show up and float aimlessly around the screen for a few minutes. And if you're REALLY lucky, you may accidentally be able to align the boat properly in the final showdown against the killer shark.

7. The tracking device. Who needs John Williams' tired old score when you have the electronic bleeping of a tracking device on hand to warn you when the shark is preparing to strike? Nothing strikes terror in the heart of men like modified fishing equipment.

8. The giant swing that overlooks the water. This is a parent's best friend. Before, you had to worry about your kid flying off of the swing and breaking a limb. Now, children are afforded the luxury of landing safely in a shark's mouth, or dying a horrible and tragic death after landing in the water and drowning while their irresponsible-ass parents are off drinking cool island cocktails. Kudos, giant swing that overlooks the water designer!

9. The shark is real. Budgeting constraints forced director Joseph Sargent to use real sharks in the filming of Jaws - The Revenge. This is clearly evidenced in one of the underwater scenes where Mike is attacked by the shark in his little yellow submarine. The giant metal arm that can be seen beneath the shark was a tethering device used to control these beautiful creatures in nature, providing for some of the most realistic-looking attack sequences in the series.

10. Random acts of Sharksplosion. Getting back to the science behind Jaws - The Revenge, another little know fact is that the great white naturally explodes when hit with even the slightest amount of force, as we have seen in the film's climactic ending.
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Movie Monsters: Meridian (1990)

The elegant werewolf costume seen here may look familiar, as it was later used in Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula. Meridian is a stylish and atmospheric Gothic tale that director Charles Band had fashioned after the Harlequin novels of love and romance. Why is the beast from Meridian your favorite movie monster? Read The Full Post HERE!

Horror Quotes: Nosferatu (1922)

Graf Orlok: Is this your wife? What a lovely throat. Read The Full Post HERE!

Names in Horror: Amy Irving

Amy Irving's earliest contributions to the genre included Brian De Palma's two telekinetic Horror films, Carrie and The Fury. She would return as Sue Snell for The Rage: Carrie 2, and would appear in the suspense thriller, Hide and Seek, alongside Robert De Niro. Read The Full Post HERE!

The Awakening (2011)

Set in 1920s England, THE AWAKENING follows Florence Cathcart, a skeptic who has set out to disprove the existence of ghosts using modern scientific techniques. Florence is called upon to settle the rumors of a haunting that has been plaguing a local boarding school, but her beliefs are soon shaken by a number of unexplainable events. Director Nick Murphy delivers a great deal of supernatural suspense in his chilling ghost story, THE AWAKENING, from 2011. The film has been beautifully dressed to fit the period, with a cool color palette and somber mood that are used to reflect a grief-stricken England following the First World War. Rebecca Hall and each of her surrounding cast members are quite good in their respective roles. Hall brings a sharp wit and authoritative sense of control to the character of Florence, before fear and self-doubt begin to sink in towards the end. The same subtle approach that was taken in THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE and THE OTHERS is exhibited here once again, which gives way to sudden shocks that are rightfully earned due to the well-crafted suspense. It is a Modern Classic in a sense, drawing from more traditional frights from a bygone era.

Rating: 8/10.

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Horror Posters: Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)

We are not given much information here for Wes Craven's New Nightmare, but there is something dark and evil that comes through in this poster that just seems fitting to the film. Do you prefer this over the more colorful posters from earlier in the series? Read The Full Post HERE!

Behind the Scenes: Metropolis (1927)

Brigitte Helm takes a moment to herself during the filming of Fritz Lang's Metropolis, in which she has several integral parts. The film is considered to be the forefather of the Science Fiction genre, and a masterpiece of the Silent Film Era. Read The Full Post HERE!

Great Moments: Peeping Tom (1960)

An intense moment from Michael Powell's classic thriller, Peeping Tom! Although the film was violently criticized at the time of its original release, it has since been hailed as one of the most daring and provocative thrillers of its time, and a film classic. What are your favorite moments from the film? Read The Full Post HERE!

Horror Haiku: Deep Red (1975)

Think. What did I miss?
Was a picture out of place?
I need to reflect.
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Villains of Horror: The Stepfather (1987)

Who am I? Jerry Blake moves in with his new wife in the hopes of finding the perfect family, but when things don't work out quite like he planned, he decides it's time to cut ties, and necks! Terry O'Quinn stars in 1987's terrifying suspense thriller, The Stepfather. Why is Jerry Blake your favorite Villain of Horror? Read The Full Post HERE!

Mama (2013)

Two feral children are discovered years after their father abandoned them in the woods, but they bring along an unexpected guest when they are taken in by their uncle in the supernatural thriller MAMA, from 2013. MAMA is a chilling and frightful ghost story whose most horrific moments come out of the children's eerie performances, rather than the sudden appearances of the spindly apparition. Victoria and Lilly have regressed in to an animal-like state, which causes them to run around on all fours and lash out aggressively. Their discovery within the dilapidated cabin makes for a truly unnerving experience. Director Andrés Muschietti drowns each scene with oppressive feelings of tension and dread, and creates a number of disturbing images along the way. Where he falters most is in the storytelling, itself. MAMA is a simple rehash of so many other similar tales of ghostly revenge, with a familiar structure that rarely deviates from the status quo. The film's subtler moments are infinitely more effective than the outright shocks, due to the heavy reliance on computerized imaging that dispels all feelings of suspended disbelief. If it were to be rated solely on atmosphere and mood, however, MAMA would surely top the charts.

Rating: 8/10.

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Terror Trivia: Snakes on a Plane (2006)

When the male flight attendant puts the snake in the microwave, he can be seen hitting the 'snake' preset button on the microwave. Read The Full Post HERE!

Movie Monsters: The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)

From the Arctic depths comes The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, on a collision course for New York City! This monstrous beast was brought to life by the great Ray Harryhausen in one of his earliest works. Why is the Beast one of your favorite movie monsters? Read The Full Post HERE!

Horror Quotes: Stir of Echoes (1999)

Lisa: It doesn't surprise me that there's another woman. Of course, the fact that she's dead gives one pause. Read The Full Post HERE!

Names in Horror: Willis O'Brien

One of Hollywood's founding special effects artists, Willis O'Brien is grandfather to the genre. His influential work on King Kong and The Lost World would leave a lasting impression on young Ray Harryhausen, who would later follow in O'Brien's footsteps and turn out many unique claymation characters of his own. Read The Full Post HERE!

Herschell Gordon Lewis, The Godfather of Gore (2010)

He has often been called offensive, untalented, degenerate, and utterly reprehensible, but to Horror fans, he is best known as Herschell Gordon Lewis, the Godfather of Gore! With BLOOD FEAST, Lewis and producer David F. Friedman introduced the world to the very first gore film, which changed the cinematic landscape forever. Now, director Frank Henenlotter (BASKET CASE) takes a look back at Lewis' remarkable career in the new documentary HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS, THE GODFATHER OF GORE. From his early beginnings in the 'Nudie Cutie' films to the advent of gore and on through to his later entries like THE WIZARD OF GORE and THE GORE GORE GIRLS, we are given the complete and definitive history for one of Horror's most influential filmmakers as told by his cast and crew along with many other special guests. In addition to both David F. Friedman and H.G. Lewis, notable critics and directors like Joe Bob Briggs, John Waters, and even Frank Henenlotter, himself, pop in with insightful commentary and hilarious stories surrounding the films. GODFATHER is sharply edited with a wonderful integration of film clips that enhance each conversation on screen. Henenlotter has chosen only the most interesting and engaging stories to include in the documentary, along with over an hour of additional scenes that did not quite make the cut. Viewers are also given the very first look at Lewis' never-before-seen AN EYE FOR AN EYE, which remains unedited and unreleased to this very day. While the documentary will certainly only appeal to hardcore exploitation and gore fans, admirers of Herschell Gordon Lewis will admit that this is a fitting tribute and an excellent book end to a wild and crazy career.

