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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Oil and a Dangerous South: Alternate Geopolitical Readings of "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre"

Texas Chain Saw Massacre poster (French)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre Month. I know, I know. Provocative interpretations of Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (TCSM) abound. I was reminded of that once again after reading Planks of Reason: Essays on the Horror Film while writing an essay (that had nothing to do with TCSM) for another publication. And of course, our articles and reviews this month served notice once again: TCSM may be the most provocative horror film in American history. (read more...)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: Revenge of the Silent Majority

The Dinner Scene in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

Texas Chainsaw Massacre Month. Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is an intense, bare-knuckled assault on the senses. In it we see sadism, brutality, and violence as we had never seen it before. What is sometimes overlooked is that one can see in the film a grotesque mirror being held up to the social struggles of the era. The late 1960s and early 1970s were a stressful time for America. The Freedom Struggle, the tragic war in Vietnam, the epidemic of violence in the country, the bloody trend of political assassinations; all of these things had led by the mid '70s to a sense of fatigue and despondence in the country. In 1969, Richard Nixon used the term "silent majority" to encompass those Americans who had become uncomfortable with all of the drastic changes that the country had come through. He gave a name to those not claiming membership in the left-leaning Counterculture or who participated in demonstrations. The excesses of the past decade had built up a sense of victimization and resentment within the Silent Majority. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre can be seen as a reflection and parody of the clash between these two groups.

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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...)

The Disused Fane: Who's Next?

Tales from the Crypt poster

"DEATH LIVES," states the trailer for Tales from the Crypt (1972), and with its pervasive images of skulls and corpses, one is inclined to agree. Revisiting this film I am struck by how morbid and vicious it really is. It deals not just with the fear of life's end, but with the fear of what comes after life's end. From their earliest days horror films and stories have dealt with death. The imagery of decay is repulsive, and the finality of loss (Grandma isn't coming back, ever) is terrifying. We all must die. How are we to accept this? The management of this terror has been one of mankind's greatest tasks, and frequently it has fallen to one of mankind's oldest institutions: religion.

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The Fruit Cellar: "Why Don't You Lay Back and Enjoy Being Inferior?"

Last House on the Left: Krug's Boys

Some years ago (before I became fully entrenched in the horror world), my father mentioned The Last House of the Left (1972). He didn't tell me what it was about or whether or not he even liked it. He just told me I should see it. Naturally, Best Friend and I went to the video store post haste. (It is a fervent belief of mine that watching a film like this on VHS is better than watching it on DVD.) We pulled the tape out of its translucent plastic case and popped it into the VCR. And it was an experience unlike any I'd had up to that point.(read more...)

Shiverin' 6: Horror from 1960

Shiverin' 6 logo

Another Shiverin' 6, folks, this time focusing on some of the best horror flicks released fifty years ago in 1960. They come from all around the globe and from all sorts of genres, but they're all highly recommended. As always, the Shiverin' 6 represents some of the best from a given category, not necessarily the best. As such, the entries aren't ranked but listed alphabetically. Be sure to let us know in the comments what some of your favorites from 1960 are!(read more...)

The Fruit Cellar: From Body Horror to Identity Horror

Dead Ringers publicity still

Of his 1988 film Dead Ringers, David Cronenberg said, "It has to do with that element of being human. It has to do with that ineffable sadness that is an element of human existence." This statement is entirely true. His film manages to simultaneously question and confirm the humanity and weaknesses of its central characters; however, Cronenberg's assessment of his own film is surprisingly reductive. Upon closer investigation, Dead Ringers seems to be about so much more. It's a complicated discussion of identity-how we come to understand ourselves, what defines us, and ultimately, what destroys us.(read more...)

"One Cute Motherf**ker": Homosexuality and the Threat of AIDS in John McTiernan’s Predator

Predator (1987): Macho Men: Front row (L to R): Blain, Dutch, Dillon, Poncho; Back row: Hawkins, Mac, Billy

It is common knowledge that the main marketing demographic for action films is the (heterosexual) male moviegoer.  Arguably, John McTiernan's 1987 action-filled, sci-fi horror blockbuster, Predator, is one of the most testosterone-driven features in cinematic history.  Not only is this retelling of Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game" fraught with many of the genre's trademarks -- hyperkinetic movement and pacing, rampant masochism, violent death, and a plethora of gunfire -- it contains only one female performance.  Alongside such works as McTiernan's own Die Hard, Zach Snyder's 300, John Boorman's Deliverance, Don Siegel's Dirty Harry, David Fincher's Fight Club, Ted Kotcheff's First Blood, Ridley Scott's Gladiator, Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, and James Cameron's Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Predator is often considered the arche(read more...)

The Fruit Cellar: They Always Come Back...

Blood Spattered Bride still

I'll begin today's discussion with what I consider a statement of fact: Dracula is boring. That may be the most unpopular statement I will ever write, but I wholeheartedly believe it. How lucky are we, then, that twenty-five years before this abomination was published we were all blessed with another Irish vampire tale? Yes indeedy, I am talking about Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla. This sweetly concise and beautiful novella (or short story, as some prefer to call it) was published in 1872 and spawned an entire subgenre of horror: the lesbian vampire tale.(read more...)

The Fruit Cellar: The Many-Gendered Faces of Leatherface

Leatherface in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

There is really nothing I like more on a chilly, rainy evening than sitting down with some of my best pals. Of course, as these pals usually consist of murderers and madmen, I like to keep them safely trapped on screen. They wield knives and axes and machetes and chainsaws from the safety of the little box that sits atop my chest of drawers. I sit on the bed directly across from them shivering-just a little-in my oh-so-jaded boots. There aren't a lot of films that can actually make me shiver in these old boots, but when I find one, I hold on for dear life. I make sure the experience of watching is sacred, and I don't mess around with those little brats who laugh through some Fulci-style ocular terror. (read more...)

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