Larry Cohen

10/07 – 1993: BODY SNATCHERS

 

 

 

Of the approximately half-dozen remakes there have been, since director DON SIEGEL first terrified the world with INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, based on Jack Finney’s timeless sci-fi terror tale, two standout versions are, for me, the smartest of the bunch. The first is PHILIP KAUFMAN’S dark satirizing of the San Francisco “self-awareness” scene back in 1978, and BODY SNATCHERS, the often-unsung version directed by genre favorite ABEL FERRARA (MS. .45, KING OF NEW YORK, FEAR CITY, BAD LIEUTENANT).  Ferrara’s ferocious, take-no-prisoners sensibility and dark sense of humor was a glove-like fit for an adaptation worked on by no less than five writers, which included STUART GORDON, DENNIS PAOLI and LARRY COHEN.

The oft-told story was still very flexible in terms of where it could be set and how it reflected the times in which it was being re-told. And what better place to set a story about assimilation, blind compliance and loss of identity, than on an ARMY BASE? Brilliant.

 

 

 

 

 

GABRIELLE ANWAR (SCENT OF A WOMAN) plays Marti Malone, the oldest daughter of the Malone family, along with dad Steve (TERRY KINNEY of HBO’S OZ), and little brother Andy (REILLY MURPHY).

As good as everyone is in the cast, though, the must-see performance of the film comes from…MEG TILLY as mom, Carol Malone. Yeah, the same Meg Tilly you knew from THE BIG CHILL is here to deliver a “bigger chill” of a totally different kind, with a monologue that’s as chilling as any pivotal “possession” scene in the other versions, including the original.

Filming at an actual base as well as the surrounding areas in Selma, Alabama, Ferrara and DP BOJAN BAZELLI (PUMPKINHEAD) were able to infuse this version of Finney’s story with the same sharp sense of dread and paranoia that is inherent in the other successful versions.

  

Other interested parties who become involved in the nightmarish events that begin to engulf both the soldiers on base and civilians alike, include characters played by BILLY WIRTH (THE LOST BOYS), CHRISTINE ELISE, (CHILD’S PLAY 2), R. LEE ERMEY (FULL METAL JACKET) and FOREST WHITAKER (THE CRYING GAME, A RAGE IN HARLEM).

There’s so much more I want to say about this ‘hidden’ gem, but once again, it’s one of those cases where the less I spoil for you, the better it will be if you’re seeing it for the first time. In fact, try doing a ‘double’ with this and the Kaufman version!

HELLABRATION DELUXE! Thirty-One Days of SHOCKTOBER: Day Seven – 10/07/18

HELLABRATION DELUXE! Thirty-One Days of SHOCKTOBER: Day Seven – 10/07/18

10/07 – 1993: BODY SNATCHERS

 

 

 

Of the approximately half-dozen remakes there have been, since director DON SIEGEL first terrified the world with INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, based on Jack Finney’s timeless sci-fi terror tale, two standout versions are, for me, the smartest of the bunch. The first is PHILIP KAUFMAN’S dark satirizing of the San Francisco “self-awareness” scene back in 1978, and BODY SNATCHERS, the often-unsung version directed by genre favorite ABEL FERRARA (MS. .45, KING OF NEW YORK, FEAR CITY, BAD LIEUTENANT).  Ferrara’s ferocious, take-no-prisoners sensibility and dark sense of humor was a glove-like fit for an adaptation worked on by no less than five writers, which included STUART GORDON, DENNIS PAOLI and LARRY COHEN.

The oft-told story was still very flexible in terms of where it could be set and how it reflected the times in which it was being re-told. And what better place to set a story about assimilation, blind compliance and loss of identity, than on an ARMY BASE? Brilliant.

 

 

 

 

 

GABRIELLE ANWAR (SCENT OF A WOMAN) plays Marti Malone, the oldest daughter of the Malone family, along with dad Steve (TERRY KINNEY of HBO’S OZ), and little brother Andy (REILLY MURPHY).

As good as everyone is in the cast, though, the must-see performance of the film comes from…MEG TILLY as mom, Carol Malone. Yeah, the same Meg Tilly you knew from THE BIG CHILL is here to deliver a “bigger chill” of a totally different kind, with a monologue that’s as chilling as any pivotal “possession” scene in the other versions, including the original.

Filming at an actual base as well as the surrounding areas in Selma, Alabama, Ferrara and DP BOJAN BAZELLI (PUMPKINHEAD) were able to infuse this version of Finney’s story with the same sharp sense of dread and paranoia that is inherent in the other successful versions.

  

Other interested parties who become involved in the nightmarish events that begin to engulf both the soldiers on base and civilians alike, include characters played by BILLY WIRTH (THE LOST BOYS), CHRISTINE ELISE, (CHILD’S PLAY 2), R. LEE ERMEY (FULL METAL JACKET) and FOREST WHITAKER (THE CRYING GAME, A RAGE IN HARLEM).

There’s so much more I want to say about this ‘hidden’ gem, but once again, it’s one of those cases where the less I spoil for you, the better it will be if you’re seeing it for the first time. In fact, try doing a ‘double’ with this and the Kaufman version!


Posted by Samuel Glass in EDITORIALS, FAMILY HORROR, FEATURED CONTENT, HALLOWEEN, SCI-FI HORROR, THRILLER, TRIBUTE, 0 comments
HELLABRATION DELUXE! Thirty-One Days of SHOCKTOBER: Day Five – 10/05/18

HELLABRATION DELUXE! Thirty-One Days of SHOCKTOBER: Day Five – 10/05/18

10/05 – 1991: THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS

THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.  Or “When Starling Met Lecter.” Oh, yes.  The horror film that famously – or infamously – swept the Oscars. And no, I don’t give two shits in a high wind how people have tried to re-classify it: “psychological drama”, “police procedural”, “intense crime thriller.” Bullshit. When people like Larry Cohen, William Lustig and Abel Ferrara have made similarly-themed films, critics looked so far down their noses at those guys and their work, their condescending eyeballs nearly rolled out of their skulls. But because the film had a high-toned pedigree both in front of and behind the camera, they nearly broke their spines bending over backwards to call it anything else but what it is. And what it will always be to me: a very well-made horror film.

Unless you started cave-dwelling at the top of 1991 and hadn’t emerged until now, you know all about this masterpiece from late, great, extraordinary director JONATHAN DEMME: rookie FBI agent Clarice Starling (a peerless performance by JODIE FOSTER) is given a dog’s dinner of a task. An elusive serial killer by the name of Buffalo Bill, a.k.a. Jame Gumb – who got his nickname from the score of women he’s kidnapped, tortured, killed and then skinned (in that very order, if they were lucky) -is on the loose, and to help try and catch him, Clarice has to consult the one brilliant doctor who might know exactly how to find and stop this madman.

But that’s the catch.  That ‘doctor’ is one Hannibal Lecter (SIR ANTHONY HOPKINS in the role that won him the Oscar), and though his IQ is through the roof, he’s even more insane than Bill. Buffalo Bill skins people. Dr. Lecter eats them.  (Your best, snarky “Jack Sprat” comment goes here.)

And did I mention that this film gives you a “two-fer”? Actually, so much more than that. On one level, you have the battle of wills between Hannibal and Clarice, which also has the underpinnings of a creepy yet fascinating kind of ‘love’ story: Lecter’s keen intellect and spooky proclivity for reading and dissecting people and their minds with a single glance, versus Starling’s quiet, almost unflappable reserve and steely resolve. Then on yet another level, you have the whole woman-trying-to-break-the-glass-ceiling, as she has to endure the usual indignities of surviving and trying to thrive in what is essentially an old boys’ club.

And yet still on a third level, you have the harrowing Buffalo Bill story, as Clarice and the Feds race against time to save his latest victim from becoming part of the ‘skin suit’ he is meticulously sewing together, to…transform? Possess women’s bodies in the most extreme way possible? With someone this crazy, who knows?

Adapted by TED TALLY, from the insanely popular bestseller written by THOMAS HARRIS, to serve as the second part of his “Lecter Trilogy” (beginning with RED DRAGON and ending with the controversial HANNIBAL), this one had it all: legendary cinematographer TAK FUJIMOTO on camera; HOWARD SHORE taking care of the tense and unsettling score, and a supporting cast of aces that included Demme’s old mentor ROGER CORMAN, DIANE BAKER, SCOTT GLENN, CHARLES NAPIER, KASI LEMMONS, FRANKIE FAISON, BROOKE SMITH in a career-defining role as a stubborn victim; ANTHONY HEALD as Hannibal’s doctor, who manages to out-sneer even WILLIAM ATHERTON for the “Completely, Insufferably Smarmy” Award.

