Guillermo del Toro

We want to hear your thoughts!

HELLABRATION DELUXE! Thirty-One Days of SHOCKTOBER: Day Six – 10/06/18

HELLABRATION DELUXE! Thirty-One Days of SHOCKTOBER: Day Six – 10/06/18

10/06 – 1992: CANDYMAN

“It was always you, Helen…”

All you have to do is say that to someone, and then watch as they shudder as if a big spider just moonwalked across the back of their neck. If that’s the reaction they give you, then you know they’re probably a fan of CANDYMAN.  Besides Stephen King, Ira Levin and Dean Koontz, not many writers have had the indelible, undeniable impact on the horror genre that CLIVE BARKER has, and if HELLRAISER had been his only contribution, his legacy would have been set. But the man wrote such compelling, irresistibly addictive stories that begged to be adapted for the screen (though the success of doing so is another thing entirely,) that other filmmakers took the plunge to try and replicate what he did with his touchstone of a film.

 

For my money, the only person who’s been about as successful as Barker has in translating his own tales is British director BERNARD ROSE (PAPERHOUSE), a stunning visual fantasist in his own right, on par with the likes of MARY LAMBERT and GUILLERMO DEL TORO. No one could’ve been a better fit for CANDYMAN than Rose, and it shows in every frame.  Based on Barker’s tale, “The Forbidden”, there hadn’t been a story like this before, that encapsulated the themes of racism, classism, misogyny, poverty, mythology and the supernatural quite like this.

Helen Lyle (the radiant VIRGINIA MADSEN of such cult hits as DUNE and ELECTRIC DREAMS) is a grad student working on her dissertation, about how urban myths affect the landscape and people in impoverished areas, and vice versa. The main target of her research is Chicago’s notorious Cabrini Green projects, where she comes to learn about the ultimate horror story: the gruesome and tragic tale of Daniel Robitaille, a.k.a. “The Candyman.”

An artistically-talented black man who dared to fall in love with a white woman, Daniel payed the ultimate price, losing a hand and having honeycombs filled with live bees shoved into his chest cavity, as a gruesomely fatal form of torture.  And now, he has become legend: say his name three times in front of a mirror, and his vengeance-hungry ghost will appear, to deliver a demise you wouldn’t want to imagine.

Ever the cynical academic, Helen believes less than nothing about the things she actually writes about, so she decides to try and conjure him up. Imagine her shock, terror and dread fascination…when she succeeds.

Now Candyman is laying waste to people in her life (some way more deserving of a brutal death than others), and letting her take the fall for it, trying to break her down physically and psychologically, so that soon she will have no choice but to join him and “be his victim” forever…and become ‘legend’ as he has.

Director Rose’s surrealist sensibilities were the perfect platform with which to elevate Barker’s tale to a whole new level as a film, thanks in no small part to DP ANTHONY B. RICHMOND (DON’T LOOK NOW, RAVENOUS, AUTOPSY).  And the actors were more than happy to tackle and own their roles in this endeavor: Madsen has never been a more beautiful combination of strength and vulnerability – even in DUNE, which hardly gave her as much to do as she has here – and CANDYMAN is the role that finally made genre actor TONY TODD a household name, and with good reason. He slips into the skin and psyche of Daniel Robitaille like it was the role he was born to play, which isn’t far from the truth.

Plus a great supporting cast that includes KASI LEMMONS (THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS) as Helen’s best friend; XANDER BERKELEY (GATTACA, AIR FORCE ONE, TAPEHEADS and way too many other credits to list here) as Helen’s faithless other half; VANESSA WILLIAMS, (a.k.a. VANESSA L. WILLIAMS), TED RAIMI, and STANLEY DESANTIS in an unforgettable cameo as Helen’s condescending headshrinker.

And just when you think it couldn’t get any better, iconoclastic composer PHILIP GLASS contributed what has to be his best and most beloved score after KOYAANISQATSI, a sumptuous, reverent and almost religious musical landscape that intensifies in majesty to match the onscreen horror, (a style of composition that would later be replicated by other composers as diverse as ELIOTT GOLDENTHAL and MICHAEL NYMAN & DAMON ALBARN.)

