Anything Horror Scott’s Favorite Ass-Kicking Females

The days of the timid, “I’m-too-scared-to-do-anything” female characters in horror films is over. There’s nothing I hate more than when a filmmaker writes a female role in which she’s only there to either be saved by a male character or to die. We all know women are tougher and stronger than that. I’ve seen plenty of women keep their shit together in a crisis a lot better than a man!!

Below is my list of female characters in horror movies who kick some serious ass. They may not be the lead role in the film, they may not even be the “good guy,” and they may not even live, but these are female characters who are strong and fierce. You will notice that Ripley from the ALIEN franchise and Alice from the RESIDENT EVIL franchise are absent from my list. They are too obvious of choices!!

Who are your choices for some ass-kicking female characters in horror films? Who did I miss? Is there someone on my list that you don’t think belongs? Sound off below!!

Female High Tension

Marie in HIGH TENSION (2003)

Arguably the film that launched the modern new wave of hardcore, brutal horror films. Writer-director Alexandre Aja gives us a home invasion film that becomes a road rage flick with plenty of gore and violence along the way. Marie is a fierce woman who doesn’t back down even in the face of pure terror. She is determined to fight to her last dying breathe if need be in order to protect her kidnapped friend. Yeah yeah yeah, I know the ending didn’t work for most people, but what a ride this film is!!

Female Descent

Sarah in THE DESCENT (2005)

How could I leave Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) off my list? THE DESCENT has the distinction of having an all-female cast, and even though I singled out Sarah, really the entire cast of women kick ass. There’s something about Sarah that edges her out as the best ass-kicker of the group. Writer-director Neil Marshall gives us a morally ambiguous lead character with Sarah. There are times you root for her and other times when you want to see those bat-like creatures tear her apart. But despite how you feel about Sarah, there’s no denying that she kicks some major ass.

Female Night

Barbara in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1990)

Tom Savini, who directed the 1990 remake of Romero’s classic film, did a lot of things right in the remake. The main thing he got right was the re-writing of the character of Barbara (Patricia Tallman). Barbara starts off the film just like the original Barbara from the 1968 film, but eventually Barbara snaps out of her panic and decides she wants to fight, and she’s not going to rely on the men to protect her. She becomes the fiercest ass-kicker in the film. Nice work, Tom!!

Female Inside

La Femme in INSIDE (2007)

Known only as “The Woman,” Béatrice Dalle’s performance as the completely psychotic, yet extremely focused, killer is nothing short of chilling and brutal. She only says a handful of words the entire film, yet she is one of the most terrifying modern-day killers you will find. That scissor scene will leave you breathless. Leave it to the French.

Female Martyrs

Anna in MARTYRS (2008)

Anna (Morjana Alaoui) is one of the best female characters I’ve seen written and acted in over a decade. Hell, she might be the strongest female character to ever be in a movie, period. Anna is not the typical female heroine who beats down the bad guys. Anna gets seriously fucked up in this film!! She endures various levels of suffering, each stage more brutal than the one before it, in order to reach the state of martyrdom. This, though, isn’t just torture-porn. Director Laugier gives us one of the best films this reviewer has ever seen. At the end of the day, Anna is a survivor. Through all of her suffering she becomes more knowledgeable than when she started. Alaoui is absolutely amazing in the role and I can’t imagine the nightmares she had after filming this one.

Female Babadook

Amelia in THE BABADOOK (2014)

Amelia (Essie Davis) isn’t battling ghosts or demons or a psychopathic killer. She’s battling herself and mental illness in this fantastic film. Amelia is a single mother with a difficult child who is overly tired, sick, and long overdue for a vacation. But she’s on this list because she’s a fighter who doesn’t give up even when it would have be so easy to do so. In the end, she beats down the “creature,” but what makes her such a bad ass is that every day for the rest of her life Amelia is going to have to battle the same “creature” in order to make sure it stays chained up where it belongs.

Female Hell Fire

Rosetta in HELL FIRE (2012)

I’ll be honest. After watching this film and Selene Beretta’s performance as Rosetta, I instantly fell in love. Rosetta is gorgeous, has a filthy mouth, and is the most violent character, male or female, I’ve seen in a long time. Rosetta is most definitely not the “good guy” in this film. In fact, I don’t think there is a good character in this entire flick!! But damn if Rosetta doesn’t kick some serious ass.

Female I Spit on Grave

Jennifer in I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (2010)

This is a perfect case where the remake is better than the original. Waaaay better. Director Steven R. Monroe does a fantastic job with this remake. He keeps all the elements that made the original so eye-squintingly good and doesn’t pull any punches on either the rape or the revenge scenes. Jennifer (Sarah Butler) gives one helluva performance as the stranger in a strange land who is brutalized and then calculates her revenge. Not taking anything away from the original Jennifer (Camille Keaton), there’s just a raw kind of power and presence that Sarah Butler brought to her Jennifer that wasn’t in the original. And that ending, yikes!!

Female Broken

Hope in BROKEN (2006)

Talk about a nihilistic film that doesn’t so much as offer one ray of hope!! I went into BROKEN expecting just another torture porn film, but got so much more. Hope (Nadja Brand) comes home from a date, kisses her young daughter, and then goes to bed. She wakes up in the middle of the woods with a psychopath tormenting her and making her survive forty days of sadistic games. The whole time Hope knows the man also took her daughter, but has no idea what he’s done or is doing to her. The ending will make you want to drag a razor blade across your wrists!! Actress Nadja Brand is fantastic in the lead as a woman who will do anything to save her child … and ‘anything’ she does. A brutal movie with a strong, fierce female lead.

