Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Birthday Tribute to Edgar Allan Poe - Enigmas (A Poem)

If you have read my blog, you would understand that Edgar Allan Poe is one of my favorite authors and one of the biggest influences on me as a writer. I love his works, and the way he always was able to take the reader on a journey. He was truly ahead of his time and an artist that was taken too soon. This is something I wrote tonight on the eve of his birthday as I thought about Poe, and what he and his works have meant to me through the years. 


I stand quietly upon the land,
The vast countenance of oblivion staring into my depths,
Lucid stairways alive at last;
And illicit secrecies surround the silent enigmas once held dear,
Blind but I can see,
Dead but I can breathe,
A final frontier of all that was,
A dismal remnant of what will be,
Random elements twist through the darkness,
Creating life from the impossible,
A lone specimen from the mind of the master,
Edgar whispered; he lost his cat…
…Is it here?

Is this hollow existence merely a dream?
A spectral theory rising from a demonic abyss,
Is anyone here?
Can anyone hear me?
No, just the nothingness of decay shrouded by exile,
Trapped by a forgotten paradox once held as truth,
Am I alive?
Or, am dead?
I can feel every sensation, but cannot touch the frigid memories,
Paralyzed inside this void; no one answers my call,
Failed experiments cloud my vision; my secrets remain unseen,
Another string is strung…
… And the cat cries from the wall.

The Whip and the Body (1963)

As I sat here on the eve of Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday, I had originally intended to watch one of he classics based on his works. However, after some thought, I decided to venture into something that could have been inspired by Poe, with the 1963 Mario Bava classic The Whip and the Body.  

Plot/ In the 19th century, a sadistic nobleman terrorizes the members of his family. He is found dead, but his ghost soon returns to haunt the residents of his castle.

I am sure that when this one came out, it was controversial with the mixture of gothic horror with some sadism mixed in for good measure. In 1963, movies such as that were considered taboo, and likely would have not been well received. Starring Christopher Lee, this Mario Bava entry is an entertaining movie, and one that has many of the elements that made his movies memorable. Between the beautiful cinematography and the stylistic use of colors, solid performances, and an interesting storyline, this movie has everything a Bava fan could ask for. Yes, the ending does feel lacking and there a many illogical moments, but those almost seem to be part of Bava lore. In the end, this movie is an entertaining watch and one that should be viewed. If you have not seen it, but love gothic horror cinema, give it a shot.

The House of Seven Corpses (1974)

I have definitely been on a retro kick lately, although I did sneak in a viewing of Repo: The Genetic Opera. To continue my retro feel, I went way into my youth for the 1974 horror flick The House of Seven Corpses.

Plot/ A director is filming on location in a house where seven murders were committed. The caretaker warns them not to mess with things they do not understand (the murders were occult related), but the director wants to be as authentic as possible and has his cast re-enact rituals that took place in the house thus summoning a ghoul from the nearby cemetery to bump the whole film crew off one by one.

Horror movies of the 1970s were a mixed bag, as the genre seemed to be in a period of transition. While this one is not technically very good, I feel that is often overlooked as a piece of horror history. Yes, there are some flaws with the way the movie is scripted and paced, but there is a certain charm that will draw fans of early 1970s horror in. The cast is solid and there are some decent performances (John Carradine is definitely creepy), the atmosphere is dark and heavy, and the storyline is entertaining and interesting. Sure, there is not a lot of blood or gore, there is little action, there could have been some more supernatural elements added in, and the effects are nowhere near the quality of today, but for a lower budgeted film of that era, they are not that bad. In the end, this is a nice retro piece and a fun movie to help pass some time. Is it perfect, by no means, but it is a fun slow burn haunted house flick that is good on a cold windy night.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Manhattan Project (1986)

There is really nothing better than drifting back to the 1980s. Times were so different then, and even the storylines that came about in movies were often more straightforward and unbelievable. My next review comes from that era as well, the 1986 drama/thriller The Manhattan Project.

Plot/ A teen and his girlfriend make an atomic bomb with plutonium stolen from a scientist dating his mother.

I remember watching this one in my teen years and found it extremely similar to War Games, with a different underlying premise, after watching again, those same feeling rose to the top. While I did enjoy the idea, I have to admit that it is hard to suspend my belief on this one. No, not with the ability to build the atomic bomb, or the fact that the government would try to build a research facility within a community without telling the citizens, my disbelief comes with everything else. The story is interesting (unbelievable, yet interesting), the performances were decent, and for the most part, it has held up to time. Unfortunately, it does not fit into any genre, as it is not serious enough to be a drama, there is no tension, and it is rather predictable (even though I have watched it before). In the end, this was an entertaining movie for a quiet afternoon with the daughters. Would I search it out again? No, but I am sure I could find something less entertaining to watch.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Dead Ringers (1988)

After watching something with a mysterious numerology base last night, I wanted to find something a bit different. Since I did not feel like making a trip to the video store, I decided to search Shudder for something interesting. With no surprise, I found exactly what I was looking for, 1988s Dead Ringers.

Plot/ Twin gynecologists take full advantage of the fact that nobody can tell them apart, until their relationship begins to deteriorate over a woman.

Any time you watch a movie from David Cronenberg, you should be ready for something different than the normal. Cronenberg always makes movies that are both technically sound and thought provoking. That is definitely the case with this one, which could be considered one of his best. The storyline is tremendous; in fact, it never veers into the trademark gore but creates something that is extremely dark within the confines of a heavy atmosphere. The cast, cinematography, and script are cold and hard. However, it is the performances (especially Jeremy Irons) that make this film what it is-unsettling and chilling. Yes, it builds slowly and if you were searching for the gratuitous blood and gore of other Cronenberg classics, you would be disappointed, but that does not matter with this one. In the end, this one leaves a lasting impression and is possibly the best movie of its kind. If you have not seen it give it a shot, it has stood the test of time and is still relevant today.