Review: THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE (2018)

Mike Flanagan’s Netflix series is among the greatest haunted house tales ever filmed

Many years ago, when I was coming of age as a horror film obsessive, my mother mentioned that – to her- the scariest film ever made was Robert Wise’s 1963 movie THE HAUNTING. She cited the lack of blood, of violence, of anything remotely exploitative in the picture and praised the way it had the power to terrify with sound and mood and the reactions of its characters to things that went bump in the night. For someone who was in love with FANGORIA magazines and who was waking up in the era of practical special FX from goremeisters like Tom Savini, this sort of antiquated picture seemed a bit too tame for me. But then I saw the film. And I got it. And man, did it get me…

Wise’s adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s novel “The Haunting of Hill House” is indeed a marvel of dread and seems only more powerful when stacked against Jan de Bon’t vulgar 1999 FX-soaked stinker of a remake, a migraine-inducing dud that fills in all the delicate blanks of its predecessor with unimaginative shocks and overbaked imagery. News of yet another mounting of Jackson’s tale, this time as a Netflix series, might have annoyed some of THE HAUNTING’s puritanical fanbase (especially in the wake of that de Bont bummer), but turns out there’s no need to fret. Because this new incarnation, THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, is helmed by OCULUS and OUIJA 2 director Mike Flanagan, a director who is probably the only voice in contemporary horror worthy of the moniker “master”. Here is a filmmaker who truly, deeply understands the mechanics of the haunted house drama, who almost always shows a deft hand at balancing character and carnage and refuses to submit to cheap shocks and savagery. Flanagan developed, wrote and directed every episode of THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, making this the ultimate Flanagan experience, a ten hour free-fall into domestic hell that honors the source novel and the Wise film and still manages to feel contemporary, fresh and accessible.

In short, it’s one of the greatest small-screen horror entertainments I have ever seen.

Continue reading “Review: THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE (2018)”

Welcome to the New Flesh: www.DeliriumMagazine.com has been Reborn!

Dear Delirium Readers –

To time with the impending release of the upcoming DELIRIUM Magazine #18, artist and designer Chad Savage has totally re-vamped our web portal www.DeliriumMagazine.com! In the coming weeks, expect a new wave of fresh, original content, including film and music reviews, exclusive interviews, essays and news as well as sneak peek looks at pages from our acclaimed print magazine!

Here’s a page from our exclusive interview with Oscar nominated screenwriter (GLADIATOR, SWEENEY TODD, SKYFALL, ALIEN: COVENANT) and PENNY DREADFUL creator John Logan, discussing his adoration of both Shakespeare AND horror movies. It’s a wild read!

This feature and tons more await you in our David Cronenberg-heavy 18th issue (scroll down to see our incredible cover by photographer Ama Lea) and you can order that issue now by going HERE!

Keep visiting www.DeliriumMagazine.com and explore some of the great editorial we’ll be running. At DELIRIUM, we’re not just riffing on horror movies, but ALL cult, fantasy, exploitation and oddball cinema. We just throw all our messy shared psyches at the wall and whatever sticks ends up in our magazine, and now…here. You never know what you’re gonna get.

Thanks for reading and sticking with us. Things are about to get weird (er)!

– Chris Alexander, EIC and co-founder, DELIRIUM Magazine

DDAY AT DARK DELICACIES! Come and celebrate the release of DELIRIUM #6 this weekend!

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COVER PREVIEW: DELIRIUM #6 Goes Crazy for Kinski and Freaky for Franco!

DELIRIUM 6 Cover

Prolific Eurohorror auteur Jess Franco made over 200 films in his wildly erratic, fascinating career. Among them is the visually splendid, extremely violent and intense 1976  retelling of JACK THE RIPPER, starring the one and only madman of the arthouse Klaus Kinski as Dr. Orloff/The Ripper.

DELIRIUM has an exclusive new interview with legendary European exploitation http://premier-pharmacy.com/product-category/anti-fungal/ film producer Erwin C. Dietrich and Swiss actress Nikola Weisse on the making of this Franco classic and working with two of genre cinema’s most interesting artists.

Filled with amazing art and edifying words, this is our most outrageous issue yet!

Subscribe today!

And look for a MAJOR Full Moon/Jess Franco announcement in the coming week!

