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!

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Book Review: Shock Value by Jason Zinoman

Shock Value by Jason Zinoman

Since its publication last July, Jason Zinoman's Shock Value has received more mainstream press - and largely favorable mainstream press - than most critical analyses of horror cinema in recent years. The attention is understandable, as this is a well-written account of a pivotal period in the genre (the late '60s to early '80s) that's also accessible to a general readership. It's not aimed purely at cinephiles and academics or the fanatical horror fandom. It also doesn't hurt that, in this age of information overload, the book is a quick read or that Zinoman writes regularly for The New York Times (mainly covering theater). Even in a time of a historically fractured mass media, the "Gray Lady" still has clout.(read more...)

Elijah Wood Stars in "Maniac" Remake

Elijah Wood Stars in Maniac Remake

I believe anyone who has read my review of Maniac knows my feelings towards the film. It was and still is a serious, chilling and psychological slasher film, right in the same vein of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. But it looks like no horror or exploitation film from the 70's and 80's are safe anymore from the remake virus.

On November 4th, 2011, it was announced that Elijah Wood of Lord of the Rings and Sin City fame is set to play Joe Spinell's most infamous role as Frank Zito, a man who is constantly haunted by visions of his own abusive mother, and takes it upon himself to murder and scalp women as a way of gaining revenge.(read more...)

The Haunted Mansion: Keeping the Faith

Hitchhiking Ghosts

The following is for the League of Tana Tea Drinkers' roundtable discussion of "What Do Cute Versions of Monsters Tell Us About Horror?" I realize that I didn't address the question directly, but I think my piece fits into the larger discussion.

I've never been a spiritual person. The most pressing conflict of faith I had growing up was whether I would become an agnostic like my father or an atheist like my mother (I still bounce back and forth to this day). I suppose we all need something to believe in, however, especially as children. I believed in horror. It was, in many ways, my faith - adored without question, every movie I could get my hands on committed to memory and recited ad nauseam. Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolf Man, and an exquisitely tortured Vincent Price were all major deities. It was a simple pleasure in a complex time - my parents were getting divorced and I was being moved (as opposed to moving, which suggests I had some choice in the matter) to another state. In hindsight, horror was something I very much needed to survive - the heightened acting, the fantastic settings both foreboding and unreal, the monsters who brought thrills and chills to supplant the uncertainty that was actually much, much scarier. (read more...)

The Disused Fane: Go Into the Light

Horror Rises from the Tomb seance

One of the best parts (there are many) from the Spanish flick Horror Rises from the Tomb (1973) is an early scene in which the protagonists, all of whom are bored rich people, attend a séance. They want to get in touch with their ancestors; it's not like they have anything better to do with their time. They succeed. Unfortunately for them, the film already opened with a prologue set in the Middle Ages in which a certain nobleman and his mistress are executed for practicing witchcraft. Naturally, it is these two individuals who manifest themselves at the séance, and naturally, this inspires the one guy to take everyone up to the old ancestral castle to start digging for things in the crypts. It doesn't turn out well.(read more...)

The Disused Fane: I Am Become Death

Dawn of the Dead: Roger the zombie

It has become almost mandatory in any movie involving zombies or zombie-like creatures... the scene in which one of the protagonists confronts a friend or family member who isn't quite the same anymore. Can he perform his duty to civilization by pulling the trigger, or will he end up like them? Is it right to kill a loved one who has become one of the undead (or an alien pod-person, or a plague-infected mutant, or whatever)? (read more...)

The Disused Fane: Never Meant for the World of the Living

Old Hag in Room 237 in The Shining

For my money, The Shining (1980) is the scariest movie ever made, and the book is frightening as well. There are numerous reasons for this, but one of the main ones is that damn woman in Room 237 (217 in the book). When Danny foolishly enters the room, the film cuts away, and later it is left ambiguous who put those marks on his neck. The film does this to heighten the psychological tension that results from Wendy's suspicion of Jack. The book, however, is pretty unambiguous. Danny sees a dead, decaying woman rising from the bathtub and stumbles away in terror; huddled against a wall, he closes his eyes and reminds himself that she will go away in a little while, like a dream, when he opens his eyes; and that ghosts, the residues left by the dead, can't actually hurt living people. And then fingers begin to close around his throat... (read more...)

The Fruit Cellar: "All My Power… All My Beauty… All My Life"

Lesley Gilb as Lemora

It's a traditional criticism of the modern horror film that the world represented is sexist in nature. It's a simplistic argument, but one that a surface-level analysis of most horror films would confirm. After all, don't most depict women in peril -- from Halloween to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre to Suspiria? While it might seem like the most obvious of possible assessments, what this criticism fails to recognize are the areas in which the horror genre upends conventional depictions of women as victims.(read more...)

The Disused Fane: Night and Day of the Dead

Pumpkins in Trick 'r' Treat (2008)

One Halloween night when I was a teenager a friend and I decided to walk to the cemetery a quarter mile from my mom's apartment and wander around. It was pretty spooky. The cemetery in question was huge, with a dead gnarled tree near the entrance, and odd little stone steps - we imagined that they were perhaps gateways to Hell - leading from the pathways to the fields where hundreds of gravestones sprawled. One almost expected to see Colin Clive and Dwight Frye skulking about with shovel and lantern. Another friend of ours had declined to come. He was quite religious, and what we were doing he found both offensive and frightening, regarding it disrespectful of the dead and vaguely "evil" as well. As the two of us got increasingly creeped out I suggested that we should have forced the third guy to come with us - if we were attacked by angry specters, I said, we could have ritualistically sacrificed him to placate them.(read more...)

TCSM vs. the BBFC

Texas Chain Saw Massacre quad

Texas Chainsaw Massacre Month. Many films have clashed with British censors over the years but The Texas Chain Saw Massacre does have its own unique place in the weird and wonderful history of censorship in the UK, having been present at several significant points in that story over the last four decades. In 1974, the Secretary of the British Board of Film Classification James Ferman condemned TCSM as "...the pornography of terror," but his plans to keep it completely out of UK cinemas were foiled on its initial release. Then, despite the best efforts of the BBFC to keep the film off the small screen, it went on to be a black market video nasty hit in the '80s, before the powers-that-be threw in the towel in the '90s, and granted it a legitimate, uncut release. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a perfect example of a film that undermines their whole method of, and approach to, censorship as well as showing the extent to which the process is arbitrary, driven by political and media pressure, and riddled with class prejudice.

(read more...)

The Goriest Film You Never Saw

Brutal Feature: Texas Chain Saw Massacre 1974

Texas Chainsaw Massacre Month. When it comes to endless savagery and violence in cinema, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a film that usually comes up during the conversation. People shiver as they recount how a madman wearing the faces of others chases down a group of stranded young folk, always eager to carve them to pieces like Thanksgiving dinner (not the worst metaphor either, as the killer and his family enjoy feasting on the remains of the fallen). Those who can recall their own grueling viewing experiences remember all these morbid tidbits in lurid detail. And those who have not seen it, in turn, are taken by the film's reputation and either become hesitant to watch it or convinced that the film is another mindless gorefest.

(read more...)

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