Monday, April 30, 2012


 This is the last post of the April A to Z blog challenge. It's been a ton of fun, and even more work, but very much worth it. I hope you've all enjoyed my posts on horror and science fiction films. If I've spurred just one person to watch something new, I'm satisfied.

Being that this entry is for Z, I had to go with a cult fave. Enjoy and please stop back in to see what I'm writing about next.

An Italian horror classic released in 1979, Zombie was directed by Lucio Fulci, who is now known for this film in particular. There are other titles in connection with the movie such as Zombi 2, Island of the Living Dead, Zombie Island, Woodoo and Zombie Flesh Eaters. Known for its extreme gore, the movie is about a tropical island where the dead walk and eat the living.  The movie was banned in several countries because of the gore. Even with the resistance, it grew a huge fan following, and spawned one official sequel and several others. There is no link to the George A. Romero zombie films and Zombie. One of the many memorable scenes involves a zombie taking on a shark under water. Fulci cemented his status in the horror genre with this film.

I will leave you with the above mentioned scene...

Saturday, April 28, 2012


You Better Watch Out
A lesser-known slasher film, You Better Watch Out may also be known as Christmas Evil and Terror in Toyland. It was released in 1980 and directed by Lewis Jackson. Harry had a traumatizing childhood experience one Christmas. As an adult, Harry works in a toy factory and takes extreme care in his job and he has an obsession with Santa Claus and Christmas. Believing himself to be Santa, he watches the neighborhood children to see if they’re being good or bad. One night Harry loses his mind and truly becomes Santa. He builds toys and begins to drop them off for children, breaking into homes sometimes to do so, and shows a homicidal side that seeks revenge on coworkers and others who have done him wrong resulting in a killing spree. The movie has gained a cult following over the years, and director John Waters is an enthusiastic fan. Factoid: If you watch the credits to the end, you will hear the filmmakers yell “Merry Christmas”.

Friday, April 27, 2012


The X-Files
Originally the pilot episode of The X-Files episode aired September 10, 1993 on the Fox network. The show was a creation from screenwriter Chris Carter, who envisioned the two main characters, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, as being the two voices inside himself that represented his skepticism and faith. Mulder and Scully are FBI special agents who have been put together to work as investigators of the X-Files, unsolved cases involved with paranormal phenomena. Mulder is a believer whereas Scully is a physician, and remains skeptic and true to her scientific background, always searching for a logical reason behind the phenomena. Over the course of the nine seasons, sexual tensions between Mulder and Scully build and they become romantically involved. The X-Files gained a huge fan following and cult status quickly, basing many of the episodes on what is termed the mythology of The X-Files. Some of these mythologies include the “Monster-of-the-Week” and government conspiracies. Carter’s influences for the show were Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone and Tales From the Darkside to name a few. Some of the influences from the producers and writers were Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Silence of the Lambs. The last episode aired on May 19, 2002. There have been two films in conjunction with the series, and a spinoff series briefly aired titled, The Lone Gunmen. The opening sequence along with the theme song, many different slogans including "The Truth Is Out There" and the prolific characters have become an important part of pop culture over the years. The series won many awards over the years and generally has high respect from the industry for its influence on television.

A 1963 horror film, X was directed and produced by Roger Corman. Dr. Xavier, a scientist, is experimenting with enhancing the range of vision by formulating a special eye drop. He finally tests the eye drops on himself. The longer he uses them, the bigger the effect is. At first he can see through clothing and bodies to the skeletal structure, and later he sees only forms of light and texture. Dr. Xavier ends up on the run after an accident and not only is his vision changed, but also the outward appearance of his eyes, going eventually to an all black look. He struggles with his vision and what he sees as it continues to enhance. The movie was made on a small budget and filmed in only three weeks. The special effects used to show what Dr. Xavier can see have made the film memorable over the years.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


The War of the Worlds
 Released in 1953, the first theatrical film based on H. G. Wells novel, The War of the Worlds, became an instant hit. The movie was directed by Byron Haskin, produced by George Pal and Barre Lyndon provided the script. When aliens visit Earth, they do not come in peace. They begin by shooting heat-rays that vaporized the humans immediately. Dr. Forrester is witness to one of the first alien attacks, and is later able to obtain a blood sample from an alien he kills, along with a piece of their technology. The military soon drops an atomic bomb on the aliens, but they have no effect of the machines, leaving a grim outlook. Originally, the last one-third of the film was supposed to be shot in 3D, but the budget did not allow for it. They wanted to avoid the cliché look of UFOs in the 50s, and came up with the design for the ships that resembled a manta ray. The iconic electronic eye that was attached to the ships has been emulated many times in films since. The movie was met with positive reviews and was a box office success grossing $2 million. The War of the Worlds won an Academy Award for Special Effects. In 2011, the movie was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry, and is considered one of the best science fiction movies of its time, as well as becoming a classic. 

When A Stranger Calls
Producer Steve Feke and director Fred Walton penned the screenplay for When A Stranger Calls with inspiration from a folk legend titled “The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs”. It is the tale of a young woman, Jill Johnson, portrayed by Carol Kane, who is babysitting a pair of children. She begins receiving distressing phone calls from a mystery man and when she alerts the police, they are finally able to trace the phone call back to inside the house. The police arrive and Jill is saved, however, the children were murdered upstairs as they slept. The film then goes forward seven years, showing that the murderer has escaped from an institution. Officer John Clifford, played by Charles Durning, had worked the case with Jill before, and the dead children’s father hires the now private investigator Clifford to track down the murderer. The murderer finds Jill who is now married with her own children and stalks her. Clifford must stop him before he kills Jill. The movie had a budget of $740,000 and grossed  $21 million in the theatres when it was released in 1979.

White Zombie
Made in 1932, White Zombie was the first film to feature zombies. Bela Lugosi starred in this film following the successful 1931 movie, Dracula. Set in Haiti, the story follows Madeleine and Neil, who are to be married. Throw in an evil voodoo priest, Murder Legendre (Lugosi) and Charles Beaumont, who wants Madeleine for himself, and you have some conflict. Murder Legendre turns Madeleine into a zombie in order to make her do his bidding when Beaumont asks Murder Legendre for his help in winning her over. She dies and is brought back as a zombie. When Neil finds out that Murder Legendre has a slew of zombies that are under his control, he goes to rescue Madeleine. Shooting on the film was completed in eleven days. The reviews when the movie released were poor, criticizing the acting and outrageous storyline.

The Wolf Man
Starring Lon Chaney Jr., The Wolf Man was a Universal Pictures film that was released in 1941. George Waggner directed and produced the film, while Curt Siodmak provided the screenplay. Larry Talbot, played by Lon Chaney Jr., returns to his small village after his brother passes away. While there he meets and becomes interested in Gwen, purchasing a walking stick with a silver wolf on the handle. She tells him about werewolves, which he had never heard of previously. The villagers all recite the same cryptic poem when spoken to about werewolves:

Even a man who is pure in heart
and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the autumn moon is bright.

Later on, Larry gets attacked by a werewolf played by Bela Lugosi and consequently turns into a werewolf. The screenwriter Siodmak wrote the poem that was recited in the film. Chaney’s makeup as the wolf man was heavy and and uncomfortable. Chaney was the only actor to play the Universal monster, and he played the wolf man in four more films due to the positive reception of the film. In 2010 Universal Pictures produced a remake starring Benicio del Toro.

Whitley Strieber’s 1978 novel, The Wolfen, was brought to the silver screen in 1981 by director Michael Wadleigh.  Following brutal murders, NYPD Captain Dewey Wilson, played by Albert Finney, is on the case to find the killer. A coroner, Whittington, played by Gregory Hines, finds strange hairs on the corpses and teams up with Ferguson, a zoologist, who believes them to be from an unknown species of wolf. Wilson consults a Native American and later finds out that he believes the killer to be a Wolfen, or a wolf spirit. A special technique was used during the filming of the movie to portray certain scenes as seen through the eyes of the wolf. Wolfen grossed $10 million in the theatres.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


A surrealist science fiction horror film, Videodrome released in 1983. When Max Renn, the president of a Canadian UHF tv station is told to pirate a new show that features torture and apparent murder that is broadcast on a signal from Malaysia, he becomes involved in a war that is fought to control people’s minds. A strange philosopher who is only seen on tv shows Max a tape that causes him to have hallucinations afterward. The hallucinations are revealed to be due to a brain tumor that is attributed to the signal. The movie performed poorly in theatres, but was met with positive reviews and won various awards at the time of its release.

