Friday, August 19, 2011

Candidate # 32

(September 2010)

If you’re of the mind that there are just too many danged zombie apocalypses around these days, then how does “vampire apocalypse” sound to you?
If it’s something that piques your interest, then Jim Mickle’s Stake Land should be on your radar. Co-written (with Mickle) by Nick Damici, who plays ace vamp killer, Mister, Stake Land shows us the United States in the aftermath of societal breakdown, where anarchy and religious extremists reign over a broken down land, while feral vampires roam the night.
Familiar genre face Danielle Harris is in this, as well as a nearly unrecognizable Kelly McGillis. And for Fringe followers (or perhaps, even vampire-loving Broadway aficionados), Michael Cerveris is here, but in my books, it’s another all-too brief appearance by The Last Winter’s director, Larry Fessenden (here wearing his producer’s and actor’s hats), that makes my day.

Parting shot: A review of former ¡Qué Horror! title, The Last Winter, can be found lurking in the Archive.

(Stake Land OS courtesy of

Candidate # 31

(January 2011)

For the past few years, After Dark’s annual Horrorfest (“Eight Films To Die For”) has helped bring us such winners as Nacho Cerdà’s The Abandoned, The Butcher Brothers’ The Hamiltons, Sean Ellis’ The Brøken, Joel Anderson’s Lake Mungo, and Anthony DiBlasi’s Dread.
It’s also to blame for helping spread The Gravedancers, Dark Ride, Wicked Little Things, and ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction.
Win some, lose some.

This year, After Dark’s taken it a step further by giving us the first batch of After Dark Originals. No longer content to simply pick up completed films for distribution, After Dark has gone into straight-forward producing.
I’ve been keeping track, and though I’ve yet to see a complete stinker, of the four Originals I’ve seen thus far, Antonio Negret’s Seconds Apart is the first that I feel merits some ¡Qué Horror! love.
Featuring murderous psychic twins (played by Edmund and Gary Entin), Seconds Apart’s script, written by George Richards, seems to look back at classic Cronenberg for some of its inspiration, and really, that’s a rather good thing, if I may say so myself.

Parting shot: Reviews of most of the After Dark-distributed films mentioned above can be found in the Archive.

(Seconds Apart OS courtesy of

Candidate # 30

(January 2010)

Even if you can guess the plot turns of Caroline and Éric du Potet’s Dans Ton Sommeil before the onscreen reveals take place, that really shouldn’t stop you from appreciating the grimness of this title.
And seeing the one and only true Nikita, Anne Parillaud, was a most welcome plus in my books; my last cinematic sighting of her was John Landis’ Innocent Blood, back in ‘92. Here, Parillaud very nearly runs over, and subsequently, brings home a young stranger (Arthur Dupont), and things quickly go awry from there…

(Dans Ton Sommeil OS courtesy of

Candidate # 29

(September 2010)

Though he’s kept himself busy recently on television by directing the occasional episode of Fringe (as well as the season finale of The Killing and various episodes of a scattering of other shows), the last time Brad Anderson had his work appear on the big screen was with Transsiberian. Finally though, he’s back with Vanishing on 7th Street, and all I have to say is, It’s about time.
From a script by Anthony Jaswinski, Vanishing on 7th Street presents us with an apocalyptic scenario where people disappear when caught by an eerie, whispering darkness. Like a sinister take on the Rapture, Anderson’s latest feature has shades of both Jaume Balagueró’s Darkness and Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Kairo in it, and would make for a brilliant (if rather bleak) triple bill with them.
Along for the ride are Thandie Newton, Hayden Christensen, and John Leguizamo, who apparently didn’t get enough apocalyptic madness in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening.
The Last Winter director Larry Fessenden also makes an oh-so-brief appearance as the “Bike Messenger.”

Parting shot: Reviews of Anderson’s The Machinist and Transsiberian, Balagueró’s Darkness, Shyamalan’s The Happening, and Fessenden’s The Last Winter can be found lurking in the Archive.

(Vanishing on 7th Street OS courtesy of

Candidate # 28

(September 2009)

Playing like a curious love letter to Argento, Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s feature-length debut, Amer, is largely about mood and style, a cinematic exercise where narrative takes a back seat to impressionism and dream logic. While dialogue is sparse, shades of classic Argento (giallo and otherwise) can be found scattered throughout Amer’s 90 minute running time, where eroticism and death constantly stare at each other from opposite sides of a cracked mirror.
And while I single out Dario Argento as a clear touchstone of Amer, it should be noted that in an interview, Cattet and Forzani also mention Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci, and Shinya Tsukamoto, among others, as inspirations. They also make it a point to acknowledge Argento’s Inferno and the late Satoshi Kon’s Sennen Joyû (Millennium Actress). Perhaps not so incidentally, it’s interesting to note that Kon’s Perfect Blue is itself, an animated nod to giallo.
While this is clearly not for everyone, Amer is quite definitely the most singular ¡Qué Horror! 2011 candidate thus far.

(Amer OS courtesy of