This weeks horror news round up comes from Grace at Film Overload!
Frightfest hit ‘The Columnist’ sees a March release
The 2020 Frightfest Film Festival saw a lot of hits make their debut, however one that stood out from the bunch is The Columnist (Ivo van Aart). This slightly satirised tale of vengeance tells the story of Femke Boot (Katja Herbers), an established newspaper columnist who is suffering from a terrible case of writer’s block.
But, her life soon gains back some speed after she exacts brutal and bloody revenge on her abusive tormentors when their online harassment pushes her over the edge. Soon audiences will get a taste of this aggressive tale as The Columnist is lined up for a brief theatrical run and a direct VOD release in March.
Latest trailer for Paradise Cove promises a thrilling excursion into the unhinged
The highly anticipated upcoming horror Paradise Cove shows Mena Suvari and Todd Grinnell battle it out with a deranged woman who unknowingly lives underneath their floor boards. Suvari and Grinnel star as a married couple who move to a luxurious Malibu residence to renovate a disheveled house, however their harmony is soon disrupted when a mysterious woman makes herself known. The trailer pays homage to nostalgic 1990s cat and mouse home thrillers. This psychological thrill is set to be released via VOD mid-February.
Shudder premiers a total of 11 original films across 11 weeks
The go-to horror streaming service Shudder announces its plans to premiere a whopping 11 films all within 11 weeks. Hunted, The Queen of Black Magic, A Nightmare Wakes, After Midnight, Shook, The Dark & the Wicked, Lucky, Stay Out of the F**king Attic, Slaxx, Koko-di Koko-da and Violation are all set to hit our screens very soon.
More Importantly, these films aim to present audiences with a refreshing hit of originality, with each film representing independent filmmaking and deriving from over five different counties. Shudder has been churning out hits for a while, but 2020 saw the release of Host, Impetigore and Anything for Jackson; all which saw critical and audience acclaim. Fingers crossed for the same success with the new releases.
Eli Roth’s History of Horror renewed for a third season
Eli Roth is the director of horror smash hits including Cabin Fever, Hostel and Green Inferno. With his experience in the genre comes a distinct level of knowledge and expertise, and it seems that his voyage in presenting an unnerving study into horror’s most iconic monsters and subtopics has only just started.
History of Horror’s has been officially renewed for a third season; both the first and second season guest starred a plethora of horror masterminds including scholars, filmmakers and award winning actors. Although it’s highly entertaining to watch our favourite stars discuss the grisly details of beloved films, one aspect that takes center stage in every episode is the discussion regarding the rooted societal and cultural repercussions that horror has.
Despite the details surrounding the new season being rather hushed, we can be certain that season three will be the most haunting and darkest yet.
Willy’s Wonderland showcases villainous puppets battling a chaotic Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage has become a modern day horror extraordinaire, with his roles in films such as Mom and Dad (2017), Mandy (2018) and Colour Out of Space (2020) showcasing him in the most disorderly brutal form.
But now we get to see Cage in his most wild role yet. Willy’s Wonderland is an action packed horror directed by Kevin Lewis. The film follows Cage as a mysterious janitor who works the night-shift at a once thriving entertainment establishment. But, when the centre’s animatronics come to life he must fight for his life in the bloodiest of battles. Willy’s Wonderland is set for a February release via VOD.
This weeks article comes via Grace from Film Overload, you can check out more of her work here.
Anthology horror can force a hellish crusade of amalgamated visions to ultimately create a blended film artfully formed to deliver a starkly dark piece. Although this seems like a complex myriad to achieve, Dark Whispers (Volume 1) smoothly executes a faultless entry into the anthology horror terrain.
The Australian film consists of ten chilling chapters from across the entire country. With an anthology framework it can be difficult to capture an entire short story from beginning to end without being too brief, yet Dark Whispers (Vol 1) overarching framework allows for each story to shine equally, regardless of its length and overall strength as a standalone piece.
This framing has a simple premise, but it’s an age old tale that works seamlessly. Creator and director Megan Riakos presents ‘The Book of Dark Whispers’. When Clara unearths her mothers secret ‘Book of Dark Whispers’ she discovers that each page contains a cryptically twisted story that promises the most chilling scares.
One of the most noteworthy components across the entire premise is that each and every segment is directed by a female filmmaker. Of course this fact holds bountiful promises within its own right, but to have this revolutionary concept be brought into the world of horror holds a whole achievement on an impressive accord.
Amongst the cast are Ed Speleers (Downton Abbey) and Anthony LaPaglia (Without a Trace) who feature in the segment ‘The Ride’, a darkly comic thriller which was backed by the BBC and Asher Keddie (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) who is terrorised by a stalker in the chapter ‘The Intruder’.
Each haunting chapter is woven to express equal measures of devilish hope, delusions and grief, all tied together in a horrific labyrinth. In one particular segment ‘Birthday Girl’ (Angie Black), we see a nervous woman enter into an elevator from hell. Her nerves are only heightened when a somewhat innocent young girl enters the lift with her, however as each floor descends, a parade of questions are thrown upon the woman until she is left in a bumbling mess of mysterious guilt and grief.
The second segment ‘The Man Who Caught a Mermaid’ (Kaitlin Tinker) is possibly one of the most interesting chapters to originate from the entire film. The short film follows a middle aged man with an unorthodox obsession over supposed mermaids. The mockery from fellow townsmen and his wife do not bother him in the slightest as he is entirely convinced that he will be the first person to capture a living breathing mermaid… or so he thinks?
Each chapter not only explores a different topic, some even delve into alternative forms of filmmaking. Gloomy Valentine (Isabel Peppard) uses stop motion animation to portray a rather emotive story following a lost soul attempting to remould her broken heart. Stop motion is not necessarily an unfamiliar technique within horror, but it is rare and more importantly it is very difficult to achieve a strong sense of horror when the audience cannot make that physical connection to the characters. Nevertheless, Gloomy Valentine manages to both tug on the heartstrings all the whilst maintaining a steady sense of creeping unease throughout.
Quite impressively Dark Whispers (Vol 1) was selected for a plethora of festivals, including Berlin Final Girls Film Festival and Cinefest Oz. And it’s no wonder why.
Dark Whispers (Vol 1) is a unique take on the anthology sub-genre that excitedly keeps audiences on the edge of their seat. An eclectic mix of short stories with something for all tastes, as long as those tastes are twisted!.
DARK WHISPERS (Volume 1), releasing on all major digital platforms across the UK and Australia on 25th January 2021.
When the rapidly successful In Search of Darkness (David A. Weiner, 2019) hit screens audiences were gripped by its engrossing take on eighties horror and critics were enthralled by the absorbing and ambitious love letter to what is possibly one of the greatest decades in horror. Thus, it’s no surprise that In Search of Darkness: Part II burst onto the scene with deserved appraisal.
After how much content was covered the first four and half hour entry, it bears the worry that Part II would just be a replica and repetitive. However, what we get instead is a more unique and refreshing film that delves into a variety of horror sub topics and a delightfully varied array of films that combined both well-known classics and some more obscure gems that thrived in the 1980s. The film relies heavily on reminiscence and a nostalgic sensibility, yet there is no bounding exclusivity that confines new spectators to the decade; in fact the film is almost an educative bible for those new to horror, acting as a vivacious horror encyclopaedia.
The four hour long runtime can be intimidating even for seasoned cinema fans, but the film uses cleverly placed sections to not only aid an easy digest for such a long runtime, but to also add depth to the surrounding contexts. As each year is discussed an additional associated topic is presented, with some of the highlighted subjects including the ever present ‘Cinema Horror Italiano- Giallo‘ and the ‘80s Italian Invasion’. Here, we are given a detailed depiction as to why Giallo cinema lingered throughout the decade and how the three maestros ‘Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava’ ruled in power, with their graphically horrifying and pathbreaking filmmaking taking centre stage in their filmography.
Part II takes what worked well in its predecessor and accelerated it; the remarkable line-up consists of some of the biggest contributors within horror, including Tom Atkins, Linnea Quigley, Caroline Williams, John Carpenter, Tom Savini, Joe Dante, Robert Englund, and Cassandra Peterson. This comprehensive cast list had heaps of involvement within eighties horror, introducing a sense of richness to the production, with plenty of behind the scenes knowledge bringing new light to the classics.