Village of the Damned
Adapted from the novel The Midwich Cuckoos written by John Wyndham, the original 1960 version of Village of the Damned was directed by Wolf Rilla. In a small village, everyone is rendered unconscious, even the animals. No scientific explanations were found and once the villagers woke up, life resumed as normal. Until two months later when all women and girls in childbearing age were found to be pregnant. The babies, all born on the same day, grew at an enormous rate and were all born similar in appearance, white hair and commanding eyes. They communicated telepathically and could cause events to happen, including harm against other people. A professor who lived in the village and had a son that was one of the children born that day began to work in conjunction with the government concerning the children, finding out sinister information about the possibility of others like them. The film received positive reviews and has since seen a sequel and a remake.

Kenneth Johnson wrote the screenplay and directed the two-part television miniseries V, which premiered in 1983. It was the story of a race of aliens, known as the Visitors, who play nice with the authorities, claiming to need assistance for their dying planet and promising in return to share their advanced technology with us. A journalist boards one of their ships and finds out that the Visitors are actually meat-eating reptilian aliens. Soon a resistance movement gathers to try and make known the Visitors true desires, to take all of Earth’s water and harvest humans for food. The familiar red, spray-painted V that was seen on promotional material and throughout the series on posters that promoted the Visitors in a good light was a symbol that stood for "victory", painted on by the resistance. Johnson had originally written a script based on an anti-fascist novel, It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis, but changed the fascists to the malicious aliens in order to sell the script. A sequel followed the successful miniseries, and a weekly tv series. Johnson left during the sequel, and has since tried to campaign for a theatrical remake of the original miniseries. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Len Wiseman directed Underworld in 2003. Len Wiseman, Kevin Grevioux and Danny McBride wrote the story, and Danny McBride adapted the screenplay. The vampires are mortal enemies of the Lycans (werewolves), and Selene, a vampire Death Dealer portrayed by Kate Beckinsale, is dispatched to kill any the werewolves. Selene rescues a human who the Lycans have an interest in, Michael, but he’s bitten by the werewolves. Selene and Michael soon develop feelings for each other. She wrestles with her orders to kill him. It is soon revealed that the Lycans are attempting to combine the two species and create a hybrid. With a budget of $22 million, the movie fared well bringing in over $95 million at the box office. A copyright infringement lawsuit was filed saying the movie was similar to various games and novels. There was a confidential settlement in the matter. Underworld received largely negative reviews.

The Uninvited
A remake of a 2003 South Korean horror film titled A Tale of Two Sisters, The Uninvited was released in 2009 and was the first feature film directed by The Guard Brothers. Producers Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald had produced The Ring and The Ring Two, and began looking for another project. A Tale of Two Sisters looked to be lucrative, and the Guard Brothers acquired remake rights. Craig Rosenberg, Doug Miro and Carlo Bernard wrote the screenplay. The film is about Anna, who has recently been released from a psychiatric hospital after she attempted suicide following a boathouse fire where her mother perished. Going home with her father, Anna and her older sister, Alex begins to conspire against their father’s girlfriend, Rachel. It is after a series of deadly events that the movie provides the real twist. The movie was not received well by critics, but grossed $40 million at the box office.

Monday, April 23, 2012


Tales from the Crypt
A 1972 British horror film, Tales from the Crypt was an adaptation of stories from EC Comics. Directed by Freddie Francis, the film consists of five segments: “…And All Through the House”, “Reflection of Death”, “Poetic Justice”, “Wish You Were Here” and “Blind Alleys”. Milton Subotsky penned the screenplay from two paperback reprints that had been given to him by Russ Jones, The Vault of Horror and Tales from the Crypt. The cast included Joan Collins and Peter Cushing, with Ralph Richardson playing the Crypt Keeper. The next year saw a sequel titled, The Vault of Horror.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Considered to be one of the most controversial horror films, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre made its way into theatres on October 1, 1974, premiering in Austin, TX. The story of a girl, Sally, and her invalid, wheelchair-bound brother, and three of their friends going to see the grave of Sally’s grandfather. What they find instead is an old house filled with a terrifying history. Leatherface, a large man that wears a mask made of human skin and carries a chainsaw, lives in the gore-filled house along with his cannibalistic family members. The group of kids is killed, one by one, in various, gruesome ways. Directed by Tobe Hooper, who also directed Salem’s Lot and Poltergeist, came up with the idea for the film when he was working as an assistant film director and by using similarities based on the real-life killer Ed Gein. Hooper along with Kim Henkel wrote the screenplay, then set about acquiring the funding necessary to produce the film. There are various estimates on the final budget, ranging from $93,000 - $300,000. Hiring unknown, local actors, and filming seven days a week, sometimes sixteen hours a day cut costs. The Leatherface character is credited with starting the large, no face killer theme that is present in many horror films following The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Over the years, the movie saw a return of over $30 million. It has spawned two sequels, a remake and a prequel. The film, due to its graphic nature and the themes present, has been banned in many countries and was met with some resistance. Needless to say, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre gave a fresh view to the slasher film sub-genre of horror films.

