Chris Hornbostel and Barac Wiley

The golden age of horror: The Banshee Chapter (2013)

Chris:The Banshee Chapter is about mind-control, MKULTRA-like drug experiments. It’s a movie about numbers radio stations. It’s has Lovecraftian overtones. There’s found footage and briefly a documentary style narrative. It presents conspiracy theories and secret histories from crackpots, and then says they might not be so crazy after all. This is a big, wonderful shaggy mutt of a movie. It makes mistakes here and there that require a sympathetic viewer, but when it works–which is most of the time–it is enormously satisfying.

After the jump, when you’re innocent, you can get away with anything Continue reading →

The golden age of horror: The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh (2013)

Chris: Often in the last month, we’ve thrown out the term “slow burn” to describe a movie that works deliberately towards its scariest moments. It’s an effective technique, and one that informs some of the best pictures we’ve watched over the last few weeks. Unfortunately, often the slow burn ends up being a slow flash in the pan, or worse, a slow fizzle. All the work building to a great scare happens and then either we jump and move on and a movie’s given us all it’s got, or the scare doesn’t particularly pay off, and all that work goes for naught. The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh is more like a slow forest fire. It sets things up slowly and beautifully, with a craftsman’s precision. Then it pays off those bets, delivering scare after scare throughout a tremendous final section of the film.

After the jump, the soul lives on, long after death Continue reading →

The golden age of horror: The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

Chris: One of my favorite little throwaway scenes in Cabin in the Woods is one where a disembodied zombie appendage distracts a hired gunman long enough to allow our protagonists to render him senseless. No, that’s not the part I’m talking about, not yet. We then get this bit of inspired, silly dialogue: “Good work, zombie arm,” but that’s not the bit either, though also awesome. The part I’m talking about happens as our characters leave the incapacitated gunman. We see the disembodied arm and hand make its way onto the guy’s face, presumably to tear him apart as best it can…as zombie arms will do. It’s one of so many similarly clever and fun moments that exist at the periphery of this film that endear it to me so much.

After the jump, am I on speakerphone? Continue reading →

The golden age of horror: A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

Chris: A Tale Of Two Sisters is a movie about lies and deceit. It is about a dark and terrible secret two people share but dare not speak of, even to each other. We know that something terrible has happened to this family in the past, and seems to be happening to it in the present. That all this is happening inside a haunted country manor house only adds to the tension.

After the jump, ghosts always do complicate a reconciliation Continue reading →

The golden age of horror: Ju-on: the Grudge

Chris: Ghosts in western culture have always been a frightening but physically benign presence. They show up to simply scare, warn, or act as portents and omens. That’s not how they work in Japan, though. With an animist folklore as a basis, Japanese ghosts are more akin to what we categorize in western folklore as demons and evil spirits.. Which is to say, Japanese movie ghosts can kill and are dangerous not only to the mind but the body as well. Those dangerous spirits–and a whole lot of cat scares–are front and center here in Ju-on.

After the jump, lost in translation? Continue reading →

The golden age of horror: Ginger Snaps (2001)

Chris: During our horror movie gab-fest last year, it’s entirely possible that either Tom or I or both of us mentioned that American Werewolf in London was the last non-awful werewolf movie ever made. Some readers took us to task in the comments section, with more than a few folks pointing out that this film from future Orphan Black co-creator John Fawcett proved us wrong and was completely worth seeing. Yeah right. A Canadian werewolf movie about outcast high school goth girls. That sounds…well, actually, that sounds like it could be pretty damned good.

After the jump, Michael J. Fox and Jason Bateman need not apply. Continue reading →