Rating: 9/10.


Horror Posters: Freddy's Dead (1991)

The Nightmare series moves away from their traditional poster art in the Final Nightmare, electing, instead, for a more fitting design given the 3-D nature of the film. It wouldn't be long before Freddy would find his way back on screen, however, in Wes Craven's New Nightmare. Read The Full Post HERE!

Behind the Scenes: Frankenstein (1931)

The Monster takes a moment's pause to enjoy his tea behind the scenes of Universal's Frankenstein. How many times would Karloff be credited as playing The Monster in the Frankenstein series? Read The Full Post HERE!

Great Moments: Subspecies 3 (1994)

This elegant moment encapsulates the Gothic beauty of Ted Nicolaou's Subspecies series. Radu and Michele strictly contrast one another as beauty and the beast. What are your favorite moments from the Subspecies films? Read The Full Post HERE!

Heroes of Horror: Blade (1999)

The Daywalker is brought out of the pages of Marvel Comics and onto the big screen in Stephen Norrington's action-packed thriller, Blade! Wesley Snipes plays the character deathly seriously, as he rips through the vampire hordes on his quest for revenge. Why is Blade your Hero of Horror? Read The Full Post HERE!

Opera (1987)

Marco Baddini's production of Macbeth is suffering from a number of unfortunate accidents which seem to be related to the opera's illustrious curse. After the lead is struck by a car, a beautiful young ingenue assumes the role of Lady Macbeth in her stage debut, but an unseen admirer will go to any length to ensure her success! OPERA is a refreshing return to form for Italian director Dario Argento, and it is one of his more artful, stylish, and technically accomplished Gialli. Here, he combines the power and grace of the opera house with his own frenetic energy and violent murder sequences. Argento could not have picked a more appropriate backdrop for the film, since Macbeth already contains such a fierce character drama and a rich history of problematic productions. The stage is then set for him to unleash his next black-gloved killer, although the curse of Macbeth would strike closer to home throughout the course of its making.

Argento creates a number of striking images that are contrasted by the utter horror in OPERA. From the elegant set designs to the extravagant deaths, every frame of the film has a painterly quality about it. That being said, he also slips in a few self-serving scenes that are beautifully composed but completely unnecessary. The first trails a bullet from the barrel of a pistol through an eye-hole and then out the back of one character's head. The next involves a series a swooping crane shots that are used to imitate the raven's eye view as the birds search for the killer.

As with many of Argento's pictures, the soundtrack plays a huge role in the final production of OPERA, making this one of his strongest scores since SUSPIRIA. With Goblin disbanded, Argento would only go back to Claudio Simonetti for two arrangements (including the main theme). In addition to the classic operatics that were taken from Macbeth, he also cranks up the volume during several Heavy Metal tracks that play over the murder sequences. While this adds to the excitement and terror, the jarring shifts in music are more painfully artificial than they had been in DEEP RED or TENEBRE.

OPERA's killer is more sadistic than ever, not only eliminating his victims in a variety of gruesome fashions, but also forcing poor Betty into watching him kill by tying her up and taping sharp needles beneath her eyelids. The theme of voyeurism is essential to the plot, and plays into every aspect of the film. Unfortunately, OPERA is no less contrived than any of the director's other thrillers, and the gory centerpieces still take precedence over the actual storytelling, itself.

While many fans often choose to ignore many of Dario Argento's films following his 'decline' with PHENOMENA in 1985, OPERA should be considered one of the director's last great works, and one that is sorely overlooked despite the fact that it is one of his more accomplished achievements.

Rating: 8/10.
Gore: 7/10.

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Terror Trivia: The Dead Zone (1983)

Director David Cronenberg had to re-shoot the scene in which John Smith has his first premonition. It showed a little girl's room burning and a small E.T. doll could be seen on one of the shelves. The scene had to be re-shot when Universal Pictures threatened to sue. Read The Full Post HERE!

Movie Monsters: The Black Waters of Echo's Pond (2009)

As terrible and painfully uneventful as the film may be, The Black Waters of Echo's Pond has one hell of a creature costume for the manipulative spirit, Pan, as seen in the image above. Why is Pan your favorite movie monster? Read The Full Post HERE!

Horror Quotes: Zombieland (2007)

Columbus: Oh, America. I wish I could tell you that this was still America, but I've come to realize that you can't have a country without people. And there are no people here. No, my friends. This is now the United States of Zombieland. Read The Full Post HERE!

Onibaba (1964)

The wife and mother of a drafted soldier are left to fend for themselves in the grassy swamplands of rural Japan, where they pay for their meager meals by slaying passing samurai and selling their armor. When a neighbor returns from the war to inform them of their loss, he strikes up a passionate love affair with his friend's ex-lover, causing her mother-in-law to lash out in jealousy and rage. The older woman uses the fearsome mask of a fallen warrior to frighten the lovers from seeing one another, but her selfish pursuit has its own horrifying consequences. Taken from traditional Buddhist folklore, ONIBABA comes from an age of romantic ghost stories known as Kaidan that proliferated in Japanese cinema throughout the first half of the century. The terrors in this film are quite human, however. Here, we see the ravening effect that war has on the common people, the lengths that men and women will go through to survive, and the darkest of human emotions. Kaneto Shindô uses deeply symbolic imagery to personify these feelings of hopelessness, fear, and anger, the most effective, of course, being the demonic Noh mask that latches on to its wearer and exposes their inner being. The desperate sex acts committed by the two young lovers are as much about raw, animalistic desire as they are about escaping from the futile and mundane life cycle. ONIBABA is a brilliantly-shot and highly-atmospheric masterpiece that places a very human drama at the height of its success.

Rating: 10/10.

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Names in Horror: Virginia Madsen

The beautiful Virginia Madsen came under the spell of the Candyman in the early 90s, where Horror fans first fell in love with her. She has also appeared in The Haunting, from 1999, as well as more recent entries like Number 23 and The Haunting in Connecticut. Read The Full Post HERE!

Horror Posters: A Nightmare on Elm Street 5 (1989)

If anything can be said about The Dream Child, it is that this poster is better than the majority of the film. That isn't entirely fair, because as much as fans tend to rip on this later sequel, director Stephen Hopkins does attempt to inject some interesting moments on the visual landscape, particularly in the Escherian ending. Read The Full Post HERE!

