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Dead By Words

Love horror movies and TV? So do we. Walk down our track and enter our cabin of horrors…

Month

November 2016

Review: The Driller Killer (1979)

 

One of the most infamous ‘video nasties’, Abel Ferrara’s debut film is misunderstood – many originally judged it on its video artwork alone (the cover showing a close-up of a man being drilled in the head + loadddds of blood) but it’s so much more than a splatter. It’s an arthouse exploitation film essentially – low budget but aesthetically appealing, with way out performances and some really kooky characters. It’s also one of the best punk movies ever, all kudos to the film’s house band, Tony Coca-Cola and The Roosters, who set the tone; as the movie’s opening credits state, ‘This Film Should Be Played Loud’ – that applies to the drill sounds AND the punk rock.

Ferrara directs himself as New York artist Reno, who lives with two beautiful women in a boho lifestyle but is on the edge due to taking his time on his next masterpiece, the bills coming in, the punk band practising downstairs and a growing obsession with power tools. As his rage builds, his visions of lashing out at victims with a drill also take over and he explodes in a violent rampage.

The influences of Driller Killer are everywhere, from American Psycho to Maniac. Ferrara’s performance alone is extraordinary and there’s a (really) dark humour to his rampage. We also found ourselves tapping our feet to all the punk tracks. This is late 70s New York at its finest and grittiest, and it’s a whole lot of grimy fun.

The Driller Killer is released on DVD, Blu-Ray and Dual Format on Monday 28 November from Arrow Video. 

GORE RATING: 4/5

SCARES: 1/5

DISTURBIA: 4/5

RATING: 8/10

Watch it for: Abel Ferrara’s performance

Watch out for: A drilling surprise at a bus stop 

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We love – American Horror Story: Roanoke (2016)

American Horror Story’s sixth season is as terrifying as ever, with a clever spin on reality TV and an episode six twist which will have you cheering (and screaming).

Starting off all Amityville likeeeeee and cleverly reuniting the tour de force of Sarah Paulson and Cuba Gooding Jr. following their opposing turns on American Crime Story: The People v. O.J,  we follow married couple Shelby and Matt who move to a spooky house in the woods – the site of the lost colony of Roanoke. Sarah and Cuba are actually playing two actors playing Shelby and Matt – oh so self-reflexive! – as the real couple (Lily Rabe and Andre Holland) recount their horrific ordeal at the house on a documentary hit show. Confused? Stay with us…

As Shelby and Matt are haunted and tortured by the lost colony, led by The Butcher (played by Kathy Bates – so she’s playing an actress playing a ghost!), the documentary seems to end in episode six of Roanoke. And that’s where the real fun begins.

AHS Hotel was a fantastic hoot and Freakshow good fun also (the clown – uggggh) but Roanoke delivers some real scares and jumps. Episodes six and seven nearly had us crying and we’re horror pros!

Ryan Murphy yet again proves AHS has got legs and we want this series to run and run.

Review: The Neon Demon(2016)

Nicolas Winding Refn once again proves he’s one of the most exciting contemporary directors out there with the beautiful and thoroughly bonkers The Neon Demon. It’s a tale – actually, a fairy tale – of how LA eats up pretty young things and spits them out, as Elle Fanning’s wide eyed 16 year old Jesse appears on the modelling scene and becomes the one that everyone wants. Jesse realises the power that she holds over her fellow models, the men who cast and photograph her and the catwalk, transforming from the Goldilocks/Snow White/Alice character that she is into what everyone fears.

It’s a visual and aural feast, with the spellbinding soundtrack by Cliff Martinez full of fairy tale like music. LA is seen as a mythical land, one where fortunes can be made or you’re devoured, with Jesse exploring the weird and wonderful scenery and characters like she’s just fallen down the rabbit hole.

And then we have Suspiria. NWR is definitely referencing Argento and giallo in many of the scenes and shots, and there’s a fair bit of witchcraft and symbolism on offer. Jena Malone’s Ruby, a scary make-up artist who does bad things with corpses, befriends Jesse but her motives are suspect…her occult tattoos may just give her away.