And most importantly of all, the “shoulda-been-nominated”-worthy turn by TED LEVINE as Jame/Bill, who gave us the chillingly phenomenal and iconic scene with the killer that was composed almost on the spot by him and Demme, (if you’ve seen the movie even once, you know the scene I’m talking about: “Goodbye Horses.”)

And once you’ve glimpsed this top-notch tale of tension, terror and one of the most nail-biting climactic confrontations ever commended to film, director Michael Mann’s version of ‘Red Dragon,” MANHUNTER – the one that really started it all – is more than worth your time to check out, as well as the lesser but still stunning remake, RED DRAGON; the third movie in the trilogy, HANNIBAL, with JULIANNE MOORE subbing for Foster and genre maven RIDLEY SCOTT directing, and even HANNIBAL RISING, the prequel that attempted to tell Lecter’s back story, with a mixed amount of success.

 

Posted by Samuel Glass in EDITORIALS, FEATURED CONTENT, GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, HALLOWEEN, HORROR HEROES, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, THRILLER, TRIBUTE, 0 comments
HISTORY OF HORROR: JULY

HISTORY OF HORROR: JULY

By John Roisland & Woofer McWooferson

Join House of Tortured Souls as we celebrate significant dates in the history of horror in July. Click on thumbnails for full images.

July 1 - 7

 

July - Trilogy of Terror-1975 Karen Black07/01/1942
Karen Black (actress in many horror films) born

 

July - Grace Kelly and James Stewart in Rear Window (1954)07/02/1997
James Stewart (actor in Rear Window (1954), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), and Vertigo (1958)), (b. 1908)

 

July - Day of the Dead07/03/1985
Day of the Dead released theatrically

 

July - Silent Hill 3 video game07/03/2003
Silent Hill 3 released on the PlayStation and PC in Japan

 

July - Adam Brooks07/03/????
Adam Brooks, known for Astron-6, Manborg, and Father's Day, born

 

July - Scary Movie 207/04/2001
Scary Movie 2 released theatrically

 

July - Battle Royale II07/05/2003
Battle Royale II: Requiem released theatrically

 

July - Janet Leigh07/06/1927
Janet Leigh, actress in Psycho, born

 

July - Blood Feast07/06/1963
Blood Feast released theatrically

 

July - The Descent07/06/2005
The Descent released theatrically

 

July - The Mummy's Ghost07/07/1944
The Mummy's Ghost released theatrically

 

July - Scary Movie07/07/2000
Scary Movie released theatrically

July 8 - 14

July - The Raven07/08/ 1935
The Raven released
theatrically

 

July - Phantasm 207/08/1988
Phantasm 2 released
theatrically

 

July - Dark Water 200507/08/2005
Dark Water released
theatrically

 

July - Dean Koontz07/09/1945
Dean Koontz (writer Phantoms (1989), Odd Thomas (2013)) born

 

 

July - Fred Gwynne07/10/1926
Fred Gwynne (actor in The Munsters (1964) and Pet Sematary (1989)) born (d. 1993)

 

 

July - Michael Rosenbaum07/11/1972
Michael Rosenbaum (actor in Urban Legend (1998) and Cursed (2005)) born

 

July - Tod Browning07/12/1880
Tod Browning (director of Dracula (1931) and Freaks (1931)) born (d. 1962)

 

July - Lon Chaney, Jr07/12/1973
Lon Chaney, Jr. (actor in Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971) and The Wolfman (1941)) dies (b. 1906)

 
July - Michelle Rodriguez07/12/1978
Michelle Rodriguez (actress in Resident Evil (2002) and The Breed (2006)) born
 

July - Halloween: Resurrection07/12/2002
Halloween: Resurrection released theatrically

 

July - Stellan Skarsgard

Image courtesy WireImage.com

07/13/1968
Stellan Skarsgård (actor in Exorcist: The Beginning (2004) and Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005)) born

 

July - Sid Haig07/14/1939
Sid Haig (actor in The Brotherhood of Blood(2007), The Devils Rejects (2005),
House of 1000 Corpses (2003)) born is born

 

July - The Chronicle07/14/2001
The Chronicle premieres on television

July 15 - 21

 

July - Larry Cohen07/15/1941
Larry Cohen (writer, director, producer known for of Phone Booth (2002), A Return to Salem's Lot (1987), The Stuff (1985)) born