CANDYMAN isn’t just a piece of horror mastery as worthy and as iconic as A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET or FRIDAY THE 13TH, but a necessary item in every dyed-in-the-wool horror lover’s library.


Posted by Samuel Glass in EDITORIALS, FEATURED CONTENT, GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, HALLOWEEN, HORROR HEROES, MYTHS AND LEGENDS, PARANORMAL, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, THRILLER, TRIBUTE, URBAN DECAY/DYSTOPIAN FUTURES, 1 comment
Horror and the Oscars

Horror and the Oscars

Horror and the Oscars?

The history of genre cinema (horror, fantasy, science fiction) and the Oscars have been a spotty one at best. For example, in 1931 Fredric March took home the golden statue for his masterful duel role in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (and my personal favorite adaptation). It wouldn’t be until Anthony Hopkins portrayed the cannibal Hannibal in 1991’s Silence of the Lambs that another actor would win for a horror movie in that category. The Oscars have always looked down on genre films, most specifically horror and science fiction, with most of the awards going to dramas or indie darlings. However, it seems of late that maybe this is a trend that is slowly changing and voting members are finally taking the horror genre seriously. It’s not totally unheard of for the genre to get some love though. On the technical side, films like for example Alien and Aliens won both Oscars for visual effects. The Fly, An American Werewolf in London, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula and won Best Makeup (just to name a few). In addition, Sleepy Hollow won for Best Art Direction, and Ruth Gordon and Kathy Bates won Best Actress awards.

Daniel Kaluuya in Jordan Peele’s Get Out

he Shape of Water poster

Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water

However, when you realize The Exorcist never won Best Picture but did win for Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. Get Out the psychological satire horror film kicked down some doors not only in its frank and sobering commentary on race relations but proves that a genre film can be smart, meaningful, and scary as hell. The 90th Oscars were very genre forward in many ways. Guillermo Del Toro mentioned The Creature from the Black Lagoon and Julie Adams, and on the red carpet, clips from various horror films were shown in a montage including most surprisingly a chainsaw swinging Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. And of course, the break out horror hit Get Out from Blumhouse won for Best Screenplay. In addition, trailblazing filmmaker George A. Romero was paid tribute at the Oscars in Memoriam, though sadly Tobe Hooper was left off for some baffling reason. It’s no shock that a lot of people in the horror community don’t like the Oscars, and I totally get that. When I look back at the countless great horror films to get snubbed, it’s hard not to be bitter. But this year proved that a perhaps a new attitude is emerging within the Academy, after all, this year also saw a greatly diverse group of nominees and winners. Sure we are unlikely to see a Halloween film win any golden statues, but I really feel like Get Out and The Shape of Water are great starts in showcasing the importance of genre cinema.

Mad Monster welcomes George Romero

George Romero

Posted by Mike Vaughn in EVENT REVIEWS, HORROR NEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
WiHM Interview: The Inimitable Barbie Wilde

WiHM Interview: The Inimitable Barbie Wilde

Woofer here, Souls, and it’s my great pleasure to introduce this interview. When discussing Women in Horror Month with my assistant editor Spencer, we decided that as fans of Hellraiser – both as the Books of Blood and the film franchise – we would be completely remiss if we didn’t reach out to Barbie Wilde. Being both talented and gracious, she consented to be interviewed and is our final focus for Women in Horror Month.