Blu-ray Review: Two by Mario Bava

THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH and THE WHIP & THE BODY
by Matty Budrewicz & Dave Wain

Amidst the cultural wave of boutique Blu-ray labels, Italian terror titan Mario Bava’s work has perhaps been best served, with superior, often extras-packed editions of his gloriously distinctive shock popping up on a regular basis. This year alone has been particularly rich release-wise, with robust deluxe packages of his long-lost crime potboiler RABID DOGS, the ALIEN-inspiring PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES, and a striking limited edition of his magnum opus BLACK SUNDAY hitting shelves either side of the pond; a fitting way to celebrate what would have been the maestro’s centenary. And now two more can join the party: his 1963 double whammy of THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH and THE WHIP & THE BODY, let loose by the UK’s Arrow Video and Odeon Entertainment, respectively.
With a luxurious wealth of Bava goodness to their name already – the aforementioned RABID DOGS and BLACK SUNDAY, and Bava’s third 1963 offering, the Boris Karloff-starring portmanteau BLACK SABBATH – Arrow’s GIRL is yet another impressive string to the companies bow. The quality of the film’s presentation is top-end: Though not quite free from the odd scratch and occasional frame movement, by and large the 2K HD master lovingly struck from the film’s fine grain interpositive – and, partially, internegative – is incredibly pleasing on the eye.
As well as porting over the three key special features from Anchor Bay’s solid 2007 boxset – Bava biographer Tim Lucas’ scholary commentary; a nice nine minute interview with co-star John Saxon; and Italian horror expert Alan Jones’ breezy introduction – Arrow also throw the snappy ‘All About the Girl’ featurette into the supplementary mix; a twenty minute or so appreciation of the film featuring Jones, and filmmakers Richard Stanley (robo-killer thriller HARDWARE) and Luigi Cozzi (goofy Video Nasty CONTAMINATION). Better still, however, is their inclusion of the equally nicely mastered alternative American cut of the film, retitled EVIL EYE by distributor AIP. Despite being just as entertaining, EVIL EYE is, of course, no match for Bava’s intended Italian language version; even if the director himself was unsatisfied with the end result.
THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH is a fluffy murder mystery; a Hitch-cocktail of suspense, thrills and gallows humour as a young tourist (Letícia Román) finds herself at the centre of a decade old set of serial killings. And though, as Bava once exclaimed, it’s wholly preposterous, as a technical masterclass it’s unbeatable; a sumptuously shot pulse-pounder, with Bava’s prowling camera and innovative accent on slick, macabre and violent imagery laying the groundwork for the myriad of gialli that would follow – a genre Bava himself would refine the next year with BLOOD AND BLACK LACE, and later re-work with slasher progenitor A BAY OF BLOOD.
With THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH being widely acknowledged as the first giallo, as author Troy Howarth suggests in his insightful liner notes for Odeon’s THE WHIP & THE BODY, WHIP too could belong to that genre with its overt luridness and mystery-themed narrative. Regardless, Odeon finally gives the film the love it deserves following years of showing up on TV in a washed out, soulless full screen print. The HD clarity is nothing short of astounding, perfect for what is, again, one of Bava’s most beautifully lensed films; from the familiar Anzio-based coastal sequences, to the lush, shadowy textures of the castle interior; dripping with atmosphere and melodrama.
Often – incorrectly – criticized for its supposed languid pacing, really it is here where Bava truly excels, delivering a slow-burning escalation of terror as the ghost of a sadistic nobleman (the immortal Christopher Lee) terrorises his family following his death. With cast and crew all credited with English pseudonyms, the film betrays producer-led aspirations of fitting alongside the gothic vogue of Hammer and the Corman-Poe cycle; Bava, however, may well have surpassed them all.
Just as he did on Arrow’s GIRL, Tim Lucas is present for Odeon’s talk-track duties, the Video Watchdog editor having re-recorded his commentary from VCI’s fourteen year old region 0 NTSC disc in the wake of his knowledge expanding friendship with the film’s lead, Daliah Lavi. It’s another typically comprehensive and rewarding listen. Elsewhere, Odeon have included an engaging and detailed twenty-two minute overview of the film by film historian Jonathan Rigby, and a leisurely forty-five minute conversation with Lee, taken from the the ‘British Legends of Stage & Screen’ series. It may not be quite as lavish as Arrow’s GIRL, but Odeon’s WHIP is every bit as vital for students of spaghetti scares and connoisseurs of charismatic classic horror.
Snap ’em up.

THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH DELIRIUM REVIEW 8/10
THE WHIP & THE BODY DELIRIUM REVIEW 8/10

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DVD REVIEW: CELLULOID HORROR

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By Amy Seidman
If you’ve ever griped about the fault in the latest film festival you attended and thought “Why don’t I create my own? Why not? How hard can it be?” Well, my friend, prepare to have your eyes opened. Sit back, grab yourself a glass of your favorite plonk, and let this 88 minute documentary be your guide.
CELLULOID HORROR follows the trials and tribulations of now legendary writer Kier-La Janisse, the tireless organizer, founder and festival programmer (“and she’s one person!” exclaims a newscaster) of CineMuerte, Canada’s first International Horror Film Festival.

The horrors of Kier-La’s rocky upbringing cleverly coexist with scenes drawn from the films she has screened at the festival that sadly mirror her own life. So what drives this unflagging tough as nails woman? The answer: Anyone starting up a festival has to possess those qualities. You have to eat, sleep and breathe the task, and this film documents just that.

