For this, our final Silent Sunday, I am once more digging into the history of German cinema for a delightful treat from 1920. This is The Cabinet of Dr Caligari.
I could go into depth about how this film is a surrealist nightmare that delves into insanity and still causes discomfort with its startling visuals. If you have never seen this film and consider yourself a film connoisseur, you will be glad to watch this. German cinema gave us the horror film, and this is a prime example of how and why. With no real “monster” to speak of this film delivers a deep seated terror that few modern films can surpass.
Click on the cover below to obtain a copy and read below for the official synopsis.
Synopsis: In 1920, one brilliant movie jolted the postwar masses and catapulted the movement known as German Expressionism into film history. That movie was The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, a plunge into the mind of insanity that severs all ties with the rational world. Director Robert Wiene and a visionary team of designers crafted a nightmare realm in which light, shadow and substance are abstracted, a world in which a demented doctor and a carnival sleepwalker perpetrate a series of ghastly murders in a small community. This authoritative edition of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a 4K restoration scanned from the (mostly) preserved camera negative at the German Federal Film Archive.
Hello all. This is our last Saturday before the 31st, and I wanted to cover one of my favorite films. It is one of the first atomic monster movies and the first to feature giant insects. The film is titled simply Them!.
As a kid, I adored this film and still enjoy watching it and exposing others to it. The film stars James Whitmore and James Arness as lawmen, who stumble upon an incredible discovery. Atomic radiation has caused an ant colony to grow to gigantic proportions. This film actually taught me a lot of things that I would never have known about ants and covers the science accurately. It also claims Oscar-nominated special effects.
Fans of classic giant monster movies have to see this one. If you grew up watching old horror movies on Saturday nights, I guarantee that you have seen this classic. Click on the cover below and read on for the official synopsis from Amazon.com.
Synopsis: A landmark movie about giant radiation-mutated ants with Oscar®-nominated effects and an epic struggle in the drains beneath Los Angeles, Them! only gets better with age.
Today, I’m straying a little bit from things that have borrowed from H.P. Lovecraft, not because I ran out of things, I’m sure we’ll see at least one more Lovecraftian inspired entry before the end of the season. I did it because there are a lot of good little nuggets of weirdness that popped up on video store shelves in the 1980s, and they deserve to be remembered (well some of them do anyway).
Today, I bring to you The Stuff. Have you ever felt that the horror market was missing a food-driven plotline? If so, this is the film for you. The Stuff is a creamy, filling dessert that is outselling ice cream and has no calories. As you can imagine the ice cream giants are unhappy with this turn of events and hire a industrial saboteur to find out how The Stuff is made and shut down the operation. As you might guess, it isn’t as simple as shutting down a factory or stealing a secret recipe. You’ll never look at yogurt or ice cream the same way again.
Click below on the cover to grab a copy and read on for the official synopsis.
Synopsis: Amalgamated Dairies hires David Rutherford, an FBI man turned industrial saboteur, to investigate a popular new product called “The Stuff,” a new dessert product that is blowing ice cream sales out of the water. Nobody knows how it’s made or what’s in it, but people are lining up to buy it. It’s got a delicious flavor to die for.
When you think of the frozen landscapes that can be the setting for a horror story, most horror fans will go to John Carpenter’s The Thing or H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness. Both of these are great examples of how to use the isolation and strange white vistas to craft a compelling tale. I’m also willing to wager that most of you are aware of them. Today, I wanted to bring you a different movie that is very much in the vein of these giants of horror.
Harbinger Down is a film that was born from 2011’s The Thing (the prequel). Amalgamated Dynamics was hired to do most of the special effects work on the film. By the time the film was released, most of their work had been replaced by CGI in post-production. The effects team posted the footage of their effects on Youtube, where it received great response. The team started a Kickstarter campaign to make their own film, utilizing their own practical effects. It was the most successful scifi/horror Kickstarter campaign at the time.
This film is great for fans of practical effects in monster movies. I enjoyed the cast and felt that the film made the most out of a meager budget for a film of this scope. Lance Henriksen stars as the Captain of a crab boat that dredges up something nasty from the Soviet space program. If you haven’t seen this film, but love Carpenter’s The Thing, then I advise you to check out this movie. You can click the cover below to pick up a copy and read on for the official synopsis.
Synopsis: A group of grad students have booked passage on the crabbing boat Harbinger to study the effects of global warming on a pod of Belugas in the Bering Sea. When the ship’s crew dredges up a recently thawed piece of old Soviet space wreckage, things get downright deadly.
This is the last Werewolf Wednesday before Halloween. It was tough for me to settle on a film or book to post about today. Should I go classic with and do Universal’s The Wolf Man, or maybe do international and recommend one of Paul Naschy’s many werewolf films. Instead, I decided to do a film that is just a lot of fun. The recommendation for today is Dog Soldiers.
Soldiers vs. werewolves, ’nuff said. No? This film is absolutely awesome and the best werewolf film made in the last 15 years. It pits a group of soldiers (who were being used as bait) against a pack of werewolves that reside in a secluded valley in the country side. The Special Forces that were going to trap the werewolves as they hunted our soldiers were decimated. Now, the soldiers with one of the locals have taken refuge in a secluded farmhouse to withstand the onslaught awaiting during the night. It’s Aliens and The Alamo, with werewolves.
The performances in this film are great. Each of the characters is well-acted, and you will grow attached to them. You never see a full transformation on screen, which is good. I image that they did not have the budget to do a good practical effects transformation. Neil Marshall (The Descent, Doomsday, Games of Thrones) made his directorial debut in this film. I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed all of the projects that he’s made since this, and I quickly fell in love with this movie.
You can click on the cover below and read the official synopsis.
Synopsis: A group of soldiers dispatched to the Scottish Highlands on special training maneuvers face their biggest fears after they run into Captain Ryan: the only survivor of a Special Ops team that was literally torn to pieces. Ryan refuses to disclose his mission even though whoever attacked his men might be hungry for seconds. Help arrives in the form of local girl who shelters them in a deserted farmhouse deep in the forest…but when they realize that they are surrounded by a pack of blood-lusting werewolves, it’s apparent their nightmare has just begun!
I realize that I did an entire week of classics, but today’s film deserves a mention at any time. Even if you have never seen this film, you are very aware of the monster, in fact, I would bet that you know it as the definitive version. Today, I bring to you Frankenstein. Universal started their monster legacy with Dracula with Frankenstein closely on its heels. Most copies of the original version have the filmed opening by Edward Van Sloan, wherein he warns the audience. This was done because during the original screening, people fainted in their seats.
This film is easily a classic and deserves its iconic status. We have already covered The Bride of Frankenstein here. While the sequel is an amazing piece of cinema, it is a different beast than the original. In this first film, we see the driven doctor wanting so badly to play with the forces of life itself. After his success, he is ashamed of the violent nature of his creation and chains the creature. Boris Karloff’s performance as the monster, the pitiable beast shunned by its maker, is what you should watch this for. From his earliest moments, seeking sunshine and warmth, to his last frightened frames within a windmill, Karloff brings a sense of pathos to a monster that is more than just a horrible exterior.
Click below to pick up the entire Legacy collection featuring all 8 films of the original series. The official synopsis is listed below the cover.
Synopsis: Boris Karloff is the screen’s most memorable creature in the story of Dr. Frankenstein, who tampers with life and death when he pieces together salvaged body parts to create a human monster.
Good Monday to you. I realize that this must sound like a Scooby Doo episode, but I assure you that it is not. For this monster Monday, I went back to the 90s and pulled The Relic.
Believe me when I say that the movie hardly resembles the book at all, but this is a fun movie. It’s set in the Museum of Natural History in Chicago, which provides an excellent backdrop for the Kothoga to stalk and kill. It’s days before the opening of the superstition exhibit and the Kothoga statue is on display. The real creature is actually stalking the grounds as well, using the subbasements and underground tunnels to traverse the labyrinth like museum. On the night of the opening exhibit, the Kothoga strikes and manages to cause the security system to shut down, trapping many of the guests (including the Mayor) inside, with 2 of the investigating officers and one evolutionary biologist who uncovers the origin of the monster. This film has a good feel to it, and I enjoy the characters, including the Kothoga. I assure you, that you’ll never look at the musuem the same way again.
Be forewarned, this movie does make use of mid-90s CGI, which did not age well. The filmmakers were smart enough though to also use a great deal of practical effects and shadows to keep the monster from being fully visible. For fans of creature features, this one is a must. Click the image below to grab a copy and read on for the official synopsis.
Synopsis: Come in—if you dare. The opening-night gala for a new exhibit at Chicago ‘s natural history museum is under way. But be advised: something terrif ying wants to make sure no one ever leaves. Penelope Ann Miller, Tom Si zemore, Linda Hunt and James Whitmore star in this effects-packed shocke r that gives haunted-house movies a terrific new setting. And the non-hu man star (brought to head-ripping life by Jurassic Park Oscar® winner St an Winston) is something no creature fan can let slip by. “The creature can hold its own with the Alien,” writes Chicago Tribune critic Gene Si skel. “When the last reel begins…the special effect is truly awesome.” Let the panic begin.