The Thing
In 1951, a filmed titled The Thing From Another World was inspired by the novella Who Goes There? written by John W. Campbell, Jr. Later, in 1982, director John Carpenter decided to adapt a movie on the novella, which would follow the premise more closely. This film became The Thing. The Thing was an alien life form that would take a host and transform into it and imitate it. Set in an Arctic research station, the crew become victims to The Thing, creating paranoia and fear as they do not know who’s been afflicted. Kurt Russell starred as MacReady. When the movie released, it was up against the box office blockbuster, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, which depicted aliens in a good light. This, along with opening on the same day as Blade Runner, contributed to The Thing’s poor box office performance. At first it saw mixed reviews, but as time passed, they became more favorable.

Trick ‘R Treat
Screenwriter Michael Dougherty wrote and directed the movie Trick ‘R Treat based on his own short animated film Season’s Greetings (1996). The main character, a small boy named Sam who wears orange footie pajamas and a burlap sack over his head, is a central theme in the movie that contains four short stories all relating to Halloween. The segments are titled: “The Principal”, “The School Bus Massacre Revisited”, “Surprise Party” and “Meet Sam”. The movie was given only a select limited public screening, and was released on DVD and Blu-ray in 2009. Reviews for the film are generally very positive. It won two awards and saw an adaptation as a graphic novel. Here is the original animated short that inspired the movie, Season’s Greetings

Twilight Zone: The Movie
Steven Spielberg and John Landis teamed up to produce Twilight Zone: The Movie, a theatrical version of Rod Serling’s television show, The Twilight Zone. With John Landis directing the prologue and segment 1, Steven Spielberg directing segment 2, Joe Dante directing segment 3, and George Miller directing segment 4 and the epilogue, three of the segments were remade from the original television series, while one was an original story. The segments are as follows, in the order they appear in the film: “Time Out” (which was the one original), “Kick the Can”, “It’s a Good Life” and “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”. The screenplay was written by Rod Serling, John Landis (segment 1), George Clayton Johnson, Richard Matheson, Melissa Mathison and Jerome Bixby. Burgess Meredith, who had starred in four of the television episodes, served as narrator. During the filming of segment 1, “Time Out”, actor Vic Morrow and two child actors, Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Chen were involved in an on-set accident involving a helicopter crash which claimed all 3 lives. This garnered much media attention for the then yet-released film and resulted in a court case that lasted almost a decade. The film received mixed reviews and grossed $29 million, recouping the $10 million budget.

They Live
John Carpenter’s 1988 homage to consumerism, They Live brought elements of 1950s B-movie sci-fi flicks and combined it with the current economic crisis of the day. Carpenter wrote the screenplay, basing it on two stories, “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” by Ray Nelson, and “Nada” from an Alien Encounters comic book, although the end result was based more heavily on Nelson’s story. Carpenter threw in his own aversion to the commercialization in culture and politics that was present in the 80s. Carpenter’s reasoning for making the true appearance of the aliens so grotesque was that, “The creatures are corrupting us, so they, themselves, are corruptions of human beings." The story goes that a man named Nada, played by wrestler Roddy Piper, stumbles upon a church that houses a resistance group concerned with waking up everyone. Nada finds a box full of sunglasses that when worn allow you to see the truth. Advertisements and media all have subliminal messages contained within. Some of the messages are: “Obey”, “Consume” and “No Independent Thought”. But that’s not all that he’s able to see. Some humans are actually aliens in disguise. Through the glasses, Nada can see their hideous, skeleton faces. Nada, along with another man, Frank (Keith David), try to join forces with the resistance group in order to reveal to the rest of the world the truth. The budget was roughly $3 million, and the movie grossed $13 million in the theatres. Geek Fact: some of the alien troops use a communication device that was actually the PKE meter (Egon’s handheld) prop from the film Ghostbusters.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Salem’s Lot
Adapted from Stephen King’s novel, Salem’s Lot was produced in 1979 as a television miniseries. Tobe Hooper, director of such films as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist, took the helm and delivered the story of Ben Mears, a writer returning to his hometown in order to pen a novel about a local haunted house. When he goes to rent the haunted house, he finds that it has been sold to a strange man who sets up an antique shop locally. Along with the man there is a mysterious business partner, Barlow, who begins to garner attention when the townspeople start to disappear or die. Mears teams up with a local teenager, Mark, and the two of them find out that Barlow is really a vampire. The two of them try to save the town and kill Barlow. Barlow’s character was changed from the sophisticated man he was in King’s novel to a creature similar to the vampire in the film Nosferatu. There was a theatrical release produced for Europe that allowed more violence. The miniseries was met with generally positive reviews and was nominated for several awards.