Speaking of classics, Part II divulges into a medley of films ranging from slashers to harrowing revenge tales. Rather than solely discussing the big mainstream hits of the decade, we are shown the somewhat forgotten hits such as Alone in the Dark (Jack Sholder, 1982), April Fool’s Day (Fred Walton, 1986), Mother’s Day (Charles Kaufman, 1980), Vamp (Richard Wenk, 1986), and House (Steve Miner, 1985). To accompany each film is an enlightening insight into the cultural context that most of these films were released in.
One particular area that is deeply discussed in relation to Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (Fred Olen Ray, 1988) is the video nasties. As home video soared so did the number of so-called ‘exploitative’ horror films on the market. Unfortunately, due to a mass moral panic over the British public’s wellbeing, 72 films were banned in the UK over fears of them corrupting children’s minds. Part II divulges into this important era for horror through discussing both the absurdity of the nasties and which films were the most prominent.
The film is clearly a demonstration of dedication to a beloved genre. From the outset a sense of togetherness is displayed, that depicts horror as a one-of-a-kind genre that manifests devoted fan bases and remarkable characters that linger within pop culture. Whether or not you are a diehard eighties fan or a newcomer, In Search of Darkness: Part II has something for everyone.
If you want to be part of the ISOD community check out their YouTube, where they are delivering regular interviews with 80’s legends for their new CLIPSHOW.
We interviewed creator Robin Block and director David A. Weiner back in October 2020, in an exclusive interview for the festival where we played Part I to celebrate the release of Part II.
2020 was a rough year to say the least, whist we saw a brilliant emergence of indie cinema taking centre stage, big budget horror was burdened with delays, reshoots and rescheduled release dates.
Dead Northern brings you a list of 2021 releases to look forward to, here’s hoping for a time not too far away where we can see some great new horror on the big screen!
Last Night in Soho
Edgar Wright is known for his quick witted, dark humour often seen in his beloved smash hits, including Hot Fuzz (2007) and The World’s End (2013), but it seems that his most well known and respected film amongst horror fans is the boundlessly successful Shaun of the Dead (2004). And it seems that Wright has decided to brave the horror genre yet again in his upcoming film, Last Night in Soho.
However, this soon to be success does not tap into comedy to deliver its scares, instead Wright has opted for a more daring psychological horror narrative. Little has been released about the plot, but what we do know is that we follow a young woman who is enthralled by the fashion industry, but when her mysterious journey takes her back in time to 1960sLondon she discovers that everything is not as it seems. Last Night in Soho has an impressive cast lineup as both Anna Taylor-Joy (The VVitch) and Matt Smith (Doctor Who), alongside Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie (Leave No Trace) star in this upcoming dramatic tale ridden with deception and enigmas.
Release date: 23rd April 2021
In 2004 Leigh Whannell and James Wan released the sleeper hit Saw, which soon shook the genre and has since amassed an entire iconic franchise. And 2021 delivers us the ninth instalment in this ever growing series. Similar to its predecessor ‘Jigsaw’ (The Spierig Brothers, 2017) the film will alter its direction to focus upon the police investigation into the excessive, twisted games that Saw is known for. Comedy icon Chris Rock takes the lead role as detective Zeke Banks, with Samuel L. Jackson starring as a respected police veteran. But, no need to panic, this is not a tepid crime mystery. The teaser trailer promises that Jigsaw’s maniacal games will yet again grace our screens. Spiral hints that it will resurrect the charm of the beginning of the series, with the director of Saw 2,3, and 4 Darren Lynn Bousman returning as Spiral’s director.
Release date: 21st May 2021
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
When The Conjuring (James Wan, 2013) was released it took the genre by storm, with an entire cinematic universe forming. Therefore, it’s to no surprise that this smash hit of a series was continued, with The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It making its mark as the eighth instalment in the constantly expanding series. The film narrows in on the classic demonic possession trope to elaborate on the real life harrowing trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, who was charged for murder. However, according to Johnson, it was the devil who made him do it. This film is set to be a fresh take on the typical haunted storyline that the cinematic universe follows. Both Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga return as the paranormal investigating duo ‘The Warrens’.
