Category Archives: Movies

Daniel Radcliffe Leaves Harry Potter Behind with New Horror Film

I thought Daniel Radcliffe did a fine job in the Harry Potter movies, and it seems as if he’s now expanding his career by taking a starring role in a horror movie. Radcliffe is 23 years old, and it remains to be seen how typecast he might or might not be because of his role as Harry Potter. He really has few actors to compare himself with, because how many actors have played this large a role in this large a franchise? Maybe you could draw comparisons with Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars movies, but I think Daniel Radcliffe is a better actor.

The Woman in Black is Radcliffe’s first movie since the Harry Potter series wrapped up, but it’s not his first role. Daniel Radcliffe also appeared in How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying on Broadway. He’s also slated to star in Kill Your Darlings, in which he’ll portray Allen Ginsberg.

You can bet either way you like on Radcliffe’s career and whether or not he’ll be typecast, but I think I’m going to bet on him being hugely successful in a variety of genres and movies.

Radcliffe leaves Potter behind with horror film (via AFP)

For more than a decade, Daniel Radcliffe was known the world over as the owlish waif in the massively successful “Harry Potter” films — based on the equally popular book series by JK Rowling. Now, the young actor is turning a page. A child prodigy no more, the 22-year old Radcliffe now is stepping…

Continue reading Daniel Radcliffe Leaves Harry Potter Behind with New Horror Film

Donald Pleasence

My favorite horror actor, of all horror actors, is Donald Pleasence. I make no apologies for this, either. He was an extraordinarily talented and gifted actor, and from what I’ve read, he was a true professional who was a joy to work with, too.

I’ll always remember Pleasence mostly for his work in the Halloween movie franchise. Of course, the first film in the series is the best, and it rises above its genre limitations to be a true classic of cinema. I’m not sure if it’s been included in the Congressional Archive yet or not, but it should be. But even in the lower-quality Halloween movies, Donald Pleasence’s performance always stands out.

For those of you (and I can’t imagine there are many who’d be interested in this blog, anyway) who haven’t seen any of these Halloween movies, Pleasence portrays Dr. Loomis, who is Michael’s Ahab. (Michael is the superhuman serial killer who is the main character, or force of nature, in the main set of Halloween movies. A more appropriate analogy might be to compare Loomis to Van Helsing, with Michael being a bizarre modern-day Dracula type villain.

Pleasence starred in five of the Halloween films:

  1. Halloween
  2. Halloween 2
  3. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
  4. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
  5. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers

The third Halloween film had nothing to do with the rest of the series, so Pleasence doesn’t appear. Donald Pleasence died in 1995, so he appeared in none of the subsequent films. In fact, when Rob Zombie “re-imainged” (ruined) the franchise, Loomis was recast, being portrayed by Malcolm McDowell. If you want to get an idea of how good an actor can be, compare Pleasence’s excellent performance in the 1978 Halloween with McDowell’s much less nuanced performance in Rob Zombie’s Halloween.

But there’s a lot more to Pleasence’s career as a horror actor than this. He was in an episode of the original The Twilight Zone in 1962 as a suicidal school teacher. He also appeared in The Outer Limits.

He specialized playing characters who were a little bit nuts, but in horror movies, everything is relative. I mean, chasing after Michael Myers is nuts, sure, but compared to how nutty Michael is, it’s pretty tame.

Donald Pleasence even played Lucifer in The Greatest Story Ever Told. I suppose for a horror actor, that is THE dream role, isn’t it?

I also loved him in Prince of Darkness.

He was married four times and had five daughters. He’s still my favorite horror actor of all time.

The Pure Terror DVD Set

I only recently discovered the Pure Terror DVD set. It’s a 50 movie pack for sale at Amazon (at the time of this writing) for $14.49. You probably don’t need to be told this, but 50 movies for $14.49 means that the movies are probably public domain B-movies that people aren’t especially interested in, but that being said, if you have a taste for cheesy or schlocky films, you might find this to be a good value. Heck, even if you only watch each movie on here once, you’re only paying 29 cents per movie. You’ll have a hard time finding a Netflix plan that will beat that price on a per movie basis, but then again, some of the movies you’ll find on Netflix will almost assuredly be of higher quality than the movies in the Pure Terror: 50 Movie Pack.

I have only seen one movie out of the set so far, but I’m working my way through all 50 of these movies along with some friends of mine over at my favorite horror forum. You can follow our weekly discussions of Pure Terror there.

The movie I saw was called Crucible of Horror, which starred Michael Gough. Younger movie fans will likely remember him as Alfred in the earlier set of Batman movies, before Nolan took over the franchise. But back in the way, Michael Gough was a staple in many horror movies, and his performance in Crucible of Horror is only one of many notable horror performances. Perhaps his most notable horror movie role was in the first Dracula movie from Hammer Studios.