Two police detectives, one an older, seasoned veteran of the force, William Somerset, who is in place to retire, and the other a young, green rookie, David Mills, who is set to take his place are both put to the test when a serial killer menaces the city. The killer is basing his murders on the seven Catholic deadly sins. Morgan Freeman played Somerset with a quiet, wise and brilliant performance, while Brad Pitt portrayed Mills, younger, hotheaded and passionate to the cause. The killer, Kevin Spacey, leads them on a chase, which has them racing to solve the next murder, only missing him by seconds sometimes. The film carried a dreary, foreboding atmosphere due to the atmosphere that director David Fincher created with much success. Se7en was a box office success grossing $327.3 million worldwide during its release in 1995.

The Serpent and the Rainbow
The film, based loosely on a real encounter chronicled into a non-fiction novel by the same name, it tells of an ethnobotanist, Dennis Alan, played by Bill Pullman, who travels to Haiti in order to find a reported drug that is used in voodoo to bring it back so that it may be formulated into anesthesia. Alan runs into trouble with the Haitian authorities, but refuses to give in. After two arrests, torture, and being framed for murder, Alan returns home only to go back to Haiti where he is buried alive. The movie released in 1988 and brought in over $19 million at the box office with a budget of $7 million. Wes Craven, from A Nightmare on Elm Street fame, directed the movie.

Session 9
Directed by Brad Anderson in 2001, Session 9 is a film about the large, abandoned Gothic inspired Danvers State Mental Hospital in Danvers, Massachusetts. Gordon Fleming owns a small asbestos removing company and finds out that the hospital is need of renovations. He is looking for the job because him and his wife have recently had a baby and need the money. Fleming brings in his team to work on the hospital. One of the crew finds some old tapes that are recordings of a former patient and her multiple personalities. There is tension and conflict between some of the team members, and Fleming is starting to be affected by the hospital’s menacing atmosphere. Strange events begin to take place and the movie spirals into a shocking conclusion. Session 9 forgoes shocks and gore to bring the viewer fear with the mounting tension and surreal quality that builds. The movie is an underrated, spooky and terrifying piece of horror that shouldn’t be missed.

The Shining
Another Stephen King adaptation, The Shining is a 1980 horror movie directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick co-wrote the script with Diane Johnson. The main character, Jack Torrance, played by Jack Nicholson, and his wife and son go to the Overlook Hotel, a large hotel set in the Rocky Mountains, in order to become caretaker over the winter months when the hotel is not open for business. Jack, a writer, becomes irritated and angry with the isolation and his family. He begins to see apparitions. His son, Danny, has ESP, and meets the chef, played by Scatman Crothers, at the hotel who also has the ability, which he calls “shining”. As the days pass, Jack’s anger and hostility grows. The film received a cooler response at first, but over they years has garnered acceptance and praise.

Silver Bullet
Reverend Lowe is more than meets the eye. In the small town of Tarker’s Mills, Maine, a werewolf is killing people. One boy, Marty, played by a young Corey Haim, a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair, his older sister, Jane, and their drunken Uncle Red, portrayed by Gary Busey, must face the werewolf and stop him from killing again. Released in 1985, directed by Dan Attias, produced by Dino De Laurentiis, and based on the Stephen King novella Cycle of the Werewolf, the movie performed poor at the theatres and saw mixed reviews.

Something Wicked This Way Comes
Walt Disney Studios brought Ray Bradbury’s novel Something Wicked This Way Comes to the screen in 1983. Jack Clayton directed the film, and Ray Bradbury provided the screenplay. A menacing carnival arrives in town, and two young friends, Will and Jim, decide to have a closer look. Mr. Dark (Jonathan Pryce) is the owner and operator of the carnival, and he’s on the lookout for anyone in town with an unfulfilled wish. Once he grants them, they become a part of the carnival forever. Will’s father, Charles Halloway (Jason Robards) becomes involved when the boys tell him what they have seen. The town must be saved from the evil influence of the carnival and Mr. Dark. Walt Disney Studios desired to change their animation/family friendly image by acquiring the rights to the novel. Conflicts between Bradbury and Clayton caused delays, and the script was revised by John Mortimer (uncredited). In order to cut costs, Pryce, a relative unknown at the time, was hired to play the sinister Mr. Dark. Both Jonathan Pryce and Jason Robards gave a stellar performance, making the film one to be remembered.