Release date: 4th June 2021
It’s safe to say that Jordan Peele has become a modern horror legend, with both Get Out (2017) and Us (2019) becoming solid favourites amongst both critics and audiences. Peele only furthers this legacy with his latest partnered venture, a sequel to the 1992 classic Candyman (Bernard Rose). To bring such an iconic story back to the big screen requires a fresh look at what made the original so terrifying, and it seems that Peele has found this within Nia DaCosta, who not only directs the film, but also co-wrote it alongside Peele. The trailer promises a macabre, tense and overall chilling reprisal of the Candyman legend. But, what horror aficionados will be looking forward to most is that Tony Todd will be back as the dreaded Candyman.
Release date: 27th August 2021
Don’t Breathe 2
The long awaited sequel to Fede Alvarez’s 2016 horror hit will finally be released this year, with its production being in talks for years. The same tense atmosphere will yet again be captured as Stephen Lang reprises his role as the intriguing Norman Nordstrom, who has become somewhat of an anti-hero since the films release, with audiences taking a liking to his dark and twisted character. Instead of the reverse home invasion route that the first film took, director Rodo Sayagues (who co-wrote Don’t Breathe) focuses upon Nordstrom’s journey into solitude; he has since rescued a young orphan and taken her under his wing. However, their isolated lifestyle in a secluded cabin is soon disrupted when a group of merciless criminals kidnap Nordstroms only companion.
Release date: 13th August 2021
Michael Myers has once again proven his immortality as he strikes Haddonfield once again. The film will pick right up where Halloween (2018) left off, with Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), Karen (Judy Greer), and Allyson (Andi Matichak) teaming up as a triple threat against The Shape to finally end the chaos. Halloween Kills will see an exciting revival of characters as both Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall) and Lindsey Wallace (Kyle Richards) return as disgruntled adults traumatised from their childhood experiences of Myers wrath. Quite interestingly Halloween Kills is not a solo story, instead we will see a focus on Haddonfield’s collective trauma and anger over the community’s dismantlement that Myers has so wilfully caused.
Release date: 15th October 2021
There’s Someone Inside Your House
Just the title alone is enough to bring audiences back to the ever nostalgic teen horrors that made its mark within the late 1990s. There’s Someone Inside Your House is a promising upcoming slasher horror directed by Patrick Brice. Brice’s natural talent for creating an incredibly chilling atmosphere was showcased in Creep (2014), and although both films are on opposite ends of the genre, it’s clear that this sense of eerie mysteriousness will definitely melt into There’s Someone Inside Your House. This film is an adaption of Stephanie Perkins 2017 book of the same title; throughout the story we follow Makani (Sydney Park), a transfer student from Hawaii who is at the centre of a series of ghastly murders.
Release date: February 2021
Run Sweetheart Run
Run Sweetheart Run is based upon a horrendous true story from the director Shana Feste. The film tells the harrowing tale of Cherie (Ella Balinska), a single mother who decides to finally tiptoe back into the dating scene. However, after her boss sets her up on the blind datefrom hell, she has to fight for her life in an after hours L.A. where she cannot trust anyone. The powerful undertones of danger within urban dating for women alludes an unfortunately realistic situation. Early reviews from festival runs hint at Feste’s superb spin on cliched genre tropes, which is only further highlighted by the bold and bloody narrative that is not afraid to imitate thousands of survivors’ stories of trust and betrayal.
Release date: TBC
Clowns and horror go hand in hand, and no clown is more sinister and utterly sadistic than Art the clown. Art’s first appearance originated from Damien Leone’s short films The 9th Circle (2008) and Terrifier (2011). And since then he has featured in four feature films, with the latest being Terrifier 2. The upcoming independent film was primarily funded by an extremely successful Indiegogo campaign, which was aimed to fund impressive effects that Leone has planned. With the success of the campaign and the constant pushing back of release dates fans have never been more excited to see Art do what he does best- completely annihilate. Little has been released about the plot, but the teaser trailer promises an absolute bloodbath.
Release date: TBC
Antlers is a supernatural horror produced by Guillermo Del Toro and directed by Scott Cooper. The film is adapted from writer Nick Antosca’s acclaimed short story ‘The Quiet Boy’. We follow Lucas Weaver (Jeremy T. Thomas), a young school boy whose strange behaviour is soon noticed by his teacher Julia Meadows (Keri Russell), who alongside her brother Paul, the local sheriff (Jesse Plemons) attempt to solve the mystery plaguing Lucas. The trailer showcases a dull town, drowning in monotonous habits. That is until strange occurrences start making themselves known.
Release date: 17th April2021
A Quiet Place Part II
A Quiet Place Part II follows on directly where the first film ended. Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and her three children attempt to survive in an almost post-apocalyptic landscape heaving with sound sensitive beasts and ruthless fellow survivors. Despite John Krasinski’s lack of personal appearances in A Quiet Place Part II, he will still be behind the camera as he returns to the directors chair. However, rather than just follow our four main characters in a desolate universe, we will be introduced to Emmett (Cillian Murphy), who is seemingly Evelyn’s only ally left in the entire world.
Release date: April 2021
Wrong Turn: The Foundation
The Wrong Turn series has been making people fearful of going into the woods for years. But, it seems that no one has listened as we are delivered a seventh instalment in the highly gruesome series. Wrong Turn: The Foundation is a rebootof the very first film that started it all, but with a twist. The trailer introduces us to a group of friends as they brave the Appalachian Trail, only for their expedition to be abruptly ruined when a group of murderous individuals known as ‘The Foundation’ brutally threaten their entire existence. What’s quite interesting however is that this latest take on the backwoods trope has an essence of cult horror that promises to showcase The Foundation as a savage community aiming to harm anything that gets in their sense of union.
Release date: 26th January 2021
Red Dot is a Swedish Netflix original that follows a couple as they brave the night camping in a snowy setting in the mountains of North Sweden. However, the cold seems to be the least of their problems as a random, glowing red dot finds itself following their every move. In this tense horror we will see a sense of isolation and anonymity forming together to disrupt any chance of the audience getting comfortable. The mysterious sniper dot acts as the perfect villain, with no chance of them getting caught.
Release date: 11th February 2021
The Banishing is a gripping horror set in a grand country manor. The naturally haunting setting is reminiscent of classic gothic horror, laden with sweeping foyers and old time’ ghouls. The film follows Marianne (Jessica Brown Findlay), who moves into an ominously dark estate with her husband and young daughter in the 1930s. Director Christopher Smith is no stranger to horror, with him directing both Severance (2006) and Triangle (2009), and his latest venture is sure to be just as much of a smash hit, with boastful reviews flooding in from last year’s festivals.
Release date: 8th April 2021
Horror writer and director Axelle Carolyn brings us The Manor, an eerie supernatural horror following a woman who has been reluctantly moved into a nursing home after suffering a stroke. However, her journey to recovery is cut abruptly short when she convinces herself that a strong paranormal force is preying upon her fellow residents. This film is a part of the Welcome to Blumhouse series released exclusively on Amazon Prime Video and will be released at some point later this year.
Release date: TBC
This weeks article comes via Grace from Film Overload, you can check out more of her work here.
The 1970s were a turning point for horror cinema, with its stylised richness protruding as a primary ground layer for the progression of the genre. Although not as bloodstained as the following decade, the films did ambitiously introduce audiences to a more gruesome and barbaric taste for cinema. It’s this slow burning horror that craftly handled savage imagery alongside sophisticated haunting visuals to create exciting films whose reputation has lingered long within the horror genre.
However, the 1970s were a time of classics that have almost stolen the spotlight off of many underrated films that deserve just as much recognition.
Instead of focusing on the immensely successful Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978), The Exorcist (Willam Friedkin, 1973) and Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979) this list will cover the forgotten wonders of such an influential decade.
1. The Blood on Satan’s Claw (Piers Haggard, 1971)
In rural 17th England a small village’s harmonious layout is disrupted when local farm landsman Ralph (Barry Andrews) unearths a decayed unidentified skull within the land. The discovery summons evil to the area, with the youth of the village soon inhabiting the role of devil worshippers to raise hell on earth.
This film belongs to the unholy trinity of folk horror, with the other two films being Witchfinder General (Michael Reeves, 1968) and The Wicker Man (Robin Hardy, 1973). Throughout The Blood on Satan’s Claw Haggard attempts to mimic the liberal attitudes from communities of the late 1960s through the metaphorical demonisation of such attitudes. The ‘hippie brigade’ from the prior decade became somewhat of a moral panic, but in reality freedom was their primary motive. And quite literally this film uses the devil worshipping children as the antagonists to mock the rather absurd reserved opinions of the time.