Crucible of Terror is a far cry from a good movie, but it’s not as awful as you might think, either. Of course, the quality of the transfer is pretty poor, but heck, what can you expect for less than 30 cents? The acting in the movie is pretty standard B-Movie stuff, although Gough occasionally shines. He’s never actually interesting, though–no amount of good acting can overcome a screenplay this lame.

That being said, this movie isn’t boring, and it held my attention the entire time. It seemed to want to have a Hitchcock kind of vibe, and it pretty much failed on every level to achieve that. Then again, when you’re aiming for Hitchcock, unless you ARE Hitchcock, you’re almost certain to fall short. And the movie was actually complex enough that there is something to discuss thematically. In other words, it’s open to some degree of interpretation.

Anyway, there are other 50 movie horror DVD packs, but this is the one I’m watching these days.

The Best Japanese Horror Movies of All Time

Any list of the best Japanese horror movies of all time is going to be controversial. Genre fans tend to have their favorites and long lists of movies they look down on. My list of the best Japanese horror movies of all time will probably look nothing like your own, especially if you’re a big fan of the Japanese horror genre.

What’s cool about studying the films of a particular culture is that you end up learning a ton about that culture while sitting back, eating popcorn, and enjoying a movie. Movies, including horror movies, are a huge part of the culture of Japan and the Japanese people. What started for me as a way to watch a whole new set of horror movies (after growing bored with my collection of American horror movies) turned into an obsession with all things Japanese, and I even vacationed in Japan this past year thanks to my love for Japanese horror.

You can learn a lot about Japan and its traditions by watching Japanese films, even Japanese horror films. I believe my love for Japanese horror has expanded my horizons immensely; not only have I learned a little bit of Japanese, but I visited the country, and I now have a whole new set of cultural icons to learn about, thanks to the massive amount of horror movies made in Japan.

Here’s a short list of the three best Japanese horror movies of all time. I’m sure every fan of Japanese horror will disagree with me, but these are my favorites.

1. House (1977)

A cult-classic in Japan and a high water mark for Japanese horror movies in the 70s, House  is your typical summer vacation / creepy house story with just enough gore and eerie plot points to make this movie an instant addition to my horror film library.

2. Audition (1999)

One of the most popular and best-known Japanese horror movie titles in America, Audition tells the story of a lonely widower looking for a new female companion. Saying anything more would ruin the surprise and most of the horror of this movie; it’s enough to say that the horror in Audition comes not from a ghost or a spirit but from the evils of a human being, which makes it that much more creepy.

3. Infection (2004)

Far from your typical zombie movie, Infection is a Japanese take on an old horror paradigm: the creepiness of hospitals. Yes, zombie movie fans will find a comfortable setting here, but the surprise ending makes this Japanese horror movie a “must watch twice” instant classic.

Horror DVDs and Blurays

As an avid horror movie collector, I consider myself an expert on horror DVDs and Blurays. The majority of my movie collection is horror movies, and these days, most of my movie collection is on either DVD or Bluray. Horror DVDs line the walls of my bookshelves, take up space under my bed, and arrive daily in the mail for addition to my home film library.

Horror Bluray discs are the most recent addition to my film collection; I was a late arrival to the Bluray scene, but I suggest that all horror fans add Bluray discs to their collection. I know, I know, it’s expensive to add another format: you have to buy a new player and all new discs. But there are some good reasons to include horror Bluray discs to your horror movie collection:

  • more features
  • HD video and audio
  • more viewer interaction

I find that horror movies on Bluray tend to have more special features, thanks to more storage space on the disc itself. That means more interviews with cast and crew, more outtakes, trailers, and other goodies you won’t find on the DVD version.

Don’t neglect the benefits to the way movies look and sound thanks to HD video and audio available in the Bluray format. Horror movies depend on good video quality and good audio quality to set the mood of the film. I find I enjoy horror movies on Bluray more than the same films in their DVD versions.

The latest thing in Bluray discs is increased interaction between the viewer and the movie. Some horror titles on Bluray have special interactive features, allowing you to pick a camera angle, select an ending, take part in a quiz about the movie, etc. These features are only available on Bluray, again thanks to the increased storage capacity of a Bluray disc.

A final reason you should expand your horror collection to include Blurays: it will help you proof your movie collection for the near future. Switching to Bluray now means you will have the latest versions of movies for at least the next 5-10 years, depending on when the next big video format appears. You know you’ll have to switch eventually; you may as well start now.

If you’re a horror movie nut, find out more about horror movies on DVD by talking to other horror fans about horror DVDs at DVDForum. While you’re at it, start a discussion about switching to Bluray and see what other horror movie fans have to say about the format.