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    “THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM” (1961) (Scream Factory Blu-ray Review)

    As a producer, Roger Corman has made some truly terrible movies. As a result, his name is more likely to recall a crappy Syfy monster picture, or even an 80s ALIEN ripoff than anything of true merit. That’s a shame, because he’s actually quite a fine director with an incredibly smart approach to making movies that I wish even one-tenth of the major filmmakers working today would follow. Corman did “crazy” things, like plan the shots, and discuss characters with his actors before shooting, bringing everyone on the same page and keeping on-set tension and issues to a bare minimum (they also had completed scripts before that point, another thing that would be too much to ask for nowadays). 

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    “THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER”: The Best Film About Meeting Your Girlfriend’s Family

    Art changes. THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER, while ostensibly the same film it was in 1960, has become something else entirely for this viewer. Consumed as a teenager by reverence of its icons—Vincent Price and Roger Corman—USHER was not so much affecting as it simply was “essential watching.” Playing on Turner Classic, it was something that had to be seen and in turn, there was the thought that that was enough. HOUSE OF USHER didn’t properly digest. Or maybe, I didn’t know how to.

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    “CARRIE” (2013; Movie Review)

    Among the reasons cited for giving Stephen King’s CARRIE another cinematic whirl, one of the most prominent has been the rise of bullying as a concern since Brian De Palma’s 1976 adaptation. And yet it’s when the new version leaves the teen milieu and focuses on Carrie’s home life that it’s at its strongest.

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    “SCHISM” (Screamfest Movie Review)

    Los Angeles’ Screamfest has become known as a place for indie films that might otherwise struggle for screenings to not only have a theatrical showing, but also catch the eyes of Hollywood’s major distributors. This year, the talk of the festival has been Adam Gierasch’s SCHISM, which screened this past Saturday night to a packed house. This reviewer attended without knowing anything about the film or what to expect, and can now safely say that it’s shocking, disturbing and possibly one of the best indie films so far this year.

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    ALL NIGHT HORROR MARATHON: “THE OUTING” (Scream Factory DVD Review)

    In the early 80s, the slasher was king. So much so that studios were barely making any other kinds of horror movies.  But as with all trends, it died out thanks to the resurgence of monster and supernaturally-tinged movies that offered big budget, state of the art FX, and leaving producers without the money to compete with the likes of THE FLY and The LOST BOYS little choice but to stick to the (cheaper) slasher movie template.  But in many of these mid/late 80s cases, such as THE OUTING (aka THE LAMP, more on that soon), they would toss in a monster or some sort of possession angle to stick out a bit and avoid being just another “outdated” slasher movie, even while sticking rigidly to its formula: a bunch of kids being picked off one by one, leaving the smartest girl to face off and defeat the villain. 

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    “NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR” (DVD Review)

    Within its opening three minutes, the 1985 bizarro horror anthology film NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR segues from a choreographed New Wave dance number—think the FLASHDANCE wardrobe department projectile vomiting across the set of a 1980s LOVERBOY video—to a grandiloquent debate over human freewill between a Count Dracula-ish Satan and a God so ridiculously archetypal he makes George Burns’ turn in OH, GOD! look like Linda Blair in THE EXORCIST.

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    “CURSE OF CHUCKY” (Blu-ray/DVD Review)

    When CURSE OF CHUCKY had its world premiere at Montreal’s Fantasia festival this past summer, it passed a crucial test for a disc-bound feature: It felt right at home on the big screen. The movie was shrewdly tailored for its lower budget by writer/director Don Mancini, who also reverts the central Good Guy back to scary bad guy status.

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    “AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN, Bitchcraft” (TV Review)

    Whatever batshittery the rest of COVEN entails (and the door is left wide open for such), that which is contained in its premiere episode “Bitchcraft”—along with an already stellar ensemble, plus the work of breakout director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon—makes for one of the best, and maybe most definitive, hours AMERICAN HORROR STORY has ever seen.

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    Fango Flashback: “THE BLOOD ON SATAN’S CLAW” (1970)

    We are perhaps inherently sympathetic to witches on film. They are, after all, creatures and characters of folklore and horror with the most significant and legitimate real-life counterparts. Those counterparts, aside from putting their faith in something seemingly older and wiser than most all, have been the unjustified targets of horrifying religious and gender-based persecution throughout history—most notoriously in the 17th Century. This weighs on the viewer, informing even films and tales in which witches are practicing magick in the name of some larger darkness, most especially in the type of Tigon British Film Productions pictures dubbed “Folk Horror” where more often than not, those charged with stopping pagan deeds are real bastards. For example: the harrowing, cruel Matthew Hopkins in perhaps the best “Folk Horror” film, WITCHFINDER GENERAL, or even the intensely stuffy Sergeant Howie in Robin Hardy’s classic THE WICKER MAN.

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