Music by John Carpenter
Distributed by Sacred Bones
For a director who hasn’t made a film for seven years (2010’s The Ward) John Carpenter has kept incredibly busy of late. For starters, Carpenter entered the world of comics with the highly praised Asylum, which he co-created with his wife Sandy King. This month sees Volume 3 of the comic series, another of the partnerships ghoulish projects, Tales for a Halloween Night. And lo and behold, a new Halloween film is on its way next year to mark 40 years since the classic original. Although Carpenter won’t be behind the lens, he will be producing and providing the soundtrack. On the small screen, two television shows are in the works with Nightside and Carpenter adapting his aforementioned graphic novel Tales for a Halloween Night. In short, Carpenter, who will be 70 this January, has been pretty darn busy for a guy who Hollywood thought was yesterday’s man.
Carpenter, of course, has always been held in high regard for composing his own soundtracks for the majority of his films. The music has become so integral it is undeniably attached to his work. Three years after The Ward, Carpenter found himself, his son Cody, and godson Daniel Davies making music once more, and a year later that resulted in his first ever studio album Lost Themes, released through Sacred Bones. A follow up, aptly named Lost Themes II, was released in 2016 and, in total, we have been treated to 20 brand new dark and twisted tracks. One of them from Lost Themes II called “Dark Blues” was interesting due to its title as Carpenter had planned to release a dark blues album with his son which as yet has not materialized. In the summer of 2016, a North American and European tour got under way and was met with critical praise. So it should come as no surprise to learn about Carpenter’s third studio album, Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998.
Ten of the 13 tracks on offer were staple set list songs when Carpenter and his band went on tour and, if they blew you away in the flesh, you will be stunned listening to them on this record. What hits you when Anthology opens up with the Metallica inspired licks of “In the Mouth of Madness” is the production values. Whilst blasting out Carpenter for your neighbors to hear is not a problem, go pop on your headphones to hear the crunching guitars of Daniel Davies. Your ear drums will thank you for it later. The ominous beats to open up “Assault on Precinct 13” will transport you to late 70s LA as you track Austin Stoker and his patrol car to a backlit horizon.
There are some nice surprises here with new compositions that did not appear on Carpenter’s tour. “Santiago” from Carpenter’s 1998 movie Vampires is mesmerizing and we are also treated to the Darkstar theme, Carpenter’s first movie, which will have dedicated fans jumping for joy even if the running time is less than 90 seconds. But there is one song that fans were asking on last year’s tour that appears here and it has always been rather special: the theme to Starman. Carpenter’s adult answer to E.T. has meant a lot to fans of both Carpenter’s work and science fiction followers in general. Originally written by Jack Nitzsche, the theme is a wonderful tribute and still has the tendency to be melancholic and uplifting at the same time. Another cover is The Thing theme written by Ennio Morricone.
Both The Fog and Prince of Darkness themes are eerily haunting, which sums up the movies themselves and are arguably Carpenter’s darkest films. The Escape from New York theme was used to open up every night of Carpenter’s 2016 tour and, of course, no retrospect would be complete without the Halloween theme, played so well by both Carpenter and his son.
Utilizing Davies’ guitar skills again on the Big Trouble in Little China (“Pork Chop Express”) theme, highlights what a talented musician he is (Davies is the son of The Kinks’ Dave Davies). They Live has always been one of Carpenter’s most chilled out and bluesy tracks. The album is rounded off by the theme to Christine, which has changed the most over the years. Again, Davies gives the song a new feel and edge that just kickstarts your heart, if not your car, and has in turn become of the best Carpenter tracks of his career. Notably a video was released for this track last month, directed by Carpenter himself.
When Lost Themes was released Carpenter explained that the best idea was to listen to the songs with the lights off and imagine images from his movies. With this anthology, you can keep the lights on and turn it up to 10. Carpenter’s themes have simply never sounded so good.
John Carpenter’s Anthology Themes 1974-1998 is released through Sacred Bones on October 20th. BUY IT NOW!.
John Carpenter is on tour from October 29th.
10/29/17 – Las Vegas, NV @ The Joint at Hard Rock Casino
10/31/17 – Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Palladium
11/2/17 – Anaheim, CA @ City National Grove
11/4/17 – San Francisco, CA @ The Warfield
11/5/17 – Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst
11/7/17 – Maplewood, MN @ Myth Live
11/9/17 – Chicago, IL @ Aragon Ballroom
11/10/17 – Detroit, MI @ El Club
11/12/17 – Toronto, ON @ The Danforth Music Hall
11/13/17 – Montreal, QC @ Metropolis
11/15/17 – Boston, MA @ Royale
11/16/17 – New York, NY @ Terminal 5
11/18/17 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Trocadero
11/19/17 – Syracuse, NY @ The Palace Theatre
Victor Crowley Blu-ray Review – Killer Special Features Make This a Must-Own
Directed by Adam Green
Distributed by Dark Sky Films
Like many of you horror fans out there, I was surprised as hell when Adam Green announced that there was not only going to be the fourth entry in his famed Hatchet series but that the movie had already been filmed and was going to be screening across the country.
Of course, I wanted to get to one of those screenings as soon as possible, but unfortunately, there were no events in my neck of the woods here in Gainesville, Fl., and so I had to bide my time and await the Blu-ray.
