A whimper or a bang. Does it really matter if we snuff the match with our fingers, or a blast of air from our lungs? And when that bomb drops, is that really it for the human race, or will it “rebuild” as we’re so optimistically told in countless disaster flicks? The correct answers are: “bang” is very bad, and if your idea of “rebuild” is devastating nuclear winters and forlorn dirt crops, build away. This bleaker than bleak view comes courtesy of a legendary and sobering BBC Two TV drama from 1984 called Threads, and Severin Films’ stellar Blu-ray shows a new generation what would really happen in the event of a nuclear attack. Spoiler slert: nothing good. At all.
It’s hard for me to even admit that Dario Argento’s Opera had been a major blind spot of mine for far too long, but I’m thankful for the recent Blu-ray release of the film, courtesy of both Scorpion Releasing and Doppelganger Releasing, as it made this cinematic discovery feel like a true work of art befitting of the Horror Maestro’s stunning and wholly unique vision, confidently displaying this slice of giallo madness from 1987. And as you can probably tell, after just one viewing, I’m 110 percent a fan of Opera now and still cannot believe it took me this long to see this wildly weird masterpiece.
While attending the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Daily Dead had the opportunity to catch up on a trio of comedies that ran the gamut of humor: Augustine Frizzell’s Never Goin’ Back, Sebastián Hofmann's Time Share, and Jonathan Watson’s Arizona, which is centered around the 2008/2009 housing crisis.
Easily the most polarizing of the Midnighters that played as part of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, writer/director Sam Levinson’s Assassination Nation perfectly encapsulates the crossroads we’re currently at as a society.
Let me start off this review by saying that in no way do I consider myself any kind of expert on black metal. In fact, most of my knowledge of metal music begins and ends with the artists who made a name for themselves here in the states. So, while I can’t really judge Lords of Chaos on its accuracy and authenticity in terms of the black metal movement of the 1980s and ’90s, what I can say is that in terms of creating an explosively unforgettable narrative brimming with a sense of bedlam and anarchy, director Jonas Åkerlund has done a helluva job with Lords of Chaos, which feels a bit more like a horror movie about the destructive patterns of youth than it does a straight-up biopic (and that works for me—for others, results may vary).
Evil has taken root in the residence of the Graham family in Hereditary, the stunning feature film directorial debut from Ari Aster that’s one-half supernatural spook show, one-half psychological horror, one hundred percent an exercise in nerve-shredding terror. Anchored by incredible performances from Toni Collette (who is working on a level here that is simply beyond any of us mere mortals), Alex Wolff, Gabriel Byrne, and Milly Shapiro, Hereditary is an intimately crafted domestic nightmare in which family ties are wound so tightly, the results are a violently unexpected descent into literal madness and blood-soaked mayhem.
Like most genre fans, I fell head over heels for Turbo Kid, the first feature from the filmmaking trio RKSS (François Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissell) that transported viewers to a post-apocalyptic future where BMX bikes and friendship rule over the savageness of the brand new world. For their follow-up feature, RKSS heads back to the Reagan Era for their genre-defying Summer of ’84, a murder mystery/slasher/coming-of-age comedy hybrid that confidently explores the triumphs and tribulations of being a teenager, all while delivering a horrifying tale that conjures up some really fun scares along the way.
Just a couple of years ago, up-and-coming director Nicolas Pesce celebrated the world premiere of his debut feature, The Eyes of My Mother, at the Sundance Film Festival, and he’s now returned in 2018 with his follow-up effort, Piercing, a slick and stylized exploration of obsession and murderous intentions. Featuring memorable performances from Christopher Abbott and Mia Wasikowska, a savagely funny and surprising script from Pesce, who adapted Ryû Murakami’s novel of the same name for the big screen, and a neo-retro approach to both the score and visual style of Piercing, Pesce confidently proves here that when it comes to telling stories, he enjoys screwing around with viewers' sensibilities and expectations. And I am all about it.
In 2010, filmmaker Panos Cosmatos came out guns blazing with his feature film debut, Beyond the Black Rainbow, and his follow-up project, Mandy, proved to be well worth the wait for those of us who have patiently waited to see just what the boundary-pushing director would do next. Like a powder keg of cinematic insanity ready to blow at any given moment (and when it does, man, the results are glorious), Mandy makes for a stunning companion piece to Black Rainbow in many ways, and yet still feels like a wholly unique step forward from Cosmatos. It’s hard to believe that he’s only two films into his career, but just based on his track record so far, Panos is now poised to become one of the boldest filmmaking voices of his generation.
Besides releasing a number of our favorite classic horror films and the occasional cult oddity, the good folks at Scream Factory are also releasing a number of contemporary horror films and giving them a home on Blu-ray. Here’s a look at three of their recent efforts:
As someone who revels in the unabashed ridiculousness and wrongness of the Crank films, Mom and Dad was just the kind of anarchic cinema I was hoping to experience from writer/director Brian Taylor (who helmed the aforementioned Crank films alongside Mark Neveldine). A mix of survival/pandemic horror with a steady flow of pitch-black comedy coursing through its wonderfully nasty veins, Mom and Dad is just the right amount of wrong for this writer, and I enjoyed that Taylor—as expected—doesn’t pull any punches with his latest over-the-top endeavor.
For some horror fans, the late, great George A. Romero is considered the George Lucas of horror: he created a trilogy of classic films that changed the face of the genre forever, then years later returned with a second trilogy that was less well-received. But whereas Lucas’ second set of Star Wars films close off his universe, answering unasked questions and making his world feel smaller by tying every corner of it together, Romero’s 2000s trilogy expands his living dead world further and brings the series into a new millennium. They don’t diminish the legacy of his first three zombie movies. If anything, they make it richer.
For this latest review round-up, I take a look at two very different genre films I had the pleasure of catching up with over the last few weeks: Before I Wake from Mike Flanagan and Tom Holland’s Rock Paper Dead.
Start out 2018 with some of the latest releases from Scream Factory! Though they’re probably best known for releasing definitive Blu-ray editions of many of our most treasured horror movies, one of the things I like best about Scream Factory is their willingness to use their brand to put out smaller films and oddball curiosities that would probably not otherwise see the light of day on the format. Let’s take a look at three such titles, all recently released on Blu-ray from Scream Factory.