In 1994, Roland Emmerich directed Stargate, a film about a large device, the Stargate, which would allow people to travel through a wormhole into other dimensions where another Stargate would allow for an exit. Centered around Egyptology and aliens, Stargate was a hit with audiences, bringing in over $196 million worldwide. It was nominated for and won several awards, but critics gave the film mixed reviews. The screenplay was written by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, and came from two separate stories from Devlin and Emmerich, which were combined to make the script. The Stargate itself was made by a team of 40 special effects crew, spanned 15 feet across and weighed 64,000 pounds, requiring the largest set to house it. Stargate has gathered a large cult following, and in 1997, Stargate SG-1 became a sequel in the form of a television series.

Friday, April 20, 2012


Rosemary’s Baby
Ira Levin’s 1967 bestselling novel was adapted for the screen and directed by Roman Polanski the very next year. Rosemary, a young housewife, and her husband Guy live in an old Gothic apartment building in New York City. Guy’s struggling actor career suddenly becomes successful as he becomes closer to their strange elderly neighbors. Rosemary and Guy decide to start their family soon after, and Rosemary has a frightening experience on the night of conception. Her pregnancy is filled with pain and strange cravings, and as her health declines, the baby grows. Rosemary finds out that the neighbors worship Satan, and she fears for her baby and her life. Director Polanski made his American debut with this film. The stellar casting proved to be a hit, with Mia Farrow’s performance as Rosemary standing out. Today the film is regarded as a classic in the horror genre, and at the time of its release, saw a return of over $33 million. Rosemary’s Baby was nominated for and won many awards.

Based on H. P. Lovecraft’s story, “Herbert West – Reanimator”, the film Re-Animator became the first film in a series of three. Stuart Gordon directed the film and also wrote the screenplay along with William J. Norris and Dennis Paoli. Originally it was conceived to be a half-hour television pilot, but producer Brian Yuzna convinced Gordon to turn it into a movie shot in Hollywood due to the special effects that were necessary. Filled with gore and the intensity that actor Jeffrey Combs brings as Herbert West, it has become a cult classic with a huge following. The film met mainly positive criticism and made more than the budget during its theatrical run.

Resident Evil
Resident Evil was written based on the popular Capcom video game series of the same name. Combining elements from both the first and second games in the series, Paul W.S. Anderson wrote and directed the film which was released in 2002. At a secret underground facility, the Hive, the deadly T-virus is released. The virus causes people to turn into zombies. Alice, played by Milla Jovovich, and a group of commandos from the Umbrella Corporation are suffering from amnesia, and are sent into the Hive to find out what has happened in hopes of isolating the infection. The facility’s artificial intelligence, named the Red Queen, has sealed the Hive. When the commandos disable the Red Queen, the zombies are released and they must fight their way back out and try to locate an anti-virus, while trying to contain the disease. George A. Romero had originally been signed to direct and pen the screenplay, but Capcom didn’t like the script that Romero turned in, so he was passed up in favor of Anderson’s contribution. Upon release, Resident Evil received poor reviews, but audiences loved it as shown in the $102 million worldwide that it grossed. There have been four sequels to date.

The Return of the Living Dead
The Return of the Living Dead, released in 1985, was the first in a series of five films. Based on a novel by John Russo, who co-wrote Night of the Living Dead with George A. Romero, but director Dan O’Bannon polished the script and added more comedy and nudity in comparison to Romero’s film, in order to individualize it. Two men working in a Louisville, KY medical supply warehouse mess with some government issues barrels. Gas is accidentally released from one, and a corpse is reanimated. After dismembering it with no success, they carry it to a mortuary to have it cremated. The fumes are released into the air causing rain that carries the contaminated gas to fall. A group of punk kids that are friends of one of the warehouse workers have come to see him, and get caught up in reanimating corpses in the nearby cemetery. Things quickly get out of hand and the two warehouse workers that were exposed to the gas that leaked in the beginning start to turn into zombies. It was pretty successful when released in theatres, grossing $14 million, and was nominated for quite a few awards.

