John Landis’ werewolf thriller is a hard film to pigeon hole. It’s not exactly a horror movie, not exactly a comedy, and not entirely a drama. It is in fact a unique beast and amalgam of various genres that’s managed to remain absolutely timeless since its initial release. The fact that Landis breaks so many of the tropes of the werewolf film while also embracing the classic mythos of the monster is what makes “An American Werewolf in London” such a masterpiece.
With their partnership with GKids, Shout Factory has managed to obtain a remarkable chunk of Studio Ghibli’s library and have given choice titles some truly deluxe treatment. Among some of Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpieces is the incredible “Spirited Away” a film that owes a lot to “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Wizard of Oz,” that also evokes subtle social commentary on child trafficking. In either case, “Spirited Away” is still a remarkable and stellar piece of art, with some of Miyazaki’s most memorable creations including No Face, and the Soot Sprites.
This year, Fantasia International Film Festival is screening a nice collection of vintage titles and anniversary screenings. One of these is The Crow coming up on the 30th of July at 7pm and it’s one screening I hate to miss.
The Crow turned 25 this year and it has been just about as long since it became my favorite film, hence why this is one of the hardest films for me to write about. There is no being objective, this film is entwined in my teen years and my adulthood. It’s one of those films that had such a big impact, it’s almost impossible to separate the emotional from the reality of the film. So, as it’s playing, I wanted to write a deeply personal piece, a piece that it nowhere near objective, a piece that is about my history with The Crow.
Dario Argento’s horror film “Suspiria” is an immaculate production, one that almost commands you watch it with unbreaking attention. While many have argued it lacks a narrative and often times feels aimless, Argento vies more for a cinematic experience than something that relies heavily on narrative. “Suspiria” feels like one long fever dream, and Argento paints every scene like its being influenced by pure evil. While Suzy herself is being influenced by witches and witchcraft, the audience itself also seems to be pulled in to the same seat, watching every bit of setting being altered in to this realm.
Although George Romero wasn’t as particular or gung ho with his filmmaking as Stanley Kubrick was, you can’t really sit through “Night of the Living Dead” without feeling like everything is so deliberate. Like what is the significance of Barbara looking through the music box? Why did Johnny approach Barbara with his gloves on? And why did Romero blatantly film one of the dead with its eyes moving? Was it was considerably faint attempt to humanize the monsters that we’d see be hit with fire and shot to death throughout the film? Or was it his reminder that through and through these were once people with human impulses and their urges for human flesh are still a part of some human impulse? “Night of the Living Dead” is so nightmarish and intricate that I love picking it apart every single time I’ve seen it and it leaves me stunned every single time.
With the unfortunate death of George A. Romero this year, now is the best time to re-visit “Night of the Living Dead.” It’s hard to believe what one small mistake could have done to alter history, as Romero’s accidental omission of the copyright sign for “Night of the Living Dead” allowed his horror masterpiece to become public domain, and for his idea of the zombie to become open game for anyone and everyone with an imagination. Just imagine if Romero had copyrighted the concept of the flesh eating zombie and we probably wouldn’t have about eighty percent of the zombie movies we have today.
“The Lion King” is still one of the most entertaining movie going experiences of my life and one of the most moving animated films I’ve ever seen. With the anticipation of the live action remake growing, Disney has granted fans a new release with their Signature Edition. This new edition packs in the DVD, a Digital copy, and of course the new Blu-Ray with changes that are interesting and more geared toward meticulous hardcore fans of the film more than anything. It’s certainly worth a double or triple dip, especially if it’s your favorite of the Disney animated library (and on your top ten), as it is mine.
It’s about time the world has caught up with “Black Christmas” and (thanks to Shout!) given it the proper treatment it’s always deserved. What is arguably one of the first slasher films ever made was always out of print and hard to find while “Halloween” was granted various editions of VHS, and DVD. While “Halloween” is a masterpiece, “Black Christmas” is far more superior. It works as a slasher film, a mystery, a dark comedy, and is genuinely spine tingling in a movie draped in Christmas ephemera. It’s surprising since the tone for “Black Christmas” is almost the same tone from his other Christmas classic “A Christmas Story.” Yet director Bob Clark really never misses a beat, offering up a very scary tale about an inexplicable maniac wreaking havoc on a small neighborhood during the holidays.