Recently I found the time to finally read one of my most anticipated novels of 2017, The 20 Days of Turin by Giorgio De Maria. This novel was hyped as a cult classic, a prime example of Italian weird fiction that had finally been given the treatment owed to a cult classic and translated into English. Reviews and publisher blurbs hailed it as a horrifying tale that, despite being published almost forty years ago, had proven just as timely and significant as ever.
With such endorsements, I didn’t really know what to expect, since I have never read any Italian weird fiction, and the closest thing to Italian horror I’ve read was Dante’s Inferno. But the synopsis was intriguing, the cover was creepy, and I thought, what the heck?
The 20 Days of Turin turned out to be more complicated than I had anticipated. It’s part Lovecraftian horror story, part political allegory, part mystery thriller, and part sublime nightmare. This novel is a very good example of the kind of horror that focuses less on jump scares and more on weaving an insidious scheme to ensnare its reader.
Ensnare me it did. The 20 Days of Turin didn’t scare me in a way that forced me to make sure my doors and windows were locked. But it burrowed its way under my skin, and I can’t stop thinking about it.
Fantastic Fest 2017 is here! Finally!a
Fantastic Fest is the largest film festival specializing in genre films, which basically means it focuses a lot more on sci-fi, horror, fantasy, action, and generally fun and weird movies. Fantastic Fest may not be a critical darling like Cannes, Venice, or Sundance, but it has a proven track record of showcasing crowd-pleasers and groundbreaking genre films. It usually picks up where TIFF leaves off, pushing the envelope even farther with non-horror movies like There Will Be Blood, Red, and John Wick.
These are the kinds of movies that really make you feel something, whether that’s a vicarious blood lust, a sense of wonder, squealing terror, or outright uncomfortable confusion. Fantastic Fest is always interesting and has something for every type of horror fan.
*Mild Spoilers for It**
I’ve known about It for as long as I can remember. It was that massive brick of book that sat on the shelf at the public library, daring me to secretly check it out and sneak it home, where I could read it under the covers at night. It was also that early 90s TV movie starring Tim Curry that my parents wouldn’t let me see, and that I didn’t see until I watched it during a slumber party. Growing up, It was the epitome of horror, not only because of the scary clown, but because children were the target of his evil, and It was not afraid to depict child murder.
It really went there, and many 90s kids won’t forget it. Many of us flocked to movie theaters last weekend and forked over cash to see the latest adaptation of It. I, for one, was almost giddy with excitement. I wanted to be scared sh*tless. I wanted to recapture some of the terror I felt reading the novel. I’ve grown up, but I still remember the exquisite and sickening pain of growing up, of realizing the evil in the world.
But this adaptation didn’t make me feel that.
Film Festival season continues with the venerated and show-stopping Venice International Film Festival. The Venice International Film Festival is the oldest film festival in the world, founded in 1932. Venice reigns alongside the Cannes Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival as the three most important film festivals in the world. Kings are made, stars are born, and buzz-worthy films live or die by the reaction they garner at Venice.
As one of the most important film festivals in the world, Venice has done its fair share to elevate horror films of artistic merit and critical acclaim. The very first film ever screened at Venice in 1932 was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, directed by Rouben Mamoulian. In more recent years, Venice showcased Survival of the Dead (2009), Black Swan (2010), Under the Skin (2013), and The Bad Batch (2016).
And this year, Venice has two of the most highly anticipated horror movies on its slate – Darren Aronofsky’s mother! and Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water. It doesn’t get much more art-house horror than these two, and I am dying of anticipation.
One of my guiltiest pleasures is the high school horror movie. I can’t get enough of the cheesy teenaged angst, bad acting, and messy murders on school property. Masked maniacs, fleeing cheerleaders, shady teachers, and terrible secrets are all hallmarks of this horror subgenre that just won’t seem to die. It seems that, despite how boring we thought high school was, the high school horror movie strikes a chord over and over again.
1977 was a damn good year for cinema with the release of modern film classics like Star Wars, Saturday Night Fever, Annie Hall, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It was also an inspired year for horror, with The Hills Have Eyes, Eraserhead, Rabid, and, of course, Dario Argento’s masterpiece, Suspiria. One of the most iconic horror films ever, Suspiria enjoyed the 40th anniversary of its world premiere a few months ago. Just a few days ago, it enjoyed the 40th anniversary of its American release.
Suspiria is one of my favorite horror movies. Full stop. Not only is it violent and horrifying, it’s freakin’ gorgeous. Gory and unsettling, its visuals are beautiful and opulent. Suspiria is a true experience, more than a straightforward movie-watching experience. Like the giallo movies from which Suspiria is descended, the film explores the stunning effect of horrific violence rendered cinematic. Of all the giallo films, Suspiria achieves a rare kind of horror movie sublimity, slipping into your subconscious like a long, thin blade. Continue reading
As part of my ongoing series, Horror at Film Festivals, let’s take a trip down under to Australia for the Melbourne International Film Festival. The world isn’t just about Cannes and Sundance, now is it?
The Melbourne International Film Festival is chock full of horror spanning a wide range of tastes from the gory to the eerie to the downright weird. From August 3rd to August 20th, the film industry will gather in Melbourne to toast the latest crop of inventive and important films, and horror films part of the schedule.
As a festival, the Melbourne International Film Festival aims to show the global audience all manner of “curated and unforgettable screen experiences.” The major Australian film festival, the Melbourne International Film Festival is also one of the oldest film festivals in the world, showcasing films since 1952. It has a decidedly different flavor to its film lineup, focusing on daring, a little risky, slightly off-kilter independent films.
To that end, the Melbourne International Film Festival has showcased works by horror icons Dario Argento, David Cronenberg, and David Lynch, among many. More recently, the Melbourne International Film Festival screened such horror films as Housebound, Train to Busan, and What We Do in the Shadows.
The lineup for 2017 is exciting! Melbourne International Film Festival has one of the most extensive slates of indie horror I’ve seen at a major festival. I can’t wait until I can see these in America!
It feels like only yesterday that I was doing the post for July horror movies. Fast forward a month, and not only have I finally recovered from a whirlwind vacation in China, but a ton of August horror movies were added to the release schedule! It seems like the 2017 horror release schedule saved a lot for later.
Yes, the end of summer is upon us, and that means long and hot days where the air conditioning provides blessed relief from the inferno outside. What better way than to stay indoors and watch scary movies? Some of these look amazing, like The Dark Tower, Annabelle: Creation, Dave Made a Maze, and Death Note. Others will please certain genre fans who crave blood and guts, like Cut Shoot Kill and Red Christmas.
I think there’s something for everyone here, so get yourself to the nearest theater, buy an ice-cold beverage of your choice, and enjoy the show.
While the dead of summer is when we expect many of the big action blockbusters, the same cannot be said of horror movies this year. July 2017 horror movies are a bit low key this month, though not without some interesting entries. There are three movies that showed at the Sundance Film Festival back in January. There’s one mainstream summer scary movie. And, as always, there are quite a few low-budget, low-profile horror flicks rounding out the July 2017 horror movies. It’s definitely a mixed bag, but with movies like Killing Ground and It Stains the Sands Red, there’s hope for horror this month, despite the appearance of Wish Upon.
If nothing else, it will be only a few short weeks until The Dark Tower, Annabelle: Creation, and Polaroid!