The Ring
The Ring, released in 2002, was based on Koji Suzuki’s novel Ring, and a remake of the 1998 Japanese horror film of the same name. Directed by Gore Verbinski, and produced by Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, the film was wildly successful making $249 million. The storyline tells about a mysterious and cursed videotape that when watched follows with a creepy phone call where a girl tells you that you will die in seven days. The movie relied on creepy visual effects to instill fear and tension in the audience, along with a fair amount of twists. The movie won several awards and has one sequel that was released in 2005, with another that is rumored to be releasing this year.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Written, directed and produced by Larry Cohen, Q was a movie about the ancient Aztec god, Quetzalcoatl. You can read more about Quetzalcoatl in my blog post from the challenge last year. The winged serpent has been resurrected in New York City by a cult. Now it’s flying around the city, taking people from the roofs of skyscrapers and it must be stopped. It was filmed in the Chrysler Building. The movie performed poorly in the theatres.

Queen of the Damned
Anne Rice has written The Vampire Chronicles series, and one of the books in the series is titled The Queen of the Damned. With Warner Bros. having acquired the rights to the first three books in The Vampire Chronicles series, and the rights scheduled to revert back to Anne Rice at the end of 2000, they wanted to produce another work following their movie Interview with the Vampire in 1994. Scott Abbott and Michael Petroni were hired to write the screenplay and Michael Rymer would direct the film. Petroni and Abbott made the script a very loose version of the book The Queen of the Damned with elements taken from Rice’s book The Vampire Lestat. Anne Rice was not consulted during the filming, and has expressed her dissatisfaction with the film after it released. Despite receiving negative reviews, the movie fared well at the box office. The film was released six months after the tragic death of its star Aaliyah and was dedicated to her memory.


Pet Sematary
Pet Sematary was originally a novel written by Stephen King in 1983. The story was written based on real life experiences that King had when he lived in Orrington, Maine. Due to the subject matter, he decided not to pursue publication with the story, and only submitted it after he owed one more book on a contract with Doubleday. The novel went on to become a best seller. In 1989, Mary Lambert directed the film version, and King himself wrote the screenplay. Next to a dangerous road with fast moving truckers lives the Creed family. Nearby is a pet cemetery where locals used to bury their beloved animals, but in this cemetery they do not rest in peace. A series of events take place where the Creed’s cat is buried there, and comes back to life; only the cat is malevolent and avoids them. Soon after, tragedy strikes, and the Creed’s young son is killed. The father places the child in the pet cemetery, proving to be a very bad decision. Pet Sematary did fair at the box office grossing a $57 million return on an $11.5 million budget.

Don Coscarelli wrote, directed, co-produced and edited the film Phantasm in 1979. A sinister movie about a small town where the inhabitants are dying, two brothers, Mike and Jody, become suspicious of the town mortician, dubbed the Tall Man. The Tall Man is turning the dead townsfolk into alien zombies, and the brothers must stop him. Produced on a meager budget of $300,000, Phantasm brought in over $11 million in the theatrical release. It was nominated for a Saturn Award, and Coscarelli won the Special Jury Award. Coscarelli would go on to direct and write the three sequels in the series.

In 1982, Tobe Hooper, director of films such as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Salem’s Lot, directed the iconic horror movie, Poltergeist. It’s the story of an angelic little girl, Carol Anne, played by Heather O’Rourke, who becomes the target of malicious entities within the house. Carol Anne goes missing, and her parents soon realize she’s been taken into another dimension with the entities. Parapsychologists come to the house to investigate, and conclude the necessity of a medium to assist in getting Carol Anne back. The film was a hit and shocked viewers worldwide with its intense subject matter and visuals. Frank Marshall and Steven Spielberg were credited as the producers, but over the years there has been some confusion as to Spielberg’s role as director (uncredited). Spielberg was under contract while he was working on E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial that prevented him from directing another movie. There were reports of his great influence on the directing and that Spielberg was on set all but three days of filming and completed the storyboards. Spielberg eventually posted a letter in The Hollywood Reporter that was addressed to Hooper, stating his satisfaction with their collaboration, and attempting to clear up any doubts that Hooper was indeed the director. Poltergeist made over $76 million upon its release and garnered three Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Visual Effects. In one scene where corpses are unearthed in a swimming pool, they used real skeletons because they were cheaper to purchase than plastic. Over the years, the movie has received the reputation to be cursed due to the many deaths of the cast. There were two sequels that rounded out the trilogy, but neither was as successful as the first film.

