It’s another wild ‘n’ weird Werewolf Wednesday here at Kinky Ho-rror! For this week’s hairy ho-wler, we’re taking to the home of history’s most ho-rrifying monsters: Washington D.C.
Werewolf of Washington is today’s chiller-diller and, boy, is it some-THING! Part Monster Movie! Part Political Satire! All Terror! The film stars Dean Stockwell, sans green hair. He plays White House Press Secretary Jack Whitter, a man cursed with lycanthropy… Oh, boy. This film probably isn’t going to give you nightmares, but I don’t think it’s really supposed to. It’s clear that this film was intended to be a commentary on the NiXXXon era. Can you imagine how-l much better All the President’s Men would be if it starred the Wolfman? Ho-wever, that doesn’t mean there ain’t some prime werewolf terror! When the hairy one shows up, it’s classic B-movie madness! While it’s certainly no Jack Pierce monsterpiece, the make-up is pretty groovy. That’s certainly something to howl about. Keep America strong… watch Werewolf of Washington below:
Just another #MonsterMonday here at KH, so let’s wake the dead with one of the undeniable cl-ass-sicks of the ho-rror genre. If it doesn’t scare you, you’re already dead! From 1968, It’s… This one’s huge (hehe ;))…It’s the ultimate zombie movie; often imitated, but never duplicated. The late, great George A. Romero did what few have done and essentially created a new genre of monster fiction. Yes, Haitian/voodoo zombies eXXXisted before (and are still awesome as heck), but Romero’s film created the shambling, flesh-eating corpses we know and fear today. Without this film, there is no Return of the Living Dead, The Walking Dead, or Shaun of the Dead. Night of the Living Dead was unleashed nearly 50 years ago, but it still has the power to get under your skin. Its shoestring budget only adds to the nightmarish nature of the film. With perfect dread and an ending that still galvanizes, this is one of the monster films that will never truly die. George A. Romero is the true King of the Zombies. Check out this masterpiece below:
(Submitted by a truly hardcore fan of the entire Ape-y series, Mr. Anton Phibes…Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, ya dang dirty human!! 😉 xoxo)
We’ve all been to the Planet of the Apes before. Many times, in fact. The first visitation was in 1968 and it was a most magnificent trip. We made frequent stays throughout the ’70s. All were incredibly lovely, but lacking the majesty of the first. After a long hiatus, we journeyed back with Tim Burton in 2004, but I think we’d rather forget about that one. Our last two “Ape” vacations were pleasant enough, but I feared that the magic was gone. They certainly looked nice, but there was nothing really memorable about them. That’s why It is with great pleasure that I report that War for the Planet of the Apes is not only a fantastic return to the Planet, but perhaps the best since the first.
War for the Planet of the Apes is still very much a Planet of the Apes, but the “War” aspect is very prominent . The film takes inspiration from war movie classics like The Great Escape, Bridge on the River Kwai (based on a novel from the author of Planet of the Apes), and Apocalypse Now. Odd influences for a science fiction film, but it all works so very well. And while War of the Planet of the Apes does indeed draw from these sources, it still feels very much like its own film.
Picking up not long after the previous film, the movie depicts the further escalation of the conflict between ape and man. The ape clan, led by the chimpanzee Caesar (Andy Serkis), is at war with a military faction known as Alpha-Omega, lead by The Colonial (Woody Harrelson) Not wanting to suffer any more ape casualties, Caesar plans to relocate the clan from San Francisco to the desert. However, on the the night before their journey, the apes are attacked by Alpha-Omega, who kill Caesar’s wife and child. Filled with rage, Caesar begins a quest to avenge his kind.
The film is truly spectacular in every sense of the word. There’s a grandness to the entire picture, not dissimilar to the epics of David Lean. Director Matt Reeves does a masterful job balancing summer movie thrills, genuine suspense, and moving drama, even offering moments of silence that add weight to the proceedings. Reeves maintains a dark tone, but tempers it with moments of beauty. War for the Planet of the Apes is a grim film in some respects, but it offers hope and still serves as a rousing display of ape-based action. Of course, a planet like this is only as good as the apes that inhabit it. And these apes are among the most human in the entire franchise. All of the ape actors are incredible and imbue their simians with personality, but the movie rightfully belongs to Andy Serkis. Serkis was fantastic in the previous entries, but his performance is downright perfect here. His face, his emotions, and his power all shine brightly through the digital make-up. It’s easy for one to forget that Serkis is actually a human in real life. If any modern performer comes close to the magic that Lon Chaney had, it’s Andy Serkis.
