Monday, July 30, 2012

Deep Red (1975)

also known as Profondo Rosso (original Italian title) and The Hatchet Murders
Dario Argento
1975 • 126 Minutes • 2.35 : 1 • Italy
Color • Italian • Anchor Bay (U.S. Release)

Cast:  David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Gabriele Lavia, Macha Meril, Eros Pagni
Screenplay:  Dario Argento, Bernardino Zapponi
Producer: Salvatore Argento
Cinematography: Luigi Kuveiller

Awards & Honors

The Essential Films
100 Essential Horror Movies - #24

You think you're telling the truth, but in fact... you're telling only your version of the truth. It happens to me all the time.


At a public demonstration of her abilities, a psychic picks up the thoughts of murderer in the audience, and later that night becomes a victim.  Marcus Daly, an English pianist on holiday in Italy, gets involved in investigating the gruesome murder.  Every time he gets close to an answer, another murder takes place.  Daly is soon the target of the vicious serial killer.


Giallo is a subgenre of Italian thriller films, with their focus being on brutal violence, crime, mystery and a touch of eroticism.  Director Dario Argento made himself a career on such films, including The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and Suspiria.  Dargento doesn't shy away from the violence, he lingers on brutality, and usually against the backdrop of intricate sets and stark lighting as is the case with Deep Red.  The graphic imagery is always off-putting, but one can't help but admire the way the blood red is used to paint the picture he's trying to create.  Some of the camera work is truly gorgeous to look at, thanks to cinematographer Luigi Kuveiller.  It may perhaps be the best looking horror film ever made.

The investigation aspect of the story is the weakest.  It takes too long to set up, however once it finally does get going it the story-telling sucks you in.  As bodies begin to pile up around Daly, the viewer finds themselves worrying for his danger constantly.  The suspense of the films comes from Daly not always being a step behind the killer (as with most serial killer movies), but a step ahead as he continues to uncover clues shortly before the killer strikes.  The big reveal of the killer at the end is satisfying, even though a clever viewer could have foreseen it.  As a whole, the film works as a suspenseful thriller.  It also works as a horror/slasher film... you can see traces of it in many slasher flicks of the 70s and 80s.

The opening shot of the film is of a shadowy figure stabbing and killing another figure while a child's tune is played throughout, resulting in an unsettling effect.  The child's tune resonates throughout the film, usually serving as a leitmotif for murder.  Also, speaking of music, the film's score was composed by Italian rock band Goblin.  Their score is nearly as chilling as John Carpenter's infamous Halloween tune.

Dargento removed 26 minutes of the film for the American release of the film, therefore multiple versions of the film now exist.  Below is the original 126 minute Italian cut:

Arnold Schwarzenegger's Essential Films

Today is the Governator's (people still call him that, right?) birthday!  On July 30, 1947 the man who would become (arguably) the biggest action movie hero of all time came into this world and we here at the Essential Films would like to take a minute to celebrate him.  After a side career in politics running the state of California, Arnie is showing no signs of slowing down at age 65.  He pops up in this summer's machofest The Expendables 2 plus he's got a few movies in the can.  So let's take a look at some of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Essential Films.

(Note, this is not a countdown. Films are listed in chronological order.)

The Long Goodbye (1973)
Contrary to popular belief, Arnold's first film appearance was not in Pumping Iron, it was actually Hercules in New York. However, rather than subject you to that atrocity, I'll point you to this: Arnold appeared as a henchman in Robert Altman's Philip Marlowe detective noir.  It's a small role, for sure, but true Arnold fans will get a kick out of it.

Conan The Barbarian (1982)
If movie audiences didn't know who Arnold was in 1982, after Conan The Barbarian was released that summer he certainly became a household name.  John Milius cast him as the titular Cimmerian who crushes his enemies, sees them driven before him and hears the lamentation of their women.  To this day, still the most faithful and well-respected adaptation of the character.

