Yesterday we lost a giant in Daria Nicolodi : her contribution to the horror genre and Italian Cinema can only be described as immense : her legacy will live on through her work, starring in films such as Deep Red, Tenebrae, Opera, Paganini Horror and Inferno and her partnership with horror maestro Dario Argento she also co-wrote Suspiria and provided the voice of Mater Suspiriarum, Daria also wrote the Argento classic Inferno : her work has played a huge part in me growing into the Cinephile I am today and my enjoyment of her work will continue to play on until I too find myself in the arms of whatever comes next RIP x
To save his declining business, Chris Cringle, also known as Santa Claus, is forced into a partnership with the U.S. military : There’s something strangely wonderful watching the legendary Mel Gibson play Santa in a Hitman Christmas movie that’s insanely dark yet mighty festive, filmed with lots of heart, a teeny-weeny bit of tongue in cheek and a wickid mind by those Nelms brothers who gave us Small Town Crime a few years back : along for the Sleigh Ride is the sublime Walton Goggins who collects authentic Santa pressies whilst filling out his calendar carrying out hits for anyone who requires his demented service, the stunning Marianne Jean-Baptiste who’s crazy good as Ruth Cringle, Santa’s devoted wife and Eric Woolfe aka: Elf 7 the foreman in Santa’s workshop : EVERY scene between Marianne and Mel is an absolute delight, talk about chemistry, the film’s finale is bloody and Goggins Skinny Man is central to all the mayhem and Chance Hurstfield who’s spoilt and cruel Billy is fantasic : so if you love your festive movies to include a side dose of Christmas magic featuring elves, cookies and that ever so sweet naughty or nice seasonal message mixed with a rather dark and brooding evil tone then FATMAN should be earmarked as a must watch this Festive Season : IT’S BRILLIANT ★★★★
A homeschooled teenager who is confined to a wheelchair begins to suspect her mother is keeping a dark secret from her : After enjoying 2018’s Searching I’ve been waiting for Aneesh Chaganty’s latest movie and let me say the wait was worth while : RUN is a messed up psychological thriller with two fabulous performances in Kiera Allen & Sarah Paulson, a terrific pace that quickens to white knuckle time early on and a premise in many ways that’s similar to Reiner’s epic horror Misery : Kiera Allen is remarkable in her film debut, she captures the torture her character Chloe endures throughout the movie and that scene when she attempts to escape through the window to reach another part of the house is anxiety racing, jaw dropping brilliance : and what can I say about the AMAZING Sarah Paulson, a wonderful character actress who’s roles in American Horror Story and Ratched have shown her depth as a top class performer, in RUN her psychotic side comes out to play, cruelty spilling from every pore and those moments in the pharmacist and nearing it’s finale in the hospital will have you on the edge of your seat : needless to say I highly recommend RUN and can’t wait to see what it’s filmmaker Aneesh Chaganty delivers next ★★★★
A former policeman wrestles with his personal demons and slow becomes obsessed with a hauntingly mysterious woman : So why is Alfred Hitchcock’s VERTIGO amongst the top tier of the great man’s work? yes Coppel & Taylor’s screenplay is as good as any in the genre, the way the great Jimmy Stewart tackles Scottie’s infatuation & fear of heights is superbly played out, the magnificent striking color’s used throughout literally take your breath away, it’s San Francisco backdrop add’s a certain comfort to each scene and Barbara Bel Geddes gives a career best in playing Scottie’s best friend Midge : all of these give VERTIGO it’s energy but for me the real spark comes from Chicago born Kim Novak and she is why us cinephile’s still talk about this GREAT 50s thriller today, it’s as alluring a performance I’ve seen in any of Hitchcock’s movies, her mystery, beauty and character switch still gives me chills each & everytime I revisit this cinematic classic : I love that moment when Scottie lays eye’s on Madeleine for the first time in the restaurant, Novak’s beauty against the red decor is a sight to behold : and take the moment around 95 minutes in by which time Madeleine has died, Scottie has spent some time in a hospital recovering and upon his release spots a young lady walking down the street that he thinks resembles his lost love, he follows her, knocks on her hotel door only to find a startled Judy Barton standing before him…. the acting from Novak in this scene is captivating, her mind working overtime, the dreaded guilt, the excitement and the possibility are all laid out bare by a vunerable yet driven Kim Novak performance : I truly love revisiting the GEMS from yester-year and there’s not many that better Alfred Hitchcock’s thrilling VERTIGO for it’s towering achievement in suspense, the camera work including the terrific zoom out effect and it’s undoubted beauty ★★★★★
