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    EXCL: Writer Ed Brubaker on “MANIAC COP” Remake

    Last weekend, Fango had a chance to chit-chat with comics legend Ed Brubaker (FATALE, CRIMINAL, SLEEPER, CAPTAIN AMERICA) and of course had to ask about his involvement with the newly announced MANIAC COP remake. It’s difficult to not treat any classic horror remake with a sense of dread. However, as deliciously trashy and entertaining as the MANIAC COP franchise is, it’s not exactly a canonical classic. Remaking the movie isn’t necessarily a fool’s errand. There is room for improvement and plenty of avenues to play in that should lead to all sorts of cheap thrills and lurid entertainment.

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    Brian De Palma’s “SISTERS” (Arrow Blu-ray Review)

    SISTERS just might be the most important movie in Brian De Palma’scareer. Though his first feature MURDER A LA MOD laid down hints of what was to come, SISTERS was the first time De Palma ditched his satirical, political, Godard-influenced romps in favor of self-consciously accepting Hitchcock’s crown as a new master of suspense. That’s not to say that the movie is serious, of course. De Palma’s deep appreciation and understanding of Hitchcock extended to Hitch’s dark humor and refined sense of irony. So, what Pauline Kael’s once famously referred to as De Palma’s “alligator grin” is in full effect.

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    “THE STUFF” (Arrow Video Blu-ray Review)

    Like all movies by the great Larry Cohen, the logline for The Stuff sounds hopelessly stupid, while the film itself is surprisingly intelligent. It is of course, a film about sentient alien goo that becomes America’s most popular snack food. Pitched somewhere between THE BLOB and a satirical McDonalds advert, there’s really nothing else like the movie that works far better than it has any right to. Even though he’s long been a cult figure in the genre community, writer/director Larry Cohen is one of those filmmakers who has never quite attained the respect he deserves. His finest movies like THE STUFF are wholly unique, surprisingly intelligent, cleverly written, well-acted, messy, campy, and endlessly entertaining. Those are the qualities that tend to breed cult film and over the years THE STUFF has steadily built a fanbase of loveable lunatics who share Cohen’s uniquely cracked worldview.

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    “INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS” (1978; Arrow Blu-ray Review)

    “Body Snatcher” movies might not have ever taken over like zombies or slashers, but it’s such a delightfully creepy concept that tends to pop up once a decade or so. Don Siegel, of course, got there first with his McCarthy-ism take in 1956; Abel Ferrara took a crack at it with his military-tinged 1993 effort BODY SNATCHERS; a crappy Hollywood blockbuster version hit screens in 2007; and just this year, Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg did their own unofficial and particularly British version in THE WORLD’S END. Yet, as the years go on and the viewings pile up, it’s clear the best version iteration remains Philip Kaufman’s 1978 INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. Something about Kaufman’s uniquely paranoid take on the story, rooted in 70s Me-culture and stringy practical FX, tends to slide deeper under the skin than any other. It’s one of the most underrated films of that era, one of those rare genre flicks that not only hasn’t dated, but actually seems to improve with age. In other words, it’s the perfect flick to get the Arrow Blu-ray treatment.

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    “THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2″ (Arrow Blu-ray Review)

    The usual rap on Tobe Hooper is that he made a masterpiece with his first feature and then never made another decent film. Wrong. Sure, nothing else in Hooper’s filmography can compete with the unrelenting intensity of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, but then very few horror movies can. For those willing to dig (and accept the shared responsibility on POLTERGEIST, just like how Spielberg and Lucas shared authorship on RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK), the truth is that Hooper has made many wacko twisted genre flicks since his iconic debut (SALEM’S LOT, FUNHOUSE, LIFEFORCE). In fact, he’s even got another classic with TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE in the title. Released unrated in 1986, most critics didn’t know what to make of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2. After all, here was a sequel that replaced the subtlety and suspense of the original with bawdy humor and the most disgusting gore of Tom Savini’s career. It was a movie that turned intensely real killers into cartoons, gave Dennis Hopper a chance to go farther over the top than he managed in BLUE VELVET, and for some reason the poster was a parody of THE BREAKFAST CLUB. It was, at face value, a sequel that inverted everything that was successful about the original and therefore was far from a worthy successor. But the reasons viewers hated CHAINSAW 2 then are what make it such a clear cult classic now.

