March 2005, Issue #5



Few movies have as regal a horror pedigree as "Demons." Director Lamberto Bava is the son of Italian master Mario Bava ("Black Sabbath", "A Bay of Blood", and countless others) so he brings high expectations to the table. His writing partner on "Demons" is no less than Dario Argento! Italian Horror fans will no doubt know Argento from his string of back-to-back classics from the 1970's "Suspiria", "Inferno", and "Tenebre" and from his earlier giallos. Together Bava and Argento created a one of the most popular horror films of the eighties. "Demons" takes the greatest aspects of Italian horror, mixes it in with influences Romero's excellent "Living Dead" series, and combines them both with early 80's heavy metal (both music and attitude) to make an experience that is quite different from the cookie-cutter horror that was prevalent at the time.

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Helter Skelter

Most of you know - as it is mentioned in several of the reviews - that there are two Helter Skelters: One Made in 1976, and the other made in 2004. Is one better than the other? Is either even worth watching or buying? As is true, much of the time, when it comes to a remake - some will say the original is the best, and the new one is terrible (should have been left well enough alone); at least one says the actor playing Charles Manson is absolutely horrible.

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New York Ripper

In 1982, Fulci made a departure from the more supernatural horror films that he is known best for and released "The New York Ripper." Ripper is a sleazy piece of grindhouse filmmaking that came out in the later stages of the 42nd Street glory days. While not Fulci's best work, it did garner him a bit more infamy than the rest of his catalog. A "Donald Duck" voiced killer is stalking women in New York City that he believes break the societal rules of common decency. The duck voice is the most recognizable feature of the film and in and of itself, probably the film's most disturbing aspect. The killer preys on strippers, prostitutes and other sexually adventurous women, so Ripper has the abundance of flesh you'd expect from this type of exploitation.

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Race With the Devil

The 1975 film "Race With the Devil" begins innocently enough. Two couples on vacation in an RV decide to take a turn on a dirt road to spend the night away from the bustle. They park their rocking vehicle out in the wilds of south central Texas. They inspect the beauty of the desolate land, have a candle-lit dinner and a glass of wine, and toast the first night of a needed vacation. The sun sets and a full moon rises. But a funny thing happens.Across the river they hear an eerie howl and suddenly, a mysterious bonfire roars to life. They grab a pair of binoculars and notice a group of people in black robes dancing around this huge fire. There's weird chanting, a man in a mask with a sword, and nude women at his feet. The dancing becomes more intense, and a woman is stabbed to death in an apparent sacrifice. At that moment, the wife of one of the stunned men turns on the RV light and screams at her husband to come inside. The Satanic cult realizes they are not alone, and furiously charge across the river. Thus begins one long and very creepy chase across the back roads of a Texas landscape.

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James Wan has created what is, in my mind, one of the greatest horror films of the past fifteen years. "Saw" is the type of film that comes at you out of nowhere and keeps the viewer guessing until the end. "Saw" is a throwback to the Argento & Hitchcock schools of horror where the scares come not from the gory images, but from the setting, look, and tone of the film. Two men awake to find themselves in a dank bathroom, chained to pipes on opposite ends of the room. Between them are a dead man, a gun, and a tape recorder. Where the film goes from there reaches far beyond the walls of that room. Wan and writing partner Leigh Whannell have tapped into the modern human psyche and present some of the most truly frightening situations from a gut level. Opting not to have the men menaced by some grotesque madman, they instead are terrorized by their own minds. Fear of loss of control, fear of the unknown, fear of what and who to trust are the villains here. The "Jigsaw Killer" that orchestrates their fate is merely a facilitator for what they do to themselves.

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Night of the Comet

There's a lot worth forgetting about the 80's but one of the few things that decade of big hair and keyboard-drowned-music had was some of the best horror and sci-fi comedies of any time. There have been funny scary movies before and scary funny movies since, but some of the best examples of those perfectly balanced action, horror, and science fiction comedies were made in the 80's. I'm thinking of other good ones like Fright Night, American Werewolf in London, Big Trouble in Little China and on maybe a level or two below films like Return of The Living Dead and Toxic Avenger. Some people use the term spoof when referring to a lot of these movies but that's the wrong word in my opinion. Naked Gun and Airplane were spoofs, movies like Night of the Comet and Fright Night were genuine horror films that had a nice mixture of scares, drama, and tongue-in-cheek laughs. All of these elements of different genres are what made these movies unique.

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Street Fighter

Shigehiro Ozawa directed this Sonny Chiba classic The Street Fighter (Japan, 1974) which was the film that introduced Chiba to the US audiences. The film was cut roughly to get the R rating, but in 1996 New Line released the fully uncut X version on video and I have now seen this original uncut version two times, having just watched the film today again. This film is more violent and brutal than most of the subsequent efforts, so I can just imagine what kind of an experience this was for the audiences in the 1970. Chiba (really bad) plays Terry, a martial arts sensation, who gets dirty jobs done with the help of his martial arts, and after he becomes double crossed and begins to have more and more enemies, he starts his own war towards the mafia and the Japanese yakuza, and neither of those can give something that would beat Terry, the most dangerous and incredible iron fist alongside the Hong Kong Ricky, of course!

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A Fistful of Dollars

A Fistful of Dollars is truly one of the big classics in the western genre and one that began a newer, better style of western films. First in a string of Clint Eastwood's "spaghetti" westerns, it has a style and cinematic class all to itself. This is where Clint Eastwood began his style of western hero who doesn't say much, but gets his point across through his facial expressions and of course his actions, more specifically with his six shooter at his side.

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Previously Viewed

Dying Room Only

Married couple Jean and Bob Mitchell stop at a rundown roadside eatery. When time comes to leave, Jean is ready, but Bob isn't. In fact, Bob is nowhere to be found. Jean's anguished efforts to locate her husband are mysteriously blocked by the hulking restaurant proprietor.

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100% Weird

Reefer Madness

This item is actually copyright-free, meaning that you can get it for nothing on the internet, which is why there are so many distributors selling it (just like Night of the Living Dead). A year before the Marijuana Tax Act was ILLEGALLY passed by congress (the law was passed on the bases that the Medical Association of America agreed with the new Drug Tsar that marijuana should be made illegal - they where not in agreement) this little piece of shock horror was released to national theatres using government funding to raise the issue of the dangers of using marijuana and then went on to the double-feature B-movie circuit because it proclaimed to feature smut and so made a few bucks back in the end.

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-June 2005
Issue #6 Up this week!

-Savage Cinema welcomes David Carter to the writting team!

-Ben Meade's Berdella movie: BAZAAR BIZARRE

-Email Extras news and info on horror events all over the globe. *Updated*