As Caesar’s great enemy, Woody Harrelson is dynamite. Fearsome, cold, brutal… Harrelson’s Colonel is beyond chilling at times. Along with this version of Caesar, I believe The Colonel is destined to become one of the icons of this franchise. Newcomer Amiah Miller is beyond endearing as the mute Nova, named for Linda Harrison’s role in the first two original PotA. She often steals the scene without saying a word, although she does get to sign a few.
War for the Planet of the Apes ends on a landscape that brings to mind the original film, hinting at what lies ahead. If they do another sequel, I will certainly see it. But I think they should end the reboot franchise here. I can’t imagine a more beautiful conclusion to this franchise than this. If this ends up being our last trip to the Planet of the Apes, I’d be more than satisfied. Hail Caesar.
We lost two true legends today: director George A. Romero and actor Martin Landau. Romero was the man who gave us the zombie film as we know it today, Landau brought Bela Lugosi back to life for director Tim Burton. Both men were masters of their craft and will be deeply missed by us all. During this week, we will be paying homage to these two fallen icons. Thank you, gentlemen. May you rest well. xoxo
The War for the Planet of the Apes is waging in cinemas across the nation, so what better way to skull-ebrate the apes than a damn, dirty cartoon?
Return to the Planet of the Apes premiered on September 6, 1975 and was broadcast until September 4, 1976, with 13 episodes in total. It was the second television series based on the franchise, following the short-lived live action series that aired the previous year. The series depicts a technologically advanced society of apes, sticking closer to Pierre Boulle’s original novel than its predecessors. In short, it’s totally worth going ape for. 😉 What’s really cool about this series is that it feels like Planet of the Apes. For the most part, it maintains the overall tone of the previous versions and it’s fairly clever in its writing. Sure, the animation is basically at “motion comic” level, but the art itself is quite beautiful. As a cartoon based on one of the most eXXXceptional sci-fi film series of all time, it’s pretty groovy. It’s dark, it’s thrilling, and it doesn’t have Tom Felton quoting the first film. I’m bananas for it! 🙂
I do believe that Dario Argento, director of such stunning and inspiring movies like Suspiria and Phenomena, gets plenty of recognition, but I’m not sure if he gets all the recognition he deserves. I dunno, maybe he does, but I feel like we should be talking about him a lot more. Some argue that the giallo genre was shaped and molded by Mario Bava and I totally agree with that, but I believe it was when Dario Argento got his black leather gloves all over it, he perfected it.
Before his films were known for being brightly colorful comic book images come to life, Dario Argento worked more with shadows and lights. There’s something so chilling about the way he shoots a black leather glove, outlined by moonlight, tracing the contours of a knife. I could go on forever about how visually impressive his movies are, but I think visually being able to tell a movie is something that is being lost. Ironic, I know, but consider everything we can do to make any frame of a movie you are watching look fantastic. Obviously, it wasn’t always that way and it took creative people with a stylish, artistic vision to bring it to life.
The Bird With the Crystal Plumage is Dario Argento’s directorial debut and the only comparison is Reservoir Dogs and Quentin Tarantino. Coming out swinging and swinging hard, sister. When you look at the core story of The Bird With the Crystal Plumage, it’s quite simple. I believe most of the greatest films are simple stories, but it takes a great director to tell that simple story. When you take a step back and look at it, it’s nothing more than a guy who witnesses a murder and helps with the investigation. Not too complicated, but once you introduce some interesting characters, a few sexy sirens, a killer that not only lurks in the shadows, but has taken an interest in the film’s protagonist who has reluctantly decided to help the police seeing as how he’s a material witness (because, you know, that’s totally acceptable). Argento will also start his notorious trend of the main character solving the murder by recalling clues through memory. It’s interesting how it’s used here, with no sound, playing over and over like a nightmare and seemingly getting closer and closer to the truth. As a viewer, you begin to feel like you yourself are reliving that horrible moment and I found myself on the edge of the seat, leaning in and intently staring at the screening, hoping to find some detail or clue Argento has left for his hero. And for us.
The answer is right in front of you the whole time, but you’ll never see it. When the film ends, it will become so obvious, but until then The Bird With the Crystal Plumage is an energetic thriller that has more than enough surprises and for the most part is easy to follow along. But before the end, you obviously have to start at the beginning, a theme that Argento’s giallos typically follow. Tony Musante plays an American (because that name screams America) ex-writer named Sam living in Italy who accidentally witnesses a murder on his way home one night. I just realized that the phrase “accidentally witnesses a murder” is an oxymoron, seeing as how I don’t think that’s anyone’s intention. And he was two days away from retirement, dammit, or in this case from moving! Seeing as how the inspector has taken Sam’s passport, he won’t be moving in the foreseeable future, so he may as well insert himself in the investigation and solve the case. Because, ya know, that’s something witnesses can do. It’s okay to meddle in police business and put yourself – the material witness – in danger.