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

Former child star 'Baby' Jane Hudson lives in a constant state of drunken jealousy over the later successes of her younger sister, who has since become crippled in an unfortunate accident. Jane's obsession with the past drives her into a deepening madness as she locks her sister away from the outside world and suppresses her with a series of mental tortures. By 1962, the careers of Hollywood queens Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were long since expired. Ironically, they would find renewed fame in their self-mocking portrayals of two faded stars not unlike themselves. Davis and Crawford are electrifying in the roles, and the pair's famous personal rivalry off-camera bleeds into their performances with a darkly comedic effect. Davis' cheap wig, garish make-up, and withered visage only add to her psychotic behavior to create one the silver screen's greatest human monsters. Crawford's performance is far more reserved but no less satisfying as the victimized Blanche. To speak only of these two fine actresses is to leave out the beautiful cinematography and elegant lighting that brings their warring to life under Robert Aldrich's artful direction.

The immediate success of Aldrich's Oscar-winning production spawned a complete sub-genre of its own known as Psycho-biddy or Grande Dame Guignol, where a haggardly older woman is either pushed to the edge of sanity or pitted against another elderly rival. These comparisons to the theatricality of the Grande Guignol are quite fitting given the melodramatic portrayals of the two lead characters. As it approaches its fiftieth anniversary, WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE can be seen as nothing other than a defining classic in Horror and Suspense, and a must-see for all genre fans.

Rating: 10/10.

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Behind the Scenes: The House on Haunted Hill (1959)

Vincent Price shares an intimate moment with one of his co-stars on the set of The House on Haunted Hill. What is the reward that is being offered in the film? Read The Full Post HERE!

Great Moments: The Bone Snatcher (2003)

Sudden, shocking, and unsuspected, this moment in Horror comes to us from 2003's The Bone Snatcher, which is criminally-overlooked within the genre. What are your favorite moments from the film? Read The Full Post HERE!

Villains of Horror: Jennifer's Body (2009)

Jennifer has a special way of dealing with the nasty boys from school, and they sure ain't going to like it! Megan Fox stars as the titular character in Jennifer's Body, written by Juno's Diablo Cody. Why is Jennifer your favorite Villain of Horror? Read The Full Post HERE!

Top Ten Vampire Films You've Never Seen

1. The Vampire (1957): A pretty young Mexican girl returns to her hometown to make funeral arrangements for her beloved aunt, who has just died. Soon she begins to hear disturbing stories about the town being infested by vampires, and she eventually begins to suspect that her remaining aunt and the mysterious next door neighbor may be involved. With all of the Gothic grandeur that one might expect from the Universal classics, it is amazing that The Vampire has not held a wider appeal with Horror audiences. Germán Robles dons the cape in a fantastic performance, with superb direction from Fernando Méndez.

2. I, Vampiri (1956): A mad scientist captures young women and drains their blood, in order to keep alive an ancient, evil duchess. The classic tale of Elizabeth Bathory is brought to bloody life by the Italian masters Riccardo Freda and Mario Bava with their signature sense of style, mood, and atmosphere. Bava would move on to direct his own masterpiece, Black Sunday, in 1960.

3. Vampyr (1932): A traveler obsessed with the supernatural visits an old inn and finds evidence of vampires in Carl Dreyer's surreal fantasy piece. Plot and character are set aside in place of the expressionistic undertones, while Dreyer conducts a study in contrasts and form, using light, dark, and shadows as integral players on his visual canvas. Another nightmarish masterpiece within the vampire genre.

4. Martin (1976): A young man, who believes himself to be a vampire, goes to live with his elderly and hostile cousin in a small Pennsylvania town where he tries to redeem his blood-craving urges. This is perhaps George A. Romero's finest work, surpassing even the Living Dead series in its originality, character, and mood. Romero draws a mist of ambiguity around his lead character, never letting on to his true nature for a second. John Amplas provides an incredible performance, as well.

5. Fascination (1979): This erotic horror film, set in 1905, tells the story of a thief who seeks refuge in a castle owned by two women, Eva and Elizabeth. The women are seductive and teasing, but turn out to be part of a vampiric cult of blood-drinking aristocrats. Fascination is one of Jean Rollin's most coherent films, but it is none the less lyrical or atmospheric than any of his earlier works. Brigitte Lahaie is simply haunting as Eva, and makes for many memorable moments in the film.

6. Daughters of Darkness (1971): A newlywed couple are passing through a vacation resort. Their paths cross with a mysterious, strikingly beautiful countess and her aide. Like in each of the aforementioned films, Harry Kümel's stylish and atmospheric twist on the vampire tale is just dripping with character and mood, let alone the erotic fantasy elements that are inherent in the script. The sexual undertones of the vampire are explored to their fullest.

7. Let's Scare Jessica to Death (1971): A recently institutionalized woman has bizarre experiences after moving into a supposedly haunted country farmhouse and fears she may be losing her sanity once again. Like in Martin, we can never be certain of Jessica's mental state. Zohra Lampert plays the part perfectly, and is both sad and sympathetic as her sanity slips out from underneath her. The cool color palette and gentle mists only add to the Southern Gothic appeal.

8. Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural (1973): A young girl who returns to her hometown to see her dying father finds herself being drawn into a web of vampirism and witchcraft. Richard Blackburn weaves a modern fairy tale in the Southern Gothic tradition with Lemora, named for the seductive vampiress who threatens to steal poor Lila's innocence. The surreal imagery and lavish color scheme add to the dreamlike wonder found within the film.

9. Mr. Vampire (1985): During a reburial, the local priest notices that the corpse has not decomposed and has the blue fingernails typical of a vampire. Before he can destroy the vampire, it escapes. Now he must deal with the menace, aided only by his two bumbling assistants, one of whom is soon infected by the vampire's poison while the other is enjoying the embrace of a life-eating she-ghost. Mr. Vampire has to be seen to believe. The outrageous physical comedy is beyond compare, with hopping vampires and seductive ghosts galore. Add to that the fast-paced action and martial artistry, and you have one of the most uniquely entertaining vampire films in the genre!

10. The Night Stalker (1972): Darren McGavin stars as an abrasive Las Vegas newspaper reporter who investigates a series of murders committed by a vampire. Long before The X-Files, Carl Kolchak was first on the scene when it came to the strange and unusual. The Night Stalker brought a sharp wit and keen mystery to the small screen, and made way for an ongoing series that debuted two years later as Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Could there really be a vampire stalking the streets of Las Vegas? Tune in to find out!
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Terror Trivia: The Entity (1982)

The real-life Carla Moran's teenage son described a particularly vicious attack in which Carla was thrown by the malevolent force and hit her head. He tried to intervene, but he was also thrown, breaking his arm. In the filming of the movie, the actor playing the son broke his arm in that scene, and the curtains tore from top to bottom without explanation. Read The Full Post HERE!

Terrible Moments: Rock 'N' Roll Nightmare (1987)

If a grown man in a leather thong battling a hand-puppet version of Satan in hand-to-hand combat doesn't make you laugh, nothing will. Rock 'N' Roll Nightmare couldn't be a more appropriate title for this pile of crap, but the unintentional humor held within is simply priceless. What are your favorite moments from the film? Read The Full Post HERE!

Movie Monsters: Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2010)

Young Sally is terrified to learn that these mean-spirited little imps have finally been freed from the ash pit beneath her father's new home. And now, they want her to join them! Why are the creatures from Don't Be Afraid of the Dark your favorite movie monsters? Read The Full Post HERE!

Horror Quotes: The Dentist (1996)

Dr. Alan Feinstone: I, am an instrument of perfection, and hygiene. The enemy, of decay and corruption. A dentist. And I have a lot of work to do... Read The Full Post HERE!

