Archive for November, 2011

I Sell the Dead and The Countess

Posted in horror films with tags , , on November 27, 2011 by mike k

I rented two horror film gems from Blockbuster last night and I thought I’d talk about them a little.

The first is a horror-comedy called I Sell the Dead which stars Dominic Monaghan and Larry Fessbender and also featuring Ron Perlman and Angus Scrimm.

I Sell the Dead tells thet tale of two, down on their luck, grave robbers (Monaghan and Fessbender) who make a career robbing the graves of the dead, and the not-so-dead, and selling them to a nefarious doctor (Scrimm) who uses the corpses for his own personal needs. Of course, our two “heroes” are imprisoned and sentenced to death for their crimes but, before they go, they must “confess” their story to the local parish priest (played by Ron Perlman). The story is filled with tales of run-ins with another corpse snatching gang (the Murphy’s), vampires, aliens and zombies that just won’t stay dead. Its a very funny film (as well as a winner of several awards from the 2008 SlamDance Film Festival and Toronto After Dark) and its a shame it never got a wider release than it has. The producer and one of the stars of the film, Larry Fessbender, is a talented film writer who successfully blends bouts of comedy with shots of horror. A definite must see …

The second film I rented was The Countess which was written and directed by French-American actress, Julie Delpy. The Countess tells the legend of the Hungarian countess, Elizabeth Bathory, who was sentenced to death and walled up in her own castle as punishment for murdering hundreds of young peasant girls so that she could bathe in their blood and maintain her youthful appearance.  Unlike the Hammer horror film treatment, Delpy treats Countess Bathory as a sympathetic woman whose loveless life is filled with abuse, violence and sexual depravity at the hands of her husband. Upon his death, Bathory falls in love with a younger man but when his father intercedes and sends false letters supposedly from the young man to Bathory, breaking up their relationship, the Countess goes over the edge and believes that her young lover spurred her because she was “old” (in the film, Countess Bathory is 38 yrs old; far from being an old woman by our standards). She prays to God to keep her youth and an accident in which blood is spilt upon her skin provides our Countess with the idea of murdering young girls for their blood.  Their are fine performances in the film not only from Ms. Delpy (who plays the Countess) but also from Oscar winner William Hurt and Daniel Bruhl (Inglorious Basterds). The film is a cautionary tale of one’s obsession with youth. Although the film dances around the myth of Bathory and vampirism, it is a classy film. If you are looking for a period horror film with more story and suspense than gore then this is your film. In an interesting historical note, the real Countess Elizabeth Bathory was a distant relative of another notorious blood fiend, Prince Vlad Tepes (Count Dracula) of Transylvania.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

Posted in Mystery with tags , , , , on November 13, 2011 by mike k

Peter Cushing as Sherlock Holmes in the 1959 Hammer Studios film version

 When I grew up, watching television was nothing like it was today. We didn’t have cable and we had to rely on locally broadcast television. For reception, my family used an arial antenna which sat on the top of our TV that we had to fumble with and place our bodies in strange and bizarre positions to make work. Unlike the 150 or so odd channels people have to choose from today, my brother and I were prisoners of the 3 network channels (ABC, NBC and CBS (which always came in kind of fuzzy)) and PBS.  That’s not a big choice to choose from and, in the immortal words of comedian Robin Williams, “if the President was on (giving a speech) you were screwed”.

I watched a lot of PBS when I was a kid. PBS relied on local donations to operate and as they could not afford the high priced cable programs that were then available, they purchased a lot of programming from across the Atlantic from the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). If you didn’t mind watching programs such as Doctor Who, Benny Hill, Monty Python or Are You Being Served coupled with servings of Upstairs, Downstairs and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, PBS wasn’t too bad to watch. Personally, I’ve a love affair with British TV. I’m a routine watcher of BBC America and the new Doctor Who. Their television dramas and mystery shows are top notch.

Through PBS, I was introduced to the cinematic Sherlock Holmes. Mostly, Holmes was played by Jeremy Brett but ocassionally, viewers would be offered the treat of watching horror legend Peter Cushing, known mostly for playing Count Dracula’s nemesis, Abraham Van Helsing, don the hat of the erstwhile master detective. Cushing played Sherlock Holmes in the very first Holmes film in color in 1959; The Hound of the Baskervilles. He repeated his role as Holmes in 1965 and 1968 in the BBC series, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Cushing again played Holmes in old age in the 1984 BBC TV film, The Mask of Death.

While Jeremy Brett and Basil Rathbone are more famous for playing the role, Cushing tried to play Holmes as he appeared in Doyle’s stories. While Cushing added nothing new to the character of Holmes, he played the role intelligently and with great respect. A DVD of Cushing’s role as Sherlock Holmes can be purchased online from the BBC America shop.

Video song of the Day: Vernian Process

Posted in music with tags , , on November 5, 2011 by mike k

Something Wicked (That Way Went) by the San Francisco steampunk band Vernian Process

The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow

Posted in short films with tags , , on November 1, 2011 by mike k

I found a link to an interesting short film entitled, “The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow”. The film centers around a photograph taken circa 1930s featuring a young couple and infant child surrounded by, what appears to be, their two friends.  However, things are not quite as they appear. Newspaper clippings tell of children being abucted for pagan rituals and a closer examination of the photograph, in which the viewer is the person looking at the picture, tells of hidden dangers and secrets awaiting our young couple.

The film was written and directed by Rodrigo Gudino and stars, in image  only, Julian Richings, Alan Aderton and Lea Lawrynowicz. The film was a 2008 Genie nominee for best animated short film.

The film has some really great creepy imagery and expertly tells the story of what happens without uttering a single word.  “The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow” is definitely a short film worth viewing.