The Terminator (1984)
From titular hero to titular villain.  Arnold donned the black leather jacket and shades for the first of three times in 1984's groundbreaking (and for James Cameron, career-making) sci-fi action classic.  Arnold's portrayal of the unstoppable killing machine can be discounted by some as (pun-intended) robotic, but this blogger disagrees.  Arnold's Terminator is a chilling and terrifying movie monster.

Predator (1987)
Another sci-fi/action/horror classic from the 80s.  Only this time Arnold isn't the hunter, he's the hunted.  Arnold and a squadron of tough guy commandos  navigate through an unforgiving jungle as an unseen threat takes them out one-by-one.  Finally only Arnold is left standing to defend himself from this stalker from the stars.

Total Recall (1990)
Based on the Phillip K. Dick story "We Can Remember it for You Wholesale," Total Recall is getting a big-budget remake due out in a few weeks starring Colin Farrell.  And while the movie does look impressive, Arnold played the sci-fi hero with the questionable memories first... on Mars no less.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1992)
Back in the cybernetic skin again, Arnold reprised his role as a T-800 in Cameron's record-breaking sequel.  This time Arnold is the hero, protecting John Connor and his mother, Sarah, from the murderous and even more unstoppable T-1000.  T2 may not only be Schwarzenegger's best film, but it's easily one of the best action movies ever made.  It also sits very comfortably in our Top 100 films of all time.

Hasta la vista, baby.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Trailer: The Wachowski's "Cloud Atlas"

From the creators of the Matrix trilogy comes the film adaptation of David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas.



Superman: The Man of Steel Teaser Trailer

In case you missed it at your Dark Knight Rises showing, here is the teaser trailer for next summer’s Man of Steel.

You get a tease of Henry Cavill in the suit with a Russell Crowe (Jor-El) voice over.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

FORCED PERSPECTIVE, Ep.21 – BATMAN, Part 3: The Downfall (w/Special Guests BIG D, MR. EDDIE, HAMZA, & HEADCASE)

Riddle me this….riddle me that…why do these movies…suck so freakin’ bad? That’s the question that FORCED PERSPECTIVE, Episode 21 tries to answer. Join SportsGuy515 and Adolfo along with a PACKED roundtable that includes Big D, Mr. Eddie, Hamza, and Headcase as they continue with Part 3 of FP’s BATMAN Retrospective, where they get into IN-DEPTH discussions on the films every Bat fan would love to forget – Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. Plus, the gang bridges the gap between two BATMAN eras with a discussion on the “Batman” films that COULD HAVE BEEN…ALL THIS AND SO MUCH MORE…OVER 3 HOURS OF BAT-TALK. DOWNLOAD/STREAM NOW!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

FORCED PERSPECTIVE, Ep.20 – BATMAN, Part 2: The Animated Universe (w/Special Guests MR. EDDIE, HAMZA, and HEADCASE)

What do Mark Hamill, giant robot spiders, fishstick TV dinners, and donuts have in common? They are all featured in Part 2 of FORCED PERSPECTIVE’s 4-part BATMAN retrospective, focusing on Batman’s animated film history. Join SportsGuy515 and Adolfo, along with Mr. Eddie, Hamza (b.k.a. Dave), and MC Headcase (subbing in for Big D) as they discuss an often overlooked chapter of Batman’s cinematic history, featuring classics such as Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero, and Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, among others. Plus, Batman: The Animated Seriesmemories, the current state of comics, and SportsGuy515 makes a HUGE ANNOUNCEMENT regarding the show’s future. ALMOST 3 HOURS of Bat-talk.

Batman - The Complete 1943 Serial

Monday, July 9, 2012

Freaks (1932)

Tod Browning
1932 • 64 Minutes • 1.37 : 1 • United States
Black & White • English • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Cast:  Wallace Ford, Leila Hyams, Olga Baclanova, Rosco Ates, Henry Victor
Screenplay:  Clarence Aaron Robbins
Producers: Tod Browning, Harry Rapf, Irving Thalberg
Cinematography: Merritt B. Gerstad

Awards and Honors

The Essential Films

National Film Preservation Board
Entered in the National Film Registry - 1994

They're going to make you one of them, my peacock! 