Act III is where things go truly off the wall as Jesse is lured to Ruby’s house, following an encounter with Keanu Reeves’ vile motel manager – the worst motel manager since Norman Bates. There’s some WTF moments – and a couple of scenes reinforce you may just be watching NWR’s erotic dream – and we then lead up to an especially unpleasant ending. It may put you off your supper.

NWR is great at making you revisit immediately what you’ve just watched – we did it with Only God Forgives. His films stay with you for some time after you’ve seen them and then you realise that’s he’s pretty much a genius. The Neon Demon is as disposable as the industry it portrays, but by golly it’s beautiful rubbish. And like all good fairy tales, they’re horrific.

GORE RATING: 2/5

SCARES: 2/5

DISTURBIA: 4/5

RATING: 9/10

Watch it for: It’s like nothing you’ll have seen before. Astounding 

Watch out for: I’ve got to get Jesse out of me…

 

31 Days of Halloween – Day 31 – Halloween (1978)

John Carpenter’s Halloween is, of course, the number one Halloween horror movie. Carpenter introduces us to Michael Myers as a six year old, who kills his sister in Haddonfield, Illinois. Committed to Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, he escapes aged 21 to steal an iconic mask and kill again in his home town. He doesn’t bank on tough cookie Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis).

Carpenter is the king of the wide angle shot, with Laurie and her high school friends walking the streets of Haddonfield not knowing that Myers is peeping around the corner at them. We’ve also got the tremendous shot of Myers after Laurie in the ‘perfect American dream house’ – see also Nancy’s home in Elm Street and all the houses copied in It Follows and Scream – where we think his threat may have gone,  but then he pops up again in the background. With Myers we know he’s always there, and even when he’s down he’s not out.

With Jamie Lee Curtis in her debut film, she’s also the original Final Girl and she kicks ass. Add in Donald Pleasence as Myers’ unsettling psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis and Carpenter’s haunting score, and you’ll never be able to look a Halloween pumpkin in the eye again.

BEST THING ABOUT HALLOWEEN: 31 days of horror movie watching!

GORE RATING: 4/5

SCARES: 5/5

DISTURBIA: 4/5

TOTAL HALLOWEEN VIEWING RATING: 10/10

Watch it for: THE iconic Halloween movie

Watch out for: Laurie finds her friends ‘upstairs’

We really hope you’ve enjoyed being with us for 31 days in October – see you again next year!

31 Days of Halloween – Day 30 – The Shining (1980)

The Shining – for us – is second in line as the ultimate Halloween horror movie. Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece is beautiful, with sweeping interior shots of the isolated Overlook Hotel, as well as being genuinely terrifying. There’s quite a few scenes where we whimper. On repeat viewings.

Based on Stephen King’s novel, caretaker Jack Torrence (an amazing, amazinnggggggg Jack Nicholson) arrives at the hotel with his family to take care of it over its closed winter period. Son Danny (Danny Lloyd) feels bad vibes – if bad vibes can be constituted as a river of blood coming out of the hotel’s elevator door – and can also communicate telepathically with head chef Dick (Scatman Crothers). The previous hotel caretaker killed his family and then shot himself in the head, and it seems like the hotel is still holding onto those memories and ghosts – plus has a plan for Jack and his family.

Whether it’s the spooky twins – ‘Come and play with us Danny, forever…and ever…and ever….’ – through to the horrors behind the door of room 237, The Shining has iconic horror scenes which stay with you. Some of its best scenes however are the Kubrick classics of long, sideways-shooting tracking shots, with Jack in the hotel’s Gold Room meeting the ghostly, posh barman Lloyd (Joe Turkel).

Nicholson conveys his confusion, terror and ‘possession’ with just the raise of his eyebrows, whilst poor Shelley Duvall as his wife Wendy is really put through it – in the film and on set too.

Once you’ve seen The Shining, it’ll have you forever. A bit like the Overlook.

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY: *smashes typewriter*

GORE RATING: 5/5

SCARES: 5/5

DISTURBIA: 5/5

TOTAL HALLOWEEN VIEWING RATING: 10/10

Watch it for: Kubrick’s vision and Jack Nicholson. Plus it’s one of the greatest horror films ever made

Watch out for: REDRUM! REDRUM! REDRUM! REDRUM! 

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