Its not just the critical commentary that makes this film rather significant to seventies horror, its also the haunting use of folk elements to illustrate the horror. There is an essence about rurality that fashions the countryside as being dark and tempting, the rooted soil comes across as mysterious, with the forest being witness to all kinds of satanic rituals over time. The Blood on Satan’s Claw rejuvenates fables as a horrific curse set upon any form of society who is brave enough to set foot on its historical land.
2. Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (John Hancock, 1971)
The film follows Jessica (Zohra Lampert) who has been recently released from a psychiatric institution. To get a fresh start Jessica alongside her husband and a friend move to a secluded farmhouse. After finding the beautiful Emily (Mariclare Costello) already occupying the house Jessica sympathises and invites her in. But, of course it’s not long until the new beginning loses its balance as strange occurrences begin to stir. Let’s Scare Jessica to Death premise is simple at its roots, but the horror that ensues is far from ordinary.
The film builds its tense infrastructure upon the questioning of whether the horrific events are just psychological delusions of Jessica’s, or are they actually threateningly real. Hancock achieves a multi-layered fright fest through the elaborate combinations of evoking visuals as well as a gradual untrusting story path.
The audience question the direction of the film, is Emily’s presence truly evil or is she an innocent young woman being persecuted for unsettling legends. All of this is executed through such a poetic form that gently presents a foreboding horror that seems to leap into true terror out of nowhere shocking audiences and leaving its mark.
3. Don’t Torture a Duckling (Lucio Fulci, 1972)
Don’t Torture a Duckling is a classic Giallo film that follows the sleepy and mystifying town of Accendura in Italy whose occupants have been plagued by a series of child murders. Giallo cinema is richly dense in stunning sights and graphic imagery showcasing alluring women with a wash of vulgarity and voyeurism. Fulci takes these aspects and runs with it, not only does the film showcase these elements, but it also combines a typically unpalatable narrative to create a unique film that excels both visually and narratively. The murder mystery element is not lost amongst the horror as the whodunit aspect remains strong throughout. This rare element of excelling in every aspect is one that Fulci seems to achieve so flawlessly.
Somehow he weeds through the juxtaposed subjective themes of secretive perversion amongst a backdrop of glowing rural Italy with ease. The Giallo movement erupted in the 1970s thanks to Fulci, Argento and Bava. With the archetypal eye trauma, gore and noir-esque quality becoming rites of passage in each film. Yet, Don’t Torture a Duckling drew away from these moulds through the heavy focus of psychological terror of child innocence being corrupted.
4. Sisters (Brian De Palma, 1972)
Legendary director Brian De Palma brings us Sisters, a dark horrific thriller that follows a journalist as attempts to investigate a murder that she witnessed. Sisters is a deeply analytical film that takes clear inspiration from Hitchcock’s auteur framework through the transparent use of voyeurism as a storytelling tool. Despite the clear homage the film is still an elaborate horror within its own right, not only does it feed through a complicated narrative without confusion, De Palma additionally conveys a morbidly lit psychological film that remains incredibly influential.
But one aspect that truly surges the film’s solid reputation as a tour de force within horror is the striking medley of exposition performed through aspects such as split screen, alternating aspect ratio and colour transitioning. This bounds the viewer in a lucid trance whilst watching, all the whilst disrupting any sense of familiarity or ease.
5. Ganja and Hess (Bill Gunn, 1973)
Dr. Hess Green (Duane Jones) is stabbed by an ancient blade that transforms him into a bloodthirsty vampire. Soon after he meets the beautiful young woman Ganja (Marlene Clark), who is yet to know of his dark secret. This film belongs to the extremely underappreciated blaxploitation subgenre of horror. Ganja and Hess is a tale of vampirism through an experimental framework. Unfortunately, the film has been considered dated, with poor cinematography tarnishing its reputation; however to look at it in an alternative light it could be argued that the use of negative space and burnt imagery contributes to the overall feel of the film.