By following some evidence, a left handed glove with cigarette ash on it, they connect this attempted murder to three other women that have been murdered, but there must be a bigger connection. Honestly, I don’t think there is between the victims or at least nothing that I recall. Partnering with his hot-to-trot vixen of a girlfriend (played by Torso’s Suzy Kendall, the film that is arguably one of the first slashers), they don’t necessarily connect the dots, but come across an interesting clue; the killer had bought a painting of a man killing a woman from a woman he murdered. Confused? Don’t be, it’s not as complicated as it sounds, but the way it fits into this puzzle as a whole may seem like a bit of a stretch, but I think it’s more of an interesting way to tie it all together. It also helps fill in the gaps when Sam isn’t being stalked by a figure in a trench coat and a fedora, like when he’s walking down a foggy street, totally unaware he is being stalked until he has a meat clever swung at his head! It’s a good scene and a cool shot, but I wouldn’t call it tense seeing as I don’t think the movie would try to kill our main character before is halfway over. This isn’t Executive Decision here.
The closer they get to discovering the identity of the killer, the more threats they receive, which is arguably understandable. At least from the killer’s point of view, anyway. That’s pretty much your movie right there, but like I said, it’s pretty simple at its core, but Argento throws in some interesting pieces to make it seem different or more complicated than it actually is. I do have to say that I wouldn’t say the ending is a twist since that’s pretty standard for giallos, but I will say regardless of the obvious red herrings, I didn’t see it coming and it was a hair raising revelation when Sam recalls the events correctly that night and identifies the killer.
Usually a director’s earlier works are noticeably weaker, but not Argento’s. This film looks just as beautifully directed as his later works, like Deep Red or Suspiria. The Bird With the Crystal Plumage is a strong, solid film that has a moderately suspenseful story with interesting, but not over the top characters (accompanied by great performances), sexy girls and amazing cinematography. The only thing it seems to be lacking is gore, something Argento would later increase with Deep Red and Tenebrae. The film isn’t a violent, bloody mess like you would expect from a murder mystery, in fact there is very little blood. Luckily, this isn’t a Fulci film, so it’s not like you’re expecting it or viewing it simply to watch people get their guts spilled or eyeballs tortured in some way. Then again, that’s where the two filmmakers are noticeably different; Argento was more about mood and style and Fulci – at times – was about atmosphere and gore.
The Bird With the Crystal Plumage joins the ranks of other great giallos put out by Arrow Video and I’m happy the first time in about ten years I viewed this film was on a brand new 4K transfer that looked sharp and colors were vibrant and wild that it was like viewing a catalogue of models and trends in the ‘70s. Being an Italian film, you do have the option of seeing it with its original Italian audio track (with optional English subtitles). This release also features a new audio commentary from Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films, The Power of Perception, a new visual essay on the cinema of Dario Argento by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, author of Devil’s Advocates: Suspiria and Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study, new analysis of the film by critic Kat Ellinger, new interview with writer/director Dario Argento, new interview with actor Gildo Di Marco (Garullo the pimp). This release also features a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Candice Tripp, as well as a double-sided fold-out poster and 6 Lobby Card reproductions. I think the bonus fans will enjoy the most is the limited edition 60-page booklet illustrated by Matthew Griffin, featuring an appreciation of the film by Michael Mackenzie, and new writing by Howard Hughes and Jack Seabrook. Lots of cool information to be found there.
The Bird With the Crystal Plumage is a classic, not matter if you see it as a giallo, horror or even as an Argento film, it perfectly represents all three. It may not be his best or bloodiest work, but it’s a great little thriller that doesn’t try to be bigger than what it is and still keeps you intrigued every step of the way.
So what happens when these two tit-ans of awesome get together?
Pure, unadulterated madness.
Yes, dear freaks… back in 1981, Harry and Giger collaborated in a big, bad way. Harry wanted to take an “alien” approach to her debut album, so she hired the Swedish mad genius to conjure up a nightmarish work o’ art for the cover. The result is Harry lookin’ a great deal like a Cenobite… Yup, nothing creepy about that.
That’s certainly kookoo… at least, Harry thought so. So much so that she named the album KooKoo after seeing Giger’s work.
In addition to the album cover, Giger also designed and directed two videos for Harry: Backfired and Now I You Know You. The former looks like the world’s most disturbing magic show, with Giger doing the ol’ sword box trick on Harry. As for the latter, it’s pure Giger. For that video, Giger (xeno)morphed Harry into an otherworldly creature through body paint. I don’t know about you creeps, but I kinda wish Alien: Covenant looked like this.
War is upon us, folks… the War for the Planet of the Apes, that is!
The third chapter of the Planet of the Apes reboot saga is upon us and it looks totally ape-tastic!! 🙂
However, before we go to War, we must remember the Battle…
Yes, Battle for the Planet of the Apes, the much-maligned final installment. Most fans agree that it’s the worst of the series. So do I, but that’s only because the rest of the films are so solid! Personally, I think that Battle for the Planet of the Apes is an eXXXcellent conclusion to the OG series. Sure, it looks like it was made for about 3 nickels and a MoonPie, but that’s part of the charm. It plays like an eXXXtended episode of the great 1974 TV series. Plus, it gave us two truly eXXXceptional things:
The “Ape has killed Ape” chant:
and Paul Williams performing on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson!
Yes, it’s true! To promote his role in this film, singer/songwriter/Human Muppet Paul Williams appeared on Johnny Carson’s show in full ape make-up and sings Here’s That Rainy Day! It’s completely surreal and one of the reasons why we love Paul Williams! Words cannot do justice to it, so here it is… in all its Ape-tastic glory!
(I used to LOVE the shit out of this movie, so seems appropriate to be included in out #TBT offerings…Submitted, of course, by Mr. Goon-y Goon himself, Mr. Andrew Peters. Thanks for the mammaries, Kinky Ho-mie!! 😉 xoxo)
The ‘90s was an odd time for science fiction films. It’s like they couldn’t be made properly and nobody wanted them, but dammit, they were trying. Made on relatively modest budgets for what they were trying to achieve, the films themselves were over ambitious and may have missed the mark, but something about them was noteworthy. Films like The Lawnmower Man, Johnny Mnemonic or Mimic come to mind. When you look at those films, you would be shocked at what the special effects they were able to achieve or what stars they managed to rope into them. Of course, none of them were appreciated upon release, underperforming at the box office, but these kinds of flicks seem to be special to fans of this genre and have gained cult following. However, I think the best example of a smaller budgeted, overhyped (at the time) sci-fi film would be Species. Yeah, remember that movie? Unlike the other ones I mentioned, this actually performed fairly decent and I think we can chalk it up to two things…
Natasha Henstridge’s boobs. After this movie came out, this just became the “did you see Natasha Henstridge’s tits in that one movie” movie. It was all anyone talked about in school and I seem to recall one kid loaning a VHS copy to another kid and need it back by tomorrow before his dad noticed it was missing. Seriously, before rewatching Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray release, the only thing I could recall about this film is that she’s some alien chick and you see her boobs a lot. In fact, I seem to remember this being sold as a very dirty, nearly X rated flick because of the amount of nudity and sex in it. However upon this viewing, I found that although the film does contain those, they weren’t nearly as prominent as I had remembered and it focused more on a cool sci-fi story, even if it is a tad underdeveloped. Seeing as how the film made three times its budget back, I would say that selling the sex angle probably helped it.
Species centers around a young woman named Sil (who at this point in the film is played by a very young Michelle Williams), some sort of alien experiment that seems to be rapidly aging. Her life doesn’t seem as glorious as you may expect an alien visitor to have; she’s kept in a bubble and doesn’t seem to have a whole lot to do and now some Professor X looking dude with eyeliner named Fitch (Ben Kingsley) decides it’s a good idea to gas her. Luckily for her, unfortunately for them, the underestimate the strength of her prison and the efficiency of their security staff as she manages to escape and twists a hobo around backwards while on the run, all before boarding a train. Cardio is important, even if you have a train to catch.
While aboard the train, she pigs out on all kinds of junk food before doubling over in pain and with the magic of early ‘90s terrible CG, we’re able to see that something is growing inside her. She cocoons inside a train car and I really loved the practical effect in this scene. It reminded me of the ghosts from Silent Hill 4: The Room where the ghosts would touch the wall and that goop would grow or something out of a Resident Evil game. It’s was pulsating and oozing until it gives birth to a fully formed adult Sil, now played by Natasha Henstridge, who parades around her wonderful ta-tas in a dozen scenes. I also want to point out that every decades boobs seem different from the following decades. Do you know what I’m talking about? Look at ‘70s boobs compared to ‘80s boobs and compare them to ‘90s boobs. Natasha Henstridge had probably the best ‘90s boobs, hands down.