 

July - Kingdom Hospital07/15/2004
Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital ends its run on television

 

July - The Fly07/16/1958
The Fly released theatrically

 

 

July - Jaws: The Revenge07/17/1987
Jaws: The Revenge released theatrically

 

 

July - Eight Legged Freaks07/17/2002
Eight Legged Freaks released
theatrically

 

 

July - Prom Night07/18/1980
Prom Night released theatrically

 

July - Aliens

07/18/1986
Aliens released theatrically

 

July - Arachnophobia07/18/1990
Arachnophobia released theatrically

 

 

July - Hideo Nakata07/19/1961
Hideo Nakata (director of Ringu (1998), Ringu 2 (1999), and Dark Water (2002)) born

 

June - Tales from the Crypt (original)07/19/1996
Tales from the Crypt ends its run on television

 

July - The Frighteners07/19/1996
The Frighteners released theatrically

 

July - The Breed07/19/2001
The Breed released theatrically

 

July - The Conjuring07/19/1964
The Conjuring released theatrically

 

July - The Devil Rides Out07/20/1968
The Devil Rides Out released theatrically

 

July - Dracula07/20/1979
Dracula released theatrically

 

July - Castlevania Dracula X07/20/1995
Castlevania: Dracula X released on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in North America

 

July - The Haunting07/20/1999
The Haunting released theatrically

 

July - Jeepers Creepers07/20/2001
Jeepers Creepers released theatrically

 

 

July - Castlevania Dracula X07/21/1972
Castlevania: Dracula X released
on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in Japan

 

 

July 22 - 28

 

July - James Whale07/22/1889
James Whale (director of The Invisible Man (1931), Frankenstein (1931), and The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)) born (d. 1957)

 

July - The Hills Have Eyes07/22/1977
The Hills Have Eyes released theatrically

July - Orca07/22/1977
Orca released theatrically

 

July - Jaws 3-D07/22/1983
Jaws 3-D released theatrically

July - The Devil's Rejects07/22/2005
Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects released theatrically

 

 

July - Castlevania Chronicles - Japan07/23/1993
Castlevania Chronicles released on the X68000 in Japan

 

 

July - Chris Sarandon07/24/1942
Chris Sarandon (actor in The Sentinel (1977), Fright Night (1985), and Bordello of Blood (1996)) born

 

 

July - Ileana Douglas07/25/1965
Illeana Douglas (actress in Cape Fear (1991) and Stir of Echoes (1999)) born

 

 

July - Michael C. Williams07/25/1973
Michael C. Williams (actor in The Blair Witch Project) born

 

July - Night of the Seagulls07/26/1976
Night of the Seagulls released theatrically

 

 

July - The Amityville Horror07/27/1979
The Amityville Horror released theatrically

 

 

July - Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan07/28/1989
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan released theatrically

 

July - Deep Blue Sea07/28/1999
Deep Blue Sea released theatrically

 

July 29 - 31

 

July - Zombi 307/29/1987
Zombi 3 released theatrically

 

July - Cherry Falls07/29/2000
Cherry Falls released theatrically

 

July - The Blair Witch Project07/30/1999
The Blair Witch Project released theatrically

 

 

July - Mario Bava07/31/1914
Mario Bava (director of Black Sunday and The Girl Who Knew Too Much) born (d. 1980)

 

July - Invisible Agent07/31/1942
Invisible Agent released theatrically

 

July - Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man07/31/1951
Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man released theatrically

 

July - The Lost Boys07/31/1987
The Lost Boys released theatrically

 

July - Buffy the Vampire Slayer07/31/1992
Buffy the Vampire Slayer released theatrically

Keep it Evil

Posted by John Roisland in HORROR HISTORY, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Stuff (1985)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Stuff (1985)

stuff43

By Nick Durham

Arrow Video is going to make me go fucking broke. That being said, when it comes to their quality Blu-ray releases, it's pretty much money well spent. Arrow's release of the Larry Cohen schlock classic The Stuff is no exception. A long time favorite film out of the long list of films that Cohen has been behind, The Stuff is a bona-fide guilty pleasure of ridiculousness and awesomeness; all wrapped up in a nice little package.

