Tag Archives: Horror

He Has His Father’s Eyes

Podcast 083: Rosemary’s BabyEven with our current sloppy podcast schedule, we can’t not celebrate Halloween here at 101 Towers. So Lewis and Ian have donned their most terrifying and zeitgeist-y costumes (Lewis is a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat, and Ian is a Brexit) and settled down to watch Rosemary’s Baby.

Considered by many as the greatest horror film ever made, Rosemary’s Baby follows Mia Farrow as Rosemary who, after moving into a strange old apartment complex with her husband, falls pregnant. Slowly, she begins to suspect that the weird, elderly next door neighbours are in a witches coven have designs on her unborn child…

Our podcast contains the usual nonsense, fluff, poor recall and misunderstandings that are so important to the 101 Films magic. Listen to the very end for a classic bit of Ian not being able to remember the most basic of facts about a film he has just watched.

If our review has piqued your interest in the film, you can buy the Rosemary’s Baby DVD from Amazon by clicking here (and we get a little bit of cash if you do – thanks in advance).

Anyway, without further ado, let us present our feature presentation:

Click here to download and listen on your MP3 player of choice:

101 Films Podcast 083 – Rosemary’s Baby

Click below to subscribe on iTunes, join our RSS feed or follow us on Facebook and Twitter:

We’d love to hear your own film recommendations – please get in touch at 101filmsyoushouldhaveseen@gmail.com or leave a comment on the blog. Feel free to say nice things about us on iTunes!

Director:  Roman Polanski Year of release: 1968 Studio/Distributor: Paramount Pictures Country: USA

Tobe Hooper: A Retrospective

TheTexasChainSawMassacre-posterAfter reading Stuart Barr’s review of the bonkers 1985 film Lifeforce, a movie with the twin appeals of space vampires and a Patrick Stewart cameo, I decided I had to sample its lunacy for myself. And seeing as Lifeforce is directed by Tobe Hooper, it seemed like a good opportunity to do a movie marathon dedicated to the horror impresario’s back catalogue.

We don’t often cover horror films at 101 Films. Neither Ian nor I are particular fans of the genre, although we both went through a phase of watching horror flicks while at university. Ian maintains that as teenagers we were immune to the horror of watching endless murders owing to belief in our own immortality, but now as rapidly decaying thirtysomethings, the sight of needless killing uncomfortably reminds us of our own fleeting time on Earth. Don’t be fooled by Ian’s braying laughter, the rivers run deep in that one.

PoltergeistposterFor our rare foray into horror, I assembled three of Tobe Hooper’s most famous movies: his impressive 1974 debut, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre; the mega-hit of 1982, Poltergeist; and the mega-flop Lifeforce, which was bankrolled by Cannon Films (remember them?) to the tune of $25 million, but made barely half that at the box office.

It proved surprisingly hard to track down the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre: I easily found the recent remakes, the sequel, the prequel and various documentaries and spin offs, but the 1974 film was hard to come by. A shame really, as it’s a great film, and probably Tobe Hooper’s best movie. Having said that, we were reluctant to watch it again after both seeing it in our uni days – the meat hook scene in particular lingers long in the memory. Having sufficiently girded our loins to put on the DVD, we found the film as brilliant as on first viewing, and as shocking too – time certainly hasn’t dulled its power. Something that can’t be said of Poltergeist.

LifeforceposterIan hadn’t seen Poltergeist before, and he left the film more puzzled than scared. After expecting horror on a par with Texas Chainsaw, he was confused to find a film that was torn between shocks and saccharine suburbia – a legacy of Steven Spielberg’s hand in the movie. The film really is odd, and I’m still not entirely sure what audience it’s aimed at – it seems too tame for horror but too horrific for the mainstream. And it’s ludicrously overblown too, with non-stop cheesy special effects from the beginning – Texas Chainsaw appears subtle by comparison.

I actually found I preferred Lifeforce to Poltergeist. Stuart called the film “a deliriously entertaining bad movie”, which prompted a conversation about whether a film can be so bad it’s good. Well, yes, I reckon, if this movie is anything to go by. It’s nonsensical, and the acting is appalling in places, but its leering insanity and improbability is downright entertaining. We declared it a new Zardoz, which, as you’ll know if you’ve been following our podcast odyssey from the beginning, is high praise indeed.

If our movie marathon has piqued your interest in these films, you can buy The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Poltergeist and Lifeforce on Blu-ray from Amazon by clicking on the links (and we get a little bit of cash if you do – thanks in advance).

Anyway, without further ado, let us present our feature presentation:

Click here to download and listen on your MP3 player of choice:

101 Films Movie Marathon 02 – Tobe Hooper

Click below to subscribe on iTunes, join our RSS feed or follow us on Facebook and Twitter:

We’d love to hear your own film recommendations – please get in touch at 101filmsyoushouldhaveseen@gmail.com or leave a comment on the blog. Feel free to say nice things about us on iTunes!