Barbie Wilde - Female Cenobite Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)

Well, that’s enough of my yammering. You’re all here to find out more about the lovely, talented, and kind Barbie Wilde, so keep on reading.
House of Tortured Souls: Did you ever think you would become a horror icon?
Barbie Wilde: I never did… And it’s a bit ironic that I nearly didn’t go to the audition for Hellbound Hellraiser II, because I found the first Hellraiser film so disturbing. (Although I did love the character of Julia. I’m a sucker for obsession! And the Cenobites were such original and unusual monsters.)
However, I’ve very glad that I did go, obviously. Being in Hellbound was a great experience and, speaking as a short blonde person, I’m truly thrilled that I’ve managed to scare so many people over the years.
HoTS: What is your favorite memory from working on Hellraiser II?
BW: Meeting Ken (Dr. Channard) Cranham for the first time. I walked up to him in full Female Cenobite makeup and costume, when he was in full Channard Cenobite makeup and costume — and on the phone to his wife as well! For some reason known only to the infernal powers below, I said: “Hi Ken, I’m Barbie. Do you want to get married and have babies called Pepper and Skipper?”
Why I thought that this was an appropriate way to introduce myself for the first time to such a venerable actor as Ken, I don’t know. Especially since he was English and had no idea that there were these famous American dolls called Barbie, Ken, Pepper and Skipper. (In Britain, the Barbie Doll equivalent is called Cindy.) In my defense, I do say this line to every “Ken” I meet, because for some strange reason, I think it’s hilarious.
Anyway, Ken was gobsmacked and whispered to his wife, “Darling, an actress is talking to me… I’ve got to go.” I apologized profusely and we’ve been good friends ever since.

The Lovely Barbie Wilde

HoTS: What was it like working with Tik and Tok?
BW: The years with Shock in the early 80s were fantastic. It was the most fun that I’ve ever had as a performer. Working with Tik and Tok was wonderful, as well as performing with Robert Pereno, LA Richards, and Carole Caplin. The high point for us was supporting Gary Numan at Wembley Arena, but we also toured with Depeche Mode and supported Ultravox as well.
HoTS: Who are some of your greatest influences?
BW: As a writer: Rod Serling, Patricia Highsmith, Clive Barker, Hemingway, Raymond Chandler, Colin Wilson.
Directors I admire are: Guillermo Del Toro, Hitchcock, Ridley Scott, the Soska Sisters, Ann Biller, Katherine Bigalow, Mary Harron, Agnieszka Smoczynska, Patty Jenkins.

Barbie Wilde's Blue Eyes - A Film By Chris Alexander

HoTS: How do you prepare for a role? Is it different for each?
BW: I approach each role in a new way. I don’t use any particular “method”. I’m very intuitive and I take a lot from the text…
HoTS: Why horror? What drew you to it?
BW: To be honest, I didn’t choose horror, horror chose me! I had moved from acting into presenting, writing and hosting TV shows when I was cast in Hellbound. It was my first horror movie. (Although I suppose being in Grizzly II: The Concert (1983) was my first appearance in a horror movie, but it was never released.)
It’s interesting, because until Paul Kane asked me to write a story for the Hellbound Hearts anthology, I was more interested in exploring the criminal mind in writing novel like my diary-of-a-serial-killer novel, The Venus Complex (published by Comet Press), than writing horror. But I had so much fun writing my Female Cenobite origin story (“Sister Cilice”) for Hellbound Hearts, that I continued writing horror, contributing short stories to various horror anthologies over the years, culminating in my illustrated, full color, short horror story collection, Voices of the Damned (published by SST Publications).

The Venus Complex (2012) by Barbie Wilde

Saying that though, I’ve always watched horror movies, ever since I was a kid, especially Sci-fi horror. Those films really shaped my twisted imagination! And TV shows like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits also made a big impression on me.
HoTS: What are your favorite horror films?
BW: I love the old black and white horrors like: The Thing From Another World (1951), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), The Innocents (1961), The Haunting (1963) and Night of the Demon AKA Curse of the Demon (1957). I also like visceral horror such as Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) and Alien (1979). Other favorites are: American Mary (2012), Sinister (2012), Audition (1999), The Lure (2015), Cronos (1993), Mimic (1997), Crimson Peak (2015), etc. (I’m really looking forward to seeing The Shape of Water and the Soska Sisters’ reimagining of Cronenberg’s Rabid.)
HoTS: What drew you to writing? Do you prefer it to acting?
BW: I’ll always love acting, but now I prefer creating my own worlds, my own characters and my own mythologies.
HoTS: When did you realize that you wanted to dive into the arts?
BW: I was a very shy kid, but when I was cast in a school play when I was 12, I was hooked forever. People were laughing with me, rather than at me. I loved it.