A melodramatic tale of love, deceit, treachery and murder... all taking place in the backdrop of a traveling circus freak show.  Hans the dwarf has just inherited a fortune from his father, when suddenly the beautiful trapeze artist Cleopatra takes an interest in him.  Together with the strong man Hercules, Cleopatra hatches a plan to marry Hans and kill him to inherit the money.  The other circus freaks see right through the evil trapeze artist... and they wish to make her one of them, permanently. 


A controversial horror film

It's often argued that Freaks is not a horror movie. It is a complex human drama, and a tragic one at that. And I agree. It is a drama. But it IS also a horror film.  At least, it was certainly a horror film in the 1930s.  What makes this film unique is that Tod Browning used actual circus freaks in the film as actors.  Browning probably got the idea because of his travels as a young man as circus performer.  Screenings of the original 90-minute cut of the film (much of the film was cut at the studio's insistence and these scenes are considered lost) caused such horror and disgust in people, one woman even threatened to sue MGM because she claimed the film caused her to miscarry.  The film feature such blunt depictions of the circus sideshow (including a pair of conjoined twins and Prince Randian the Human Torso) that it caused audiences extreme discomfort.  Because of this extreme controversy, the film was even banned in the United Kingdom for decades.

The end of a career

Tod Browning's career never recovered from this film.  The director the famed Universal Pictures classic monster movie Dracula made only a few other films following Freaks.  Not only was the film ahead of its time and audiences, it was also a commercial failure.  All of this led to Browning's career being thrown off track.  Studios failed to trust him, and few of his projects were greenlit from that point forward.

A sideshow on film

Sideshows are pretty much extinct in modern society.  The idea of exploiting people's deformities for financial gain is an unpopular idea today.  The film seemingly doesn't take this position.  While watching the film, it takes great care as to not show the freaks as... well, freaks, but as people who are just trying to survive and get by.  It shows them performing everyday tasks like getting dressed, eating, shaving, lighting a cigarette... and more abstract concepts like falling in love.  While shunned from the outside world, the freaks have a strong and loyal community.  In the infamous "gobble, gobble" scene, they are accepting the new bride of Hans, the beautiful Cleopatra into their group. Because she's beautiful, SHE's the outsider, and they accept her as one of their own.  When she spurns them, they repay her in kind.  The film is very profound in this matter.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

FORCED PERSPECTIVE, Ep.19 – BATMAN, Part 1: “Origins, Camp, and Rebirth” (w/Special Guests BIG D, MR. EDDIE, and HAMZA)

With 16 DAYS left until the release of “The Dark Knight Rises”, is proud to present another Special Edition of FORCED PERSPECTIVE, chronicling the on-screen history of BATMAN. Join SportsGuy515 & Adolfo, along with returning guest co-hosts Big D, Mr. Eddie, and Hamza (b.k.a. Dave) as they begin their journey by examining Batman’s early years, including the 1940s serials, as well as the infamous “Batman” TV series, which spawned the 1966 film, before discussing Batman’s cinematic rebirth in Tim Burton’s 1989 film, as well as its 1992 sequel, “Batman Returns”. OVER 2 HOURS of BAT-TALK. DOWNLOAD/STREAM NOW!

Monday, July 2, 2012

FORCED PERSPECTIVE, Ep.18 – Avenging the Kingdom

FORCED PERSPECTIVE is back to normal this week as SportsGuy515 and Adolfo catch up on the latest summer flicks to hit the big screen – The Avengers, Men in Black 3, Snow White and the Huntsman, Prometheus, Rock of Ages, and Moonrise Kingdom. Plus, in this week’s DVD/Blu-ray of the Week, the duo review the 1995 hit, Mortal Kombat. All this and so much more…DOWNLOAD/STREAM NOW!