Names in Horror: Fritz Lang

Fritz Lang is an Austrian-born director who is remembered most for his monumental entry into the Expressionist film era, Metropolis. He is also responsible for the critically-acclaimed M, starring Peter Lorre. What is your favorite Fritz Lang film? Read The Full Post HERE!

Wolf Girl (2001)

WOLF GIRL, or BLOOD MOON, as it is known internationally, is one of the finest achievements in Gothic Horror to arrive in decades. This tragic tale centers Tara, an afflicted young woman whose hypertrichosis has gained her renown as the terrifying "Wolf Girl" in Harley Dune's Travelling Freak Show. After being tormented by a group of unruly teens at one of their stops, Tara is approached by a timid admirer, who claims he can help restore her looks using an experimental drug. Tara begins the treatments, but as she takes on a more human appearance, her instincts become more wild and animalistic as she regresses into the mindset of a wolf.

WOLF GIRL is the most sincere and loving portrayal of human oddities since Tod Browning's FREAKS, exuding a sense of warmth and family between the players in Harley's sideshow. It places a firm emphasis on character and theme that only lightly touches on horror. Victoria Sanchez pours everything she has in to her performance as Tara, giving us a painfully sad and empathetic character with whom to relate. She wants nothing more than to be liked and to be loved, and is willing to risk her humanity if it means being accepted. Acceptance and appearance play a vital role in the development of the villains, as well. Through Beau and Krystal, we slowly begin to see the hidden imperfections that drive the teens to project their anxieties outwardly by attacking Tara. Interestingly enough, the characters with the most notable differences physically also show the most self-confidence and strength, as seen through Athena the Fat Lady and Ryan, Tara's scrawny but bold defender. Grace Jones performs a compelling music number that speaks towards inner beauty as the androgynous Christoph/Christine. Tim Curry is perfectly suited to play the role of the sideshow barker, Harley Dune, in another wonderful performance.

All that aside, WOLF GIRL is a clever reversal of traditional werewolf lore that offers a refreshing new take on the genre. Lori Lansens provides a carefully crafted and character-driven script that is masterfully brought to life under the direction of Thom Fitzgerald. The film is magnificently shot under a dark Gothic aesthetic, from the beautiful costuming to the timeless carnival backdrop and fantastic score by Christophe Beck. This is essential viewing for any Gothic Horror or werewolf fans.

Rating: 9/10.

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Horror Posters: A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 (1988)

Even if the posters are beginning to become redundant and repetitive at this point, the lurid use of color and nightmarish visuals still stand out against many of the other prints of the time. Nightmare 4 introduces us to Alice, a shy and unassuming girl who must gather her strength and the strength of her fall friends to face off against Freddy Kruger in a final climactic showdown! Read The Full Post HERE!

Behind the Scenes: Halloween II (2009)

Rob Zombie and Scott Taylor Compton share a laugh on the set of Halloween II. What does the white horse symbolize in the film? Read The Full Post HERE!

Great Moments: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 (1987)

The first few Freddy films offer brilliantly-creative death scenes that are always as interesting to watch as they are horrifying and cruel. This poor puppeteer has his strings pulled by Freddy Kruger after finally falling asleep. What are your favorite moments from the film? Read The Full Post HERE!

Heroes of Horror: [Rec] (2007)

Angela is in the wrong place at the wrong time when she signs on to film her nightly television segment with the local paramedics. An emergency call gets them all trapped in a nearby apartment complex after the building is quarantined due to a deadly virus. Why is Angela Vidal one of your Heroes of Horror? Read The Full Post HERE!

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010)

Two simpleminded hillbillies head for the mountains to fix up their new vacation home, a dilapidated cabin, when they fall under attack by a group of college kids that have mistaken them for psychotic serial killers! Move over, Jason, Horror has a new mascot... Two actually, in TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL! Eli Craig's brilliant satire of the Slasher genre has all of the same sharply-written humor as SCREAM minus the pretentious overtures, turning Horror on its head by playing off of every major movie trope with hilarious results. Simple misunderstandings give off sinister appearances, as the college kids confuse Tucker and Dale's good-natured acts as attempts to kill them! When one of the girls slips on a rock, Dale heroically saves her from the lake, but the teens only see an unconscious body being dragged from the water! As they attempt to rescue her, Tucker accidentally saws into a beehive, and comes charging into the woods with a chainsaw, causing one of the kids to impale himself on a tree branch! Bits like this only cover half of the humor, because the real smarts come out in Craig's witty dialog. Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk downplay their roles for maximum effect, providing plenty of laughs and keen comedic timing along the way. TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL is bloody good fun from start to finish, earning its place right beside other modern revisionist classics like BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON and LONG PIGS!

Rating: 8/10.


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Terror Trivia: Videodrome (1983)

During filming of the Cathode Ray mission sequence, the film's gaffer, Jock Brandis, walked in and casually informed the crew that the power lines to the building were smoking because of the load imposed on them by the TV sets. Read The Full Post HERE!

Movie Monsters: The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

Although he was the last in Universal's long line of classic monsters, The Creature from the Black Lagoon is certainly not least when it comes to memorable costuming and design. This full-bodied suit is one of the most impressive feats of the early 1950s, especially when it becomes submerged for the underwater sequences. Why is the Creature your favorite movie monster? Read The Full Post HERE!

Horror Quotes: The Tenant (1976)

Trelkovsky: If you cut off my head, what would I say... Me and my head, or me and my body? What right has my head to call itself me? Read The Full Post HERE!

Names in Horror: Cassandra Peterson

Cassandra Peterson is better known by her alter-ego, the wise-cracking Mistress of the Night, herself: Elvira! Peterson established herself as the hostess with the mostest during the television run of Movie Macabre, which ran for four seasons in the early 80s. Peterson also starred in two feature-length films as the titular character, and makes countless guest appearances in full regalia as the vamped up vixen. Read The Full Post HERE!

Horror Posters: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 (1987)

The Dream Warriors prepare to face the infamous Freddy Kruger in this poster from A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3! What do you like best about this poster over the others from the series? Read The Full Post HERE!

The Horrors of Malformed Men (1969)

Hirosuke Hitomi is a broken man lost within his own mind who escapes from prison to try to uncover his hidden past. Several twists of fate and scattered leads bring him to a small seaside village, where he learns that a man who may have been his exact double recently passed away. Posing as the resurrected body of the dead man, he infiltrates the Komoda family in the hopes of unlocking their secrets, secrets which may help him piece together his own identity. Instead, he is taken to a mysterious island just off the coast, where the crazed head of the family, Jogoro, has been conducting sick experiments on his human captives to create a paradise of malformed men. What Hirosuke will discover about his own connection to the Komoda clan will be more shocking and warped than he could have ever imagined.

