This is a trigger warning. Both versions of Maniac are depraved horror films featuring extreme violence against women and really cannot be fairly discussed without acknowledging these horrible crimes. I normally try to avoid those topics when posting about exploitation films, but it really is the substance of these features.
The original 1980 version of Maniac, written by and starring Joe Spinell, is one of the more infamous slasher films. It was released unrated and ravaged by critics as nothing more than violence for the sake of violence. Spinell’s performance was praised (as was William Lustig’s direction) and it comfortably grew to be a cult classic.
The 2013 remake of Maniac takes a different stylistic approach and actually removes the justification mechanic. The original version made it very clear that serial killer Frank Zito became a dangerous psychopath because of childhood trauma from years of abuse. The remake doesn’t offer that excuse.
My second review for Cannonball Read 6 is up. I’m a big Joe Hill fan. He’s a more aggressive writer than his father, Stephen King. The big difference is that Joe Hill lets people edit his work. My big issue with NOS4A2 is the concept itself. I’m not big on child abduction stories in fiction and this one especially brutal.
That Looks Nothing Like Nosferatu, Mr. Hill (A Robert CBR6 Review)
This week for Horror Thursday, I watched The Ninth Gate. It’s one of those horror films that people told me I’d like since it came out and no one could explain why. Turns out it’s because it’s a satanic (not religious, mind you) horror about books. Sure, the concept is in the ballpark for my tastes. But the execution? That’s a different question entirely.
Horror Thursday: The Ninth Gate
I’m a sucker for a good psycho-sexual vampire film. We Are the Night, an award-winning German vampire film (it got nominated for screenplay and editing at the German equivalent to the Oscars and won top prize at Sitges), fits the bill. The dub available on Netflix is atrocious and the distributors should feel terrible. Ever see a paranormal romance with throat ripping action?
Horror Thursday: We Are the Night
This week on Horror Thursday, we’re looking at one of the odder Boris Karloff films. No, he doesn’t play a literal monster or undergo some horrifying physical transformation; it’s psychological horror about trying too hard to save the world. Corridors of Blood, sometimes known as the opium horror, is about a surgeon in the 1800s trying to perfect a technique to make surgery painless for the patient. Let’s just say there’s a very clear reason this film is in the Criterion Collection. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more Realist (capital R, like Dickens) film before, where life is constantly going on beyond the altruistic obsession of the doctor.
Horror Thursday: Corridors of Blood
Listen, I’ll admit it. My review of I Sell the Dead isn’t the best looking partner at the dance. The hair is messy and the shoes are scuffed. It still gets the job done. This is what happens when I realize at 11:30PM that I have a review due before I typically wake up. I don’t sleep much, but I know when to cut myself off from writing so I still sound lucid and stylish. Check out the brevity.
Horror Thursday: I Sell the Dead
I grew up with diametrically opposed art influences in my life. By the time I was in fifth grade, my public school art teacher all but told me to never pursue the arts. In the shocking finale to her years of passive aggressive behavior, she hung up all of my classmates’ work at the district art show–including unfinished pieces, random drawings that weren’t the actual assignment, and random drawings that sadly were the assignment–and told my mother my work was too ugly to display. She had told me for weeks it was the best piece I had done and praised the use of colors; when I pointed that out, she said she would talk to the principal about my lies. I left in tears, humiliated, as my father stayed behind to share a few choice words with teacher.
Just a sample of what I can do in ceramic–a lot of hours on this piece to get it just right
On the other hand, my mother was a ceramics instructor. She has taught ceramics since before I was born and still teaches today. She constantly encouraged me to pick up the brushes and paint. I assisted her with detail work at birthday parties by the time I was in second grade and sold my first piece at her craft shows long before that. Not once did she ever mock or insult her students who weren’t very good at painting. She worked with them to improve their skills and offered to do the hard bits like eyes and lettering if they really seemed overwhelmed. Everyone always left her classes happy, whether they were 5 year olds or 95 year olds.
The teacher, sadly, won out, and I never took a formal art class again. Anything I’ve learned over the years, I taught myself with the help of friends or instruction books and refined in private. I can take a critique, but I can’t take passive aggressive attempts to stifle the exploration of the arts. I have never and will never tell one of my music or theater students that they shouldn’t be involved in music or theater regardless of ability level. Not every actor will wind up on Broadway and not every painter will wind up in the Louvre. That is no reason to make it your life goal to destroy a child’s creative interests.
When I realized I could actually attend the Chiller Theatre Expo’s fall event for the first time in many years, I knew what I had to do for myself. I had to enter the Art Contest. I was probably a better fit for the model contest because I’ve shifted so much focus to haunting and shadowboxes, but I knew I didn’t have the time for photo-realism. The Art Contest was my only option to get over my own personal demons from 17 years before.
Well, they can’t all be winners. This week, I looked at a South Korean horror film with a great concept that no one actually wanted to explore on the creative team. Shame. The film I thought it would be is much more interesting than what they created.
Horror Thursday: Loner