Review: Dead Snow (Død snø) [2009]

Dir. Tommy Wirkola

Cast:  Vegar Hoel, Stig Frode Henrikse, Charlotte Frogner, Lasse Valdal

Dead Snow is a film that every self-respecting horror fan should yearn desperately to love, with its miniscule budget, genre referencing, Norwegian roots and it's poetic, snow-blasted mountain locations. Oh, and did I forget to mention... Nazi Zombies. That's right, it's been a long time since we had Nazi Zombies on screen with the turgid Zombie Lake, and sadly Dead Snow doesn't really rescue the genre, but it's not for want of trying.

Review: Play Misty For Me [1971]

Dir. Clint Eastwood

Cast: Clint Eastwood,
Jessica Walter, Donna Mills

Now, many of you will be asking yourselves, why is this film turning up on a site committed to genre movies? Well one of the many ambitions of VisualCrack is re-discovering dispossessed genre titles that may have got lost behind the sofa of mainstream Hollywood. I tenaciously declare this is the case with Clint Eastwood's directorial debut, Play Misty For Me, this is the film that spawned a score of 'trendy psychological thrillers', most unsuccessful but a few going on to comprehensive box office domination like Fatal Attraction. So please, allow me my indulgence, and read on...

Review: Sympathy for Lady Vengeance [2005]

Dir. Park Chan-Wook

Cast: Lee Young-ae, Choi Min-sek, Byeong-ok Kim, Su-hee Go

Park Chan-Wook is most categorically a member of an intimate 'Modern Hollywood' collective, that comprises such cinematic prodigies as Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson and the Coen brothers, thanks to the fact he directed the noughties most prototypical revenge melodrama, Oldboy. This hypnotic, pitch-black drama gave audiences a protagonist in a jet black suit who conducted all manner of felonious physical barbarity on his adversaries. The fact that Oldboy was a foreign language, eastern themed film only embellished its perceived coolness. Here was a film that could have been formulated explicitly to amass the reverence of the genre connoisseurs.

Review: Boggy Creek II [1981]

Dir. Charles Pierce

Cast: Charles Pierce, Charles Pierce, Jr., Cindy Butler, Jimmy Clem

Charles Pierce follows up on his own, The Legend Of Boggy Creek, what many profess to be the single foremost Bigfoot film of all time, with... this travasty! Disregarding completely 1977’s Return To Boggy Creek, made by another disparate group of low budget psuedo film-makers, which in turn, succeeded in ignoring the first film. This film instead turns out to be a bland assimilation of Shriek Of The Mutilated and an erstwhile episode of Dukes of Hazzard, any concept of mystery and foreboding is dissipated only to be commuted by a sense of utter apathy.

Review: Friday the 13th [2009]

Dir. Marcus Nispel

Cast: Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker, Aaron Yoo, Amanda Righetti, Travis Van Winkle

It appears that Michael Bay has grown tired of voluminous explosions in recent years and has turned his hand to violating and butchering horror movie mainstays from bygone days  (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, The Amityville Horror, The Hitcher), and now has fancied to take on one of the cornerstones of modern horror history... Jason Vorhees! Bay’s latest production, a quick and dirty remake of  Friday the 13th, is not as excruciating as it could have been, by that rationale it can not be called laudable either. What it does deliver are the staples required to make a Friday 'date-night' horror movie; sex, drugs and buckets o' blood (TM). Woefully it misses out on any aptitude to bestow anything approximating fear, but that’s not really the point, or is it?

Review: The Cottage [2008]

Dir. Paul Andrew Williams

Cast: Reece Shearsmith, Andy Serkis, Jennifer Ellison. Steve O'Donnell

Peter (Shearsmith) and David (Serkis) are discordant brothers who do something implausibly cretinous: kidnap the step-daughter of David's underworld-connected boss and demand a sizable ransom. More foolishly, they enlist the support of Andrew (O'Donnell), the boss' dimwitted son. Of course, the boss is onto this from the outset and dispatches a brace of Asian assassins to tail Andrew as he conveys the ransom to the brothers at their late mothers' rustic cottage.

Review: Dracula - Prince of Darkness [1965]

Dir. Terence Fisher

Cast: Christopher Lee, Andrew Keir, Francis Matthews, Barbara Shelley

Hammer Studios
conclusively redefined British horror films in the 50s and 60s with their innovative amalgam of high style, literacy, sophistication, and bloody intensity, commuting the irascible gothic of Universal’s insouciant horror films and the camp sensibilities of the low-budget indies. Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, the Mummy, the werewolf, and all the other horror commodities were revamped and invigorated by Hammer, but none so categorically as Dracula.  In the first film, Horror of Dracula (1958) Christopher Lee shattered the anemic, deferential image of Lugosi’s count with a mixture of vehemence and sensuality lacking from any Dracula preceding or, debatably, since and made the role irrevocably his own

Review: Prom Night [2008]

Dir. Nelson McCormick

Cast: Brittany Snow, Scott Porter, Jessica Stroup, Dana Davis, Collins Pennie, Kelly Blatz, Idris Elba, Johnathon Schaech

For any genre film to achieve a status of mere competence all it requires is a sympathetic protagonist, some marginally alluring victims, a tenacious killer, some kind of suspense imbued buildup, and (most pivotally) lashings and lashings of gore. Unfortunately this 2008 version of Prom Night lacks on four of the five counts, making it banal by any measure of the genre. Despite having the same title and bearing a passing resemblance to the 1980 Jamie Lee Curtis classic (high school kids getting butchered on prom night), this is not... read that again... NOT a remake. In fact, it bears a greater similarity to One Tree Hill albeit with a bloodless body count.

