This was an unusually strong year for genre movies, filled with moments of thrilling originality, deep emotion and awe-inspiring visuals and ideas. It really was one for the books, comparable to one of those benchmark years from the early '80s that people from my generation look back on so reverently. 2015 gave us a deluge of fantastic indies and a surprising amount of top-notch blockbusters.
I narrowed this down to my top 20 (listed alphabetically) but suffice it to say that my top 5 in descending order are: Mad Max: Fury Road; The Duke of Burgundy; Bone Tomahawk; Sicario; and a tie for 5th between Ex Machina and The Nightmare. The Martian was very narrowly edged out of my top 5.
The list of movies that I haven't gotten around to that could have ended up here is just as long: Macbeth; Anguish; Love; Tales of Halloween; #Horror; Alleluia; Tangerine; Midnight Swim; The Hallow; Yakuza Apocalypse and many more.
I'm off to picturesque Kangaroo Island for a much needed break now. Cheers and all the best to my readers and I'll see you on the other side!
Here's part 2 of a film-by-film exploration of some of the best art inspired by, promoting and celebrating the work of David Cronenberg. Last time we started off his filmography with Crimes of the Future, Shivers, Rabid and The Brood.
Now focus your thoughts and try not to lose your head, because this time we're concentrating on Scanners...
First off, a typically insightful alternative poster from Silver Ferox, featuring the striking work of scanner/artist Benjamin Pierce:
A graphic and lurid interpretation of Scanners' most iconic moment from Aaron Crawford:
Sam Wolfe Connelly's luminous artwork for Mondo's vinyl soundtrack. The companion piece to last post's The Brood OST cover art. This is what you see right before your veins rupture, your eyes liquefy and your head explodes:
The pick of the bunch this time is Connor Willumsen's inspired work for Criterion's blu ray. The cover evokes the agonising madness of life as a scanner without the soothing blocking effects of Ephemerol:
ConSec scanner's gonna blow! I must remind you that the scanning experience is usually a painful one:
Kim Obrist. Her child. Her unborn child scanned me:
Cameron Vale defends himself:
...from Daryl Revok, psychic killer:
Dr. Paul Ruth. I will show you now that it can be a source of great power:
For the edification of all non-local War Boys and Girls: witness the unstoppable momentum of George Miller's War Rig! Fanging it through the gates of Valhalla, all mediocre schlangers in its path are annihilated!
Miller's juggernaut of art and action utterly destroyed our Academy (AACTA) Awards this week, taking home best film, director, cinematography, editing, sound, score, production design and visual fx. Aside from the fact that I love the movie, this is great news because it speaks to the maturity of the Australian Film Institute. Last year the AACTAs were dominated by three fantastic genre movies (The Babadook, Predestination and The Rover), and it's to the AFI's credit that for the second year in a row they're willing to acknowledge the importance of the oft-maligned genres of sci-fi and horror. Bravo to them, and congrats to everyone who worked on Mad Max: Fury Road. What a lovely day!
Born under the sign of the four bars, creepy crawling and screeching forth from Lovecraft's hometown, Latishia's Skull Drawing have arrived to corrode your synapses and peel the paint right off your walls.
As much as I love them, it's fair to say that other Flag infused bands like Annihilation Time, It's Casual and Rational Animals have sometimes been a bit too slavish in their Ginn/Dukowski worship. So this trio's approach is refreshing, using those now all-too-familiar sounds as a mere jumping off point into a deep, nasty, acidic pool of their own making. Not unlike Gay Kiss' second album in that way. LSD's demo is the one to beat right now, the most devastating hardcore release I've heard in months. Debut LP out sometime next year on Iron Lung.
Back in 1986 Barbara Crampton stripped off for a Playboy pictorial that was as much a sly bit of promo for Empire Pictures as it was a showcase for the young actress. The shoot is loaded with props, costumes and monsters from the studio's back catalogue, all strewn around Crampton in hilariously haphazard fashion.
The thing that makes this such a deliciously weird bit of '80s horror ephemera is that the whole thing was basically a promo piece for Stuart Gordon's From Beyond. Riding high from his success the previous year with Gordon's Re-Animator, Charles Band was obviously keen to promote his talented new director, as well as the film's sexy 27-year-old ingénue. The pictorial's accompanying text forgoes the mag's usual fluff in favour of a surprising amount of detail on Re-Animator's critical success, as well as the freshly released From Beyond (there's even a mention of Gordon and his roots in the Chicago theatre scene). I imagine that Band swung a deal with Playboy, whereby the magazine scored Crampton's services on the cheap in exchange for the publicity.
If you're into Stuart Gordon and '80s practical creature fx, this is where things get interesting. Among the aforementioned bits and pieces loaned from Band's studio (most obviously some of the titular beasties from 1985's Ghoulies), the pictorial features a number of items rescued from the set of Empire's second Lovecraft shocker. Although a bit the worse for wear (having perhaps been shipped back to the States from the film's Italian shoot, but it seems more likely that these pics were taken in Rome), you can spot some of John Carl Buechler's eldritch creations for From Beyond lurking in the background of a few shots. Having been worked on by some of the industry's greats (Buechler; Henenlotter regular Gabe Bartalos; Mark Shostrom; pre-KNB era Greg Nicotero and Robert Kurtzman), it's kind of sad to see these legendary bits of puppetry and/or animatronics reused in such a tawdry way. On the other hand, given the amount of sex that Gordon, Brian Yuzna and Dennis Paoli shoehorned into their Lovecraft flicks, maybe it's completely appropriate that this stuff ended up in the pages of a skin rag.
For those interested in the text, I've included scans of the original pages from the December '86 Playboy (Brooke Shields on the cover, and a bizarre feature on "The Women of 7-Eleven").
Having definitely seen better days, this appears to be the busted up remains of the Dr. Pretorius monster, seen here smoking Hugh Hefner's pipe (probably not really Hugh Hefner's pipe):
Looming over Barbara here is the winged beast (actually Pretorius in his final form) that twists Crawford Tillinghast's head off during the finale:
This is the actual bondage gear that Crampton's Dr. Katherine McMichaels strutted around in whilst in her heightened state of (Resonator-induced) arousal:
The Pretorius Resonator itself, minus its middle forks:
Whose prosthetic head is that? Crampton's from a very brief shot of her being "kissed" by Pretorius? Or Carolyn Purdy-Gordon's from an unused fx shot of her death scene? Re-Animator or another movie entirely? I'd love to know:
And what movies are this scaly demon and frazzled corpse from?
The Ghoulies, just chillin' with their new friend Babs:
The funny thing about this pictorial is that I just can't imagine anyone successfully pleasuring themselves to it. The presence of the monsters is just too distracting and off-putting, and these shots are the oddest of the bunch. Tarantino would be outraged: