Category Archives: Blog

BLOOD IN FOUR COLOURS GIVEAWAY [CONTEST CLOSED]

Wanna help us pick the movies for April’s episode? Wanna enter to win a copy of Rue Morgue’s BLOOD IN FOUR COLOURS? Well, you can accomplish both just by commenting on this blog post!

Rue Morgue Blood In Four Colours

Simply comment below with your favorite horror movies based on comic book/graphic novels, and you’re automatically entered to win one of three copies of BLOOD IN FOUR COLOURS! Contestants will be notified March 15, 2016 and the films selected for the April episode will be announced at the end of the March episode.

In BLOOD IN FOUR COLOURS, columnist Pedro Cabezuelo presents a graphic history of horror comics, beginning with the pulps of the 1940s, and tracing their development through the ensuing 70+ years. From EC Comics, Swamp Thing and Marvel Monsters, to manga, Black Hole and The Walking Dead, BLOOD IN FOUR COLOURS features interviews with artists, writers and publishers, movie adaptations, horror manga, indie and web comics, and much more!

Good luck to all!

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Filmmaker Spotlight: Tal Zimerman & Why Horror?

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Why do we watch horror movies? The aptly named documentary Why Horror? poses that very question to scholars, writers, artists, filmmakers and fans. The film follows comedian, horror journalist and our guest Tal Zimerman as he ventures around the world in an attempt to figure out why we love the grotesque and the terrifying.

Why Horror? will receive its American television premiere Friday October 30th, on Showtime.

EXTRA CREDIT

The Why Horror? Facebook Page

LISTEN

Right click or option-click here and choose “Save Target As…” to download the mp3.

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Filmmaker Spotlight. Dreamweaver: Wes Craven (1939-2015)

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A mini-episode sharing our memories of Craven’s films and their impact.

EXTRA CREDIT

Never Sleep Again: The Nightmare on Elm Street Legacy (2010). The only Nightmare on Elm Street documentary you need to see.

Post Mortem: the Mick Garris Interview series. A wonderful four-part interview with Craven covering the highlights of his career.

LISTEN

Right click or option-click here and choose “Save Target As…” to download the mp3.

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Review: The Final Girls (2015)

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When director Todd Strauss-Schulson introduced his newest film The Final Girls on the final day of the Toronto International Film Festival, he promised a love letter not only to horror, but to the slasher genre specifically. Strauss-Schulson, whose previous credits include A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas, spoke about the impact the Friday the 13th series and The Burning in particular had on the film. He also spoke of the film’s emotional resonance, how it dealt with love and loss which were important elements to him after the passing of his own father. All things considered, it’s an interesting mix of thematic elements, especially when most of the film plays like a send-up of a forgotten ’80s slasher. When the lights came up after the screening, the film had crashed in at a lean 88 minutes and while it soared in some of those minutes, it came to a grinding halt in others.

The film begins with a trailer for the fictional slasher film, Camp Bloodbath setting up the campy (ahem) quality of the film-within-a-film that the rest of The Finals Girls revolves around. Amanda Cartwright (Malin Akerman) had several brushes with success but never achieved the big-time and is now raising her teenage daughter Max (Tessa Farmiga) alone. When Amanda is killed in a car crash, the film picks up a few years later when Max is coerced into attending a double-feature of Camp Bloodbath (where Amanda played the role of a doomed counsellor Nancy) and its sequel. During the screening, a fire breaks out in the theatre, leading Max and her friends to escape through the screen which transports them into the film, ergo into the sinister Camp Bloodbath. They are forced to live out the events of the film alongside the characters; most of whom develop into more fully formed characters as a result of the interlopers. Max, in particular, develops a bond with Nancy, the character portrayed by her mother, and attempts to save her from her fictional fate in the film. When the original Final Girl in the film is killed in an accident, it is up to Max and her friends to take up the mantle of Final Girl and save the day.

The Final Girl trope was named by film scholar Carol Clover in her book Men, Women and Chainsaws in 1992, which we’ve talked about multiple times on our podcast. For me, the Final Girl was a big hook that led me down my path to horror lovin’: when I was younger, slasher films interested me because I got to see strong, kind, independent, “normal” women fighting back. Many people have sought to tackle and re-imagine the Final Girl in multiple ways, some more successfully than others (for my money, my favourite Final Girl is Sidney Prescott from Scream) and these re-imaginings even resulted in a similarly titled but much worse film, Final Girl (2015) starring Abigail Breslin. The problem with Strauss-Schulson’s The Final Girls is that it never seeks to understand what truly makes a Final Girl, other than an intact hymen. It never bothers to explore the idea of multiple Final Girls (as the title implies) and winds up standing around making fun of ’80s-style films and tropes. In the film-within-the-film, the characters deduce that there are a series of boxes that must be ticked off in order for Max to enter battle with the Jason Voorhees-like killer, Billy Murphy. The problem is, those boxes – which can be boiled down to the new Final Girl – must be a virgin and must kill the Killer with his own weapon, are some hella cherry-picked emblems of what makes a Final Girl. Yes, the Final Girl is chaste and possibly a virgin, but the film puts so much emphasis on virginity and the exposure of breasts and sex as an alert to the Killer to kill that it becomes a stretch to believe that these slasher films are about anything else, making it less a love letter to the genre and more of a kiss-off. The Final Girls of note are not always chaste and virginal, but they are almost always strong, compassionate and intelligent. Oddly enough, The Final Girls spends time revealing these traits in multiple characters in the film but never values them.