Most of you more than likely know the plot of The Stuff: The Stuff is a new and mysterious dessert that is taking the world by storm. Everyone seems to love it for some reason; so much so that it's putting other snack companies in tough spots. Enter professional industrial saboteur Moe (Cohen favorite and Law & Order vet Michael Moriarity), who is hired to uncover the secrets of The Stuff, and is eventually teamed up with young Jason (Scott Bloom), who has discovered that The Stuff is taking on a life of its own.

There's not much else to the story of The Stuff; other than the film is absolutely fucking bonkers. Moriarty plays it firmly tongue-in-cheek, while everyone else plays it relatively serious (for some reason), until we're introduced to Paul Sorvino's military man character, and from that point forward it's an absolute hoot. It also happens to be one of Cohen's better crafted films, and it also manages to contain enough social commentary to save it from being terrible schlock, and some of it shockingly manages to hold up today if you can believe that.

This Blu-ray release from Arrow Video is quite good, and definitely blows the old Anchor Bay DVD release from years back away. The film has been restored and looks better than ever, and the film's mono soundtrack sounds better than ever as well. There's a new documentary on the film featuring interviews from Cohen and others, the film's trailer is here as well (which features a commentary from Darren Lynn Bousman for some reason), and a collector's booklet as well.

All in all, Arrow may not have put the extreme amount of love and care into this release compared to some of their other releases, but this is still a great pick up regardless. I've always had a soft spot for The Stuff, as have many others, which is why it has managed to resonate for the past thirty plus years. So go out, pick this up, and indulge yourself aplenty.

Rating: 4/5

 

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW (RETRO): God Told Me To (1976)

MOVIE REVIEW (RETRO): God Told Me To (1976)

God Told Me To
By Woofer McWooferson

God Told Me To movie poster

God Told Me To

Writer and Director: Larry Cohen; Stars: Tony Lo Bianco, Deborah Raffin, Sandy Dennis; Rating: R; Run Time: 91 min; Genre: Crime, Horror, Sci-Fi; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 1976

God Told Me To is one of those hidden gems that bring great joy to fans of the horror-science fiction crossover films. Writer/director Larry Cohen, best known for the It's Alive franchise, Q: The Winged Serpent, the Maniac Cop franchise, and The Stuff, creates a film that manages to move from crime drama to science fiction to horror and back again and makes it seem easy in spite of an erratic and changing theme. Detective Peter Nicholas is a deeply religious man who finds himself faced with a series of seemingly unrelated killings by multiple killers whose only connection is that all say they are acting on instruction from God, e.g. “God told me to.” His investigation leads him to a group of people who were brought together by a message from God. From there he goes on to meet this “God” and finds a young man who resembles Jesus bathed in golden light. It is here where the story gets truly weird.

Tony Lo Bianco in God Told Me To

Sammy Williams and Tony Lo Bianco in God Told Me To

While the production value is low, particularly by today's standards, it fits the feel of a gritty police procedural and adds a flavor of realism to the more fantastic science fiction and horror aspects of the story. Solid performances by Tony Lo Bianco (The Honeymoon Killers, Police Story), Sandy Dennis (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), and Deborah Raffin (The Sentinal) in the lead roles elevate the film from standard B fare into the realm of must-see cult classic. Lo Bianco really nails the complicated and conflicted detective in a nuanced performance that has never received the praise it should. Sandy Dennis as the detective's estranged wife is almost zen in her perfect peace and acceptance of her husband's desire to leave her for another woman. Deborah Raffin as the other woman manages to come off likeable in spite of – or perhaps because of – her curious mixture of innocence and experience. Horror genre regulars Richard Lynch (Werewolf) and Mike Kellin (Sleepaway Camp) appear in supporting roles - Lynch as the Jesus figure and Kellin as the Deputy Commissioner, and Mason Adams (F/X) has a cameo as an obstetrician. Thus, Cohen manages to create a movie with both depth and believability in the face of an incredible plot.

Richard Lynch in God Told Me To

Richard Lynch in God Told Me To

God Told Me To is definitely not for the casual fan and could even be considered blasphemous by the most rigid of Christians as it weaves in and out of the philosophy of religion. Thanks to a resurgence in popularity of older films, viewers no longer have to search for an old VHS as it is now available on DVD, Blu-ray, and Amazon video. Fans of the odd and obscure, however, will be glad they took the time to watch it.

Andy Kaufman in God Told Me To

Andy Kaufman in God Told Me To

8/10 claws - .5 just for Andy Kaufman in his first film role.

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments