Our editor-in-chief Nate Yapp is proud to have contributed to the new book Hidden Horror: A Celebration of 101 Underrated and Overlooked Fright Flicks, edited by Aaron Christensen. Another contributors include Anthony Timpone, B.J. Colangelo, Dave Alexander, Classic-Horror.com's own Robert C. Ring and John W. Bowen. Pick up a copy today from Amazon.com!

Posts by Tom Fallows

Review: Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)

Murders in the Rue Morgue 1932 poster

The central thread of Edgar Allan Poe's 1841 short story Murders in the Rue Morgue is one of mystery. Two bodies are found, so degraded that investigators can only imagine a killer with a "grotesquerie in horror absolutely alien from humanity". Poe's novel is cerebral, focusing on analytical observation and the calculating power of the mind. It laid the groundwork for Arthur Conan Doyle's great detective and moved police work into the 20th century. Robert Florey's film adaptation however, holds no such aspirations. Here acumen is replaced by something more visceral and focus shifts to themes of desire, rage and revenge. This is after all the cinema, and here emotion is king. (read more...)

Ed Gein: Pop Star

edgein_0

Texas Chainsaw Massacre Month. I don't know what makes men like Ed Gein superstars, when all they leave behind them is suffering, loss and madness. Maybe it's that their stories are so bizarrely gothic and so filled with lurid details that no movie could make up. Ironically movies about these creatures will later appear - the weird parts repackaged for general consumption. After this we can relax, take a breath and tell ourselves, "Well heck, it's only a movie." When this happens enough, when we've seen the film, read the books and got the pez dispenser, men like Gein become no more real to us than a Leatherface, a Freddy Krueger or King Kong. Soon they have a separate 'star image' and while they still give most of us the chills, for others they are 'anti-heroes' or symbols of rebellion. Perhaps this is the only way we can make life bearable, by fictionalizing them, making fun and denying anything really ever happened. But it did happen and Gein was real. So were his victims.(read more...)

Review: Psycho II (1983)

Psycho II poster

Psycho II should never have been made. The original, crafted by a master, cut deeply into our collective pop-psyche, being all things to all people - and thus unique. Scholars loved its Freudian take on sexual paranoia (where a knife was no longer just a knife) and its narrative insurgency. Meanwhile mainstream cinema-goers had never before seen a film so delightfully lurid - focusing as it did on black negligee, flushing toilets and blood spiraling down the plughole. With Psycho, the modern horror film was born. A sequel then, especially one coming so many years later, shouldn't work. Yet somehow, director Richard Franklin defies expectations. Uniqueness is replaced by nostalgia, but this remembrance is used to open new doors, creating a twisting story that is at once evocative and seditious.(read more...)

Review: Let's Scare Jessica to Death (1971)

Let's Scare Jessica to Death poster

Even from the opening image of John D. Hancock's slice of 1970s horror-melancholia it becomes apparent that this is film where things won't be seen clearly. A woman, hidden in silhouette, sits in a boat steadily drifting away from the shore. The morning mist distorts our view, while the orange sunrise adds an unreality to the scene - as if this is something dreamed. To further muddy the cognitive waters, we are introduced to this place by Jessica, who in a whispery internal monologue confesses that she is unsure of what is real and what is not. And as she is our only guide, inviting us to see the world through her eyes, we too begin to question what we see. Let's Scare Jessica to Death is a film about insanity, but what makes it so astounding is that it doesn't ask us to study madness, but rather to share in it.(read more...)

Dennis Hopper: Movie Maniac

Dennis Hopper

For a man who appeared in so few horror pictures, there was always something frightening about Dennis Hopper. As an artist and a man, he seemed to pursue madness. For half his life he lived on a diet of booze and amphetamines, pushing his body to the brink of destruction and inviting stories of a man out of control. There are tales of him pulling knives on co-stars, threats of violence and of him drinking his way into character. Charles Manson saw him as a kindred spirit and begged Hopper to play him onscreen. Look into his eyes on any film following Easy Rider (1968) and they show a man who has stared into the abyss.
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Review: Tower of London (1939)

Tower of London 1939 poster

On the surface Tower of London is not your typical Universal picture. While the studio's chief output in the 1930s had been monster movies sourced from 18th century literature, Tower is instead a historical saga set in 15th century England. But rather than focus on the romantic intrigue and grand costumes of these times (for that cinema goers could've grabbed a ticket for The Private Life of Elizabeth and Essex released the same year) director/producer Rowland V. Lee draws back this veil to reveal real human depravity. After all this is the story of Richard III, a story that includes bloody war, mad ambition and infanticide. By looking to the past the studio wasn't making a departure, but rather continuing to indulge its obsession with monsters.
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Review: The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974)

Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires poster

By the time of The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires in 1974 Hammer Studios was dying. Thanks to the vérité horrors of films like Night of the Living Dead (1968), their unique brand of Gothic chills seemed archaic - as dusty as one of Dracula's cobwebbed tombs. Indeed, Golden Vampires would mark the last appearance of their erstwhile Count and Hammer would soon after stagger into the graveyard of television and, finally, oblivion. Golden Vampires is filled with the kind of desperation akin to someone in their death throes and the assimilation of Kung Fu (then all the rage) reeks of a company all out of ideas. But despite this Golden Vampires actually has a lot to offer. In fact, it is one of Hammer's best films of the 1970s and remains a fitting send off for one of the giants of British Cinema.(read more...)

Tom Atkins ("Night of the Creeps") Interview

Tom Atkins

In the 1980s, while muscle bound lunkheads like Stallone and Schwarzenegger were battling the forces of darkness with lame quips and a minor armory at their disposal, one man was doing it with nothing more a carton of cigarettes and a six-pack of beer. With his blue collar charm and everyman exterior, Tom Atkins became something of a minor league hero in some of the decade's favorite cult movies. He took on ghostly pirates in John Carpenter's The Fog (1980), an occult madman in Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) and a zombified lawman in Maniac Cop (1988).(read more...)

Review: The Sorcerers (1967)

The Sorcerers poster

"How long do you think all this can last?" asks a bored Mike at a swinging 60s happening. And this throwaway line becomes the central thread of Michael Reeves's stunning second film The Sorcerers, the movie that would pave the way for his masterpiece Witchfinder General in 1968. While on the surface offering a seemingly carefree world of mind altering drugs, free love and promiscuous sex, Reeves instead probes deeper and suggests a darker side where moral laxity leads not to joy, but to destruction. For the characters who abandon responsibility, death is waiting.(read more...)

Review: Road Games (1981)

Road Games poster

Director Richard Franklin has openly confessed that his Road Games is an "Alfred Hitchcock derivative." Replacing Jimmy Stewart's apartment view in Rear Window with the fly-splattered windscreen of an 8-wheel truck, Road Games hurtles into a world of obsession, mistaken identity and psycho killers as if the master himself were in the passenger seat. But the sheer unhinged energy Franklin injects into the narrative make this more than just a simple pastiche. This is Hitchcock at 80mph and it doesn't let up for a second.(read more...)

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