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BEWBS!

The film boasts a uniformly strong cast which unfortunately slow it down as they are all allowed to vamp and improv on screen – resulting in some truly funny moments but none that really add to the themes and plot of the film. The Final Girls does manage to earn some genuinely emotional moments between Max and Nancy as well as Vicki (Nina Dobrev) and Gertie (Alia Shawkat) which helps elevate parts of the film outside of the male gaze of the slasher narrative, which is heavily reliant on boobs and the showing of them. These emotional moments are what render The Final Girls tragically flawed. They suggest that the filmmakers know that the emotional bonds between the female characters are perhaps the strongest areas in the film but weren’t able to fully integrate them into the plot of the story which stems from a purposefully dated slasher. The characters don’t get to subvert or change their fates, they only succumb to them.

The Final Girls is an inoffensive semi-tribute to the slasher genre but rarely demonstrates any true understanding of it. It attempts too many things to be good at any one of them; it’s a coming of age story, a love story, a love lost story and a goofy horror film all in one. To truly get at the heart of what slashers and horror films have to offer, filmmakers have to be able to pull the intangible elements that have made these kind of films an industry all their own and explore what makes them tick – not just follow in their footsteps.

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Filmmaker Spotlight: Ashlea Wessel

Andrea and Alex talk to emerging filmmaker Ashlea Wessel about her new body-horror/creature feature “Ink”. The ladies talk filmmaking styles, assembling a crew and horror influences.

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She also created this amazing photo of The Faculty of Horror! In case you ever wondered what our babies would look like…

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Review: Witching & Bitching

We mentioned that Andrea reviewed Álex de la Iglesia’s Witching and Bitching in our Assessment episode. As it turns out, the movie came out too long ago for Rue Morgue to run her review in the mag, so here it is for your critical reading pleasure!

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WITCHING & BITCHING
Starring Mario Casas, Hugo Silva and Carolina Bang
Written by Jorge Guerricaechevarría and Álex de la Iglesia
Directed by Álex de la Iglesia

Witching & Bitching (original title: Las Brujas De Zugarramurdi) won several Goya awards for its innovative visuals and understandably so; the production values are top-notch and it’s easy to see why Spanish director Álex de la Iglesia (Perdita Durango, The Last Circus) is often compared to Guillermo Del Toro or to the early works of Peter Jackson. Disappointingly, the film situates its dark comedic themes firmly in good old-fashioned misogyny – something I’m not quite ready to laugh at just yet.

José (Hugo Silva) and Tony (Mario Casas) have perfectly acceptable reasons for holding up a pawn shop and stealing a bag of hocked wedding rings. Tony’s girlfriend is a successful lawyer (a fact that makes him feel sexually inadequate), and José’s ex-wife is always harping on him for failing to pay alimony and being a lousy father to their son Sergio (Gabriel Delgado), whom José brought along to the heist. With two inspectors and José’s ex Silvia (Macarena Gómez) hot on their tail, they flee to France in a hijacked taxi driven by Manuel (Jaime Ordóñez), who decides to join their crew. On their way to the border, they drive through the town of Zugarramurdi which is known to be occupied by witches. The group is captured by a coven who determines that young Sergio is “the chosen one” and so they assemble a mass to bring about his rebirth and burn the rest of the men at the stake. Things look grim until the sexy, nubile Eva (director de la Iglesia’s wife, Carolina Bang) turns against her coven – out of sudden, bewildering love for José – and helps the men escape the clutches of the cannibalistic witches.

It’s a bit baffling that a movie about witchcraft (that thing we tortured and burned tens of thousands of innocent women for) can be this overtly sexist without the slightest whiff of satire. Every female in this film is an irritating, nagging caricature of femininity (including Eva, until she abandons her punk haircut and dark lipstick to play mommy to José and Sergio). I get it: it’s a buddy movie. It’s supposed to be a hysterically self-aware celebration of male chauvinism, potty humor and the occasional homophobic gag, and it’s not intended for me and my double-X chromosomes to enjoy.

Toward the end, Eva tells her hag mother that their “mission” is no longer appropriate for today – that “the war” (of the sexes, I’m assuming) is over. If only this were true, Witching & Bitching might be a hilarious parody of outdated sexist stereotypes and notions. Unfortunately, we’ve got a long way to go before this is the case.

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Torontonians can catch Witching & Bitching at TIFF on March 21st, but we wouldn’t recommend it.

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