Teruo Ishii's stunning film is considered to be one of the most controversial pieces of Japanese cinema ever created, where it continues to remain banned now forty years after its initial release. THE HORRORS OF MALFORMED MEN is extremely challenging, both visually and thematically. Like SANTA SANGRE, DARK WATERS, or HOUSE, the arresting images serve to shock and disgust in the most terrifyingly beautiful ways imaginable. With the tragedies of World War II still fresh in mind, it comes as no surprise that Japanese audiences would have baulked at the twisted forms presented on screen, which come as a sad reminder of the real-life horrors that occurred in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The sexually charged overtones implicit in the plot reveal acts of voyeurism, rape, bestiality, and incest, exploring and exploiting every possible societal taboo through Jogoro's sadistic plans. Although the acts are not graphically depicted on screen, Ishii's handling of such explicit material would help to usher in Japan's unique form of sexual violence know as Ero Guro, an artistic sideshow of the erotically-grotesque that would later produce entries such as Komizu's ENTRAILS OF A VIRGIN. There is also an unmistakable similarity between the story structure here and the one found in Park Chan-Wook's critically-acclaimed OLDBOY that cannot be ignored.

Outside of the disturbing sexual deviance that was carried over from Rampo Edogawa's original novel, Ishii has created true horror in his portrayal of the characters and events. The beastly Jogoro played by Michiko Kobata accounts for much of the terror, writhing off of the rocks like a mangled apparition that haunts Hirosuke's shattered memories. His man-made monsters are no less unnerving as they act out his distorted fantasies like emotionless automatons. In one of the film's most notorious scenes, a woman is also forced to eat the crabs off of her dead lover in order to avoid starvation through second-hand cannibalism.

THE HORRORS OF MALFORMED MEN is a viewing experience unlike any other, although it is unlikely to be accepted by all audiences. It is an important and influential piece of Japanese cinema, but due to its notorious reputation, some fans are likely to overlook its artistic expression in disappointment over the lack of sensationalism and gore.

Rating: 8/10.

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Behind the Scenes: Maniac (1980)

Joe Spinell poses next to his model head behind the scenes of William Lustig's sleazy slasher, Maniac. Featuring special effects from Tom Savini. Read The Full Post HERE!

Great Moments: Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)

Another brilliant gag from the Chiodo Brothers' camp classic, Killer Klowns from Outer Space! You don't want to be part of this puppet show, that's for sure. What are your favorite moments from the film? Read The Full Post HERE!

Villains of Horror: Friday the 13th Part II (1982)

Jason Vorhees returns to Camp Crystal Lake to avenge his mother's death in Friday the 13th Part II! The Jason we see here is quite unlike any of the other renditions that would appear in the later films, donning a much different mask than the hockey mask which would appear beginning with the next sequel. Why is the Jason Vorhees from Friday the 13th Part II your favorite version of the character? Read The Full Post HERE!

Suicide Club (2002)

If the purpose of art is to invoke emotion and thought, Sion Sono's SUICIDE CLUB is then art in its highest form. It is impossible to view the film without being thoroughly shocked, disgusted, and questioned at every moment. The plot centers around a rash of suicides that overtakes Japan's youth, causing students and even several adults to throw themselves in front of trains, jump from the rooftops, and even dismember themselves in a variety of gruesome deaths. As the police work to unravel the mystery behind the recent fad, the clues point to a communication breakdown between the family, community, and one's self, a wedge that has been driven deeper by the increased importance of television, cell phones, and the Internet in society. Sono's script also comments on a generation disenchanted and desensitized by sensationalism in the media, and the effects violence can have on the impressionable minds of the youth. SUICIDE CLUB is commonly cited for its scenes of extreme gore which are both jarring and memorable, but the picture cannot be reduced to (or dismissed as) a cheap shocker. After an excellent build and perfectly constructed mystery surrounding the phenomena, the main complaint becomes the climactic reveal, which proves to be far too cerebral to provide a satisfying end. Although the film is unquestionably horrific, its themes transcend the genre and are socially significant given the growing distance in human interaction as a result of the information age.

Rating: 9/10.

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Terror Trivia: Trilogy of Terror (1975)

Karen Black contributed much to the 3rd segment "Amelia". She re-wrote her first conversation with her mother on the telephone. Black wanted to emphasize that the mother was controlling and manipulative. The original words made the mother out to be too nice. Making the mother controlling of Amelia would make the audience more on her side when we realize what is going to happen to the mother when she comes to visit. Also when the doll is trying to escape from the suitcase the effects men could not figure how to show that Amelia is cut. Black thought to have them place the blood on her finger which she would hide from the camera until it was time to reveal the bloody finger. Read The Full Post HERE!

Movie Monsters: Tremors 2 (1996)

The giant subterranean worms have evolved in Tremors 2, leaving behind these two-legged offspring that hunt using heat-vision. Why are the Shriekers your favorite movie monsters? Read The Full Post HERE!

Horror Quotes: Drag Me to Hell (2009)

Rham Jas: You'd be surprised what you'll be willing to do, when the Lamia comes for you. Read The Full Post HERE!

Names in Horror: Peter Cushing

Peter Cushing is a Horror legend, and an actor of the highest caliber. His countless contributions to the genre have turned up many of the finest performances during the period Gothic revival in England. Cushing is most fondly remembered as the sinister Baron von Frankenstein in Hammer's iconic film series, but he also has leading roles in The Horror of Dracula, The Mummy, Asylum, Horror Express, and many, many more. Read The Full Post HERE!

Targets (1968)

"My kind of horror isn't horror anymore... No one's afraid of a painted monster."

With this, director Peter Bogdanovich makes a bold statement about the changing social climate of the late 60's that would reshape the cinematic landscape forever. The words are spoken by a withered old Byron Orlok, played by the great Boris Karloff. Orlok is an old-fashioned and out-of-date actor who is scheduled to make a final appearance at the Reseda drive-ins during the showing of his latest film. Unbeknownst to Orlok and the rest of the moviegoers, an uninvited guest is also in attendance... A man perched high above the screen with a sniper rifle pointed at the crowd. As the movie plays, shots ring out and audience members are mercilessly killed at random, unaware that this film would be their last.

Fashioned after the Charles Whitman shootings in 1966, TARGETS hit frighteningly close to home in a time when the real horrors were the ones unfolding in the streets and newspapers of America. No one was safe when your friend or neighbor could be a murderer in disguise. There are no monsters here, no creepy castles or graveyards. What is also missing, and what makes TARGETS such a terrifying experience, is a motive. Bogdanovich broke new ground in 1968 by featuring a motiveless killer with no remorse and no explanation behind his actions. This would become characteristic in the Slasher genre in the years to follow, beginning with BLACK CHRISTMAS and HALLOWEEN, but at the time, it was quite revolutionary. The inclusion of Boris Karloff, a name synonymous with Horror, is also quite important. An era had ended, and with it went its many monsters. New Horror, including pictures like ROSEMARY'S BABY and later THE EXORCIST, took place right here at home, and could happen to anyone.

Karloff is in his finest form here as always, but the spotlight quickly moves to a charming, handsome, and charismatic young man named Bobby. Tim O'Kelly's disarming smile and cheerful demeanor remove all suspicion even as he travels to the gun store and decides on an ideal location for his murder spree. Still, there is a coldness about him that is difficult to decipher. He is excellently cast in the role.

Bogdanovich keeps the audience at the edge of their seats during a number of stress-inducing scenes. Like in STRAW DOGS from 1971, the violence is raw and extreme. The whir of the bullets are accompanied by quick zooms to give the illusion of movement. Even in the expository sequences, Bogdanovich maintains a high level of interest through his well-rounded and engaging characters.

TARGETS is a brilliant thriller that has had a tremendous impact on the genre. Its rediscovery is sure to leave a lasting impression with modern audiences.

Rating: 9/10.

