Archive for the house of the devil

9 More Films to Watch on Halloween

Posted in Best Of, Halloween with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2016 by smuckyproductions

Halloween is upon us again! In response to a list I wrote up last year, here are a few more gruesome delights to conjure on this, the spookiest of days.



While really a miniseries, the accumulated episodes equal film length (about 2 hours); and you’d be hard-pressed not to watch them all at once. This is a gorgeously animated and brilliantly plotted piece of cinematic art. The color palette, full of browns and oranges, evokes autumnal perfection; and the supernatural elements are legitimately frightening. A philosophical, charming, scary and beautiful October treat.

BASKIN (Netflix)


Haunted houses are one of the foremost attractions of the season – paying good money to immerse yourself in a four-dimensional horror film. BASKIN is an actual film that looks, sounds and feels like one of these attractions, from the (dis)comfort of your living room. With stunning and colorful imagery, a bone-rattling score and hellish atmosphere for days, this chaotic descent into hell is an eye-popping blast.



There are dozens of Shelley adaptations, and dozens of Hammer films, that are suitable for this list – but the Curse stands out. This is the film that started England’s reclamation of Gothic horror, in beautiful, bloody Technicolor. The images of corpses, desecrated graves, and finally the monster himself, are truly grotesque, especially considering the decade in which the film was made. It’s a ghoulish, brutal version of the Frankenstein story.


La Rose de fer (4)

One does not tread far into the realm of Eurohorror without hearing of Jean Rollin. He made his fame on erotic, poetic vampire films – such as Requiem for a Vampire and The Living Dead Girl – and this, while it contains no undead, is one of his finest. The plot is shockingly simple, with two horny kids stuck in a graveyard after dark; but Rollin’s direction creates a moody, existential work of dread that leaves its mental mark.


a girl walks home alone at night

While not necessarily a horror film in itself, aside from a few scenes, Ana Lily Amirpour’s ingenious production fits the season perfectly. The gloomy monochrome and the badass title character create an atmosphere of cool loneliness, echoing the quiet hours toward midnight on the 31st. It’s not frightening, but phantasmal – the perfect film for a less scary sabbath celebration. And it helps that it’s truly original, unlike anything else.

HABIT (Shudder)


Another vampire offering, this one more traditionally frightening. Larry Fessenden’s indie game-changer starts on Halloween night as a man (played by Fessenden) meets a mysterious woman who starts plaguing his life, sexually and emotionally. It’s a slow-moving accumulation of atmosphere, evoking the Urban Gothic grunge of New York, and also depicting one of the most uncanny, elemental vampires I’ve ever seen on screen.

THE BEYOND (Shudder)


Anyone who knows me well enough is aware that I am addicted to Italian horror films. Lucio Fulci’s cosmic, apocalyptic wackfest is one of the most fun offerings. Full of the walking dead, voodoo practices, disgusting death scenes and a sense of utter dread that sneaks up on you, this is a grand cinematic nightmare. It has all the creepy and gory flavor of a Halloween night gone wrong.



Another Fessenden production, this time helmed by new indie horror icon Ti West. Not only was it one of the first ‘nostalgic’ horror films of recent years – it recreates 80s occult atmosphere perfectly – but it’s also wonderfully creepy in its own right. This demonic chiller uses silence, isolation and a mounting sense of wrongness to create dread; culminating in a grand climax of demonic evil. Pure horror fun.



There are several Bava films that could qualify for this list; but this one has Boris Karloff in it. What else do you need? On top of Karloff’s presence, this anthology film is stocked with amazing visuals, and is surprisingly terrifying (the final story will cause nightmares). Go for the Italian cut if you can. This is Gothic cinema at its best, and sets a standard for structuring anthology films (Italian cut only).


Dark Musings: MUMBLEGORE

Posted in Dark Musings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2015 by smuckyproductions

I’ve already expressed a deep love for indie horror, and praised what seems like a Renaissance in the area. It’s difficult to fully encompass the indie scene, though, without acknowledging a rather controversial subgenre that actually makes up quite a bit of the selections. This is not a category that Netflix would acknowledge, but I think it encapsulates the general vibe of this type of film. We will call it MUMBLEGORE.


What the hell is that? you say. I laughed pretty hard when I saw that phrase first, too. It references a movement in indie film – ‘Mumblecore’ – used to describe a movie that is basically just people talking. Well-known examples include “Frances Ha,” “Drinking Buddies” and any film involving the Duplass brothers. These films tend to be the subject of some ridicule because the characters are usually over-hip and a bit (or a LOT) pretentious. Regardless of personal preference, this is a substantial area in low-budget filmmaking, and the pool of collaborators (the Duplass bros, Joe Swanberg, Greta Gerwig, Lena Dunham) have a considerable amount of talent.


And how does this relate to horror? Well, I think it’s easy to acknowledge that horror and comedy are the two easiest genres to produce successfully on a low budget. Thus, these filmmakers switch between both, and take their mumbly-hip style with them, to give birth to Mumblegore. The earliest example is probably the Duplass brothers’ “Baghead,” released in 2008. I saw this film a few years after it came out, and honestly, it ended up frightening me quite a bit.


Following in its footsteps, the scene welcomed the likes of Ti West and Adam Wyngard, who have both slipped solid entries into the genre canon – “The House of the Devil” and “You’re Next,” respectively. Other efforts include “Silver Bullets,” “The Innkeepers,” “The Sacrament” and, arguably, this year’s “Creep” (starring Mark Duplass as a horrifically creepy motherfucker).


Films like these have sparked some pretty intense hatred, because of their slow pace and dialogue-heavy openings (though they tend to conclude in a glorious amount of viscera). I agree with some of the criticism, particularly that the characters are a bit too sharp and snazzily dressed to pass as fully realized people. But horror has always been imperfect, especially the characters, who are usually not even fleshed out beyond their name and the way they die. What matters is the story, the style, and the honesty of the filmmaking.


These three reasons, among others, are why I celebrate the filmmakers involved in the mumblecore/gore movement. They have built a pool of talent that works together constantly and successfully outside of the studio system. Regardless of anyone’s personal opinion on this content, it’s encouraging and exciting to see that such a community can actually exist and thrive in today’s industry. The films that come out of this movement have created their own space in the genre and expound a vision that, while perhaps not everyone’s preference, is undeniably unique. I’m sure some will disagree, but I see this as a beacon of hope for aspiring filmmakers like myself. There is still a space for creators who want to be their own brand.

So, I personally dub the prolific and energetic producers of mumblegore films a group of talent to watch closely. There are quite a few horror projects in development now, including a comic-based television series called “Outcast” (pilot directed by Adam Wingard of “You’re Next”) and a classic-sounding stalk-and-slash flick “The Woods.” Other surprise releases can always be discovered in the Park City at Midnight section at Sundance.

Well, horror fans, what’s your opinion on this rising genre? And what’s your favorite mumblegore film if you have one? Comment below and let the grave know.