The Pleasure & Pain of Cult Horror Films
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The horror genre harbors a number of films too bold or bizarre to succeed with mainstream audiences, but offering unique, startling and often groundbreaking qualities that have won them an enduring following. Beginning with Victor Sjostrom's The Phantom Carriage in 1921, this book tracks the evolution and influence of underground cult horror over the ensuing decades, closing with William Winckler's Frankenstein vs. the Creature from Blood Cove in 2005. It discusses the features that define a cult film, trends and recurring symbols, and changing iconography within the genre through insightful analysis of 88 movies. Included are works by popular directors who got their start with cult horror films, including Oliver Stone, David Cronenberg and Peter Jackson.
midget he rejected, Frieda (Daisy Earles), and Hercules’ ex-lover Venus (Leila Hyams)— are getting suspi- 28 Freaks (1932) PART I cious of Cleopatra’s intentions, and when they ﬁnally spot her adding drops of poison to her husband’s medicine, they decide something has to be done about it. The main problem the audiences (and the performers, too, apparently) have always had with Freaks was that the initially sympathetic sideshow attractions get to show their “dark side” at some point in the
horror themes and doesn’t try to invest them with much originality, but aren’t genre enthusiasts drawn to what is familiar? And are there any horror fans who wouldn’t be interested in seeing a movie that combines all their favorite elements? Subotsky knew exactly what he was doing, as he was a die-hard genre fan himself, and by putting together all the many pieces of popular movies — the Hammer horrors, Dead of Night, Dracula (1931), The Wolf Man (1941), The Beast with Five Fingers (1946) and The
cinematographer with The Elephant Man (1980), and went on to shoot such pictures as Karel Reisz’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981), Lynch’s Dune (1984), Edward Zwick’s Glory (1989; which brought him the second Oscar) and Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear (1991). This horror anthology is a vintage production from Amicus, the company that tried to compete with Hammer during the 1960s and 1970s. It stars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, and takes the viewer on an exciting tour around the genre’s
puzzled with its bold, vague ending. Interestingly, Clark chose to avoid employing overly bloody effects for the death scenes, even though he worked with the maestro of bloody makeup, Tom Savini, on his previous movie Dead of Night (aka Deathdream, 1974). In effect, Black Christmas is a movie at the same time surprisingly restrained 136 The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) PART III and shockingly perverse (the insane phone calls sound oddly convincing, and the idea of intercutting one of the
but Mattei’s eagerness to entertain his viewers was always there. It just didn’t always work. Mattei’s infamous zombie movie recycles ideas from earlier works by Romero, Fulci, Deodato and Lenzi, and it struggles to form some kind of socio-political message, but it’s also a blinding explosion of honest enthusiasm for the genre. Plus, it gives you a pretty good picture of the crazy era that spawned it. 162 Possession (1981) PART IV Possession DIRECTOR: Andrzej Õuùawski CAST: Sam Neill,