Female Bad Biology

Jennifer in BAD BIOLOGY (2008)

Relative newcomer Charlee Danielson plays the lead role as a woman with seven clits trying to find true love in this Frank Henenlotter flick. Danielson is amazing in this role. Sure, she kills some of her lovers in the throes of passion, but her character isn’t black or white. Jennifer isn’t good and she’s not evil. She’s just a woman trying to live with her condition as she attempts to find a suitable partner. Danielson plays the role brilliantly with the perfect blend of innocence and raw sexuality.

Female Videodrome

Nicki Brand in VIDEODROME (1983)

Deborah Harry comes off as a kind of Black Widow in this film. She’s smart, sexy, always looking for a little kink, and is fearless. Her bad ass-ness doesn’t come from beating the shit out of others, she’s a bad ass because she watches a real snuff film and decides she wants to be in the next episode!! Her Nicki Brand character to James Woods’ Max Renn has to be one of the most dysfunctional, anti-love affairs in modern cinema. When Brand turns to Renn and asks him, “Wanna try a few things,” it’ll send shivers up and down your spine.

Female Grace

Madeline in GRACE (2009)

Jordan Ladd’s portrayal of Madeline is nothing short of brilliant. Like Nicki Brand above, Madeline isn’t out there kicking the sacks off of douchy guys. Madeline’s strength comes from her situation. She loses her unborn child and husband in the last month of her pregnancy. Her grief is so great and her love so strong that she wills her dead baby back to life. The scene in the tub with Jordan Ladd holding her dead baby is one of the most powerful scenes you’ll find in any horror film. Madeline is one tough cookie!!

Sign off below in the comments section and tell me who your favorite ass-kicking females characters are.

Stay Bloody!!!

Landis, Carpenter, & Cronenberg Discuss Horror … On a Cable Access Show!!

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.30.47 PM

This has to be one of the most bizarre stories I’ve written about on Anything Horror!! Back in the early 1980s, filmmaker Mick Garris talked about horror films with directors David Cronenberg, John Carpenter, and John Landis in a program that originally aired on the Los Angeles based Z-Channel. This was like the horror version of an archeologist who discovered the Holy Grail!! I’m gonna let this clip speak for itself!!

Did you notice that John Carpenter embodied pretty much everything about the 1970s and early-1980s?!!!??!

Access Carpenter

Here are some various quotes from the video:

John Carpenter: Movies don’t scare me. Never. Only when I was a little kid. The movie that scared me the most was It Came From Outer Space.

David Cronenberg: No, I don’t think there’s anything that should not be shown in films.

John Landis (on being hit with an X rating for An American Werewolf in London): [The MPAA] is saying our job is to reflect the mores of the time, which means President Reagan is president, which means violence is okay, and sexuality is evil and corrupt.

David Cronenberg: Every film I’ve ever made has originally gotten an X.

Stay Bloody!!!

My Favorite Crazy Mothers in Films

Sunday is Mother’s Day, and what better way to celebrate this day than sitting down and watching some great crazy mom-themed horror films? Below is my list of the bat-shit craziest bunch of mom’s you’ll ever meet. Who are your favorite crazy mom’s from film? Who did I miss? Note that this list is in no particular order.

Norma Bates, PSYCHO (1960)

Ya gotta start the list off with the patron saint of crazy mom’s, Norma Bates!! Norma is second to none in being overbearing and brow-beating the shit out of her son!!

Mom Psycho

Mrs. Loomis (Debbie Salt), SCREAM 2 (1997)

In her defense, Debbie Salt (Laurie Metcalf) is just avenging her son’s death. But let’s not forget that her son is a psychopathic killer!!

Mom Scream2

Mum (a.k.a., Vera Cosgrove), DEAD ALIVE (1992)

Not only could Vera (Elizabeth Moody) give old Norma a run for her money in the over-bearing department, but Mrs. Cosgrove is also the mother of all zombies in this gore-heavy film. Vera is bitten by a Sumatran rat-monkey and not only becomes a zombie, but also creates a legion of zombies in this small, New Zealand town. And not even Dr. Freud himself could help Lionel at the end when dear old mum becomes a twenty-foot tall behemoth zombie-vulva-monster!!

Mom Dead Alive

Lucy Harbin, STRAIT-JACKET (1964)

In this classic William Castle film, written by Robert Bloch (also the writer of PSYCHO), Joan Crawford, who is locked up in a mental hospital for twenty years for decapitating her husband and his mistress, is released. When she reunites with her daughter, people start mysteriously turning up without heads. Coincidence? STRAIT-JACKET asks the question, “Does killing skip a generation?”

Mom StraitJacket

Mrs. Wadsworth, THE BABY (1973)

Some women are baby-crazy and they just love babies so much they love to have them around all the time. I’m not sure that’s the main motivation behind Mrs. Wadsworth’s (Ruth Roman) behavior, but this is a pretty sick momma. She’s a domineering mother who keeps her twenty-something son in an infantile state through intimidation, physical abuse, and an electric cattle prod. His sister also sleeps naked in bed next to him. Yeah, this is pretty high up on the sleaze-meter!!

Mom Baby

Nola Carveth, THE BROOD (1979)

Here we get a slight variation on the crazy mother. Don’t worry, Nola (Samantha Eggar) is crazier than a shit-house dung beetle, but she’s crazy in a more Cronenbergian way. Nora gets to screw her kids up before they are born. Nola gives birth to her own rage and sends it out into the world to cause chaos and havoc. Add to this Nola’s penchant for licking the blood and gore off her brood when they are born and you know you’re deep in Cronenbergian territory.

