And You Thought It Was Safe(?)


The Quick and the Dead (1995)
Now there's a halo legend...

Now there’s a halo legend…

A lot of people rightly praise Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy, but I’ve always preferred his…”more mature” feels like an obscenely inaccurate phrase, so I’ll just call them his “middle-period” pieces. Between Evil Dead 2 and Spider-Man, Raimi struggled for mainstream success, feeling – like every decent genre director in the ’80s and ’90s – that niche audiences and cult success are all well and good…until you looked at the numbers. Besides, Universal wanted to create its own TV channel. Who better to make that happen than a writer/director/producer triple threat?

These struggles cost him fans and failed to win him the wide audience Hollywood’s power brokers and spreadsheet psychics insist every director must possess before they’re allowed to sit in the Front Room with the Grown Ups, where they might accidentally/on-purpose break the studio’s Nice Things (like, oh, I don’t know, say…a profitable superhero franchise). While Darkman and Army of Darkness are “kinder” and “gentler” films than either previous Dead movie (and easier to follow than the Great Black Mark on Raimi’s pre-Spider-Man career, Crimewave), I’m going to own up another Fanboy Heresy and admit I actually prefer them to the original Dead duology.

Not that I don’t love the Dead movies, but I prefer flicks with characters over flicks with mobile viscera containers (that just so happen to speak and/or emote). Why do you think I go out of my way to avoid “art house” or “Sundance Channel” films? Continue reading

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Nightmares in Red, White and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film (2009)
"Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! You actually paid money for this?  Foolish humans!"

"Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! You actually paid money for this? Foolish humans!"

While it may or may not be “the best documentary of its kind in years,” Nightmares in Red, White and Blue is certainly the most comprehensive. Covering almost one hundred years of American horror film history, Nightmares is not a film you watch so much as absorb. It deserves its own study guide, and that’s exactly what I found on the film’s official website. God I love living in the future, don’t you?

It not even a film, really. More the backbone of a college course…or a whole wing of some major university department. Plus it’s got Lance Henriksen as Our Humble Narrator and if ever there was a man chosen by prophecy to narrate this kind of stuff, it’s Frank Black. “Yea, verily, one will be born among them with a face like an Arizona relief-map and the voice of gravel under foot. And he shall narrate horror film documentaries, because that’s certainly better than slumming in a wasteland of straight-to-DVD indie-horror…”

So the “best documentary of it’s kind in years” begins with Frank Black reading our liturgy: Continue reading