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    Brian De Palma’s “THE FURY” (Arrow Blu-ray Review)

    THE FURY just may represent Brian De Palma at the peak of his insane 70s powers. Coming out of the New York underground filmmaking scene, it’s easy to forget that in his early days, De Palma’s work were as influenced by the likes of Jean-Luc Godard as Alfred Hitchcock. By the time De Palma got to THE FURY, he’d already made his first Hitchcock riffs SISTERS and OBSESSION, as well as his first major mainstream hit CARRIE, but the self-conscious humor and go-for-broke lunacy of PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE was very much still central to his powers.

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    “R100″ (TIFF Movie Review)

    A superstar in Japan barely known outside of his native country, Hitoshi Matsumoto has found an unexpected second home in Toronto’s Midnight Madness program. If his films can be classified as anything, they are comedies. However, that label doesn’t quite feel like it fully captures the strange, disturbed, and subversive tone the filmmaker whips up every time he steps behind a camera. They are very much midnight movies in the purest form and it’s a shame that red-eyed viewing experience rarely exists outside of the film festival circuit anymore, because he’d probably be a major cult figure if the market still existed. Instead, Matsumoto is one of TIFF’s best kept secrets and R100 certainly stands comfortably next two his previous late night film fest gems, the giant monster mockumentary BIG MAN JAPAN and the indescribable SYMBOL.

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    Kim Ki-duk’s “MOEBIUS” (TIFF Movie Review)

    Kim Ki-duk might be the most outrageous and provocative filmmaker working in South Korea, something not easily accomplished given the competition. Yet, despite all of the shock tactics that Ki-duk has pulled in the past, nothing comes close to the nightmarish glee with which he unleashes MOEBIUS. It’s a movie that walks the line between “like” and “respect.” You can’t really do the former without a certain level of self-deception, but the latter comes easily enough. It takes an equal balance of guts and insanity simply to launch a movie like this, so kudos to Ki-duk for doing so. As for the audiences who will be sucking it up through their eyeholes…well, you’ll never forget what you see here.

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    “THE DOUBLE” (TIFF Movie Review)

    Despite serving up plum roles for a pair of contemporary stars and coming from one of the most promising filmmakers of the moment, there’s something delightfully old fashioned about Richard Ayoade’s THE DOUBLE. It’s one of those identity crisis existential horror movies that were all the rage in the heady art cinema days of the 60s. The film comes from a novella by Dostoevsky, features style and technique pulled from Roman Polanski and Orson Welles’ THE TRIAL. Yet it somehow also feels very much like a film of the moment. It’s a nightmare movie that crawls under your skin, while also proving to be one of the funniest features of the Toronto International Film Festival. Thematically, the flick is not an easy sit and yet Ayoade somehow makes it play as pure pleasure through his sardonic humor and cynical worldview. I guess you could call it a movie comprised of contradictions, and a wonderful one at that.

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    “GRAVITY” (TIFF Movie Review)

    Based on the broadest definition of genre, Alfonso Cuarón’s astounding new film GRAVITY doesn’t cleanly qualify as horror. It is however guaranteed to be one of the most terrifying viewing experiences of the year, so it seems silly not to acknowledge it. After disappearing from filmmaking for seven years following the technically ambitious and thematically complex CHILDREN OF MEN, Cuarón has returned with a movie quite simply unlike anything else. As a depiction of space travel, the realism and immersion of GRAVITY is unparalleled; the story then uses that realism to make the space environment feel more unforgiving and chilling than ever before.

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    “A FIELD IN ENGLAND” (TIFF Movie Review)

    With only a handful of movies, writer/director Ben Wheatley has already established himself as one of the finest filmmakers of his generation. Always toeing genre lines, his greatest achievement thus far was probably KILL LIST, a viscous hit man movie transformed into occult horror with one of the most disturbing finale twists since his obvious influence THE WICKER MAN. The genre journalists all immediately demanded that he dabble in horror again and now he kind of has with the twisted art house hallucinogen he calls A FIELD IN ENGLAND. Like KILL LIST, the movie is not pure horror, but it does boast some of the most disturbing images destined to flicker across screens this year.

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    “AFFLICTED” (TIFF Movie Review)

    Each year, TIFF’s Midnight Madness program provides a home for hungry genre buffs where blood is spilled for adoring crowds to squeal in delight. Pretty well all of the iconic horror directors of the last 20 years have premiered at least one of their features as part of the program, but the finest treat is probably the discovery of new filmmakers bursting onto the scene. This year, the big breakout just might be for first-time Vancouver filmmakers Cliff Prowse and Derek Lee. The duo made the leap from shorts to features with AFFLICTED, their impressive new schlocker that manages to wring a little extra life out of the tiresome found footage genre and even a classic creature as well.

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