Archive for Alfred Hitchcock

Jamie Lee Curtis goes Psycho for Scream Queens!

Posted in Press Release, Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , , on September 15, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

This image is pure horror perfection. In Ryan Murphy’s (American Horror Story) eagerly anticipated new series, Scream Queens, Halloween icon Jamie Lee Curtis recreates her mother Janet Leigh’s famous shower scene from Hitchcock’s legendary chiller Psycho (1960). 

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Curtis tweeted that she recreated the photo especially for a special episode of the new show, which is slicing its way onto our screens on September the 22nd! Very exciting indeed.

 

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Halloween Month: Re-Animator (1985)

Posted in Halloween Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

This 1985 sci-fi/horror/comedy is a cult classic to modern horror audiences. Based on the H.P Lovecraft short story ‘Herbert West- Re-Animator’ written in the early 1920’s, Re-Animator was originally planned to be a stage play then a television series. That was until Director Stuart Gordon was advised by special effects co-ordinator Bob Greenberg that there was more scope for horror within the medium of film. Gordon took this on board and was then subsequently introduced to producer Brian Yuzna. Yuzna was impressed by Gordon’s vision and encouraged him to shoot the film in Hollywood as it would be beneficial for all the special effects that were to be brought to life. Ultimately that is what Re-Animator is, a spectacle of squirmworthy special effects that proves difficult to take your eyeballs off!Its a visually gory mind-blowing experience and downright entertaining. The Lovecraft story particularly held appeal to Gordon as a director; noticing a repetitive surge in vampire films, Gordon yearned to see something based on the Frankenstein tale, which is what essentially Re-Animator is a homage to. Although while originally intending to be faithful to Lovecraft’s work, the finished product greatly diverted and became its own thing. The opening scene that sees Herbert West re-animate his professor Dr. Hans Gruber is the main link between them.

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Medical student Dan Cain’s (Bruce Abbott) world is turned upside down when he makes acquaintance with a strange new student Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs). Following his arrival from the University of Zurich, West conducts outlandish experiments on dead tissue to prove he has succeeded the research into brain death. West’s fantastical ideas cause a stir with Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale), a respectable brain surgeon with bizarre and dark agendas of his own as well as Cain’s clingy girlfriend Megan Halsey (Barbara Crampton), daughter of the dean of Miskatonic University (the film’s setting). First tested on animals, West extends his experiments to humans along with Cain’s aid as they break into the morgue in search of the perfect corpse to re-animate, however things so horribly and terribly wrong when Dr Halsey (Robert Sampson) is brutally attacked by the students creation leading to plenty of madness and mayhem to follow!

Certainly a product of its time Re-Animator was set to be an effects focused body horror in the style of the popular horror movies of the time before it, e.g. Evil Dead and The Howling, which is how Yunza pitched it. With shock value galore, the 80’s were one of the more intriguing times for the genre as the goriest effects possible were experimented with, creating a whole new tone for horror movies, how far could they go to make you squirm? While genre films before them relied on the power of suggestion to create their iconic moments, with the availability of FX, 80’s movies could be as visually graphic as possible. At the same time movies like these would have their tongue firmly planted in cheek bringing out buckets of blood with an equal amount of dark comedy. Narrowly, Re-Animator managed to avoid a place on the notorious video nasties list over in the UK however it didn’t go unscathed. Its original video format was given 2 minutes of cuts to remain ‘acceptable’. That said, the intended version has been around for some time now so viewers can enjoy Re-Animator in all its gory glory.

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Overall 24 gallons of blood was used in the movie. Make-up effects artist John Naulin stated that it was “the bloodiest film he’d ever worked on”. However the most challenging effect the film would have to undertake is transforming the late David Gale’s character Dr. Hill into a headless zombie. While CGI wasn’t mastered at this time, what Re-Animator achieved here was tremendous and incredibly well-crafted. Mechanical techniques were in use to bring Dr Hill’s crazy transformation to life. Actor Gale would have to use a specially-made upper torso to stick his head through in order to achieve the effectiveness of him being a headless corpse carrying around his own decapitated head.

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What’s engaging about Re-Animator is its perfect pacing. Beginning as a slow-burner it cleverly manipulates the audience into thinking Herbert West is the villain of the piece but it is soon discovered he is more of an anti-hero once Dr Carl Hill proves how power-hungry he is and attempts to grossly sexually assault Megan and become filthy rich through plagiarising West’s research, all while detached from his own body! Despite West being the creator of carnage he attempts to put things right while protecting his work, he involves a reluctant Dan Cain who’s girlfriend is in jeopardy. Cain also proves that when it comes down to it he will do whatever it takes for the one he loves even if that means putting West’s bright green serum to use! The antagonisitc relationship between West and Hill is compelling and intense viewing as its safe to say no character in this film is a true “good guy”. The build-up from a quirky science-fiction film to an explosion of blood, guts, corpses and gore is a real treat.

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Jeffrey Combs generated cult stardom following his iconic performance in the film. Prior to Re-Animator, Combs made his horror film début in Frightmare (1983). But its this 1985 film and its subsequent sequels he is most remembered for.  Adding to his status as a cult star, Combs has appeared in numerous  episodes amongst the Star Trek franchise. He continued to act in several horror movies following his Re-Animator popularity in titles such as House on Haunted Hill (remake), I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, Feardotcom, The Frightners and The Wizard of Gore. Most recently Combs lent his voice to Don Thacker’s bizarre yet intriguing debut feature Motivational Growth which toured the festival circuit last year. Combs played the mysterious Mould. Combs plays West in Re-Animator as a  headstrong yet flawed character who continually builds on his experiments no matter how out of hand they get! West is calculated, manipulative and ambitious, did I mention murderous! Despite this, Combs does create a sense of likeability with this interesting horror character that allows the audience to root for him.

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The film’s score composed by Richard Band is one of its most powerful assets, creating an atmospheric tone, it is said to be heavily influenced by the theme from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960). Without a doubt its one of the best horror movie themes delivering both tension and excitement during the innovative opening credit sequence.

Upon its release in October 1985, Re-Animator did exceptionally well. It went on to make $2 million in North America, surpassing its budget of $900,000 which was well achieved. The late, great film critic Roger Ebert who was continually vocal about his distaste for certain horror movies gave Re-Animator a thumbs up, describing it as a “pleasure” and admitted “in its own way, on its own terms, in its corrupt genre, this movie worked”. Other critics praised Combs dynamic performance and the out-of-the-box special effects. Re-Animator is now ranked at number 32 on Entertainment Weekly’s “Top 50 Cult Films”.

In 1989 Brian Yuzna directed a sequel, Bride of Re-Animator which is also incredibly well-liked among the horror community. Yuzna directed Beyond Re-Animator a number of years later in 2003 which generated mixed reactions.

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2011 saw a musical adaptation, an intruging translation from screen to stage but fitting in the sense of  Gordon originally planning it as a stage play. From the piece of footage before, the musical looks like a lot of fun with mind blowing effects. In 2006 Dynamite Entertainment released a crossover comic between Ash from The Evil Dead coming across Herbert West. Certainly a guilty pleasure thrill ride for fans!

It’s safe to say that Re-Animator is one to watch this Halloween. Its a true 80’s horror movie, grossly gory, compelling and a twisted update of the classic Frankenstein story that is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud.

Brian Yuzna will be attending this year’s Celluloid Screams Sheffield Horror Festival here in the UK on October 24th-26th as the guest of honour, a late night screening of Bride of Re-Animator will also be on offer. Don’t miss it.

Tweet: @SheffHorrorFest

I love to read your comments, so let me know via this article, twitter (@HayleyR1989) or facebook (link below) your thoughts on Re-Animator and what you’d like to see covered on #HayleysHalloweenMonth2014

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews

Mother’s Day Special: The Top 6 Psycho Mom’s!

Posted in Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Happy Mother’s Day to all the awesome mum’s out there. In the horror film, mother’s have played an integral part in the makings of some of our beloved psycho killers. So, what better way to spend mother’s day than counting down some of my personal top five maniacal mother’s who have created carnage on our blood-splattered screens for several decades. These martriach’s would go to any warped lengths for their children and that’s why we love them! I’d like to dedicate this review to my own mother as a thank you for introducing me to the horror genre at a young age, attending some of the UK’s best festivals with me and for generally being awesome.

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6. Mrs Koffin, Mother’s Day (2010)

  • Played by Rebecca De Mornay

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In a performance uncannily similar to that in 90’s thriller, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (1992); Rebecca De Mornay yet again plays an unhinged woman with maternal instincts. This mother will do all she can to protect her sons, even kill! When a bank robbery goes wrong, the three Koffin brothers turn to their mother for assistance in occupying their old house while taking the new owners and their friends hostage. Initially Mrs Koffin acts friendly towards the frightened individuals, but once she questions them about supposed money her sons had sent her to that address and the group fail to comply in giving back what’s rightfully her’s, things get nasty! With a calm and collected exterior, Mrs Koffin soon shows she’s not to be messed with, permitting her sons to carry out unspeakable acts of violence on the innocent victims. Ambiguous and unsettling, this psychological thriller keeps the audience on edge unknowing what the mother will do next! Mother’s Day was originally a 1980’s exploitation, Troma film directed by Charles Kaufman that has since garnered a cult following, but in this case Darren Lyn Bousman created a glossy, loose re-telling to fit in with today’s Hollywood standard of remakes. That said, Rebecca De Mornay proved to be the perfect casting choice in an overall enjoyable film.

5. Beverly Sutphin, Serial Mom (1994)

  • Played By Kathleen Turner

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Kathleen Turner is superb as the crazed suburban housewife who gets her kicks out of murdering those who don’t comply by her rules! In John Waters warped social commentary on media violence and its effects on society, deranged Beverly Sutphin becomes somewhat of a serial killer celebrity gaining empathy and support from her adoring public. She is most defensive when it comes to her two teenage children Chip and Misty, she brutally runs over her son’s Maths teacher who claims he needs psychological help due to an “unhealthy obsession” with horror movies and graphically impales her daughter’s love interest when she spots him with another girl. Beverly isn’t the most subtle of serial killers, she doesn’t cover her tracks well and is pretty much suspected from the off. She gets her thrills from terrorizing her neighbor with obscene phone calls and isn’t afraid to be vocal about her distaste for others behavior. She is however a lot smarter than first assumed and manages to defend herself in court, getting the backs up of her antagonists and influencing the jury to set her free. In a extraordinary Waters style twist, Beverly’s husband and children are fiercely loyal to her, campaigning for her release while unashamedly basking in the fact their mother has murdered six people with some gruesome methods. In a film very much commenting on the changing society of the 90’s and media influence, Beverly is a glorified serial killer much to do with the fact she embodies what a lot of women could relate to, the fairly normal housewife and mother archetype who is not to be underestimated. The themes in this black comedy such as blame on media violence and the glamorization of murder trials still holds relevant. Beverly is one quirky killing mother not to be messed with. Remember, always recycle and rewind your video tapes!

 

4.  Mrs Bates, Psycho (1960)

  • Played By Anthony Perkins

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Arguably one of the most iconic mother’s in horror, Mrs Bates is integral to son Norman’s psychosis and despite being a rotting corpse she makes a prominent presence in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic adaptation. Driven by jealousy, in life Mrs Bates behaved in a controlling manner towards her only son, forbidding him any romantic involvement and claiming any woman with her as an exception were “whores”. Norman lived isolation with his mother for several years until she embarks on a relationship with Joe Constidine who encourages her to open the infamous Bates Motel. Feeling his mother slipping away from him following neglect, Norman cruelly poisons her and her husband to be in a staged suicide attempt. Unable to deal with his loss with guilt weighing heavy on his shoulders, Norman brings his mother back to life in a sense as she becomes a section of his personality, motivating his psychotic tendencies against women he develops an attraction for. Norman dresses in her clothes while maintaining her mummified corpse. By the film’s end Norman becomes institutionalized with his mother’s personality consuming him. She acts as a justification for his murderous ways. Mrs Bates was heavily influential on one of the suspense genre’s most well-remembered killers. When Hitchcock released Psycho he achieved a hair-raising effect on his audience especially with the reveal of this macabre mother’s decaying corpse and Norman Bates’s disturbed split personality. Her legacy lives on!

3. Mrs Loomis, Scream 2 (1997)

  • Played By Laurie Metcalf.