Gunn uses the age old tale of the vampire to portray a love story built upon fractious grounds. It’s this amalgamation of romance and horror that contribute to the surreal avant-garde quality that thrives throughout. This heavily surreal atmosphere makes it a standout film that provides an artistically strong piece of cinema that pushes it ahead of its time. Ganja and Hess certainly stands out due to its arresting tones of addiction and the struggle that inherently accompanies eventual redemption.
6. Eraserhead (David Lynch, 1977)
The film follows Henry Spencer (Jack Nance), a doomed factory worker who lives in an industrialised city. His hapless life soon takes a turn for the worse as he attempts to care for his mutant screaming newborn. Eraserhead defies all expectations as the desolate horrid environment encapsulates the hallmark disastrous aesthetics that Lynch so flawlessly pulls off. The film is an exercise of disturbance through a nightmarish world that disavows comfortability and reassurance.
The distorted reality is placed upon the viewer; not once are we sure of the surroundings, everything is the opposite of home and nothing steers away from the bizarre. In retrospect the film is anything but enjoyable, but due to Lynch’s engagingly ineptness we cannot help but stare at the dystopian story presented to us.
7. House (Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1977)
House follows a group of schoolgirls as they travel to a country home, however it’s soon discovered that the house is haunted. House is a complete fever dream that toys with the viewers perception of reality throughout the entire film. The generic title and concept is not to be underestimated as it gradually becomes one of the most nightmarishly ambitious films of the entire decade. It uses almost every special effect available at the time including animation, backdrop paintings, collage animation and blue screen.
Alongside, the enigmatic visuals are the deeply laden cinematic storytelling methods. Obayashi was contacted by Toho Co. (producers of Godzilla ) to make a film that mimicked the success of Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975). And Obayashi did just that; House was a box office success in Japan, but it was gravely crucified by critics. And it seems that these reviews had somewhat plagued its reputation as the film has seen only a cult status keep it alive.
8. Tourist Trap (David Schmoeller, 1979)
Tourist Trap follows a group of friends as they become stranded at an isolated museum filled with creepy mannequins. Their fate soon takes a turn for the worse when the mannequins seemingly come to life… Tourist Trap owes its ferocity to its clear inspirations from classic gothic horror and road trip films.
However, rather than directy take or use these elements to create a typical horror that has been seen countless times before, Schmoeller twists these tropes to create a horrifying slasher hybrid with dark comic factors thrown in for good measure. The horror within Tourist Trap is highly reliant upon atmosphere and tone, and the dingy setting of a secluded museum immediately sets up a haunting vibe that exemplifies terror.
9. Martin (George A. Romero, 1977)
George A. Romero was one of the most influential horror directors, with his foreboding Night of the Living Dead series being the most iconic zombie franchises of all time. But, for a director as prevalent as Romero, Martin receives so little recognition. The film follows Martin (John Amplas), a young man who is convinced that he is an Old World vampire. And as vampires do he ruthlessly engages in the act of blood drinking. As with most of Romero’s filmography there is a fair share of social commentary as well as generous gore.
The film does not fall victim to the highly conventional portrayal of vampires by romanticising them as some sort of medieval lustful soul. Instead Martin is a pure villain, who despite him being the central character is a twisted depressed man who does not think twice about raping one of his victims. What makes Martin a strong contender within 1970s horror is its balance between presenting the mundane and then switching to provoking horrid scenes within the flick of a switch.
10. Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny and Girly (Freddie Francis, 1970)
The film follows Girly (Vanessa Howard) and her brother Sonny (Howard Trevor) as they lure unsuspecting victims back to their house to Mumsy (Ursula Howells) and Nanny (Pat Heywood) to play a twisted game of happy families. Francis based the film upon a play by Maisie Mosco titled ‘Happy Family’, whose influence remains strong throughout the film.
Francis’s vision of Mosco’s work is criminally underrated as it receives little attention despite its fantastically twisted story that is the groundwork for many psychopathic family based horrors. At the time of release Britain was a divided nation between audiences who encouraged liberal cinema and those who fought against such ‘indecency’. And Francis’s film played with this battle with strong themes of incest and suggestive relationships being hinted at throughout.
This weeks article comes via Grace from Film Overload, you can check out more of her work here.