Voices of the Damned (2016) by Barbie Wilde

HoTS: What is something outside of art that you’re passionate about?
BW: Wine… Margaritas… Martinis… you see a pattern here? Actually, those are just hobbies! Seriously, I’m fascinated by archeology (it was my Minor at University) and I love what’s happening in the world of science with all the innovations that are happening, medical discoveries, etc. And I’m a tech geek. I never would have guessed that I’d love gadgets so much. I suppose it’s the Star Trek fan in me!

Barbie’s books and other works:

Out now:

Voices of the Damned, an illustrated short horror story collection published by SST Publications. (Publishers Weekly: “…sensual in its brutality.” “…a delight for the darker senses.”) Each story is illustrated in full color by top artists in the horror genre, such as Clive Barker, Nick Percival, Daniele Serra, Vincent Sammy, Tara Bush, Steve McGinnis, Ben Bradford and Eric Gross.

Barbie Wilde - Female Cenobite with knife in Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)

The Venus Complex, Barbie’s debut dark crime, diary-of-a-serial-killer novel, published by Comet Press. (Fangoria: “Wilde is one of the finest purveyors of erotically charged horror fiction around.”)

In pre-production:

A feature length horror film called Blue Eyes, based on a short story by Barbie. It’s co-written with Chris Alexander (Blood for Irina, Queen of Blood, Female Werewolf, Blood Dynasty, Space Vampire) and will be directed by Chris. Starring Nivek Ogre of Skinny Puppy.

Work-in-progress:

Film Script: “Zulu Zombies”.
New real life horror novel, working title: The Anatomy of Ghosts.

Plans for the future:

To find a publisher for graphic novels based on Barbie’s short stories “Sister Cilice” and “Zulu Zombies”.

The Offer (2017) - Barbie Wilde

In 2017, Barbie returned to acting after 17 years in The Offer, the first episode of the horror series, Dark Ditties, produced by Cult Film Screenings.

Barbie Wilde Social Media:

Barbie Wilde - Classic Beauty

Posted by Alan Smithee in STAFF PICKS, WOMEN IN HORROR, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Shape of Water (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Shape of Water (2017)

One of the most talked about horror movies in 2017 was Universal’s attempted reboot of the Mummy. Sadly it was also one of the worst horror movies of 2017 and was a horror movie in name only, and pretty much slammed the coffin lid on Universal’s Dark Universe. So we get left with what if, and the biggest “what if” of all, what if Guillermo Del Toro had taken the reins of the horror universe. Well, The Shape of Water might give us some clue about what that lost universe might have looked like.

he Shape of Water poster

Movie poster from The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water, Del Toro’s ode to the Creature of the Black Lagoon (at least superficially and unofficially) isn’t exactly a horror movie itself. However, it is a beautiful, thought-provoking Gothic romance, with a few elements of horror thrown in for good measure. No, it may not be horror, but it does make us wonder how beautiful a Del Toro Creature From the Black Lagoon would look, or a Frankenstein, or yes, even a reboot of The Mummy, with or without Tom Cruise.

The Shape of Water stars Sally Hawkins (Godzilla, King of Monsters) as Eliza, a mute cleaning lady. She works at a government research center in Baltimore during the cold war. She lives a boring life until the Gillman (for lack of a better term) is dragged into the lab, and into her life by Colonel Richard Richard Strickland. Developing a rapport with the creature, she decides to save it from torture and death at the hands of Strickland and the scientists. And that’s where it gets groovy ladies and gents.