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In an unexpected twist, the second ghostface killer reveal in the highly anticipated Scream sequel was one menacing mother hellbent on revenge for the death of her equally psychotic son Billy Loomis. Mrs Loomis is extremely crafty in terms of how she goes about getting her vengeance. Following some plastic surgery, she creates a new identity for herself as Debbie Salt, the over eager news reporter who rubs Gale Weathers up the wrong way. Popping up at the crime scene following some of Windsor College’s gruesome murders she has the perfect cover, innocently “reporting” the incidents. Her plan is calculating as she intends to frame college student and partner in crime Mickey Altieri for all the murders while taking out Sidney Prescott and Gale Weathers in the process for their part in the death of her son from the first installment. Channeling Mrs Voorhees from Friday the 13th (1980), she is purely motivated by grief and revenge. Billy became a murderer after she abandoned him following her husband’s affair with Sidney’s mother and she continues his legacy. She blames Sidney heavily for the breakdown of her family unit and won’t stop until she has her dead. Mrs Loomis is remembered for killing fan favorite and movie buff Randy Meeks who met his maker from speaking poorly of Billy. When re-watching Scream 2, its clear at which moments feature Mrs Loomis donning the ghostface attire as she is left handed when she takes to the blade. She does not succeed in her thirst for revenge as she is killed by Cotton Weary who was framed for killing Sidney’s mother in the original film. Sidney shoots her in the head one last time to make sure she’s well and truly gone. Mrs Loomis was the first female killer in the Scream franchise making her the original Ghostface Girl before myself and Caitlyn!

2. Margaret White, Carrie (1976)

  • Played by Piper Laurie

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You can’t create a list of Horror’s most psychotic mother’s without the inclusion of Margaret White. With origins in literature through Stephen King’s novel, Margaret White is the fanatical religious mother of telekinetic Prom Queen Carrie. The most memorable portrayal of this character comes in the shape of Brian De Palma’s 1976 adaptation. With an emphasis on anything to do with sex or the female body as a sin including Carrie experiencing a traumatic first period, Mrs White is the worst mother any teenager could possibly have. She raises Carrie with extreme restrictions, sheltering her from reality. When she becomes aware of Carrie’s abilities she behaves fearfully and deems her a “witch” frequently reading passages from the bible. She meets her demise following Carrie’s blood-soaked rampage at her prom. Carrie returns to her home broken and drained then Mrs White viciously stabs her, this causes Carrie to use her abilities to impale her mother in a symbolic killing mimicking a religious figure. Piper Laurie gives a somewhat hammy yet unsettling performance, this is due to her allegedly perceiving the script as a comedy but it does work well in creating an unhinged, mentally unstable character.  Due to her performance as Mrs White, Piper Laurie achieved some award nominations for ‘Best Supporting Actress’ at the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. Playing this insane mother ultimately relaunched her career.

1. Mrs Voorhees, Friday the 13th (1980)

  • Played By Betsy Palmer

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Channeling Psycho’s Mrs Bates within the films aesthetics, the mother of the iconic, hockey masked wearing, machete wielding killer Jason Voorhees occupies the top spot. Mrs Voorhees is one of horror’s most unforgettable and unexpected twists. In a flip reverse of what Psycho achieved, Mrs Voorhees motivations stem from grief following the death of her son Jason at Camp Crystal Lake. She also has a split personality, bringing Jason through as she commits murder, slicing and dicing sexually charged youths. Like the majority of the mother’s on this list, Mrs Voorhees is overprotective and will do what it takes to shelter her child from harm. She was a teenage mother with a son born with  hydrocephalus (water on the brain), in order to protect him she shielded Jason from a regular childhood, denying him schooling. While working as a cook in Camp Crystal Lake in 1957, Jason was exposed to constant bullying and teasing. While unattended, Jason went swimming in the lake’s murky waters, unbeknown to the camp counselors who were busy with certain other matters. Jason subsequently drowned sending Mrs Voorhees on a murderous rampage seeking revenge on any teenager who sets foot in the aptly nicknamed “Camp Blood”. She reveals herself in 1979 following the camp’s re-opening and several other grisly murders. Final Girl Alice Hardy ultimately decapitates her ending her bloody reign of terror. Mrs Voorhees death is responsible for avenging Jason and beginning a franchise of  gory horror films with an emblematic serial killer at the helm. She has proven influential particularly in the construction of the previously discussed Mrs Loomis. Betsy Palmer initially dismissed the film not expecting anyone to watch it however she created a cult character and a highly memorable performance of a psychotic mother who certainly won’t let things lie when it comes to her only son. Click here for more on Friday the 13th (1980) from this site.

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Hope you enjoyed this countdown. Feel free to comment or tweet (@Hayleyr1989) on your favorite psycho mom’s! Also check out my latest debate with Caitlyn (Scared Sheepless) on Wolf Creek (2005) currently available on moviepilot.com.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reviews