Bodies are discovered, mutilated after each full moon so it’s upto the local sheriff and his deputies to find the killer before they strike again : Firstly let me say how visually stunning the introduction is to THE WOLF OF SNOW HOLLOW almost like The Shining the camera follows the mountainous backdrop of the films location, at times it’s scenery is cleverly reflected above as the camera reaches it’s destination….. a big old grisly moon, what a terrific intro and the perfect mood-setter for what’s to follow : I personally LOVE everything about this bat shit crazy slasher from it’s director & star of the movie Jim Cummings who’s nutty sheriff is having the worst few days of his fucked up life and boy this guy loves to SCREAM : I found the dialogue really witty and at times I didn’t know whether to laugh, console or shout at this poor guy loosing his shit with everybody who crosses his path : the snowy Utah backdrop and action scenes are well shot by Natalie Kingston, it’s quirky Lynch-esque characters are somewhat adhering, we get to share in the great Robert Forster’s final screen outing, a stand out performance from the delightful Riki Lindhome and it’s Agatha Christie keep you guessing narrative The Wolf of Snow Hollow is an absolute riot that tackles addiction, dealing with your demons, marital separation and a killer on the loose : it’s so much movie goodness wrapped up in the smallest of run-times with a bunch of character’s I hope we get see more of….. some time soon : IT’S SO GOOD ★★★★½
To be honest I still find it hard to choose between Taxi Driver and Goodfellas as my favorite Scorsese movie so I have decided to pick the film that I watched first and although it came out in 1976 I didn’t get to watch it till the mid 80s and you know something? it hasn’t aged one bit, if anything it’s got better, it’s still as compelling and shocking as it was when I first loaded that VHS tape into my video player back then and pressed play : everytime I’ve revisited Taxi Driver since I drool over the way the film’s dark narrative takes you on this emotional rollercoaster that ends with a sharp jolt, relief and in some ways sadness, the way the seedy, dark streets of New York are captured, the innocence of Jodie Foster and the power & excitement a certain Robert De Niro brings to Travis Bickle, a complex character and a role that may just be his finest….
Born on the 17th November 1942 in Queens New York Martin Scorsese has directed some of my favorite movies of all times, he’s part of My Mount Rushmore of Movie Directors and is still one of only a handful of filmmakers that I would pay good money to watch his movies numerous times play out on the big screen : his pictures tend to use camera moves that are huge in scale, fill the screen and engulf you with this wonderful creation, some of his films use voice-over narration to only enhance the experience, my favorite’s include Goodfellas and Casino and he always uses the cream of the crop to bring his work alive, getting the very best out of stars such as De Niro, Keitel, DiCaprio and Day-Lewis : he’s been nominated 9 times for Best Director at the Academy Awards sadly only winning once for his 2006 remake of The Departed, and although I enjoyed it for me it’s bottom tier Scorsese : his next film Killers of the Flower Moon comes out next year and is a 1920’s crime thriller based on David Grann’s book of the same name and star’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro
One of my favorite Martin Scorsese quotes : I have a desire to tell stories. And I’m never quite satisfied
A young boy battles the complexities of life with his father : I really, really enjoyed Mark Webber’s THE PLACE OF NO WORDS : it’s hard to interpret the film’s true meaning to Mark but for me it’s an exquisite, fantastical journey centered around life, death and it’s beyond : the film has touches of Labyrinth and other such fairy tales and is beautifully shot in North Wales, the rugged landscape of Snowdonia is captured in breathtaking style especially the scenes involving father and son as they battle the elements on their journey of self discovery : for one so young the film’s star Bodhi Palmer gives a magical performance and is well supported by his real life parents Teresa Palmer & director Mark Webber with Nicole Berger delivering a wonderful turn as an enchanting fairy : I love and desperately want a Grumbler, their scenes with Bodhi were beautiful and that creepy moment in the film when this creature emerged from this slushy pool is still giving me nightmares : with the lack of originality on our screens The Place of No Words is a breath of fresh air, an emotional, personal journey that’s tough to think about let alone film with a four year old child : a truly unique and quite wonderful piece of filmmaking ★★★★½
On a secluded farm, a man is slowly dying. His family gathers to mourn, and soon a darkness grows and a sense that something evil is taking over the family : I really LOVE scary movies and Bryan Bertino’s THE DARK AND THE WICKED does not disappoint : it’s an unsettling rather loathsome horror film that reeks of EVIL at every turn, from it’s deliberately slow start that peels back the layers to it’s grim, nightmarish finale with grisly scene’s such as the knitting needle, dad on the cealing, the slaughtered cattle and those chopped mushy fingers The Dark and the Wicked is certainly in keeping with the filmmakers twisted horror style : I really love the farmhouse at the centre of the film’s bleakness, from those bottles, horseshoes and hooks that hang from the rope ends in the cattle pen to it’s nerve jangling interior including it’s dimly lit kitchen and dad’s death surrounding bedroom Bertino manages to get under your skin early on, not everything is what it seems and the emotion pouring from it’s cast including Michael Abbot & Marin Ireland who play siblings and Lynn Andrews who plays the nurse is compelling yet disturbing to watch : the scenes when Michael returns home to his wife and kids is wickedly upsetting and Louise waking up with lipstick drawn on her face is draining : so if like me your a fan of Bertino’s work that includes The Strangers and most recently The Monster then wait till you see The Dark and the Wicked it’s a movie that mirrors it’s title and one of the BEST horror movies of the year ★★★★½
It’s always tough when listing any Top Movie List but as this will become a steady feature on the site I have decided to start Our Top Four with the enormous talent that is Grace Patricia Kelly : I started my obsession & collecting movies during the early 80s, films from all era’s & genre’s, facinated in general by anything and everything movie orientated and I remember watching Dial M for Murder one afternoon whilst home from school and being mesmerised by this screen goddess, this lady that oozed sex appeal yet had this commanding persona one that filled the screen with a kind of movie magic, I guess Grace Kelly became my first movie love and what a magnificent yet short career this American Sweetheart gave us : I hope you enjoy my ramblings….
Born on the 12th November 1929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania GRACE KELLY not only had the beauty & elegance of a Hollywood Leading Lady but also had the acting chops of a high quality veteran working & becoming goods friends with the likes of Alfred Hitchcock on three occassions, Rear Window, Dial M for Murder and To Catch a Thief and also winning the Academy Award for Best Actress in the wonderful George Seaton picture The Country Girl, this was viewed as a major shock, many thought Judy Garland would win that year for her turn in A Star is Born : in her short Hollywood career Grace would star with Gary Cooper in the acclaimed western High Noon, William Holden in The Bridges of Toko-Ri and Clark Gable in Mogambo : in 1956 Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier ending her love affair with the screen until her death in 1982
One of my favorite Grace Kelly quotes : Mr. Hitchcock taught me everything about cinema. It was thanks to him that I understood that murder scenes should be shot like love scenes and love scenes like murder scenes
Number 1 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : A research team in Antarctica is hunted by an alien that assumes the appearance of its victims : Why don’t we just… wait here for a little while… see what happens? everytime I revisit THE THING my excitement levels soar and my blood runs cold, it’s a MASTERPIECE, the single most terrifying horror movie of all time, from it’s gripping suspense, gruesome practical effects to it’s terrific character driven cast and it’s slow beating Ennio Morricone score, it truly is a gift from the filmmaking gods : the beauty with The Thing and the reason why I believe it’s such a great horror movie is the overall intensity level does not drop, it’s relentless and there’s so many scary, atmospheric moments that really catch you off guard such as the dog pen scene, from the time MacReady pulls down the Alarm cord, the howling of the dogs to the cruelty of what happens next is horrific, Blair’s meltdown with the axe in the control room is scary because paranoia mixed with fear has truly set in and actor Wilford Brimley executes his part perfectly well, the scene when the head of Norris turns into this freaking head-spider is shit your pants time (my god the effects are awesome), that moment when Copper’s arms are bitten off during the chest defibrillation scene is frankly insane and of course the main course of suspense during the films last quarter when MacReady is testing the blood whilst the rest of the team are tied to their chairs is an exciting, adrenaline fueled nail biter, like a violent version of Miss Marple when she gathers up the suspects in the cocktail lounge to tell them her findings, I can still hear the noise the wire makes when it sizzles against the plastic tray and your just waiting to see which one of the team the alien has infected next : along with it’s creepy score all of John Carpenter’s movies have a distinct lightening and visual look and The Thing is no different, I really found Bottin & Cundey‘s work on the eerie, cold exterior to be quite exquisite capturing the desolate icy tomb of Outpost 31 to chilling perfection, the film’s sparsely lit, rather mundane interior was pretty darn good too, I loved the way the guys created light at times by using the fiery orange haze of Childs flame thrower, the odd stick of dynamite and of course the color of the alien turning into it’s next nasty, gruesome form : so if you like your horror with a huge dose of intense who goes there suspense, side portions of tummy churning squelch, the odd dash of humor and one of the finest horror endings put to film then check out John Carpenter’s great scifi horror THE THING ★★★★★
Number 2 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : After a struggling writer get’s a job looking after the Overlook Hotel as a caretaker for the winter, something happens to him and his family in extreme & unforgiving ways : Based on Stephen King’s best selling novel of the same name and directed by Stanley Kubrick THE SHINING is an unforgettable journey into the mind of addiction, isolation, family and supernatural terror that has effected me over the years since it’s release back in 1980, I don’t think I’ve ever drooled over or talked about a movie more than this horror masterpiece : very much like Jaws that was written by Peter Benchley The Shining is an example where the movie is better than it’s original source and the changes they made when bringing it to the screen were not only in my eyes justified but add so much to the film’s scare factor, it’s scale and overall stigma : take the main differences for example, the infamous twins that scare the life out of Danny in the movie are not in the book, the blood filled elevators spilling out into the hallway is not in the book, the atmospheric maze and clever icy cold climax is not in the book and the words Jack was typing all Work And No Play Makes Jack A Dull Boy is not in the book, of course I have always been of the opinion that writers should never allow their work to be messed with & for some reason Stephen King allowed big chunks of his book to be altered, but I do believe that the changes made add so much to the terrifying nature of Kubrick’s masterpiece that watching The Shining without these would be a poorer experience : in fairness as with the Top Five Movies on the list The Shining could easily be Number One, it’s scares me because it’s about a family, their isolation and the effect The Overlook has on them all through the harshest of winters in Colorado : from it’s opening shots of the camera following Jack’s car up the mountain road to The Overlook accompanied by it’s hair raising score, Jack breaking down the bathroom door with an axe whilst reciting Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in. Not by the hair of your chiny-chin-chins? and the epic confrontation on the stairwell that involves a baseball bat there are just so many memorable scenes in The Shining but one of them always manages to mess me up and it’s when Jack chastises Wendy for disturbing his place of work in the hotel, you can see the pain etched onto Wendy’s face as her husband says “Wendy let me explain something to you, whenever you come in here and interupt me your breaking my concentration, your distracting me….” the scene is emotional as you not only start to fear for Wendy’s safety but also feel sorry for her and the way that she is being treated, it’s scary because you are now seeing the changes manifesting themselves in Jack and it’s sensational because of it’s deliverance by two actors on top of their game in Nicholson and Duvall : other factors that make The Shining such an amazing movie experience range from it’s eye catching us of color, including The Gold Room’s bathroom with it’s stunning red decor, Room 237’s evocative green & orange bathroom & the mesmerising carpeted hallways throughout, a terrific performance from Danny Lloyd who plays Danny, those tricycle scenes are just Iconic and his psychic abilities lend to some rather creepy, blood soaked images & that moment Wendy is trying to comfort her son and then sees the word REDRUM reversed in the bedroom mirror is unbelievably chilling : overall The Shining is an emotional rollercoaster ride, a character driven horror piece that’s as visually disturbing as it is stunning ★★★★★
Number 3 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : When a 12-year-old girl is possessed by a supernatural entity, her mother seeks the help of a priest to save her : Based on William Peter Blatty’s novel, The Exorcist came out in 1973 from filmmaker William Friedkin who also directed The French Connection & Sorcerer amongst others : I don’t think there’s ever been another horror movie about possession that’s even come close to scaring me half as much as The Exorcist still does, the way Friedkin slowly tells us the story of Chris MacNeil an actress and her 12yr old daughter Regan entwined with Father Karras who’s struggling with the loss of faith & loss of a loved one is not only compelling, but adds so much depth to the film and it’s characters, so by the time the possession truly takes hold of Regan and her bed starts rocking, head starts spinning and the vomit starts flowing the fear factor has already set in, your pulse is racing, your breathing has become shallower & you start burying your head in your hands in an attempt to hide from this devilish force of intimidation : I revisited The Exorcist two days ago and apart from the shocking possession scenes that include Regan violently masturbating with a crucifix, spider crawling down the stairs, forcing her mother between her legs & her head spinning 360 degrees there are also so many terrific sub-moments, I really loved the excavation scenes, the sound, color and imagery is so haunting during this beautifully shot opening to the movie, watching the broken Karras visit his mother in the hospital is emotionally draining, the subliminal hidden image of the demon shown during a scene with Ellen Burstyn really caught me off guard again and the scene with Lee J. Cobb’s brilliant Lieutenant is questioning Chris at her home is captivating, “can I have your autograph” really was