An interesting aspect of CELLULOID HORROR is the support Janisse receives from the founders of competing festivals. From their points of view, Kier-La is a director with an unwavering passion and knowledge of the genre. More than that, she is thick skinned and fully capable of absorbing the hits that taking on an endeavor as big as this one is. They offer assistance in any way possible instead of seeing her work as a threat to their own festivals. In addition to the help provided by other festival organizers along the road to bringing CineMuerte to life, she receives support from friends, volunteers, and her husband as well.

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By her own estimation, it costs about 25,000 dollars a year to run CineMuerte, so you may wonder how she funds it? My favorite of her funding tactics has to be the “Torture Garden, which tests a fan’s ability to sit through 12 hours of horror films that Kier-La describes as “truly fucked up.” Starting with a 20 dollar cover (which goes to funding the festival), the rate drops with each hour that you stay, and ends at 5 dollars if you survive that long. Her film selection is, in general, not for the faint of heart as proven by the woman who left crying or the man who LITERALLY fainted twice after watching Cannibal Holocaust.

Looking at the clips, the documentary can also read as a horror “greatest hits” package. If you are a fan of Udo Kier or Jean Rollin and need your fix, this film will cure what ails you. Udo Kier is truly Kier-La and the festival’s biggest cheerleader. Udo uses every press event as an opportunity to plug the fest and question why there is such a lack of support for it. From finding a place for Jean Rollin to get dialysis in Vancouver to separating http://healthsavy.com/product/nolvadex/ from her husband, this film is an inspiring and at times rocky ride.

Now, on to the bonus material…

The first and quite unique special feature of note is actually not in the film at all but in its packaging. Using the technology normally associated with singing birthday cards, just opening the DVD case for CELLULOID HORROR will freak you out when you are greeted by Udo Kier’s voice saying ”Where is Kier-La? I’m going to kill her.” It certainly scared the shit out of me when I first opened it, and had the same impact when I pranked the super-stoned couch surfer crashing in my apartment. It’s a great promotional idea, and you too can amuse yourself by playing the game with unsuspecting friends. When your targets open the box act as if you don’t hear Udo Kier’s voice, and using your finest patronizing tone ask about what drugs they’re blasted on, and as a capper ask them to lie down while you get them water and they reflect on their mental state.

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Next is director Ashley Fester’s commentary. Among many anecdotes about the construction of the film, she thoughtfully discusses the accompanying music by Max Mueller that sets the background ambience for the film rather than dominating it. Fester touches on the lengthy process of getting the rights to use clips in the film which was of particular interest to me inasmuch as the film is loaded with them. She also uses the opportunity to thank the unsung heros of the film and all those that made it possible.

Additionally, there are Q&A’s for “Squirm” and with Udo Kier, deleted scenes and plenty of footage not included in the film. Real bang for your buck with this one.

While CELLULOID HORROR is a great tribute to Kier-La and to CineMuerte, it also provides a great resource for films you may not have seen. So if you’re dreaming about your own movie festival, and mimicking a small business start-up like the CineMuerte festival truly was? Well, then, stop daydreaming and prepare to put yourself deep in debt, risk alienating your friends and family, and all for the love of exposing people to films they may otherwise not be able to see. With a little luck you may, just MAY make it in the film fest business.

A final word: Check out this doc, and when you get a chance take a walk off the beaten path of Hollywood blockbusters, and recognize your local film fest by honoring it with your presence. And while you’re at it, how about offering a glass of the aforementioned plonk to a stressed-out organizer. As much as we all love horror flicks, it’s a tough racket.

Go to www.BreedProductions.com to order CELLULOID HORROR today.

