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Non-Review Review: Psycho (1960)

Psycho is a masterpiece from Alfred Hitchcock, a uniquely American horror story that redefined and codified the horror genre. Even after one has already seen the film, and knows the twists and the plotting detours that Hitchcock’s adaptation of Robert Bloch’s novel might make, it’s still a powerful and compelling piece of cinema. Hitchcock laid a template here that would inform generations of horror films that followed, with the DNA of Psycho to be found even in the most unlikely of places.

“You can checkout any time you like, but you can never leave…”

Note: Hitchcock famously guarded the ending to this project. “Don’t give away the ending — it’s the only one we have!” he pleaded in advertisements. However, it has been fifty-two years, so I fear that the statute of limitations on potential spoilers has expired. After all, Psycho has been so massively influential it’s hard not to know what happens. If, by some fluke, you know nothing about the film… see it! See it now! We’ll still be here when you get back.

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Non-Review Review: Final Destination

I am actually quite fond of the original Final Destination. Don’t get me wrong, it has its flaws (and some very fundamental ones at that) and the sequels drove the concept into the ground, but it actually has a fairly original premise for a teen horror movie. I’m fond of horror as a genre, and I’ll freely admit that I’m quite exhausted by the perpetual cycle of slasher movies or ghost stories or ghost story slasher movies. Instead of adhering rigidly to the conventions of the teen horror film, Final Destination feels like something of a breath of fresh air. It’s a well-constructed teen horror movie, even if it does fall into many of the same traps and issues.

Ali onboard…

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Non-Review Review: Scream 4 (Scre4m)

Alright, Kirby, then it’s time for your last chance. Name the remake of the groundbreaking horror movie in which the vill…

Halloween, uh, Texas Chainsaw, Dawn of the Dead, The Hills Have Eyes, Amityville Horror, uh, Last House on the Left, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare On Elm Street, My Bloody Valentine, When A Stranger Calls, Prom Night, Black Christmas, House of Wax, The Fog, Piranha. It’s one of those, right? Right?

(beat)

I got it right. I was &@#!ing right.

– Ghostface and Kirby redefine the frame of reference

In many ways, Scream 4 feels like a fitting end to the Scream franchise. In fact, it feels like it has come something of a full circle from the first film, which was envisaged as something of an obituary for the dying slasher genre. In the years since, prompted in a large part by the success of the original Scream, the genre has been resurrected. Watching the grind of horror films released, it seems that Hollywood has been churning out nothing but empty roman-numeral-denoted sequels and hallow remakes, with very little thought or creativity. Scream 4 feels a like a reflection on the “success” that the first film wrought, and actually feelings like a fitting closing act.

It's going viral...

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Non-Review Review: Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is probably the funniest movie I’ve seen in a long time. I’ll admit that I probably skew a little bit towards it, what with being a fan of cheesy horror movies and a sucker for a high concept comedy, but Eli Craig’s cinematic debut feature is a masterful comedic deconstruction of the conventional horror film, daring to turn genre conventions on their head and ask: why do we always side with the college students in these sorts of films?

What a waist...

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Non-Review Review: Tremors

Man, I love Tremors. I’m a professed B-movie geek who grew up on the particularly cheesy Wes Craven and John Carpenter films of the seventies and eighties, who has always harboured a soft spot for playful monster movies, so I reckon I’m the film’s target audience. Tremors is one of those affectionate throwbacks, those movies that don’t just aim to evoke a particular genre and time period (as The Expendables was a generis eighties action movie produced twenty-five years too later) so much as offer an up-to-date and self-aware reinvention of them (as Spielberg produced a thirties adventure serial with modern sensibilities in Raiders of the Lost Ark, or Rodriguez offered a brutally hilarious modern-day Mex-ploitation film in Machete). Tremors is basically a fifties B-movie produced with late eighties A-list talent and self-awareness.

The town's gone to ground...

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My Best of 2011: Black Swan & The Elevation of Schlock…

It’s that time of the year. To celebrate 2011, and the countdown to 2012, I’m going to count down my own twelve favourite films of the year, one a day until New Year’s Eve. I’m also going to talk a bit about how or why I chose them, and perhaps what makes this list “my” best of 2011, rather than any list claiming to be objective.

Black Swan is number six. Check out my original review here.

It’s interesting, how one can end up loving the same films, for very different reasons. I suspect that a great many critics and commentators lavish praise on Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan for its elegance and sophistication, which I appreciate and admire. There’s a lot to love about the film. However, my own appreciation of the movie seems to be for a very different reason. I think that what makes Black Swan so utterly compelling is the fact that it’s essentially a classic horror movie elevated to the status of fine art.

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Non-Review Review: Ringu

There are a handful of movies I will forever associate with a particular viewing experience – and some with the first time I had seen a given movie. I remember, for instance, seeing Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back for the first time with my father in the local cinema during its nineties re-release. When I think of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, I recall the time I had to sit in the hall while the grown-ups watched it. Anytime I see The Shining, I think back to watching it in the wee hours of the morning with gran and granddad. The Japanese cult horror Ringu is something of a similar experience.

All's well that ends well...

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