Mom Brood

Erica Sayers, BLACK SWAN (2010)

This is the most recent film on my list, and Erica (Barbara Hershey) has more than earned her place here. Over-bearing, fanatical, and trying to make up for her lost youth, Erica pushes her daughter Nina (Natalie Portman) beyond the breaking point. Plus, Erica likes to sit in a corner and watch her daughter sleep. Yikes!!

Mom Swan

The Queen, ALIENS (1986)

The only non-human on my list. Even though the Alien Queen isn’t human, she protects her brood till her final breath. I guess it helps having acid for blood and a mouth within a mouth within a mouth!!

Mom Aliens

Margaret White, CARRIE (1976)

Okay, okay … I concede. Margaret (Piper Laurie) might just be the craziest mother on this list. I think old Norman looks well adjusted compared to Carrie!! Besides Margaret being insane, when you add a heavy dose of religious fervor to the mix, things get a little out of control. 

Mom Carrie

Pamela Voorhees, FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980)

Oh Pamela. This poor mom feels so much guilt for not being there for her child that she goes on an epic killing spree to avenge his death and alleviate her guilt. Those horned up, substance-altered camp counselors let her son, Jason, drown, and now there’s hell to pay.

Mom Friday13th

Mother, MOTHER’S DAY (1980)

Forget THE BABY, MOTHER’S DAY is so sleazy that you need a shower after watching it!! Mother (Beatrice Pons) lives out in the woods with her two inbred, hillbilly, psychopathic sons. Her sons fight for her attention and love, and Mother makes is clear that the best way to get her love is to excel in the areas of rape and murder. Mother, in fact, teaches them how to rape and murder. When her sons kidnap a group of girls camping, this film goes down the rabbit hole of sleaze. I love every second of this film!!

Mom MotherDay

Dorothy Yates, FRIGHTMARE (1974)

Electric drills, psychopathic children, and cannibalism are the things Dorothy (Sheila Keith) has to deal with. After being institutionalized for eighteen years, Dorothy is out and still has the same old urges. FRIGHTMARE answers the question, “Does killing skip a generation?” No, no it doesn’t.

Mom Frightmare

Special Mention: Madeline Matheson, GRACE (2009)

This film gets a special mention because Madeline Matheson (Jordan Ladd) isn’t like the other bat-shit crazy mother’s above. Madeline isn’t a killer and is, in fact, just the opposite. Madeline loses her baby in the final month of her pregnancy. The baby was stillborn, and Madeline is so devastated that she wills the dead infant back to life. But there’s a price to pay. Some mother’s just care too much!!

Mom Grace2

There’s my list. Let me know what you think. Who did I leave off the list? Is there anyone that doesn’t belong on the list?

List compiled by Scott Shoyer

Stay Bloody!!!

February's Love Bites: THE FLY (1986)

11

Towards the end of January, Deggsy and I put our heads together to come up with a list of love-themed horror films. Apparently Deggsy knows how to follow through on a discussion because he’s been relentlessly watching and reviewing lovey-dovey horror films. I’ve been in la-la land lately and have been instead knocking films off my ever-growing list. So enjoy this timeless love story and I’ll get with the program, Deggsy … I promise!! – AHS

—–

As part of Scott’s and my discussion, AnythingHorror wants to celebrate February, the Month of St Valentine’s, by featuring horror movies with a Valentine or love theme to them. After all, love and fear go hand in hand, both of them producing the same physical reactions of quickened heartbeat and increased appreciation for people who can dispose of unwanted bodies…

I got lucky, or at least selfishly indulgent, and chose to start off with what I think is not only one of the best love stories in horror films, but one of the best horror films, ever – and a bloody remake, too: David Cronenberg’s THE FLY (1986). Journalistic objectivity? Screw that, I bloody love this movie, and rewatching it now after so many years has helped me appreciate it further.

12THE FLY started out as a short story of the same name by George Langelaan, which was first published in 1957 in Playboy Magazine, and told the tale of a luckless scientist experimenting with teleportation, and ending up horribly changed after a fly entered the teleportation booth with him (Langelaan, by the way, was a friend of Aleister Crowley, and worked as a spy with the Special Operations Executive during World War II, at various points having been dropped into enemy territory, captured, condemned to death by the Nazis and escaped, only to return later and participate in the Normandy landings. All of which sounds equally as interesting as whatever he might have written as fiction).

I think something went wrong...
I think something went wrong…

The first adaptation appeared a year later, starring Al Hedison, Patricia Owens and the legendary Vincent Price, and stayed very faithful to the original story, while earning itself two sequels and a place within the annals of horror film history (“Help me… help me….!” I used to do the voice to my little sister and scare her, every single time… Yes, I was a bastard in my day.

"Genetically-engineered dinosaur theme park? Preposterous."
“A genetically-engineered dinosaur theme park? Preposterous.”

The remake of THE FLY appeared almost thirty years later, and while making many changes to character, setting and story for various reasons, it retained the essential meat of the tale. It opens with some strange visuals of indistinct lights milling about (an approximation of a fly’s vision of the world) before clearing to reveal a press event held by Bartok Science Industries, and awkward, eccentric scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum, JURASSIC PARK), chatting up Particle magazine journalist Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis, EARTH GIRLS ARE EASY). Cynical Veronica has heard it all before, but Brundle’s insistence that his own work is worth coming back to his place to see gets to her, and she accompanies him back to the warehouse that serves as his home and workplace.