So, unfortunately the have to throw in this boring thing called plot instead of having Sil run around naked the whole time. Ben Kingsley hires team of scientists – or scientist type people – and some sort of mercenary hunter dude, Preston “Press” Lennox, played by a post Reservoir Dogs Michael Madsen, so he was in pretty decent shape and his voice hadn’t quite sounded like it had a bottle brush down it, but was a little quiet and gruff. And seriously, “Press” Lennox? You may as well name the dude Max Power or Slam Chunklift. He and the ‘too-hot-to-actually-be-a-doctor’ Dr. Laura Baker (Marg Helgenberger) seem to hit it off, but honestly I thought she was possibly the weakest character and the film must’ve thought so too, because they give her a sex scene with some nice side boob, but while this sex scene is intercut with Natasha Henstridge and Alfred Molina’s, you don’t really care. Yes, by the way, I did say Alfred Molina. I bet you thought you’d never see Doc Ock from Spider-Man 2 make his “Oh” face, did you? His character kinda becomes the poon hound outta nowhere in a scene when they go out drinking and I think it’s for exposition sake, because if you haven’t guessed already, the whole point to Sil’s rapid growth and obsession with sex is to mate and procreate.
Now the movie never states if it’s because her species are regular horndogs or if she’s trying to recreate her own kind, so to speak, but as the movie progresses it becomes more urgent that she to her that she bangs. I honestly think this may be the filmmakers way of taking a stab at the audience. It’s basically a cat and mouse type of movie at this point, but with plenty of nudity. To be fair, my summary makes this seem much more simplistic than it actually is. Sil’s quite the clever lady and even kidnaps a woman, cuts off her finger and burns her alive to escape, giving her just enough time to change her hair color and become the predator to her prey, the group of scientists that have been hunting her. She manages to turn the tables and the conclusion is a rather interesting mix of creative and very sexualized HR Giger designed practicals to some PS2 level CG. What I took from the conclusion is that I got to see a see a supermodel try and strangle Mr. Blonde with her nipples. Yup, they shoot out like snakes and wrap around his neck. Didn’t see that coming.
It’s funny to me that everyone remembers this movie for having Natasha Henstridge nude for the majority of it when she actually isn’t, but nobody seems to remember Mathilda May being butt nekkid in damn near every scene she’s in throughout Lifeforce. However, for being a sex symbol in what is ultimately a somewhat sleazy, sci-fi/horror film, Natasha Henstridge does put on quite a good show and I’m not just talking about her nude scenes. She’s just as scary as she is sexy and she doesn’t start out totally evil, but instead her instinct and need to procreate overwhelms her she becomes more viscous. She does this transition very well and as I’m typing that out, I also wonder if that was the filmmakers intent, to take another jab at the hormones of the male audience. Or I’ve been overthinking this film way too much. Another great performance I didn’t mention was Forest Whitaker’s character who is kinda clairvoyant, but very emotional when he senses what feelings the other person is feeling. He plays all ends of the emotional spectrum, really showing off his talent and it’s probably why the guy kept getting better and better work. Well, except for Battlefield Earth.
I mentioned earlier that Scream Factory has released Species in a two disc set with the film being a brand new 4K scan and to be fair, that’s probably why the early ‘90s CG looks as bad as it does. It wasn’t really meant to be seen in that kind of quality. The first disc is the movie itself with two separate audio commentary tracks, one of which includes Michael Madsen, Natasha Henstridge and director Roger Donaldson that I recommend checking out. The second disc is home to all of the special features, like the interviews and behind the scenes looks (which there are several extensive ones included), still galleries, trailers and the alternate ending. The main and brand new featurette, Afterbirth: The Evolution of Species is a great look at the pre to post production work on the film and worth watching.
I never disliked Species, but after viewing it this time around, I think I see it in a totally different light and have a newfound appreciation for it. It wasn’t the ultra sleazy, ultra gory taboo film I remembered it being. Sure, the film touches on sleaze, but it has some class and sexiness to it. Most importantly, it has an interesting story with characters worth investing in. It’s not the greatest sci-fi/horror film out there, but hopefully with this release it gets the respect it deserves. There were three sequels, but Species II is the only one that unites the cast and worth watching. Maybe we will see a newly transferred Blu-ray release of that in the near future?