Just to cut through the BS, The Shape of Water is hands down the best horror movie of the year, even if it’s not that much of a horror movie. Hey, if Get Out is a comedy, then we can claim this as a horror movie. It’s been nominated for seven Golden Globes, and will almost definitely be an Oscar hit as well. The film has a stellar cast with Shannon, Richard Jenkins (Bone Tomahawk), Nick Searcy (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), and Del Toro favorite Doug Jones (Hellboy, not the Senator) as the creature from the, umm, from this movie. They all do their usual great job, but Hawkins is the standout.

Without using words, for most of the movie anyway, she conveys all the pain, and unhappiness of being alone, of being an outcast. And this is a story about outcasts, Hawkins is an outcast, Spencer as her closeted gay roommate and friend is an outcast, her coworker (Octavia Spencer) is an outcast, the Russian spy is an outcast, the creature is an outcast, even the main villain Strickland is a bit of an outcast.

It’s also a movie about xenophobia, fear or hatred of the different (actual foreigners but close enough). The government fears the Russians, Strickland hates and fears the creature, the gay man fears, or at least is indifferent to, the civil rights struggle of black people and the one black character hates short people (although it’s played for laughs. The only person who appears not to suffer from this is Eliza (and Gillman to some extent). The heroes overcome their isolation and fear, Strickland cannot and is literally destroyed by it.

As with all GDT films, The Shape of Water is a visual treat. It’s beautiful, absolutely beautiful. Color plays an important part in the film, just as it did in Crimson Peak. In The Shape of Water it’s green, with red being used sparingly and in the background. I wish I was smart enough to tell you the exact symbolism of the color used in The Shape of Water, but I’m still working on it myself.

Gillman eyes an egg

Gillman eyes an egg

Right now, The Shape of Water is still not an extremely wide release, which is sad, especially since both showings I have been to have been packed, so you will have to search a bit, and maybe take a drive to see it. It’s worth the effort though. However, be warned, this probably isn’t a movie for the kids. Unless you want to have to explain the birds and the bees (and the lizards). There’s only a little violence and tiny amount of gore (the one scene might disturb kids or sensitive people, but there is a decent amount of nudity, including full frontal female nudity and some cross-species “relations”, though nothing explicit, it’s easy to know what’s going down. If you can find it, make the effort; you won’t be disappointed.

Posted by Allen Alberson in MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
Fangoria Fires Michael Gingold

Fangoria Fires Michael Gingold

Michael Gingold:
End of an Era

By Woofer McWooferson
Michael Gingold

Image: Lightanddark.net

Since 1979, Fangoria magazine has serving up horror news to fans of the genre, and since 1988, Michael Gingold has been part of the Fangoria team. In September 2015, Editor-in-Chief Chris Alexander chose to part ways in order to pursue his film career, and in October longtime Fangoria managing editor Michael Gingold was tapped to replace him. On May 25, 2016, however, Fangoria announced that it fired both Editor-in-Chief Michael Gingold and art director Bill Mohalley, leaving fans of the magazine scratching their heads and sending ripples throughout the horror community.

According to Ken W. Hanley, the new Editor-in-Chief:

I’m sad to say that Michael Gingold is no longer a part of FANGORIA Magazine. For many of you, this may not be news, as FANGORIA’s parting of ways with Mike became public yesterday, and to see the tremendous outpouring of support among the horror community assures this writer that Mike will move on to bigger, bolder, and brighter things. Honestly, I was hoping for Mike to say farewell personally, on his own terms, to the horror audience he served for decades, and that option is still available, should he choose to do so.

Furthermore, FANGORIA also parted ways with longtime art director, Bill Mohalley, whose designs and masterful work have lead to all the iconic covers, spreads and artwork that fright fans have come to know and love. This writer personally hopes for the best for both Mike and Bill during this time.

Hanley suggests that these firings were long in the making even though fans of Fangoria were blindsided. The backlash has been intense, and the move has drawn criticism from Guillermo del Toro and others in the horror industry.

Gingold - Guillermo del Toro

Translation: Without Michael Gingold, there would be no Geometria, and without Geometria, there would be no Guillermo del Toro catalogue of films.