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – Director: Tobe Hooper Year of release: 1974 Studio/Distributor: Vortex Country: USA

Poltergeist – Director: Tobe Hooper Year of release: 1982 Studio/Distributor: MGM Country: USA

Lifeforce – Director: Tobe Hooper Year of release: 1985 Studio/Distributor: Cannon Films Country: UK/USA

101 Films Movie Marathon 02 – Tobe Hooper

In our second movie marathon, we take a rare excursion into horror territory with a look back at some choice films from Tobe Hooper’s career. We begin with the chilling but brilliant Texas Chainsaw Massacre, followed by the odd but extremely successful Poltergeist, and end with the bonkers but charming flop that is Lifeforce.

101 Films Movie Marathon 02 – Tobe Hooper

Too many films to talk about

You may have noticed a lack of podcast last week – unfortunately we’ve just been too darn busy to record one recently, what with work commitments and frantic Christmas preparations. On top of that, we’ve been going to a heck of a lot of screenings recently – for once, we’ve actually been too busy watching films to find time to talk about them.

I blame the BFI. They’re currently hosting the BFI Gothic season, which has seen a slew of brilliant horror films brought back to the big screen, and we’ve been eagerly watching as many as we can. Last month we saw Cat People, Nosferatu (the excellent Werner Herzog remake), Night of the Eagle (starring the fantastic Peter Wyngarde), The Pit and the Pendulum (Vincent Price as his eye-boggling best) and the German silent classic The Cabinet of Dr Caligari. I also managed to see Vincent Price in Dr Phibes Rises Again with an introduction by 101 Films favourite Kim Newman, and it has rapidly risen to become one of the best films I’ve seen all year. If anyone wants to get me its (apparently even better) prequel, The Abominable Dr Phibes, for Christmas then by all means do.

We also managed to hike to the IMAX to watch Gravity, which looked sensational: it’s the only 3D film I’ve seen since Avatar that actually justifies the use of 3D. Not sure how good it will be on the small screen though… and it’s worth taking some of the science with a pinch of salt. And speaking of big-screen epics, we also managed to catch Gone With The Wind the other week. Neither of us had seen it before, and we were both more than trepidatious about the four-hour run time, seeing as overly long movies are a personal bugbear of ours. Thankfully, and to our relief, it turned out to be fantastic (although to be honest it only really starts getting good after Clark Gable turns up 20 minutes in). Oh, and speaking of Vivien Leigh films, I also went to see A Streetcar Named Desire, which was phenomenally good, and possibly worthy of a podcast sometime soon. Watch this space.

It doesn’t end there: a couple of weeks ago we went to see Ghostwatch, which is a brilliant but almost forgotten BBC One drama from 1992 that mixed reality TV with the supernatural way before Dead Set and its ilk hit our screens. As an added bonus, the director and cast – including Michael Parkinson – turned up for a panel discussion at the end, which proved very illuminating, and also made me wish Parkie was on the TV more these days (and it furthermore provided the revelation that his friends call him Parkie too). Then the other week we saw Dr Terror’s House of Horrors, a decidedly mixed bag of 1970s horror shorts that was worth watching simply for the spectacle of seeing Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Roy Castle, Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman and Donald Sutherland share a train carriage, which is every bit as brilliant as it sounds.

Finally, last weekend we popped back to the BFI again for a double bill of Blood on Satan’s Claw and Witchfinder General. Satan’s Claw was wonderfully shot and created a very believeable version of the 17th century countryside, but it barely held together as a film, with lots of twists and turns that didn’t altogether make sense. Witchfinder General was better, with Vincent Price on chilling form, far from his later camp portrayal of Dr Phibes. The film was every bit as “grim and unrelenting” as the reviews promised, and after the violent climax, my shocked two-word review to Ian was simply: “F***ing hell.”

On a lighter note though, before the screening we managed to stumble across a premiere. On entering the BFI, we were surprised to pass Caitlin Moran and Stephen Moffat on the stairs, then we were confused as to why there was a throng of teenaged girls hanging around in the foyer. We threaded our way through them towards the cinema entrance, only to find ourselves alone in a corridor that was deserted save for a lone security guard bearing down on us. We looked round and quickly realised we were standing downwind of Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch giving interviews to the press – it turned out that the premiere of the new Sherlock Holmes series was being held that very afternoon.

Oh, and we also saw Griff Rhys Jones in Eat. The glamour of London Town.

Anyway, as you can tell, there’s been little time for podcasts recently, but we should be back with a podcast just before Christmas – we’ve got a slightly different Christmas special planned for this year… See you next week!