I tried a similar experiment involving knickers, and all it got me was a court order...
I tried a similar experiment involving knickers, and all it got me was a court order…

Brundle lives a solitary existence (“Bartok Industriees leaves me alone because I’m not expensive, and if I need anything like a computer or a molecular analyser, I just farm it out to one of Bartok’s technicians, and none of them know what I’m working on”), and proves to be unpolished but still charming in his attempts to impress his guest, jumping behind a piano at one point to tinkle the ivories and offer her a cup from a genuine espresso machine, before revealing his big project: a set of teleportation pods (the iconic design was inspired by the engine cylinder of director Cronenberg’s vintage Ducati 450 Desmo motorcycle). After demonstrating its efficacy by teleporting one of Veronica’s stockings (and hey, let’s get a look at those legs, too!), he then baulks at the idea that she might tell the world, because he’s not quite ready to let the world know: the telepods work fine on inanimate objects, but use it on something living and the results are… Cronenbergian.

Well, I'm off my beef cannelloni (just kidding)...
Well, I’m off my beef cannelloni (just kidding)…

Veronica’s former lover and current editor Stathis Borans (John Getz, BLOOD SIMPLE, ZODIAC) is at first skeptical, and then enthusiastic as he learns more about how big a genius Brundle actually is, but eventually all agree on a compromise: Veronica will record Brundle’s continuing work, and eventually publish a book. The couple’s continued collaboration develops into a friendship, and then a romance, though the major hurdle of teleporting living things still bugs him (get it? Bah-dum-tish!), and turns a baboon into an inside-out baboon. But after they first have sex, Brundle is inspired to reprogram the computer to get “excited” by living flesh (no, I don’t get it either, but it nicely parallels Brundle’s emergence from the purely rational and scientific to embrace the physical, sensual side of himself).

If the Enterprise crew had to beam around naked, the show would never have been cancelled...
If the Enterprise crew had to beam around naked, the show would never have been cancelled…

The next time, the baboon emerges alive and unharmed. But in the meantime, a jealous Borans threatens to publish the story early, and when Veronica goes to confront him, and Brundle witnesses this, he assumes the worst. Getting drunk with the surviving baboon, he decides to put himself through the telepod, unmindful of the fly following him inside…

Brundle emerges, seemingly unharmed, and Veronica clears up his assumptions about her ex-boyrfriend. He feels energised, as if the process had purified him, and has increased strength, stamina and appetite. But Veronica is seeing the other after-effects: short temper, mania, weird hair-like bristles on his back… when she addresses her concerns, he throws her out, and thus she doesn’t witness the continued metamorphosis, as teeth and fingernails drop off, and he begins crawling on walls and ceilings and vomiting on food in order to liquidise it and swallow it.

I get that way trying to eat Marmite...
I get that way trying to eat Marmite…

Examining the computer records of the night of the drunken teleportation, his fears are confirmed: the telepod fused Brundle and the fly at the molecular-genetic level, producing Brundlefly, and the changes have been gradual, but inexorable, and his humanity is gradually slipping away, too… and if all that wasn’t enough to make Veronica’s day, she learns she’s pregnant with Seth’s child. But, is it from before or after his genetic transformation?

Cronenberg doing jazz hands with Goldblum
Cronenberg doing jazz hands with Goldblum

Upon its release, THE FLY was rightfully critically acclaimed, as was Goldblum’s performance. Despite being a gory remake of a classic made by a controversial, non-mainstream director, the film was a huge commercial success, the biggest of Cronenberg’s career, and was the top-grossing film in the United States for two weeks, earning a total domestic gross of over forty million dollars. Audiences reacted strongly to the graphic creature effects and the tragic love story, and the film received much attention at the time of its release.

Its tagline – “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” – has secured its own place in popular culture. It spawned a sequel, directed by Chris Walas, who produced the Oscar-winning effects for the first film, inspired an opera in 2008 (David Cronenberg served as director, Howard Shore composed the music and the lyrics were written by David Henry Hwang, with whom Cronenberg collaborated on M. BUTTERFLY), and later this year a comic book miniseries from IDW Publishing, titled The Fly: Outbreak.

I once saw David Hasselhoff eat a chiliburger like this...
I once saw David Hasselhoff eat a chiliburger like this…

Work on producing a remake of THE FLY had been going for years in the Eighties, with Fox Studios first offering and then withdrawing funding when they disapproved of the original storyline. Funding eventually came from Mel Brooks, who loved the idea but kept his involvement hidden as he wanted the movie to be treated seriously. The original director, a Brit named Robert Bierman, was slated for the movie, but a family tragedy forced him to eventually drop out, passing the movie over to David Cronenberg, who had initially been scheduled to make an early version of TOTAL RECALL, and agreed to make THE FLY, if he was allowed to add his own touches to the script, adding the familiar themes of sexuality, body horror and loss of identity (Brundle’s speech midway about “insect politics” smacks of pure Cronenberg).

The studios did not want Goldblum as the lead, believing he wasn’t a bankable star, having only appeared in the likes of BUCKAROO BANZAI and INTO THE NIGHT at the time, but Cronenberg pushed for him. Cronenberg, meanwhile, was unsure about Geena Davis, who was Goldblum’s then-girlfriend at the time, but quickly appreciated the chemistry between the two leads (Davis claims that the only time she felt “grossed out” by the amount of gore was in the scene where Seth’s ear falls off and she holds him).

There's also shots of Geena Davis *and* Jeff Goldblum in their tighty whities. If you like that sort of thing.
There’s also shots of Geena Davis *and* Jeff Goldblum in their tighty whities. If you like that sort of thing.