Adrian Garcia Bogliano, writer/director, ABCs of Death:

Gingold - Adrian Garcia Bogliano

Glenn Kenny, writer/critic, New York Times:

Gingold - Glenn Kenny

Alex Winter, actor, writer, Freaked (1993):

Gingold - Alex Winter

Soska sisters, filmmakers, American Mary (2012), See No Evil 2 (2014):

Gingold - Soska Sisters

Ted Geoghegan, producer/writer, We Are Still Here (2015):

Gingold - Ted Geoghegan

Hanley continues, assuring Fangoria readers that the magazine will be both different and the same:

I would like to be clear about one thing, though: FANGORIA will never be the same without Mike’s presence and influence in the magazine. This writer will not try to mirror Mike’s accomplishments from his 28 years with FANGORIA, nor could I if I even wanted to. But what this writer does promise as Editor-in-Chief will be a different kind of FANGORIA altogether; something timeless, new, and unique yet building on the legacy of what made FANGORIA so notable in the past.

FANGORIA will still be dedicated to giving independent horror filmmakers, authors, game designers, and FX artists the showcase they deserve. In this next phase of FANGORIA, this writer hopes to revive the art of FX preview pieces, which has since been lost in the age of studio embargoes and CGI, and make them integral to each ensuing edition. And I want to hear more voices in the world of FANGORIA, print, web or otherwise, especially from the endless stream of brilliant female writers as well as writers of color, both of whom offer a perspective on the genre that I couldn’t possibly imagine.

It remains to be seen what type of job Hanley will do, but one thing is certain: With Gingold's departure, we have seen the end of an era.

Posted by Alan Smithee in HORROR NEWS, 1 comment
DOC REVIEW: Boogeymen 2: Masters of Horror

DOC REVIEW: Boogeymen 2: Masters of Horror

Boogeyman 2: Masters of Horror

By Woofer McWooferson

Boogeymen 2-1

 

Director: Mike Mendez, Dave Parker; Writers: Curtis Bowden, Mike Mendez, Dave Parker, Gary Shenk; Stars: Dario Argento, Bruce Campbell, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Guillermo del Toro, Tobe Hooper, John Landis, George A. Romero; Rating: U; Run Time: 90 min; Genre: Documentary; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2002

“Their movies gave you nightmares. Now the most diabolical minds in horror are coming together in the ultimate Halloween horror special – Masters of Horror.”

The 2002 documentary Boogeymen 2: Masters of Horror is hosted by Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.) and features some of the greatest names in horror movies, from Dario Argento to Guillermo del Toro. Divided into three parts, it asks the great questions all horror fans have:

Part 1: Why Do We Like to be Scared?
Part 2: What Scares Us?
Part 3: (Where Do They Get Their Ideas?)

Parts one and two are rather brief and hop from director to director as each answers why we like to be scared and what scares us. As to why we like to be scared, answers range from “why do some people like to ride roller coasters” to “preparation for our own deaths” and all are equally valid since why we like to be scared is as unique as each of us. When it comes to what scares us, however, most of our fears are the same, from death (of self or loved ones) to the dark (or what lies in it), and this is the bread and butter of these directors.

Wes Craven

Wes Craven

Part three, however, is much longer and divided into six sections with each section focusing on one director. These sections and the featured directors are:

The Reality of Horror (Wes Craven)
The Horror of Innocence (Guillermo del Toro)
The Rebel of Horror (John Carpenter)
The Horror of Society (George A. Romero)
Transforming Horror (John Landis & Rick Baker)
The Beauty of Horror (Dario Argento)
Living the Horror (Tobe Hooper)

Highlights of the documentary include:

• Craven discussing the making of The Serpent and the Rainbow and how The Last House on the Left managed an R rating.

• del Toro recounting his introduction to the supernatural while still in his crib, the influence of Universal monster movies on him, and how he established a special effects company in order to create Cronos.

• Carpenter talking about the change in audience sensibilities and the effect it had on the horror industry in the 70s and 80s.

• Romero revealing his fear of being typecast and his eventual return to the dead films.