One. Two. Three. Knock on the Wall

ElorfanatoFinally our terrifying journey through October, the spookiest month of all, comes to an end with our last  Halloween special podcast for 2013. After looking at horror in the 1950s with Night of the Demon and in the 1970s with The Wicker Man, we finish with what is considered a modern classic, 2007’s The Orphanage.

The thing that unites all three of the films we’ve watched for Halloween is the fact that the ‘horror’ or scary elements of the story don’t actually seem to be the point of the story. The Night of the Demon was a psychological thriller, whereas The Wicker Man was a, er, folk musical dark comedy. And The Orphanage? A story about how two people deal with the loss of a child.

The film follows Laura played by Belén Rueda. Laura grew up in the titular orphanage and has returned as an adult with her doctor husband Carlos and their adopted son Simón with plans to turn it into a home for children with special needs. Simón starts to talk to apparently invisible children, including one who wears a cloth sack over his face…

Neither Lewis nor I had seen the film before. Knowing it was produced by Guillermo del Toro and being fans of his work, we were looking forward to a beautiful looking film and, if we’re honest, slightly worried about being scared witless by weird, creepy-looking ghost kids. Although gorgeous to look at (and of course it’s the director J. A. Bayona who should get the credit for that), the film wasn’t as scary as we were expecting. Odd and creepy yes, but not exactly terrifying. More than anything the film made me sad, watching Laura trying to cope with the disappearance of Simón and her growing desperation.

We also ended up talking a lot about the plot holes of the film, so if you haven’t seen it, be warned: we spoil the film rotten!

Our Secret Sponsor for this week is Rhidian Davis (@rhidiandavis), who’s currently overseeing the BFI Gothic season (http://www.bfi.org.uk/gothic). There are loads of great screenings coming up over the next couple of months – we urge you to check out the programme.

If our review has piqued your interest in the film, you can buy The Orphanage on DVD or Blu-ray from Amazon by clicking the links (and we get a little bit of cash if you do – thanks in advance).

Anyway, without further ado, let us present our feature presentation:

Click here to download and listen on your MP3 player of choice:

101 Films Podcast 067 – The Orphanage

Click below to subscribe on iTunes, join our RSS feed or follow us on Facebook and Twitter:

We’d love to hear your own film recommendations – please get in touch at 101filmsyoushouldhaveseen@gmail.com or leave a comment on the blog. Feel free to say nice things about us on iTunes!

Director:  J. A. Bayona  Year of release: 2007  Studio/Distributor: Esta Vivo! Laboratorio de Nuevos Talentos, Grupo Rodar, Rodar y Rodar Cine y Televisión, Telecinco Cinema, Televisió de Catalunya (TV3), Warner Bros. Pictures de España, Wild Bunch  Country: Spain and Mexico

Come. It is time to keep your appointment with the Wicker Man.

Wicker-Man-Final-Cut-PosterIn the second of our Halloween horror podcasts, we look at The Wicker Man: The Final Cut, a newly restored version of the classic 1973 British film. We’ve slightly bent the rules this time around – usually we only review films that either one or both of us hasn’t seen before, but we’ve actually both seen The Wicker Man – several times in fact. However, this is a brand new version of the movie – The Final Cut – in which the whole film has been restored from a new-found print and director Robin Hardy has chopped out some scenes and inserted others. So neither of us had seen this version of the film before, which means we can include it on the list.

Hey, don’t give us that look, it’s our podcast, we can do what we like!

Anyway, Ian was lucky enough to see this at a screening a couple of months back, and I managed to get tickets for the premiere at the British Film Institute, which was a brilliant evening for a number of reasons. Mostly because Robin Hardy was there doing a Q&A after the film, and he very nearly rivalled the late, great Michael Winner in terms of anecdotes and bon mots, but also because of a certain incident in the foyer just before I went in. I won’t spoil it for you – just listen to the podcast.

To be honest, we both struggled a bit to work out what parts had been changed in the film compared to the ‘Director’s Cut’ version a few years back. The most obvious change was the removal of the scenes with Sergeant Howie on the mainland at the beginning, which Robin Hardy notes were superfluous, and I tend to agree with him. I’m fairly sure that Britt Ekland’s famous dance routine has been pushed back to the second night in the film as well, and we also get to see some copulating snails, for what it’s worth. Most importantly though, this new version of the film looks fantastic – a vast improvement over the previous one, which was patched together from various prints and VHS copies.

If you’ve never seen The Wicker Man, you’re in for a treat. It’s a bizarre, enticing film that draws you in with its weird, sometimes funny depiction of life on a remote Scottish island before knocking you down with a sensational ending. Famously, it’s almost impossible to categorise: perhaps the closest you could get is a comedy-musical whodunnit with a hint of horror. Whatever it is, it’s unmissable.

The Wicker Man: The Final Cut is in cinemas now and is released on Blu-ray on 14th October – you can buy the Blu-ray from Amazon by clicking here (and we get a little bit of cash if you do – thanks in advance).