DELIRIUM Review 9/10

BLU-RAY REVIEW: SHOCK WAVES

By Jerry Smith
As far as zombie films go, if you’ve seen one, you’ve just about seen them all. With the exception of the original trilogy from Romero, a Fulci film or two and various other horror auteurs who have given breaths of fresh air into the zombie film subgenre, the flesh-eating undead have slowly crept through enough movies to fill the Grand Canyon, and very few do anything daring or unique. Ken Wiederhorn’s 1977 film SHOCK WAVES (aka DEATH CORPS) is not only that breath of fresh air that so many other zombie films fail at providing, but it’s just a damned good horror film in general, and the subject of Blue Underground’s newest HD release.
Beginning its tale with the finding of Rose (Brooke Adams from the 1978 version of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS), a dehydrated sole survivor of a mysterious attack, SHOCK WAVES establishes a mystery of wanting to know what happened, before providing an explanation that is truly one of the most original takes on the zombie film of all time. While aboard a small (and run down) commercial boat filled with a few other passengers, Rose and the others become stranded after a series of events, with everything from the ship’s captain (the late John Carradine) being less of leader and more of a grumpy old man, to engine failure and to top it all off, a massive (and somewhat invisible) ship causing them to wreck their boat.
When the morning approaches, and the gang http://www.buyambienmed.com/buy-ambien/ discovers the captain’s dead body floating through the water, it’s obvious that danger is soon coming. When the stranded passengers discover an old hotel, inhabited only by a recluse (played by Van Helsing himself, Peter Cushing), with a Nazi flag hung nearby. Almost directly after coming into contact with the reclusive old man, a group of undead Nazi zombies rise from the deep waters, murdering the passengers in interesting ways.
What sets SHOCK WAVES so far apart from every other zombie film, is how original it is, with its undead being so very different than any other take on the filmic ghoul. These zombies aren’t interested in flesh or brains and walking at a slow pace, they’re methodical and cunning, slowly stalking their prey before rising from the waters and taking the individual out. Eerie stuff…
The HD transfer is exactly what one would hope it to be, cleaned up, but not to excessively. It looks great in HD, but there’s still that grain and “film” look to it, making for a viewing experience that feels authentic. As far as supplemental material goes, there’s an impressive amount of new interviews with everyone from producer/cinematographer Reuben Trane, to stars Adams and Luke Halpin to Composer Richard Einhorn. Blue Underground never skimps on their releases, and SHOCK WAVES is yet another great release from them and is, in this critic’s opinion, an exceptional treatment of one of the five best zombie films of all time.
DELIRIUM REVIEW: 8/10

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UK BLU-RAY REVIEW: THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN

by Matty Budrewicz
It’s a wonderful ol’ world when we’re treated to not one but two – TWO! – souped-up special editions of THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN. Just three months after Scream Factory’s cracking, region A-locked disc comes this: Arrow’s UK counterpart of long-time tosh specialist William Sachs’ gloopalicious horror howler. And – as they did last year with Tobe Hooper’s outrageous LIFEFORCE – Britain’s premier boutique label have again taken everything that made Scream Factory’s package so essential and added that extra kicker; this time by including the Super 8 digest version of the film.

Assembled from THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN’s numerous, dubious highlights, this seven minute long, scratty-looking (as per its source material) zinger is a ‘best of’ mini-compilation; the Super 8 digest form itself – as Arrow’s introductory card explains – being one of the earliest available means of screening movies at home. It’s not quite as lavish a bonus as Arrow’s top-notch LIFEFORCE doc Cannon Fodder but, for anyone fascinated with the history of home video or, indeed, any Melting Man die-hards out there, it’s certainly the cherry on an already tasty schlock sundae.

While cynics may argue this massively truncated cut is more preferable, for clag connoisseurs Sachs’ flick remains as endearingly terrible as ever. Conventional criticism cannot be applied to something like THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN, and nor should it; it’s a lousy yet ludicrously entertaining Z-grader every bit as wonderfully putrid as the gelatinous face of its eponymous antagonist.
Who’s to blame for such an uproarious farrago is anyone’s guess. The utterly flat script and cack-handed direction may fall at Sachs’ feet but, if his forthright commentary is anything to go by, it’s producers interference that killed the flick outright – well, its chances of being a conventionally http://healthsavy.com/product/zovirax/ passable programmer anyway. Ported from Scream Factory, it’s an excellent natter, with Sachs candidly addressing both his own shortcomings as a filmmaker and his producers refusal to understand the material as he originally conceived it; as a playful, spoofy cross between Atomic Era sci-fi and EC-style comic book shock.

The campy and kitsch influences are definitely there as astronaut Steve West (Alex Rebar) – radioactive after an accident up in orbit – turns into a murderous, gooey slop, but, as Melting Man make-up maestro Rick Baker suggests in his and Sachs’ great, two-handed twenty minute interview piece (another port), the film’s comedy is more likely due to its technical incompetence and truly awful performances than anything Sachs supposedly intended. Here, Baker is an affable delight as he discusses everything from his reluctance to get involved with the project – originally titled ‘The Ghoul From Outer Space’ – to his own feelings on the film’s surprising longevity.

The AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON FX legend’s gorgeously grotesque work is, of course, THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN’s greatest asset, and it looks superb thanks to the MGM-licensed HD transfer; a gloriously film-y eye-popper. You mightn’t, as West says, have seen anything until you’ve seen the sun through the rings of Saturn, but you haven’t lived until you’ve seen THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN in 1080p. Sound is served by a solid 2.0 mono mix and the set is rounded out with the film’s stupendously po-faced trailer, a cool promo gallery and a nifty, UK-exclusive three minute micro-chat with Baker’s then-protege, but now equally revered FX wiz, Greg Cannom.

A damn fine release of a terrifically naff movie; pick it up!
DELIRIUM REVIEW 8/10

 

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