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Horror Posters: A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 (1985)

The next Nightmare poster gives us a clue as to the events that will unfold in the film. Jesse is an interesting character, a male lead who is truly playing the part of the 'Final Girl,' despite hardboring the evil spirit of Freddy Kruger within him. Another great poster from the series. Read The Full Post HERE!

Flesh for Frankenstein (1974)

The Baron Frankenstein has begun assembling the perfect woman, but his disinterest in his family and jealousy over his wife drives him to near-insanity, forcing him to try and mate the creature with another of his creations in order to form an army of man-made beings that bow to him, and him alone. FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN is the ultimate in self-indulgent pop art, which is why it comes as absolutely no surprise that the film was written and directed by artist Paul Morrissey under the guidance of the 1960s cultural icon Andy Warhol. Simply put, the film cannot be taken seriously on any measure, as each of the ridiculously over-the-top performances give way to pure camp and shock value. Genre favorite Udo Kier headlines as the opulent Baron Frankenstein, whose thick accent and absurd gesturing posture him beside Vincent Price in this classic role. He and his fellow cast members continually push the envelope between camp and cheese, but the goofier moments are far too intentional to be written off. Frankenstein's laboratory is grimy but serviceable, reflecting a man that is driven by results and not sterility. The settings are far more practical than the lavish designs exhibited in the Universal and Hammer productions, while still providing a beautiful Gothic backdrop that is contrasted against the insanity on screen. One cannot overlook the fact that this is also one of the bloodiest retellings of Frankenstein in film, surpassing each of the entries in the Hammer series by far. Morrissey keeps the fundamental structural elements of the Promethean tale intact, but infuses them with his own overly erotic tone that often hampers the plot progression with the numerous sexual tangents that are forced along the way. FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN is a complete deviation from each of the previous attempts at the Shelley classic, and must be understood for its purely comedic intentions in order to be enjoyed to the fullest in all of its terrible glory!

Rating: 7/10.

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Behind the Scenes: The Wolfman (2010)

Benicio del Toro receives the royal treatment while preparing for his next shoot on The Wolfman. Who designed the makeup effects seen here? Read The Full Post HERE!

Great Moments: Donnie Darko (2001)

Donnie fears that his grip on reality is slacking when he attempts to confront Frank the Bunny in this defining moment from the film. What are your favorite scenes from Donnie Darko? Read The Full Post HERE!

Heroes of Horror: Gremlins (1984)

Sure, it may have been Billy's fault from the very beginning, but who else was willing to take on a town full oflittle green meanies in Gremlins? Billy and his childhood friend, Kate, are left to come up with a plan to save the city with the help of their lovable pet, Gizmo. Why is Billy Peltzer your Hero of Horror? Read The Full Post HERE!

Terror Trivia: Night of the Lepus (1972)

Posters for the film didn't feature any rabbits. Marketers feared that audiences wouldn't take the film seriously if they found out about the giant killer rabbits too quickly. Read The Full Post HERE!

Controversial Moments: Amityville 2 (1982)

The Montelli children get a little too close for comfort in Amityville II: The Possession. This awkward scene could have come straight out of Flowers in the Attic, and makes for one of the most controversial moments in the series. Read The Full Post HERE!

Movie Monsters: Ginger Snaps (2000)

Here we see Ginger fully transformed into a snarling shewolf. This unique design is one of the few quadrupedal werewolves to be featured using traditional practical effects and wire work. Why is Ginger your favorite movie monster? Read The Full Post HERE!

Horror Quotes: Alien (1979)

Ash: You still don't understand what you're dealing with, do you? Perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility. Read The Full Post HERE!

Heathers (1988)

Winona Ryder and Christian Slater brings a whole new meaning to "cutting class" in the 1988 cult-classic HEATHERS! When the pressures of popularity become too much to bear, Veronica decides to climb the social ladder by killing off her classmates with the help of her new rebel boyfriend, but their plan backfires when teen suicide becomes the hip new fad on campus! Daniel Waters' brilliant black comedy turns the tables on teen hits like SIXTEEN CANDLES and THE BREAKFAST CLUB, showing the darker side of the high school experience. His are teens that have been generally overlooked by their parents and teachers, and whose friends are more like enemies in an uncaring social battlefield. The warped humor and exaggerated situations in HEATHERS make it quite unlike any other comedy of its time, while the hushed topic of teen suicide is brought to the surface in a provocative yet contemplative manner that avoids disrespect through its absurd handling of the subject. Winona Ryder gives an unforgettable performance as Veronica, allowing Christian Slater the time to work on his Jack Nicholson impression beside her. Still just as relevant and frighteningly funny than ever, HEATHERS has stood the test of time as the teen comedy that defined a generation disenchanted youth. As JD plainly states, "The extreme always seems to make an impression."

Rating: 9/10.

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Names in Horror: Ingrid Pitt

This stunning beauty will always be remembered for her fine work within the Hammer House of Horror throughout the early 1970s. Ingrid Pitt can be seen in The Vampire Lovers, Countess Dracula, The House that Dripped Blood, and the British film classic, The Wicker Man. Read The Full Post HERE!

Prometheus (2012)

A band of renegade scientists are joined by members of the Weyland Corporation to explore an uncharted planet that may hold the key to our creation, but the biological remains left behind by the world's previous inhabitants will pose a deadly threat that may instead mark the end of existence! Ridley Scott returns to the Science Fiction genre in a major way with PROMETHEUS, a spiritual prequel to the 1979 classic ALIEN. PROMETHEUS falls very closely in line with the look, feel, and overall mood of the original ALIEN, following a similar structure that includes many familiar characters and settings. Where the two diverge is in their actual storytelling techniques. ALIEN tells a simple yet effective story that comes to a conclusive end after the rising tension found in the first and second acts. The unavoidable plot holes that frequent PROMETHEUS raise more questions than answers every step along the way, leaving the audience to question the writers intentions more so than the grandiose theological discussions that are being proposed. If one thing is for certain, however, it is that Ridley Scott has lost none of his command over this visual medium, creating a mind-blowing display of visual effects that take us well into the next century and beyond the farthest reaches of space. With the suspension of disbelief held high, PROMETHEUS can surely be enjoyed as an epic space adventure in search of far greater meaning amongst the stars.

Rating: 9/10.

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Horror Posters: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Each of the posters from the Nightmare on Elm Street benefit from some incredible art designs that instantly draw attention to the eye. The poster from the original not only captures the essence of the film perfectly, but creates a sense of mystery, suspense, and horror entirely on its own. Read The Full Post HERE!

An 'Alien' Retrospective

The crew aboard the Nostromo, a mining vessel, are awakened from hypersleep to respond to a distress
signal that is coming from a remote planet. While investigating the derelict spacecraft, one of the crew members comes into contact with an alien life form that attaches itself to his face. He is brought back on board for medical attention, but after the creature frees itself, the real terror begins as the seed it has planted in its human host gestates into a monstrous killer. Thus begins one of the greatest sagas in the Sci-Fi/Action/Thriller genre, ALIEN!