• Landis and Rick Baker explaining how they created Schlock and why An American Werewolf in London is a watershed film in special effects work.

• Argento discussing his films as works of art where each shot is framed for both beauty and horror.

• Hooper recounting the horrors behind the scenes of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, including the effects that the gruelling shot had on the cast and crew.

Tobe Hooper

Tobe Hooper

Boogeymen 2: Masters of Horror also includes commentary from Gunnar Hanson, Tom Savini, and KNB Effects and is full of clips from the movies being discussed as well as movies that exemplify the topics being described.

Is this for everyone? No, but it is damn good fun and a must for horror lovers.

7/10 claws

Posted by Alan Smithee in DOCUMENTARY REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Crimson Peak (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: Crimson Peak (2015)

By Dixielord

Guillermo Del Toro definitely knows how to make a big beautiful film, but can he do a horror movie? His last ghost movie, Mama, just didn't do it for me. The wispy CGI ghosts just don't do it for me, and while it wasn’t a bad story, the ghosts bored me more than frightened me. But now he tries again with Crimson Peak.

Crimson Peaks Jessica Chastain

Crimson Peak's Jessica Chastain

Crimson Peak is a big scale Gothic ghost story starring Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam, Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska (Stoker). And let's get it straight if I try and type Mia's gull name over and over I'm going to eventually fuck it up, so from now on, I'm sticking to Mia.

Mia plays Edith Cushing, the heir to her father's fortune who is haunted by the ghost of her dead mother. She finds herself, and her father's money courted by the titled, but broke, Baronet Thomas Sharp played by Tom Hiddleston (The Avengers, Thor). This doesn't sit well with her father played by Jim Beaver (Supernatural), or the president of the local biker club, whoops, local doctor and childhood friend Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy). After her father's murder, she agrees to marry Hiddleston and move to his ancestral home, known by the locals as Crimson Peak. There the hauntings continue and animosity grows between Mia and her sister in law Lucille played by Jessica Chastain (Mama). Back in America the jilted Dr. McMichael (Hunnam) investigates and finds things the good Baronet is hiding things. He rushes to Crimson Peak to save Edith, but with her health mysteriously declining and winter setting in, will he be in time?

Mia Wasikowska in Crimson Peak

Mia in Crimson Peak

With Crimson Peak, Del Toro has crafted a truly beautiful film. Even his ghosts, beyond the black wispy phantoms, he has added a blood red to go with the films title and theme. The ghosts also have a bit more substance than those in Mama. As they rise out of the floor and walls of the dilapidated castle, I'll admit they made me jump a couple of times. I'm still not a big fan of the CGI ghost, buy they looked better than in Mama. They seemed to have more substance, which made them a bit more realistic and creepy.

The scenery likewise is beautiful to behold. The manor home that is falling apart and especially the white snow, dyed red by the clay that gives Crimson Peak it's name. Then add to that the cast of beautiful people in Hunnam, Hiddleston and Mia, and you have a film that is a visual treat.

But is it scary? Like I mentioned above, it actually gave me a few startles and I cant complain about that. Mostly however, Crimson Peak is a Gothic ghost story, more focused on romance and mystery than horror. It harkens back to when ghosts were more of a protective and warning spirit than an agent of chaos. While the ghosts do provide some scares, they necessarily where the horror lies in Crimson Peak.

The main story here is the mystery that Crimson Peaks holds. What happened to the mother of Thomas and Lucille? What is the relationship between the two siblings and what is the secret that he desperately tries to hide from Edith? And can Jax move on from his father’s death to lead the club, wait no, another project...

Charlie Hunnam in Crimson Peak

No motorcycles or giant robots for Charlie Hunnam in Crimson Peak

Crimson Peak ends up being a bit of a tragedy, and I wont give away any more than I have already. Go see it. It's not a grand horror movie, but it is a well acted, and beautiful ghost story with a real Gothic feel. I'm giving it 7 and ¾ stars out of 10.

Posted by Allen Alberson in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments