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  • Music Mourning: Composer Harry Manfredini on Wes Craven

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    Only a little more than a week has passed since the death of horror directing legend Wes Craven, and Craven’s family, friends and filmmakers continue to mourn his loss and share memories of this great man and filmmaker. These include noted genre composer Harry Manfredini, whose murderous music defined the original FRIDAY THE 13TH, directed by Craven buddy Sean Cunningham.

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  • Week of Wes: “THE HILLS HAVE EYES PART 2”, “VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN” & “CURSED”

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    Though his track record is far from perfect, there’s not a single ounce of this writer that believes Wes Craven would purposefully craft a bad film. Out of the many horror filmmakers from throughout the years, there’s few that came under studio scrutiny as much as Craven, and even fewer that had bona fide hits beforehand as well. And Craven, for all of his exploration of fear and dread, was not a filmmaker simply mesmerized by horror: he wanted to find a richer idea among the terror, even if it was ambitious beyond the means of his budget.

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  • “THE CURSE OF DOWNERS GROVE” (Film Review)

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    Bret Easton Ellis is such a curious case when it comes to his art, especially considering his admirable consistency when it comes to his content. Ellis is an expert purveyor of brilliant trash, most of which exist somewhere between questionably tasteful melodrama and flat-out misanthropic exploitation. But Ellis, even through his peaks and valleys, remains steadfast in his refusal to compromise his envelope-pushing work, even if it were for his own good, such as in the case of Derick Martini’s THE CURSE OF DOWNERS GROVE.

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  • “THE EDITOR” (Blu-ray Review)

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    A fan favorite among the indie filmmakers in the Canadian horror scene, the irreverent, retro-friendly guys at Astron-6 know their audience just as well as they know their influences. Following their transgressive, splattery work on MANBORG and FATHER’S DAY, many were excited to hear that they’d be taking on the giallo subgenre for their next film. However, even as absurd and insane as the Astron-6 guys have been in the past, the filmmaking collective has surprisingly turned out a slightly more mature and narratively constructed effort with THE EDITOR, even if the film maintains their trademark ultraviolence, excessive nudity and hysterical world-building.

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  • FANGO Flashback: “I, MADMAN”

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    For hardcore horror fans, it’s easy to understand the appeal and fascination with pulp horror. The vivid colors, the over-the-top villains, the sardonic twists on morality plays; they were Grimm Fairy Tales but with a flamboyant sense of humor for a very repressed generation. And yet these tales often stand the test of time as their surreal, kitschy stories tap into a part of our imagination that is underserved, giving way to such memorably macabre movies as CREEPSHOW, TALES FROM THE CRYPT and I, MADMAN.

    I, MADMAN is the least known of the bunch, but undeservedly so: the film operates in a post-NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET slasher mold but with a perfect balance between cartoonish fun and savage, FX-friendly violence. The film follows a young woman (played by NEAR DARK’s Jenny Wright) who is enthralled with golden age pulp horror novels, drawn to the creatures and images she creates in her own head. However, upon becoming affixed on one novel in particular entitled “I, MADMAN” about a mad doctor turned serial killer, the woman begins having vivid visions of the killer targeting her own friends, and believes she may have unleashed the fictional killer into her reality.

    While the aesthetics are very familiar to horror filmmakers of its era, particularly Joe Dante, Dario Argento and Wes Craven, I, MADMAN is a very fun film, dripping with EC Comics influence and a ghoulish creation in Dr. Kessler. But perhaps what makes the film really stand out among its peers is how confident the film is with its fantasy elements, whether its the introduction of a wall-bound monster from stop-motion animation or the frenetic camerawork that creates a larger than life atmosphere. Furthermore, by giving Dr. Kessler insane, obsessive monologues, the character feels much more alive than the slasher villains of the times, even if his methods are much more visceral and macabre than the standard mad doctor character.

    I Madman still 1

    In a lot of ways, I, MADMAN is even evocative of psychological horror: if the film’s final twist was to reveal Jenny Wright’s character as a schizophrenic killer, it wouldn’t feel out of place whatsoever. In fact, part of the fun of I, MADMAN is weaving through the paranoia on display, whether it be through the young woman, her detective boyfriend or the cops at large who are investigating these murders. Factor in the vintage horror elements, including much of the art direction and the gorgeous, heightened cinematography, and I, MADMAN is a film that feels like it belongs on a much stronger nostalgia trip than its current state as an obscure horror offering.

    The film, directed by THE GATE’s Tibor Takacs, reeks of imaginative gusto even if it doesn’t quite reek of originality; in fact, with slight adjustments, I, MADMAN could exist in the universe of WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT? just as well as it could TALES FROM THE CRYPT. Part of this might come from some of the more Amblin-esque technical aspects, whether it’s the rousing score from Michael Hoenig to Bryan England’s perpetually curious cinematography even to the impressive effects from Frank Ceglia. But even the performances feel devoted to the colorful material, including Wright and co-stars Clayton Rohner and a very sinister Randall William Cook.

    After viewing I, MADMAN, it’s still a mystery how this film didn’t become a word-of-mouth cult success upon its release, although the use of a high concept narrative and a lack of star power could have something to do with it. Had the film waited a year or two until after the HBO series of TALES FROM THE CRYPT instead of angling for a slasher appeal after the subgenre had waned, perhaps we’d be talking about I, MADMAN in a completely different light. However, the film’s status among horror aficianados has certainly grown over the years, and with the film recently getting the Scream Factory Blu-ray treatment, there’s no better time than now to discover this demented fright flick.

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  • “THE TRAP” (Book Review)

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    By its very nature, the eco-horror film is capable of doing something remarkably distinct and at the same time incredibly admirable: it informs its audience that man’s mistreatment, malicious degradation and neglect of his environment can result in the disastrous and the horrific. Films such as THE PACK, PROPHECY, FROGS and KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS explore varied concerns regarding animal abuse and the dire effects of pollution and the unhealthy results of human influence. Tapping into the rich theme of the natural order being systematically attacked and distorted by opportunistic and unsympathetic human beings is a new book entitled THE TRAP written by actress-turned-writer/animal activist Robin Lamont (GODSPELL, HE KNOWS YOU’RE ALONE).

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  • Caption Contest Results: 08/31 – 09/04

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    FANGORIA fanatics! If you’re one of the thousands who follow us on Twitter, you’re likely familiar with our daily Caption Contests! Now, due to the overwhelmingly positive response, we’re highlighting the best entries of the week for the world to see! So without further ado…

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  • Tobe Hooper’s “DJINN” Finally Hits U.S. DVD This November!

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    For those embedded in the horror community, there are several unreleased horror flicks that remain white whales for us horror seekers. While it’s not hard to find an import of KRISTY (a/k/a SATANIC) or 7500 for those with multi-region players, other films such as ALL-AMERICAN MASSACRE or Eugenio Mira’s THE BIRTHDAY have been harder to track down. However, among those missing cinematic links was Tobe Hooper’s most recent feature effort, entitled DJINN, long held up from a formal U.S. release over legal and financial issues. However, it seems that these issues are finally resolved as VideoETA reports that Screen Media Films will be releasing DJINN on DVD this November!

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  • Week of Wes: “SERPENT”, “SHOCKER” and “STAIRS”

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    Following the success of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, one would expect Wes Craven’s prominence in the horror genre to lead to bigger and better things. However, as many independent filmmakers who lept into the studio system can tell you, it’s not surprising that Craven was met with immediate frustration. Of course, Craven is clever enough to play the system to their expectations, never passing up an opportunity to explore the genre he had been dubbed a visionary within.

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  • Arena Cinema Hollywood, fright filmmaker James Cullen Bressack team for “CAMPFIRE FRIDAYS”

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    Fright fans whose tastes lean towards the controversial are likely familiar with modern day indie exploitation filmmaker James Cullen Bressack, whose provocative genre efforts include PERNICIUS, HATE CRIME and 13/13/13. And while Bressack is best known for his envelope-pushing independent films, L.A.-based horror fans will get to know his taste for terror a little better starting October 9th as Bressack and Arena Cinema in Hollywood, CA, are teaming up for a monthly event hosted and curated by the filmmaker, entitled “Campfire Fridays.”

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  • Q&A: “CABIN IN THE WOODS’ ” Fran Kranz Finds Work Sucks in “BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS”

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    BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS, the new horror/comedy directed by Brian James O’Connell and written by the improvisational comedy troupe Dr. God and Ryan Mitts, stars Fran Kranz—Marty in CABIN IN THE WOODS and Topher in DOLLHOUSE—as Evan, the only person in his boring sales office who cares about his job. His workplace becomes more professional and productive, as well as considerably more dangerous and gore-filled, when Evan’s old college nemesis Max (GAME OF THRONES’ Pedro Pascal) gets the promotion Evan thought was his.

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  • “CONTRACTED: PHASE II” (Film Review)

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    When it comes to sequels, there’s always an inherent concern about the film’s relationship to its predecessor. Sometimes, we worry if it’s going to be too familiar, whether there are too many wedged-in winks-and-nods or if the film is simply just a rehash of the original. Other times, we worry if it’s simply going to be radically undermining its predecessor, offering something that ultimately goes against what made the first film work at all or hastily rewrites the first film’s canon for its own purposes. And then there’s the overall concern that the film will be faithful to the first film and different enough in its own way, but be just a poor example of filmmaking.

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