In 1988, Empire Pictures sought to create an anthology of films that would act as sequels to their big hits. There was a planned “Trancers 1.5,” a sequel to “The Dungeonmaster,” and the HP Lovecraft short film “The Evil Clergyman.” Re-uniting the legendary Jeffery Combs, and the gorgeous Barbara Crampton, the film was never released, and for many years it was thought to have been lost. After being discovered on a low quality VHS, the print of “The Evil Clergyman” was restored as best as possible by Full Moon and given a new opening title and brand new music to accompany a fairly twisted story.
It is a very rare, almost non-existent trait these days in directors who are capable of knowing their limits. Even in indie directors, it’s almost impossible to find a director who knows their limits and can properly test theirs without going over board or not fully realizing their personal boundaries. Director Mike Flanagan’s slow boil and utterly unnerving horror film “Absentia” is a consistent test of limits. Director Flanagan is a man who almost seems aware of what he is capable of doing and what he simply can not do on-screen and it shows in what is a very artistically self-aware indie gem that works as an enduring yet complex character study and a truly harrowing horror film. “Absentia” provides so many layers of subtle characterization, gentle exposition, and gripping back story that affords just enough depth for our protagonists to earn our sympathy without seeming as if we’re being manipulated in to caring for them.
One of the elements I truly loved about “Altitude” is that director Kaare Andrews manages to convey a sense of isolation in the open skies. He constantly zooms back upon open spaces and landing strips mountain ranges, all of which are dwarfed when the people inside the small aircraft find themselves in the middle of a mysterious nowhere land in the sky being terrorized by unexplained phenomenon threatening to throw them in to oblivion. Andrews who has a past in comic books really knows how to express a sense of the EC Comics atmosphere where every scene is painted like a graphic novel, especially when the group of friends venture in to the blue sky to be confronted with a black cloud that brings them in to an endless abyss of lightning, darkness, and zero answers for survival.
Rake me over the coals all you want, but up until today, I have never seen “Re-Animator.” Shocked? You probably are. But the legendary horror film that’s managed to spawn comic books, video games, sequels, fan fiction, and even cross overs with other horror icons (Cassie Hack, baby!) has just evaded me all of my life. When I was a kid I was not allowed to see this, and as a young adult I found it difficult to track it down. It’s just one of those film classics that I could never really get a hold of and watch. Watching “Re-Animator,” I can see what every horror geek raves about because even at over twenty years old, Stuart Gordon’s gory sickening classic hasn’t aged much at all.
Elias goes for the good old trick of cinema. When all else fails, throw in a hot chick or two. And man, are there ever good looking women here. Gillian MacGregor is one who will burn herself into your brain in “Witch’s Spring” as a rather sexy witch seducing a man, and then there’s Nicky Ladanowski in “Bug boy” a fleeting and rather horrific little skit involving a man’s rage manifesting itself into a monster. Elias’ talent shows, and when he tackles the horror element, he really pulls through in a gritty disturbing manner. Take for the example the weird “RePenetrator” which is surprisingly funny and inappropriately erotic, in which the Dr. West re-animates a body so hot he has to engage in rough sex with it before it turns on him.
Perhaps I set myself up for this, perhaps the first episode just had me on this orgasmic euphoric high only set to be lowered by anything. Director Stuart Gordon of “Re-Animator” takes center stage this time in the second episode of the series with an entertaining albeit disappointing installment based on HP Lovecraft’s story of the same name. I’ve never read a story from Lovecraft, but I know he’s an immense influence for many horror masters that borrow the elements from his story for their own. Gordon manages to create a very entertaining installment for Masters of Horror that’s sometimes surreal, many times whimsical and all times filled with dread.