a lighter moment : Jack Nitzsche’s score flows through the film better than most in it’s genre, it’s haunting and memorable and adds greatly to the films atmosphere and considering it’s low budget the film really come through with it’s creepy special effects that haven’t aged one bit : I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better performance by Ellen Burstyn the way she portrays being the helpless mother is phenomenal, Jason Miller is the embodiment of a broken priest and considering his limited screen time previous to this film was outstanding, Max von Sydow plays the elderly, tired yet commited Father Merrin wonderfully well but it’s Linda Blair as Regan who you will remember when think about this film, her vulgar, unpleasent display whilst being possessed by the devil is something to behold : The Exorcist is not for the faint hearted, it’s an unforgettable, multi layered horror movie that contains one of the most horrific final acts in cinematic history ★★★★★
Number 4 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : Fifteen years after murdering his sister on Halloween night, a young man escapes from a mental hospital and returns to Haddonfield to kill again : I’ve lost count how many times I’ve watched John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN : to me it’s the greatest slasher movie of them all, influenced no doubt in a small way by Bob Clark’s Black Christmas it just ooozes a tour de force in the horror genre that’s been emulated many times but never surpassed : Halloween was developed and put to film by Carpenter & Hill, on a shoe string budget of $300,000 and is the finest use of lightening, sound and music in the genre, with it’s eerie atmosphere, suspense that drips from each scene like the blood from Myers knife, Jamie Lee Curtis movie debut and an alluring, chilling score that cranks up the mood perfectly when required : from those early scenes of a young Michael Myers butchering his sister to it’s nerve jangling, exciting climax, there’s nothing quite like this slice of late 70s horror to get your heart pumping : John Carpenter’s Halloween is not gory or drenched in blood like many of the slashers that succeeded it but instead relies heavily on it’s suspense and effective story telling : it’s also the most immersive experience I’ve felt watching a horror movie in a theater, from it’s wide & open interiors to the creepy neighborhood shots capturing the street’s autumn look and the scene’s of Michael Myers masked figure stalking Laurie Strode at every turn, the photography combined with Carpenter’s score really does make you chew your nails frantically as the pace slowly builds to it’s terrifying crecendo : if like me you love your slasher movies then why not check out the newly remastered edition of this 1978 masterpiece, even after all these years it’s still the perfect slasher movie ★★★★★
Sean Connery was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1930 and died in The Bahamas this morning in 2020 : the film world has lost a legend, a hero to many including myself and an actor that spanned a 60 year career….. he escaped from Alcatraz, was a British Secret Agent, an Irish-American cop, a Soviet Submarine Captain, an Immortal Swordsman, was King Arthur, Robin Hood and Indiana’s dad….. may you rest in peace Big Tam…..
Number 5 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : The film follows a group of friends who fall victim to a bunch of psychopaths whilst travelling to visit a family grave : The very first adult horror movie I watched was Tobe Hooper’s THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE : I was twelve years of age and I remember sneaking over a friends house, inserting this battered video tape and being terrorised by these cannibalistic serial killers led by Gunnar Hansen’s terrifying Leatherface and the house of horrors he lived in : I’ve since watched Texas pretty much every year since and although it’s suprisingly not that bloody it’s the look of authenticity of what takes place in that farm house, especially the infamous dinner scene that really did a number on me : watching Marilyn Burn’s Sally tied to that chair screaming hysterically, the extreme close up of her twitching eyeball, the manic laughing of the depraved family sat around the table and the total insanity of what’s happening is incredibly unsettling : it’s the only horror movie on the list that makes me feel queasy, uneasy & downright afraid right from the gecko, from the creepy hitchhiker & his antics, the bringing down of Grandpa played by John Dugan and that hammer scene to Pam played by the brilliant Teri McMinn who stumbles into the room full of feathers & bones mostly human but some are animal, the camera taking us on a tour of the carnage that Pam sees before her, the big chicken housed in the smallest of cages, the skulls & tools that were used to mutilate it’s victims, this is nasty, unflinching horror at it’s sweet mercy best : due it’s very low budget the cast was mainly unknown and Gunnar Hansen wore the same Leatherface outfit for the film’s four week shoot, the lack of a score as such and Daniel Pearl’s low angle, handheld at times raw photography gives The Texas Chain Saw Massacre it’s realism and makes Tobe Hooper’s influential horror one of the fines low-budget exploitation movies that’s ever been ★★★★★