Alien (1979)

Gritty. Realistic. Terrifying. Just a few words that could be used to describe Ridley Scott's ALIEN, the Science Fiction Horror film that changed it all. ALIEN provides us with a grim future that is not unlike the present, where Earth's resources have been depleted and must be harvested on distant worlds. The crew aboard the Nostromo are not daring cosmonauts, but blue-collared workmen and women, appropriately coined 'space truckers' by critics and fans alike for their crass behavior and neighborly personalities. These are average people that are thrust into extraordinary circumstances while performing their mandated duties. We relate to them because we are them, separated only by a few thousand light years.

Whether directly influenced or not, Dan O'Bannon's brilliant script bears a striking resemblance to a number of earlier space terrors. In QUEEN OF BLOOD, two cosmonauts are sent to Mars to recover an alien ambassador from the wreckage of her spacecraft, but the green-skinned beauty sates her hunger for blood on the crew once aboard ship. PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES is far more suspect as an early inspiration for the design and story structure in ALIEN. Mario Bava's technicolor space epic begins with two spaceships setting down on a remote planet in response to a similar signal for distress. After their investigation, several of the crew members turn up dead as others fall under the influence of an unseen alien invader. The characters and low-tech vision of futuristic space travel can also be attributed to O'Bannon's earlier film DARK STAR, a collaboration he had worked on with John Carpenter while attending USC.

Under Ridley Scott's direction, however, ALIEN produces some of the most frighteningly unexpected moments the Science Fiction genre has ever known. From the time the crew lands on the planet until the film's thrilling climax, we are not given a moment to recover from the growing tension and sheer terror. The audience is only temporarily disarmed as Kane rejoins the crew with no reason to suspect any further danger, but this is hardly any relief. In the famous 'birthing' sequence, the expressions of disbelief and utter horror that plague the faces of the stunned crew members mirror our own. Our increasing heart rates mimic the pulsing sound of the scanning device as Dallas enters the ventilation system to flush the creature out. Just when we think that all is well, we are shocked to find that the creature is even more clever than we ever could have imagined.

Dan O'Bannon would call upon an unusual Swiss artist that he had met while working on an early adaptation of DUNE to give the alien its unique design. H.R. Giger is known for his bizarre joining of metal and flesh, creating a grotesque beauty out of his highly-sexualized but cold and mechanical imagery. The designs used for the creatures, worlds, and spacecrafts in ALIEN are entirely unlike anything the world has ever scene as a result. As Ash describes it in his final moments, the alien is 'a perfect organism [whose] structural perfection is matched only by its hostility... [It is] unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality.' Giger's insectoid realisation of the creature brings this statement to life with no less perfection.

ALIEN also introduces us to the character of Ellen Ripley, Warrant Officer aboard ship, but soon to become a film icon and the embodiment of female empowerment. Brave, resilient, and resolute, Ripley is a woman of action, and no one has portrayed these strengths better than Sigourney Weaver. Had the crew not broken Ripley's strict quarantine procedures, they likely could have avoided this entire mess, and it is ultimately up to her to finally destroy the creature when no one else can. These traits would only continue to grow in her future appearances within the series, especially when Ripley faces off with a horde of aliens and their temperamental queen in ALIENS.

ALIEN has unquestionably become one of the defining classics within the Science Fiction genre, spawning countless sequels and spin-offs across all forms of media along with an endless list of imitations. The strength of character and design along with the unmitigated terror that was first found in ALIEN is what sets it apart from all other films.

Rating: 10/10.

Aliens (1986)

By 1986, James Cameron had already made a huge impression on the Science Fiction genre with THE TERMINATOR, yet no one could have anticipated the scope of the man's talents before he was approached to direct the sequel to Ridley Scott's ALIEN. In ALIENS, Cameron improves on perfection, delivering all of the same thrills and chills from the original along with blockbuster action sequences and mind-blowing special effects. Not only that, but the film stages an excellent assortment of characters and a gripping plot that dramatically expands upon Dan O'Bannon's original universe. ALIENS is quite simply the greatest Science Fiction adventure the genre has ever known.

Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley has been rescued from deep space 57 years after her deadly encounter with the alien organism that she and her crew recovered from a remote world. Since then, the planet has been inhabited by terraformers sent by The Company to prepare LV-426 for colonization. When communication to the command center is lost, The Company requests that Ripley joins a group of elite military soldiers on a rescue mission to LV-426, but what they find is a planet overrun by the killer alien species!

Cameron has no reservation whatsoever in taking his time with ALIENS. Although the first half of the film is entirely without action, Cameron's pacing never falters. The opening act is used primarily to demonize the cold, heartless company, whose bottom line means more than human lives. We are also drawn closer to the character of Ellen Ripley, who is given more emotional depth as she deals with the death of her daughter and prepares to risk herself for the lives of others. The action is stalled even after the marines disembark on LV-426, where we find terror and anticipation stalking the halls of the abandoned colony instead of aliens. Once the first aliens are discovered in the reactor core, however, it is non-stop action from there on out.

The Colonial Marines of Earth's future are the second key to ALIENS' success. As Hudson so eloquently puts it, "I am the ultimate badass! State of the badass art! You do NOT wanna fuck with me." And he's right. These marines are armed to the teeth with an arsenal of advanced weaponry and futuristic vehicles that make them a force to be reckoned with. Bill Paxton, as Hudson, is loud-mouthed and head-strong. Michael Biehn, AKA Hicks, is the noble guardsman, selfless and brave. Jenette Goldstein, AKA Vasquez, is the ruthless mercinary and weapons expert who prefers to shoot first and ask questions later. Together, they form the baddest team the universe has ever known, but they still can't compare to their civilian escort, Ripley.

Sigourney Weaver succeeds even over her previous performance in ALIEN, solidifying the character of Ellen Ripley as SciFi's leading heroine. Ripley outsmarts and outmuscles even the strongest and bravest of the space marines, yet through her maternal relationship with Newt, we find a softer and more vulnerable side to the character that allows her to retain her humanity. These two worlds collide as Ripley arms herself to do battle with the alien menace one-on-one after they kidnap her surrogate daughter.

Like Scott before him, Cameron chooses to keep the aliens hidden throughout the majority of the picture, despite the fact that there are several hundred more of them in the sequel. Stan Winston steps in to handle the creature effects, giving the aliens an even more insect-like appearance that carries over into their hive mentality. With the help of his talented crew, he also brings to life the Alien Queen, a monstrous new addition to the series that is meaner, nastier, and more impressive than the drones, themselves. This towering 15 foot beast required two men in costume in addition to several puppetiers and a hydraulic lift to fully articulate its head and body. In the final climactic battle, Ripley mans a robotic powerlifter in an intergalactic grudge match against the snarling Queen that demonstrates the pinnacle of practical effects. The Academy would later recognize ALIENS with the Oscar for Visual Effects, which it most clearly deserved.

While it is impossible to decide which is the better film between ALIEN and ALIENS, each are remarkable in their own separate ways, and must be considered masterworks of the Science Fiction genre. The claustrophobic tension of Ridley Scott's film has been traded in for a galaxy of terror.

Rating: 10/10.