There were a number of scenes that were filmed but dropped from the final movie, including one where Brundle experiments with a monkey and cat, fusing them together but then beating them to death when they emerge in unendurable agony (test audiences immediately lost sympathy for Brundle’s character at this point; remember folks, you can have your protagonist kill any number of people, but never animals), and an aborted epilogue where we see Veronica with Stathis Borans, and dreaming of having a beautiful baby… with butterfly wings. There were variants on this ending, but all were rejected by the test audience, who were too stunned by the bloody climax to need an upbeat coda.

Fuck you, CGI...
Fuck you, CGI…

The score was composed by Howard Shore and the make-up effects were created by Chris Walas, who unusually is the first name mentioned in the end credits. After a screening the audience cheered upon seeing this first credit. Producer Stuart Cornfeld turned to Walas and said, “You’re getting the Oscar”. Cornfeld’s prediction came true when Walas did in fact win the Academy Award for Best Makeup. Many also thought that Goldblum was up for a Best Actor Oscar, but of course, it had to go to Paul Newman for his performance in the shitty THE COLOR OF MONEY, because horror movies are unworthy, right?

Walas’ work was (and is) superlative, and all practical, much of it basic (Brundlefly’s digestive vomit, for instance, was a simple mixture of honey, eggs and milk, and melting flesh was made with gelatin melted by hair dryers, a technique Walas previously developed to melt the Nazi’s face at the end of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK). The various stages of Brundlefly were planned backwards, from the pure puppetry of the Final Stage, to the various bits and pieces leading up to him going full tilt.

The sexual chemistry in the original movie was strangely muted...
The sexual chemistry in the original movie was strangely muted…

In a 1987 interview, Vincent Price revealed that when this remake was released, star Jeff Goldblum wrote him a letter saying, “I hope you like it as much as I liked yours.” Price was touched by the letter, he composed a reply and went to see the film, which he described as “wonderful right up to a certain point… it went a little too far.”

Sorry, Vincent, but with all due respect, you’re wrong. THE FLY still works today because everyone involved is at the top of their game. Goldblum had yet to become a parody of himself, making Seth Brundle quirky but believable, Davis is neither just a damsel in distress nor an unrealistic kickass heroine, but someone very believable caught up in an unbelievable situation, and even Getz manages to elevate his douchebag role into someone who rises to the challenge. Behind the camera, Cronenberg has made his most accessible movie, making a film that was both entertaining and intelligent, and with a strong, tragic love story at its core. Genuine pathos is generated, something you don’t see often in horror, not to mention a maturity and empathy for the characters. Really, this is perhaps the classiest movie that has ever featured a scene of a woman aborting a giant maggot (with Cronenberg offering a cameo as an obstetrician).

GET THE RAID!!!
GET THE RAID!!!

Get THE FLY on the more recent DVDs, which feature many of the aforementioned deleted scenes, plus a superlative documentary, Fear Of The Flesh: The Making Of THE FLY. Running at nearly three hours, almost twice as long as the movie itself, this features interviews from actors Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis and John Getz, composer Howard Shore, editor Ronald Sanders, director of photography Mark Irwin, and creature designer Walas.
The trailer is below. Enjoy.

Deggsy’s Summary:

Director: David Cronenberg

Plot: 5 out of 5 stars

Gore: 8 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Deggsy. Once fused with a pepperoni pizza, and never looked back.

Rabid (1977)

Rabid posterThis is the raw, gruesome, and disturbing Cronenberg I love. RABID is one of David Cronenberg’s body horror masterpieces (along with SHIVERS, THE BROOD, VIDEODROME, and THE FLY). Fans of both David Cronenberg and Anything Horror will be familiar with the sub-genre in horror known as “body horror.” In this sub-genre the human body itself becomes the focal point of the film. The body is shown, often times in explicit detail, as the fragile canvass upon which many different horrors could manifest. For a modern example of this sub-genre check out the short films of Scottish filmmaker Andy Stewart. Cronenberg, though, is one of the first to explore the fertile area of body horror and this theme can be found in most of his films. In some it’s subtle (EXISTENZ) while in others (like RABID) it’s the dominant theme that drives the plot.

RABID was made early in Cronenberg’s career (it’s his second feature length film) and it was my introduction to his movies. Needless to say I was an instant and devout fan who couldn’t get enough. RABID is an ambitious film. It boasts a fairly big cast, multiple filming locations, and it plays around with other sub-genres. The main plot revolves around the theme of body horror but Cronenberg also throws in an apocalyptic theme as well as a theme that comes very close to vampires. But Cronenberg, who also wrote the film, is no amateur and has a laser-like focus on the material and never loses sight of what he wants this film to be.

The helmet really seals in the juices and allows for even cooking!!
The helmet really seals in the juices and allows for even cooking!!

Rose (Marilyn Chambers, a huge star in the porn world. This is her first non-porn role) is involved in a terrible motorcycle accident. The closest hospital to the accident isn’t actually a hospital at all but a privately owned clinic. You just know nothing good ever comes out of those “privately owned clinics!!” Rose was severely burned on most of her body but lucky for her (!!) the clinic has been playing around with a highly experimental skin graft procedure. The doctors were anxious to do some human experimentation with their procedure and like some gift from a god with a sense of humor here’s poor Rose who desperately needs said procedure. Isn’t she lucky!!

Yummy ... a little Rose Jerky!!
Yummy … a little Rose Jerky!!

At first the procedure seems to be a complete success. Rose is healing quickly with no signs of scar tissue. But before you can say “some side effects may occur,” Rose begins to start acting rather oddly. How oddly, you may wonder? Well it appears that Rose has a phallic, probe-like appendage growing under her arm, she has overwhelming, unnatural impulses to mate with whoever is near her, and she has an unquenchable blood lust. But she’s not simply killing those people she’s fucking and biting with her new appendage. Remember, this is a Cronenberg flick!! The people she “bites” then become rabid, homicidal maniacs who attack others in order to satiate their new found blood lust. Rose is spreading both her legs and a new deadly human form of rabies!!

No ... that doesn't look like a vag at all!!
No … that doesn’t look like a vag at all!!

RABID blends the crazy scientist, vampire(ish), and Cronenberg’s very own “body horror” genres into one gory, sexy, fun ride. There’s also scenes where we see the beginning of the collapse of society and how the city tries to deal with this outbreak. The city’s solution is to organize undertrained “clean up” squads to kill off the infected. Their success rate is pretty much what you’d expect. In typical Cronenberg fashion we also get a real downer of an ending that beautifully captures the overall tone of the film. RABID is a well acted, gory, well written and an important early work from one of the masters of the genre. Not only should all horror fans see RABID but this film should be in every fan’s collection. Not to be missed!!

My Summary:
Director: David Cronenberg
Plot: 5 out of 5 stars
Gore: 8 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 3.5 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer

Rabid clean up

Rabid3

More Horror Remakes on the Horizon!!

Remakes Shivers posterThe remakes may be slowing down a bit, but they are far from done.  We of course have remakes of CARRIE and ROBOCOP coming up soon, but beyond that I don’t think we’ll be hurting for any remakes.  First up is a remake of PATRICK, a remake of the 1978 Australian cult film.  The original is about a comatose hospital patient who harasses and kills though his powers of telekinesis to claim his private nurse as his own. and word is this is already in the can and scheduled to be released in Australia this October (as of yet, there is no US distributor or release date).  It will likely go straight to video in the US sometime next year.  Sharni Vinson (YOU’RE NEXT), Rachel Griffiths (SIX FEET UNDER) and Charles Dance (GAME OF THRONES) star.

Also in the pipes is another remake of THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU.  To be honest, I’m not complaining about another remake of this one.  I could fo gor getting the taste of the 1996 version outta my mouth.  Remember the version with Val Kilmer and Marlon Brando??  Yesh!!  This one isn’t too far along.  Apparently Warner Brothers has hired the writers of HEMLOCK GROVE to pen the script,  Come on guys, give us something good.  Now that cloning and genetic manipulation is more and more a possibility, this remake could be really relevant.

Remakes Patrick posterFinally, and one I’m not absolutely pleased about, is a remake of David Cronenberg’s debut feature 1975 classic, SHIVERS (a.k.a., THEY CAME FROM WITHIN).  This is the film that solidified Cronenberg as the master of body horror.  Sure Cronenberg’s original feels a little dated and is very 1970’s-ish, but goddamn it’s a great flick!!  SHIVERS is about a parasitic worm that turns the residents of an apartment complex into sex-crazed maniacs.  SHIVERS is being remade with a relatively unknown director from Denmark, Rie Rasmussen, and a script from the writer of JESUS CHRIST VAMPIRE HUNTER, Ian Driscoll.  No cast has been announced yet, but producers are aiming to start shooting in February.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this one turns out pretty kick ass.  I like that the producers aren’t using your typical Hollywood script-crankers.

What do you think about these remakes?  What do you wanna see remade?

Stay Bloody!!!

Videodrome (1983)

I’m reposting my review of VIDEODROME due to it being one of my all time favorite genre flicks and because when I originally posted this, back in January of 2010, it was the early days of this website when I didn’t have many visitors.  This way everyone can know experience the love I have for this film!! –AHS

————–

I saw this movie for the first time in 1985 when I was 14. My buddy’s older brother gave me a really crappy, grainy VHS cassette with a horrible sound track; BUT it was the uncut version (and as it goes, watching this flick on a grainy VHS is pretty appropriate). Now it’s 2010 and not only is Videodrome one of my all time favorite movies, but I think its writer-director Cronenberg’s best movie, and I think it’s one of the strongest genre flicks ever made.

I must admit that after I saw this the first time I had no friggin’ idea what the hell was going on.  What I could piece together in my still very innocent mind was that kinky sex and violence stimulates the growth of some organ in your head that will help evolve you into “the New Flesh”??? What the FUCK??  By this time I had already seen Cronenberg’s Shivers (1975), Rabid (1977), and The Brood (1979) and was a bona fide huge fan of Cronenberg.  I was familiar with his theme of “body horror” found in most of his movies, but Videodrome was just way over my 14 year old head.  At first I simply wrote it off as one of his mistakes, but noticed that after a few days I couldn’t get it outta my mind.  There was something so gritty and disturbing about the story and its’ images that I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  I really wanted to understand what Cronenberg was trying to tell me. So I rented it (but this time got the R-rated version) and watched it over and over again. And over and over again. Suddenly I realized not only did I absolutely love Videodrome and believe it to be his best movie yet, but I started to understand the story.  It’s bizarre, no doubt, but it is “Cronenberg Bizarre.”

The story:  James Woods’ character, Max Renn, is one of the owners of a crappy little cable station called Civic TV (which is named as a tribute after City TV, an actual television station in Toronto that was infamous for showing soft-core sex films as part of its late night programming line-up).

You don’t wanna guest star on this TV show!!

In order to compete against bigger stations, Renn knows they need to offer something viewers can’t get on any other station.  Airing some soft-core porn late at night seems to be helping the ratings, but Renn is getting bored by it; it’s too tame for his tastes and he believes his viewers want something with more teeth (pun intended).  In one scene an Asian porn producer, played by David Tsubôchi, tries to sell Renn some porn for the station, but Renn turns him down telling him how boring and predictable it is.  Tsubôchi went on to become a Minister in the Ontario provincial government, and his role here as a pornographer was exploited by the opposition. Ya gotta love politics; the opposition was trying to use Tsubôchi’s ROLE as an ACTOR from a FICTIONAL movie as a true representation of what he really believes in and how he really is.  Pathetic.  And people wonder why I submerge myself in horror movies.  Anyway …

One night the station’s engineer, who has a knack for video piracy and “breaking into” other broadcaster’s signals, comes across a grainy TV showed called “Videodrome.”  The production values are practically nothing (a woman is chained up in a bare room getting beaten), but best of all it’s the kind of program “with teeth” that Renn has been looking for.  So he hires the local “strange lady,” Masha, who has ties to the underworld to track down “Videodrome” for him.  She finds it and tells him to leave it alone:

Masha: Videodrome. What you see on that show, it’s for real. It’s not acting. It’s snuff TV.
Max Renn: I don’t believe it.
Masha: So, don’t believe.
Max Renn: Why do it for real? It’s easier and safer to fake it.
Masha: Because it has something that you don’t have, Max. It has a philosophy. And that is what makes it dangerous.

I’m not 100% sure about this fact but this might just be the first big-studio genre flick (it was distributed by Universal Films) to talk about snuff films!!  From here on out the film gets very bizarre, very gory, and very “I can’t take my eyes off of this.”  I don’t wanna get into much more of the plot, but it’s a crazy ride for sure folks.  This is the kind of film that divides audiences:  Either ya love it or hate it!!

Any horror fan worth their weight in gore needs to see this flick; if nothing else for the special f/x by Rick Baker.  These are some truly amazing, disgusting, disturbing, and groundbreaking f/x:

We see a TV come to life and watch James Woods “make out” with it;

Pucker up for Nikki

we see a gun become an organic part of Woods’ hand;

Gives new meaning to “hand gun”!!

we get to see a living, breathing “vagina” in Woods’ stomach (which he sticks the gun into);

I’m at a loss for words here.

we see a TV screen explode into a mess of blood and guts;

What a gutsy movie!!

and we get to see a man shot by a “tumor gun,” whose body erupts into a ton of tumors as he dies horribly.

A truly disgusting scene.

These are just a few examples of some of the amazing work Baker does here.

Cronenberg definitely has his “body horror” theme here (stronger than ever, in fact) but he also adds the dimension of a very layered and detailed story.  This movie is so much more than the sum of its (amazing) f/x; it’s trying to tell us something.  It’s an early warning in the days before personal computers became so invasive in our daily lives and about the dangers of technology and retreating into that technology and away from actual interpersonal contact.  It also predicts and tries to warn us about the connection between technology and violence (this, I believe, is the essential theme here).  There’s so much violence on TV every day that is taken for granted and we have essentially become desensitized to it.  A certain group in the movie takes advantage of this fact and exploits it:

Harlan: North America’s getting soft, patron, and the rest of the world is getting tough. Very, very tough. We’re entering savage new times, and we’re going to have to be pure and direct and strong if we’re going to survive them. Now, you and this cesspool you call a television station and your people who wallow around in it, your viewers who watch you do it, they’re rotting us away from the inside. We intend to stop that rot.

James Woods and Peter Griffin

All the performances here are top notch.  This is actually one of my favorite performances by James Woods (Woods’ even refers to his role in Videodrome in an episode of Family Guy).  Woods plays his typical, trademarked really intense character.  He starts off very arrogant and cocky, but as he watches more and more of the “videodrome” signal and his body begins to evolve into something new, he loses his grip on reality and begins to question everything.  And in a typical “Cronenbergian” scene we see a character trying to help Woods by putting a machine on his head that will record and analyze his hallucinations.  Trully a “must been seen to be believed” moment.

Some may think that with its high ideals and philosophical views that this movie gets a little pretentious at times.  I never got that feeling.  This is a brilliantly written, “deep” genre movie that challenges you to understand what’s going on.  All the pieces are there; you just gotta put them together.  But when you do it was well worth the “journey.”  I do categorize this as “philosophical horror” but I give this movie that label with respect.  Plus there are so many scenes of absolute depravity and gore that it’ll knock your socks off and remind you that you’re watching a genre flick … a damn good genre flick!!  Deborah Harry, the singer Blondie, also puts in a fantastic

Prototype for a Hallucination Analyzer

performance as Nicki Brand.  She becomes aware of “videodrome” through Woods and not only becomes obsessed with it, but tracks it down, appears on it, and becomes one of its victims.  She adds the perfect amount of kink and depravity here. When she and Woods are fooling around she coyly asks, “Wanna try a few things.”  This’ll send a shiver down your spine.  It seems to me that Cronenberg left the ending wide open for a sequel, and I for one am really upset he never continued this story.  I’d love to see the new world inhabited by “The New Flesh.”  Don’t miss this one.  I love every second of this movie.  This one will get under your skin and you’ll think about it long after you turn off your cathode ray box.

Afterward:  In April 2009 Universal Studios announced that Videodrome would be going through the re-make grinder.  According to Variety, this new remake “will modernize the concept, infuse it with the possibilities of nano-technology and blow it up into a large-scale sci-fi action thriller.”  What the fuck??!!!?  Has anyone that’s even seen this movie and “gotten it” ever thought that it was missing “a large-scale sci-fi thriller” feel?  Absolutely pathetic.  But then let’s remember that in 2003 when the studio announced that another remake of The Fly was in the works, Variety asked the at-the-time director (who’s name escapes me) why he wanted to do another remake of The Fly.  His answer (and I’m paraphrasing here):  “I noticed that in both previous Fly movies, the fly never flew.”  WHAT??!?  Lucky for us all I believe all intentions of remaking Videodrome (and The Fly) have been halted.  But for how long?

