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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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    “ALL HALLOWS’ EVE” (DVD Review)

    Constructed of footage shot as far back as 2004 on a variety of different mediums and cameras, ALL HALLOWS’ EVE (now on DVD and VOD from Image Entertainment) is an anthology film showcasing the work of writer/director Damien Leone. Despite often feeling without purpose aside from being a potentially entertaining dark accompaniment to drug use, ALL HALLOWS’ EVE is kind of awesome. At just 80 minutes, it never really has the time to become boring, and Leone and his crew have been productive; there’s an impressive amount of weird happening in this little Frankenstein monster of a movie.

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    “DEVIL IN MY RIDE” (Movie Review)

    When making an independent horror film, the greatest safety net you can provide for your story is to have great, inspired characters at your creative disposal. This is even truer if you decide to add an element of comedy to the proceedings, lest you risk the film falling into the subgenre of morbidly dark anti-comedy, which has value but ultimately narrows your audience considerably. In a horror comedy, even when the outrageousness and the FX are limited by time and budget, your characters can be as flexible as you want them to be, and by putting them through a gauntlet of grue, you’re simultaneously giving them humor to mine from, as well from their predicaments. Married with an entertaining story and inspired performances, these characters can be what stands between the film being either frighteningly forgettable or a hell of a good time.

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    “DARKNET, Episode 1″ (Webseries Review)

    There’s been such a dedication to surprise twists and audience subversion in modern horror that many of the attempts to do so never really feel organic or, by proxy, earned. In a way, the groundwork laid by Alfred Hitchcock, Rod Serling and Arthur Conan Doyle of allowing subtlety and character development to bring the shock of the story full circle has been lost over the years, as a need for new storytelling techniques have all replaced that nuanced craft with bait-and-switch narrative structures that often give way to plot holes. And even though the “full circle” structure is often built upon against-all-odds coincidences, they never condescend to the audience, rather allowing them to put together the puzzle and come to the realization on their own terms.

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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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    “AFFLICTED” (Mike’s Movie Review)

    AFFLICTED is proof positive that the scary possibilities of found footage have not yet been exhausted. Making its New York premiere as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Scary Movies series tonight and hitting theaters early next year from CBS Films, it mixes up elements from past handheld genre movies into something fresh and frightening.

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    “CHILLING VISIONS: 5 SENSES OF FEAR” (DVD/Blu-ray Review)

    With the readiness of digital filmmaking in the independent world, and the growing number of unique voices attracted to the creative freedom of horror, there’s been no shortage of anthology projects arising in the genre world. These projects are affordable, challenging and often strong showcases for young, emerging voices—essentially collections of calling cards, as well as opportunities to show off resourcefulness and ambition under time and finance confines, without the overbearing pressure of feature filmmaking. This year has seen the release of several impressive omnibus movies, including THE ABCs OF DEATH, V/H/S/2 and now CHILLING VISIONS: 5 SENSES OF FEAR.

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    Fango Flashback: “NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE” (1979)

    Dreadful, ambitious and philosophical, Werner Herzog’s NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE begins today at New York’s Film Forum (203 W. Houston Street; (212) 727-8110) for an exclusive two-week run in its alternate, unseen German-language form. Sporting a new 35-mm print of Herzog’s slow-burning and eerie reimagining of F.W. Murnau’s classic film from the Bleeding Lights Film Group, Film Forum will be running the film until Thursday, November 7th, and in fact, on Monday, November 4th, the 9:15 screening will be preceded by a special screening of Murnau’s film, accompanied by a live piano score by Steve Sterner.

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    “THE FROZEN GROUND” (DVD/Blu-ray Review)

    THE FROZEN GROUND has a few things we at FANGORIA really dig. One is gruesome staged murders, and another is a ratcheting aura of dread. And the third is Nicolas Cage. We put him on our cover back on issue #310 for myriad reasons—the main one being that Cage is a horror-film freak, and always brings a kind of supernatural delirium to even his most pedestrian roles. Love him or loathe him, there’s no one else like him. We fall firmly in the former category, of course…

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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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