Norman Bates became a household name in 1960 when Alfred Hitchcock directed the hit movie Psycho. Based on the novel of the same name by Robert Bloch, the story was loosely based on the killer Ed Gein. In the film, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) is a single man living in a large house with his mother and running the Bates Motel. Marion (Janet Leigh) is a beautiful lady who steals money from her employer for her boyfriend. She flees Phoenix, AR to go to California, but stops for an overnight stay at the Bates Motel. In one of the most memorable scenes in cinematic history, Marion is killed while taking a shower. The movie then turns into a search for Marion and the stolen money. The shocking twist is revealed near the end. At the time, Paramount rejected the premise, and wouldn’t provide the budget. Hitchcock came up with a compromise that Paramount accepted – he would finance the film himself, and forego the director’s fee in return for 60% ownership. The resistance Hitchcock was met with was due to the film executives not believing the film would be a success. In the end, the film’s budget reached only $806,000. This, along with creative influences, would be the reason Hitchcock filmed the movie in black and white. Leigh took a pay cut when she accepted the role. When Psycho premiered, Hitchcock enforced a “no late admission” rule because he felt that if people entered after the death of Leigh they would feel cheated. This worked to his advantage, and theatres saw lines of people waiting to see the film. Psycho went on to earn $32 million at the box office, and was nominated for various awards. It is considered by some to be Hitchcock’s best work, and to be one of the most influential movies ever made. In 1992 it was preserved in the National Film Registry.

This is a film about a grotesque, menacing monster named Pumpkinhead that is summoned to exact revenge for those who have been wronged. When a group of motorcycle rider’s kill Ed Harley’s young son young, he goes to the local witch who summons Pumpkinhead. The group members become targets of Pumpkinhead’s revenge by way of grisly deaths. Ed realizes what he has done is wrong, but it’s too late to stop it. Produced in 1988, Pumpkinhead was the directorial debut of Stan Winston, special effects artist. Even though it did poorly during its limited release in theatres, it has developed a large cult following over the years. Two sequels followed, and two more sequels were made for television and aired on the SyFy channel. There was a short-lived comic book series based on the film, and The Misfits released a song titled “Pumpkin Head”. There is a poem, Pumpkinhead written by Ed Justin, that the movie was inspired by. It is as follows:

Keep away from Pumpkinhead,
Unless you're tired of living,
His enemies are mostly dead,
He's mean and unforgiving,
Laugh at him and you're undone,
But in some dreadful fashion,
Vengeance, he considers fun,
And plans it with a passion,
Time will not erase or blot,
A plot that he has brewing,
It's when you think that he's forgot,
He'll conjure your undoing,
Bolted doors and windows barred,
Guard dogs prowling in the yard,
Won't protect you in your bed,
Nothing will, from Pumpkinhead.

Puppet Master
Puppet Master was a horror film written by Charles Band and Kenneth J. Hall, and directed by David Schmoeller in 1989. Andre Toulon was the original puppet master, having given life to his handmade puppets in order for them to do his bidding. After his death, the puppets are then given a new master in Neil. A group of psychics, who were former colleagues of Neil’s, begin having visions and seek out Neil. When they find him, it is revealed that he has committed suicide. Soon after the animate puppets start to wreak havoc on the group. Each puppet has a special ability, and the violent deaths they inflict have kept the attention of fans since their debut. The puppets names are: Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Leech Woman, Tunneler, Shredder Khan and Gengie. Pinhead, Blade and Jester are the only one’s to have appeared in all of the films. The movie went straight to video due to Charles Band’s wishes, where it became very popular, seeing nine sequels as a result.

Prince of Darkness
Prince of Darkness is the second installment in the “Apocalypse Trilogy” by John Carpenter, which also includes his films The Thing and In the Mouth of Madness, which I will also be writing about during this month’s challenge. Under a church in Los Angeles is a cylinder that contains a liquid form of Satan. Once the Vicar, played by Carpenter regular Donald Pleasance, has it investigated by a group of physicist students and their professor. The contents begin to leak, possessing the group and local homeless people. Alice Cooper has a small part as a crazy, homicidal homeless person, and supplied the title song for the film. The students must keep Satan from bringing his father, the Anti-God, into this dimension. Carpenter wrote, directed and scored the film, getting the premise from research he had been doing in theoretical physics and atomic theory. His filming technique, wide-angle lenses and anamorphic format, allowed for the scenes to appear distorted to add to the ambiance.