Alien 3 (1993)

A jettisoned space pod comes crashing down to the prison world of "Fury" 161, leaving only two survivors: Lieutenant Ellen Ripley, and an alien stowaway. Now, Ripley faces twice the danger on a planet filled with murderers, rapists, and another deadly alien creature. ALIEN 3 is, by far, the darkest film in the ALIEN franchise, surpassing each of the earlier entries only in its apocalyptic vision of the future. A young David Fincher gives us no hope whatsoever on this wretched planet. "Fury" 161's facilities are rusted and inoperable, its caretakers comprised solely from the dregs of society. The devout prisoners are swept away in a religious fervor as Ripley's arrival along with the alien is interpreted as their final judgement. This drastic shift in tone and overall design can be a bit jarring at first, but repeat viewings create a newfound appreciation for the film when looking at it as a sort of alternate universe or split timeline from the original series. Given the production hell that David Fincher was cast into, it is a surprise the film even came out as well as it did. Studio interference both during and after filming resulted in bad blood and a complete reworking of the film, although the original "Assembly Cut," which is widely considered to be the definitive version, is now available. This version restores over thirty-minutes of vital character development and improved story structure that are missing from the theatrical release. Underappreciated and often overlooked, ALIEN 3 is a unique but welcomed entry into the series.

Rating: 8/10.

Alien Resurrection (1997)

What do you do when your main character is dead and you are out of originality? Start cloning, of course! ALIEN RESURRECTION marks the unfortunate return of Lieutenant Ellen Ripley; Unfortunate, in this case, because of the ridiculous direction in which the filmmakers have taken the character, and the poor scripting that makes her a shell of her former self. 200 years after sacrificing herself to protect the human race from utter annihilation, Ripley has been cloned with unexpected results: The DNA of the Queen Alien that she is harboring within her has fused with her own. Military scientists have successfully managed to remove the Queen while keeping both alive, but it isn't long before a new breed of aliens are unleashed upon the vessel. Like AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN PARIS and DEEP BLUE SEA, ALIEN RESURRECTION was tailored specifically for the MTV Generation. Acclaimed director Jean-Pierre Jeunet gives us a flashy, gore-filled spectacle, but one that is agonizingly boring and entirely without substance. RESURRECTION pastes together bits and pieces from the previous films without achieving a single success of its own. It just goes to show that the series should have died with Ripley at the end of the third film.

Rating: 6/10.

Alien Vs Predator (2004)

The prospect of an ALIEN VS PREDATOR movie pitting two of Science Fiction's greatest foes against one another is a dream come true for Horror fans. With decades of video games and comic books from which to draw upon, coming up with a thrilling new concept to bring these two franchises together should have been easy. The project had one fatal flaw, however: Paul W.S. Anderson. A talentless hack that had already single-handedly destroyed the RESIDENT EVIL franchise. Perhaps he was chosen to direct specifically for his hatred of plot and character development, with producers hoping he could recreate the same mindless action of his previous films in a blockbuster battle between the two species. Well, he accomplished half of that...

An ancient temple is found buried deep beneath icy Antarctica, bringing Charles Bishop Weyland and a group of experts in to explore the architectural anomaly. In a brilliant feat of contrived storytelling, the group discovers that the temple is used as a proving ground for a race of advanced hunters from another galaxy, who use human hosts to breed a deadly form of prey. The complexity ends here, as the plot is only used as an excuse to get the humans into the temple. From there, it must be non-stop action and suspense, right? Wrong. For all of the tedious exploring and pseudo-scientific jargon that the audience is subjected to, there is only one five-minute melee between the Predators and aliens. Despite a flashback depicting three Predators fending off thousands of the aliens atop a pyramid, it only takes a single alien to kill two of the Predators in this small amount of time. By staging the battle on Earth, the threat of the aliens reaching the planet that served as the overriding theme in the ALIEN series is completely diminished. Even more shameful is the lack of dignity given to the Predators. Rather than reserving his self-destruct mechanism as a final act of Sepuku, the Predator removes the device and casually tosses it in the chamber to destroy the temple, an act that goes against the creature's very nature of honor and nobility. Anderson couldn't have found a more unconvincing cast, either. Sanaa Lathan can never be taken seriously, especially not in her transitions from scientist to she-warrior in just a few simple steps. She is only given the worst throwaway lines, like "We're in the middle of a war. It's time to pick a side." Only Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr. allow the film any credibility at all by bringing along more of their incredible costume designs for both species.

What could have been the greatest Science Fiction spectacle of all-time was revealed to be a complete flop, garnishing nothing but negative feedback from fans and the filmmakers who helped establish both series to begin with. You are honestly better off watching fan films like BATMAN: DEAD END or AVP: REDEMPTION any day.

Rating: 6/10.

Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem (2007)

Everything Science Fiction fans ever wanted in an ALIENS VS PREDATOR movie can be found in ALIENS VS PREDATOR: REQUIEM -- You just can't see it. AVP:R suffers from the absolute worst lighting of any Horror/Science Fiction film ever made. The only scenes that count are so abysmally dark that it becomes tiring and frustrating to watch, despite the incredible gory action that is occurring somewhere on screen. Following the conclusion of the previous film, a fallen Predator warrior gives birth to a Predalien hybrid, which destroys the remaining crew and causes the Predator craft to come careening back down to Earth along with its payload of alien facehuggers. Before long, the small mountain town of Gunnison, Colorado is overrun by the menacing aliens, and one of the Predator's most elite warriors is sent to clean up the mess. The Strauss Brothers come as close as they can to recreating many of the most successful scenes from either series in this failure of a film, with visual and audio cues dating back to the original PREDATOR and ALIENS. If it were left strictly to the battle sequences, AVP:R would have been an awesome, action-packed sequel, but if anything is worse than the lighting, it is the ridiculous human element that adds unnecessary clutter to the script. The awful characters are supplanted straight out of a bad teen serial, and contribute nothing to the plot. It is all the more enraging that these scenes are the only ones that are visible. The killer costume designs of Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr. cannot even be admired for more than a second between the blackness, the shaking camera, and the choppy editing. Complaining about story continuity is really irrelevant with all else that is wrong in AVP:R, so suffice it to say that the film is a lost cause with a few really cool looking aliens and explosions (which can't be seen).

Rating: 5/10.

See Also: Planet of the Vampires, Queen of Blood, Parasite, The Forbidden World, Galaxy of Terror, Creature.
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Behind the Scenes: Videodrome (1983)

What an unfortunate place to lose your keys. David Cronenberg and James Woods on the set of Videodrome, from 1983. Read The Full Post HERE!

Great Moments: City of the Living Dead (1980)

When it comes to zombie gore cinema, no one does it better than Fulci. This disgusting display can be seen in City of the Living Dead, the first part in Fulci's Gates of Hell trilogy. What are your favorite moments from the film? Read The Full Post HERE!

Villains of Horror: A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Alex and his gang terrorize the townsfolk with their penchant for indiscriminate violence... That is, until they are caught. But does Alex's punishment fit the crimes? Why is Alex your favorite Villain of Horror? Read The Full Post HERE!

Terror Trivia: Mothra (1960)

For years it was thought that Rolisica was actually based on the United States. However, it was revealed years later that it was based on both the United States and the Soviet Union. In fact, the name of the nation of Rolisica is a hybrid of Russia and America. The name of the country originally was going to be Roshirica. Also, the Rolisican flag is a hybrid of the American "Stars and Stripes" and the Russian "Hammer and Sickle". Read The Full Post HERE!

Movie Monsters: Ghostbusters (1984)

Zuul is one of two gatekeepers for the monstrous deity, Gozer, pictured here in the 1984 comedy, Ghostbusters! Why is Zuul your favorite movie monster? Read The Full Post HERE!