Review: Anima persa [1977]

Dir. Dino Risi

Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Vittorio Gassman, Danilo Mattei, Anicée Alvina

A naive young man studying art in Venice comes to stay with distant relatives, an elderly uncle (Gassman) and a somewhat younger aunt (Deneuve). In "Jane Eyre" fashion he educes that his uncle is apparently keeping his deranged brother in a secret room in an attic. His curiosity is piqued and he begins to investigate with his new artist model/girlfriend (Anicée Alvina), and quickly unearths that all is not as it seems with his mysterious relatives.

Review: Black Christmas [2006]

Dir. Glen Morgan 

Cast: Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Lacey Chabert

Black Christmas follows a group of teenage girls who find themselves trapped in their sorority house on Christmas Eve, while a psychopath takes them out one by one – and not for Christmas dinner…

In 1974, Bob Clark, the man who brought us the cult favourite Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, released a small, blackly comedic film, which would have a major impact on the horror scene for years to come. Widely regarded as a classic, the original version of Black Christmas paved the way for the first generation slasher films such as Halloween and Friday the 13th.

Review: Beneath [2007]

Dir. Dagen Merrill

Cast: Nora Zehetner, Carly Pope, Gabrielle Rose, Matthew Settle

There’s been a recent vogue for slower-paced horror, possibly in response to the success of such films as The Ring and its murderous “superghost” cousins. Done well it can show off beautiful camerawork, nuanced emotion and slowly develop unsettling scares that go beyond mere jump moments. Maybe a good parallel could be made with music – a virtuoso musician can take a difficult piece of music and make it come alive. Sadly the film lacks many important elements, the lead actress only registers one emotion for the entire movie, the film thinks that showing random flashes of the lead characters screaming at the camera will be a tension builder for when Christy decides to play 'World’s Most Boring Detective' without a good explanation as to why.

Review: Lake of the Dead [De Dødes Tjern] [1958]

Dir.  Kåre Bergstrøm

Cast:  Henki Kolstad, Henny Moan, Bjørg Engh, Georg Richter, André Bjerke

Norway hasn't produced many horror films over the years. A few cross-over hits, such as DARK WOODS, NEXT DOOR, and more recently DEAD SNOW and the COLD PREY series, have seen some global recognition, but before that Norway's genre output was nearly nonexistent. As a matter of fact, a Norwegian Horror keyword search on IMDb results in only three genre titles being made before 1990, LAKE OF THE DEAD (also released as THE LAKE OF THE DAMNED) is one of these. In fact, it's the earliest Norwegian horror film listed and may actually have the claim on being first horror film produced in that country (to add to it's claim of being the first Norwegian film shot in CinemaScope). While well regarded on its home turf, the film isn't much known outside it's native land, but believe me when I say, it really deserves to be.  

Lake is a well-made, intelligently-written and stunningly photographed dark mystery that keeps you guessing and makes unnerving use of its picturesque outdoor locations.

Review: Scar 3D

Dir. Jed Weintrob

Cast: Angela Bettis, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Devon Graye, Ben Cotton, Christopher Titus

Scar 3D can only be described as a stab-by-numbers slasher movie, and be warned, that is the first (and last) positive remark I'll probably be able to make in this review. This cinematic abomination is supposedly the first movie to be created in HD-3D, which for all its fancy numbers and letters, basically appears to translate as 'we know the movie's crap, but how cool is this?' answer ... Not Cool!

Review: Creep

Dir. Christopher Smith

Cast: Franka Potente, Sean Harris, Vas Blackwood, Jeremy Sheffield, Ken Campbell, Paul Rattray, Kelly Scot

A cross between a slasher flick and a folklore horror, Creep is a British horror movie from writer and director Christopher Smith, taking place in the network of stations, tunnels and sewers that make up the London underground where Kate (German actress Franka Potente) is trapped after falling asleep on the platform on her way out for further carousing after a booze and drug fuelled party with her pretentious friends. The movie excels at creating a claustrophobic and forlorn atmosphere as the strong-willed yet desperate Kate tries to escape the 400 miles of track whilst the misfits that inhabit the depths of London at night are being slaughtered by an unknown killer. The main cast is minimal and the very Kate-centric movie is fodder-padded with only a couple of bums, station workers and her short-lived chauvinistic man-friend plus, of course, the deranged mutant-gynaecologist that has spent his life underground practising surgery on those who accidentally enter his lair.

The Belated Welcome...

So if you're here, you've already seen a few reviews an editorial and our first article, but I just wanted to introduce our blog to you officially.

VisualCrack is an offshoot of our sister site Absolutely Random, the reason we are here is that we felt the need for a site that allowed us to talk more and be focussed primarily on genre movies (horror, sci-fi, cult, psychotronic... you get the idea!). So with that said, I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome you and tell you what we have coming up as we head into 2010...

Mais, Les Zombies Sont Dans Le Lac

A Brief History of French Horror Cinema

France's tradition of filmmaking is as long and as rich as any country's, if not more so. Although more renowned for high drama, edgy experimentalism and art house existentialism, France also has an eclectic, poetic and important history within the horror genre, that continues quietly and steadily to this day.

Even before it ever had a real movie industry, France displayed an obsession with macabre mainly through the popularity of the Grand Guignol Theater in Paris, a forum dedicated to horrific plays that climaxed in gruesome violence. Naturally with the birth of film it didn't take long for the country to adapt its dark curiosity to the fledgling cinema.