Author Archives: Jeff.Szpirglas
Sometimes you have a history with a movie before you even experience it. This is becoming an increasingly difficult challenge in an age when everything’s on demand or one YouTube click away. In my youth, weird cult movies were things that were whispered about with reverence, only experienced in the pages of cinema books such as Danny Peary’s Cult Movies books, or by flipping through old issues of Fangoria magazine. I remember overnight camp counselors going bananas over The Rocky Horror Picture Show, back when you could catch screenings of it once in a blue moon in the theatre only, which is arguably where that film belongs.
I have the same history with Hammer’s The Gorgon.
One of the things I love about horror films is how they both embrace conventions much as they try tearing them to bloody shreds. Trends have often defined the genre, from the old Gothic thrillers of yesteryear, to the heaving cleavage and lush period detail of the Hammer films, to the glut of jerky handheld found footage films of today. There’s something endearing about a genre that has this push-pull adherence to its own set of tropes. It’s what helps to imbue horror movies with such a joyful sense of play, assuming your idea of joy is having the bejeezus scared out of you. Read the rest of this entry
They say you never forget your first.
(You know I’m talking about horror movies, right?)
For me, it was catching a portion of Jaws 2 under the babysitter’s watch, effectively traumatizing me for the next several years. But if we’re talking about the real gateway film, the one that opened up a path to a lifelong passion for the macabre and the terrifying, that prize goes to 1984’s Terror In The Aisles, first screened in that sweet spot around the onset of puberty, when my taste for Star Wars soundtracks suddenly took a left turn for Alice Cooper records.
DR. TERROR’S HOUSE OF HORRORS (1965)
Starring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Donald Sutherland
Written By Milton Subotsky
Directed by Freddie Francis
Back in October, Olive Films released the Amicus classic Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors on Blu-ray. The movie is built around the premise that would fuel future Amicus portmanteaux such as Tales From The Crypt and Vault of Horror, recently resurrected in high definition by Scream Factory. Here, five strangers meet aboard a passenger train, where they encounter the enigmatic Dr. Shreck. Played by Cushing (sporting some hilariously bushy eyebrows), he proceeds to pull out a set of Tarot cards and predict their dooms. Several short tales that interpret the cards follow, featuring werewolves, killer plants, and Voodoo curses. Best of all is Lee’s episode about a snooty art critic pursued by Michael Gough’s vengeful disembodied hand, which anticipates Evil Dead 2’s crazy antics.