Last but not least, our Secret Sponsor for this week is Careless Whispers Podcast. They are on Twitter but they, um, haven’t actually tweeted yet so I suggest you take a look at their Facebook page.

Anyway, without further ado, let us present our feature presentation:

Click here to download and listen on your MP3 player of choice:

101 Films Podcast 066 – The Wicker Man The Final Cut

Click below to subscribe on iTunes, join our RSS feed or follow us on Facebook and Twitter:

We’d love to hear your own film recommendations – please get in touch at 101filmsyoushouldhaveseen@gmail.com or leave a comment on the blog. Feel free to say nice things about us on iTunes!

Director: Robin Hardy Year of release: 1973/2013 Studio/Distributor: British Lion/StudioCanal Country: UK

Podcast 066: The Wicker Man: The Final Cut

In the second of our Halloween podcasts we travel to Summerisle in Scotland and get all in a tiz about apples and bare bottoms. And Christopher Lee.

101 Films Podcast 066 – The Wicker Man The Final Cut

It’s in the trees! It’s coming!

Night of the Demon posterThis year, rather than do a Halloween special, we thought we’d dedicate the whole of October to doing scary movies, and in the first of these Halloween podcasts we review Night of the Demon (or Curse of the Demon as it was known in the United States, for no real reason).

Ian first saw this film as a kid, and he was keen to cover it for 101 Films as it really stuck in his mind. As luck would have it, the BFI were screening it as part of their Gothic season, so we excitedly trooped into London Town for a night of witchcraft and intrigue.

The screening was held outdoors in the courtyard of the British Museum – appropriate seeing as a key scene in the film takes place there – and immediately upon arriving, Ian ran into writer Kim Newman yet again. Ian swears that Newman did a double take on seeing him; he’s convinced that Kim thinks he’s a stalker, as they keep running into each other at various events like this one, yet have never spoken. I tried to convince Ian to reach out to Kim on Twitter, perhaps to explain that he doesn’t want to kidnap him and make him the centrepiece of his Kim Newman altar, but he was having none of it. (Incidentally, if you’ve never heard of Kim Newman, go out and buy one of his excellent books immediately – Ian thoroughly recommends the Anno Dracula series.)

As an unexpected treat, Peggy Cummins, who plays schoolteacher Joanna Harrington in the film, appeared before the screening, leading to rapturous applause from the audience. She’s in her eighties now, and she seemed pretty overwhelmed by the response, bless her. A chap from the BFI was also on hand to pontificate about the film before the showing, noting in particular that Prof. Julian Karswell (played brilliantly by Niall MacGinnis) is a middle-aged man who lives alone with his mother hint hint nudge nudge saynomore. It reminded me of a screening of Gilda I saw a while back, in which the introducer announced that according to modern interpretations of the film, everyone in it is clearly a rampant homosexual. This interpretation certainly made the film’s odd ending much more understandable, but ever since watching The Onion Looks Back At Jaws, I can’t help but suppress a smirk whenever an academic tells me that someone in an old movie was obviously gay.

Anyway, I found myself totally entranced by Night of the Demon, and I’d highly recommend it. It’s unlikely to be considered ‘scary’ by today’s standards, and the ‘Demon’ special effects have aged badly, but it’s an undeniably creepy film. There’s a long-running debate (which we touch on in the podcast) about whether the demon should have appeared at the beginning of the film – the director purposely only wanted the demon to appear at the very end, or not at all, in order to keep the audience guessing as to whether it actually existed, but the producer decided to edit in footage of the titular beast right at the start in order to draw the audience in. Basically it comes down to whether you’re a fan of Columbo or Poirot – do you prefer to see the killer at the beginning or just at the end?

Last but not least, our Secret Sponsor for this week is @ObsoleteGamer (http://obsoletegamer.com), where you can read some of our old posts from 101 Video Games That Made My Life Slightly Better.

If our review has piqued your interest in the film, you can buy the Night of the Demon DVD from Amazon by clicking here (and we get a little bit of cash if you do – thanks in advance).

Anyway, without further ado, let us present our feature presentation:

Click here to download and listen on your MP3 player of choice:

101 Films Podcast 065 – Night of the Demon

Click below to subscribe on iTunes, join our RSS feed or follow us on Facebook and Twitter:

We’d love to hear your own film recommendations – please get in touch at 101filmsyoushouldhaveseen@gmail.com or leave a comment on the blog. Feel free to say nice things about us on iTunes!

Director: Jacques Tourneur Year of release: 1957 Studio/Distributor: Associated British Picture Studios Country: UK

Podcast 065: Night of the Demon

In the first of our  Halloween specials, we look at Night of the Demon, a classic 1957 British Horror movie with ropey special effects but a gripping storyline.

101 Films Podcast 065 – Night of the Demon