My Summary:

Director:  David Cronenberg

Rating:  5 out of 5 stars

Gore:  9 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem:  0 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer

New Trailer for Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis Drops

Aahhh David Cronenberg. Just saying or writing his name take she back to my carefree, youthful days in the 1980’s when I first discovered his films. THEY CAME FROM WITHIN, RABID, SCANNERS, etc … Cronenberg always had a lot to say and he always said it in his own voice!!The film I was most drawn too was his VIDEODROME. I can still remember the first time I watched it. I was around 14-15 years old and after the film ended I had no idea what I just watched. So I rewound my videocassette and immediately watched it again. Upon my second viewing I still had no idea what I just watched (oh I’d have done anything to have the internet back then), but I knew it was unique and I knew it was important.

When Cronenberg started going a little more mainstream and getting away from the horror genre (but let’s face it; has he ever really abandoned the horror genre??) I was still drawn to his films. DEAD RINGERS, NAKED LUNCH, CRASH … just try and argue these don’t have one foot in the horror genre. Well Cronenberg is back with COSMOPOLIS, the story of a disillusioned billionaire. The film is written and directed by David Cronenberg (based on a novel by Don DeLillo) and stars Mr. Sparkly himself, Robert Pattinson, Jay Baruchel, Juliette Binoche, Paul Giamatti, Samantha Morton, and Kevin Durand. Here’s the plot crunch:

Riding across Manhattan in a stretch limo in order to get a haircut, a 28-year-old billionaire asset manager’s day devolves into an odyssey with a cast of characters that start to tear his world apart.

Yeah yeah yeah; I know this doesn’t sound like it’s in the genre, but it is Cronenberg and that man could twist around a Hallmark greeting card to sound devious and evil. So it may not be hardcore horror or anything but it looks like it’ll be a glimpse of a near-future we might not want to live in. Now check out the new trailer:

What do you think?

Stay Bloody!!!

David Cronenberg to Direct & Exec Produce the TV Show, Knifeman!!

actor Tim Roth

Cronenberg may be taking a step closer to his “body horror” roots with the upcoming TV project, KNIFEMAN.  According to deadline.com, Oscar nominee Tim Roth has signed on to play the lead role and David Cronenberg is set to direct the pilot and executive produce the series.  The show centers on John Tattersall (Roth), a radical, self-educated surgeon who will go to unorthodox lengths to uncover the secrets of the human body.  Do you see the potential for this to be a very Cronenbergian project!!  Here’s some more info on KNIFEMAN:

The straight-to-series project, which is expected to be taken out to networks shortly, was written by Emmy-nominated writer-producer Rolin Jones (Boardwalk Empire) from a story by Jones and Ron Fitzgerald (Friday Night Lights, Weeds). Jones and Fitzgerald serve as Executive Producers with Cronenberg. Sam Raimi, Josh Donen and Robert Zotnowski of Stars Road are also Executive Producers, with Sentient’s Renee Tab serving as Co-Executive Producer.

I may be getting way ahead of myself here, but Cronenberg trudging close to ‘body horror’ territory really gets my engine revving!!  More on this one as more infer becomes available.

Stay Bloody!!!

Timecrimes Remake Might Be Back On … Check out the Two People Interested

Have you seen the Spanish film TIMECRIMES? It’s a time travel film from 2007 that many reviewers call, “The best time travel movie ever made” and that it’s a “near perfect” film. Hhmmm. I disagree … big time. I thought TIMECRIMES was laughable and easily one of the worst films I saw in 2007. But maybe this one’s a good candidate for a remake? Well director and screenwriter Steven Zaillian (who has some pretty impressive writing credits under his belt including SEARCHING FOR BOBBY FISCHER, SCHINDLER’S LIST, and the upcoming GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO and directed SEARCHING FOR BOBBY FISCHER and ALL THE KING’S MEN) thinks it would make a good remake. Zaillian has expressed interest in remaking Nacho Vigalondo’s TIMECRIMES. He’s interested in both writing the screenplay and directing it.

Zaillian, though, may have competition. According to spinoff.com, David Cronenberg has expressed interest in “taking a swing” at this remake, but comingsoon.net reports that Cronenberg has denied any involvement or connection with a TIMECRIMES remake. Putting aside the Cronenberg element, we know for sure that Zaillian is interested. Here’s what he had to say:

That’s something I might direct but I don’t know. We have to cast it, but it’s a tricky one, because I want to make it really low budget. I don’t want to do a really big budgeted film for that. I think part of its appeal is that it’s kind of a low budget thriller, but it’s even hard to get that made without a major actor, so the trick is to find the right actor that doesn’t suddenly push the budget up into the 20s or 30s. I’d like to make it for 10 million bucks. You look at it and it’s one of the rare opportunities where you have four characters, two locations, why do you need to spend $40 million dollars? This is a gift, this is a story that you wouldn’t want to tell any differently, and it happens to be an economical way to go.

director-screenwriter Steven Zaillian

At least it sounds like Zaillian is approaching the remake in the right way. But please, Steven, if you take this one on, please please please fix the fucking script!! The original is a disaster and is full of convenient plot points, the main character doing really stupid things, and the plot is full of holes. I think TIMECRIMES is a great candidate for a remake because there’s a nugget of a good story in there that was buried underneath a ton of shit. Do it Zaillian … do your magic. Here’s a brief plot crunch:

A man accidentally gets into a time machine and travels back in time nearly an hour. Finding himself will be the first of a series of disasters of unforeseeable consequences.

Stay Bloody!!!