157 posts categorized "Horror"

October 30, 2016


Andy Warhol's FrankensteinCommonly referred to as “Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein” (what on Earth could be better?), Paul Morrissey directed “Flesh for Frankenstein” with a dry camp sensibility that he exploits hilariously, and relentlessly, for truly inspired gory (and nude) episodes of Grand Guignol exaltation. Makeup wiz Carlo Rambaldi (“Alien”) has a field day. Most significant in this gruesome parade is its premeditated use of the Space-Vision 3D process to allow disemboweled organs to dangle in front of audience’s noses. If this movie ever comes to your neighborhood in 3D, don’t miss it. It may well be the best use ever made of the stereoscopic process. The ratings board gave this movie an X rating for a reason.


Morrissey co-wrote the Hammer-inspired horror movie with two uncredited screenwriters (Tonino Guerra – “Blowup” and Pat Hackett). The movie is all about the set-up, style, and tone. If the dialogue seems atrociously stiff, that is the intention. Baron von Frankenstein (exquisitely played for hammy effect by Udo Kier) shares his remote castle with his nymphomaniac wife/sister Katrin (Monique van Vooren). Katrin’s pre-pubescent son and daughter secretly follow in Dr. Frankenstein’s footprints. With his submissive servant Otto (Arno Juerging) beside him, and hair slicked back in a Dracula-inspired style, the good doctor likes to stick it in the surgically opened gallbladder of his not-yet-alive female creation. Cue the 3D effects.


Udo Kier delivers the film’s money line when he categorically states, “to know death Otto, you have to fuck life in the gallbladder.” Hilarious.

Dr. Frankenstein goes on about creating life that represents Serbian ideals that “comes from the ancient Greeks” built of a head with the right “nasum” (nose).


Joe Dallesandro (“Little Joe” of Lou Reed’s “Take a Walk on the Wild Side” fame) steals the movie as Nicholas, the castle stable boy (a.k.a. stud) who Lady Katrin seduces and claims as her own. Dallesandro’s Brooklyn accent and physical bearing brings an intriguing undercurrent of global cross-pollination in the film’s European environs. Martin Scorsese followed in this film’s footsteps when he made “The Last Temptation of Christ” in 1988.

Flesh for Frankenstein

Other filmmakers also stole from “Flesh For Frankenstein.” David Cronenberg clearly took inspiration from this movie for “Videodrome” and eXistenZ. There is also no question that this deeply satisfying picture informed the set design and comic tone for “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” which also took its ideas from Peter Perry Jr.’s “Kiss Me Quick!” (1964).


Andy Warhol’s Flesh For Frankenstein” is a riot. Even its closing tableau is socially transcendent, and transgressive. The movie periodically achieves its operatic aspirations. It also happens to be one of the most simultaneously gloriously gross and sexy horror movies you’ll ever see. Oh what sublime joy.

Joe Dallesandro

Rated R. 95 mins. (A+) (Five stars — out of five / no halves)

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June 26, 2016


Shallows2Here is a good old-fashioned suspense thriller about a strong-willed young woman and a big mean shark. Blake Lively shows off her acting chops in this genre picture that belongs all to her. It's a popcorn movie make for gigantic drive-in movie screens.

Feeding on a whale carcass gets old after a few days for a mammoth shark, especially when there’s tasty human flesh around to supplement the entree.

Jaume Collet-Serra’s workmanlike direction is adequate. He still needs to learn a few lessons from Hitchcock and Friedkin, but the raw suspense he creates works well enough. Everything is a little low-fidelity in a gaudy exploitation way. The musical score is no bueno. What can you do?

There’s no point mentioning plot details of screenwriter Anthony Jaswinski’s lean, and implausible, script. Some of the CGI is lacking, and sure I could nitpick about a giant unrealistic looking prop, but the shark is plenty convincing when you’re staring down its gullet on the big screen.

The film is paced like a Swiss watch, and Lively’s gutty performance as Nancy, a surfer and med school student, makes it tic. A wounded seagull friend that accompanies Nancy during her tiny-island waiting game with the shark, is a nice poetic touch if not much else. It’s still not as cheesy as the cell phone conversation Nancy has with her dad about her future. Such is the sentimental white bread that bookends the action.


Yes, there is one moment that will shock you out of your chair regardless of how many scary movies you’ve seen. If that’s not good enough to send you after a cheap thrill at the movies, I don’t know what is.


Rated PG-13. 87 mins. (B) (Three stars — out of five / no halves)

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May 20, 2016


The-Neon-DemonCannes, France —All high-contrast shiny surfaces and fetishized sensual (albeit grotesque) fantasy, Nicholas Winding Refn’s ultra slick Neon Demon isn’t the redemption he was looking for in Cannes (we'd all rather forget "Only God Forgives"). Still, the abstract horror film is an extravagant guilty pleasure in the vein of Dario Argento at his best.

The film's badass techno soundtrack (composed by Cliff Martinez) is to die for, and characters do.

Elle Fanning is divine as an underage model who gets in way over her all-too-lovely head. As we know from movies like "The Player," bad things happen in Pasadena. Even worse things happen in L.A. proper.

The most infuriating thing about this flawed picture is how easily Refn could have corrected plot holes that even a cursory script polish could have addressed.


There's 90% of a story here. In interviews, Refn has overreached by comparing himself to Lars Von Trier, and said that Von Trier is over the hill. Clearly, Refn needs to pick his battles better since he has yet to make a film half as rigorous as even Von Trier's weakest efforts.


"The Neon Demon" is cool in its minimalist form, but Nicholas Winding Refn still has a lot of serious woodshedding to do. In the meantime, drink something sticky and watch "The Neon Demon" for its delectable visual style and detached sense of irony. Oh, and see it for its instant-cult-status-approved scene of lesbian necrophilia with Jena Malone on top. It had to happen in Cinema sooner or later.



Rated R. 117 mins. (B-) (Three Stars — out of five / no halves)

Cannes 69 Complete from Cole Smithey on Vimeo.

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