Then a few days ago, the Blu-ray for Victor Crowley landed on my doorstep and I jumped right into watching the film. Short story, I loved it. But we’ll get into all of that more in-depth below. For now, let’s do a quick rundown on the film for those two or three horror fans out there who aren’t familiar with the film and its premise.
Victor Crowley is the fourth entry in the Hatchet series, a franchise that follows the tale of a deformed man that accidentally met the wrong end of his father’s hatchet long ago and now roams the Louisiana swamp each night as a “Repeater”, aka a ghost that doesn’t know it is dead and thus cannot be killed. Ever. Well, maybe not ever. After all, Victor was supposedly killed at the end of Hatchet III by a combination of Danielle Harris, his father’s ashes, and a grenade launcher. Dead to rights, right? Not so much.
In this fourth entry/reboot, a group of indie horror filmmakers, lead by the adorable Katie Booth, accidentally resurrect Crowley just as the original trilogy’s lone survivor (Parry Shen) is visiting the swamp one final time in the name of cold hard cash. Long story short, Shen’s plane crashes with his agent (Felissa Rose), his ex-wife (Krystal Joy Brown), and her film crew in tow. Some survive the initial crash, some don’t. As you can imagine, the lucky ones died first.
Victor Crowley is a true return to form for Adam Green, who sat out of the director’s chair on the third film. As always, Green doesn’t shy away from the over-the-top comedy and gore the franchise is well known for. The blood rages and the sight-gags hit fast and unexpectedly. And, speaking of the sight-gags, there’s evidently a shot in this Blu-ray version of the film that was cut from the “Unrated” version released on VOD. The shot is one I won’t spoil here, but for the sake of viewing Green’s initial vision alone, the Blu-ray for Victor Crowley is really the only way to own this film. Don’t get me wrong, there are (many) more reasons to shell out the cash for this Blu-ray, but I’ll get into those soon.
Back to the film itself, what makes this fourth entry in the series one of the very best Hatchet films (if not THE best) is Adam Green’s honesty. Not only does he conquer a few demons with the ex-wife subplot, but he gives us a truly tragic moment via Tiffany Shepis’ character that had me in stunned silence. Her death is not an easy kill to pull off in a notoriously over-the-top slasher series, but it earned mucho respect from this guy.
Basically, if you loved the original trilogy, you will love this one as well. If you mildly enjoyed the other films, this one will surely make you a fan. Slow clap, Adam Green.
Let it be known that I’m a massive fan of fly-on-the-wall filmmaking documentaries. Like many of you out there, I find film production to be utterly fascinating and thus have grown a little tired of the typical making-of featurettes we get on Blu-rays. You know the ones. The director talks about his vision for the film, the cast say how much fun they had on-set with the other actors and crew, and we get cutaways to people dancing and trying to kiss the behind-the-scenes camera – all usually set to upbeat music.
While I’ll take what I can get, these kinds of behind-the-scenes features have grown to be little more than tiresome and superficial. But no worries here my friends as Adam Green has pulled out all the BS and given us a full-length, 90-minute behind-the-scenes feature called “Fly on the Wall” that shows it how it really is on the set.
Highlights include new Hatchet D.P. Jan-Michael Losada, who took over for Will Barratt this time around, who is little less than a f*cking hilarious rockstar, a front row seat to the making of Felissa Rose’s death scene, a creepy-cool train ghost story prank by Green, a clever impromptu song via Krystal Joy Brown (Sabrina), and a fun bit towards the end where Green and the SFX crew create the “gore inserts” in (basically) the backyard after filming. Good times all around.
The documentary then ends with the Facebook Live video of Adam Green announcing Victor Crowley‘s surprise premiere at that Hatchet 10th Anniversary screening. A great way to end a killer making-of documentary making his disc a must-own for this special feature alone.
But wait, it gets better. On top of the film itself and the above-mentioned “Fly on the Wall” documentary, the disc features an extensive interview with Adam Green called “Raising the Dead… Again.” This interview is basically Green going over the same speech he gave to the crowd at the surprise unveiling shown at the end of the “Fly on the Wall” doc, but that said, it’s great to hear Green tells his inspiring story to us directly.
So while this feature treads water all of us have been through below (especially fans of Green’s podcast The Movie Crypt), Green is always so charming and brutally honest that we never get tired of him telling us the truth about the ins-and-outs of crafting horror films in this day and age. Again, good stuff.
Additionally, the disc also boasts two audio commentaries, one with Adam Green and actors Parry Shen, Laura Ortiz, and Dave Sheridan, and another “technical” commentary with Adam Green, cinematographer Jan-Michael Losada, editor Matt Latham, and make-up effects artist Robert Pendergraft.
Add in the film’s teaser and trailer, and Victor Crowley is a must-own on Blu-ray.
- Audio commentary with writer/director Adam Green and actors Parry Shen, Laura Ortiz, and Dave Sheridan
- Audio commentary with writer/director Adam Green, cinematographer Jan-Michael Losada, editor Matt Latham, and make-up effects artist Robert Pendergraft
- Raising the Dead… Again – Extensive interview with writer/director Adam Green
- Behind the Scenes – Hour-long making-of featurette
One of the best, if not THE best, entries in the Hatchet series, with special features that are in-depth and a blast (and considering all other versions of the film have been castrated for content), this Blu-ray is really the only way to own Adam Green’s Victor Crowley.
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 152 – Cloverfield Paradox & The Ritual
Last week Netflix shocked the world by not only releasing a new trailer for Cloverfield Paradox during the Superbowl, but announcing the film would be available to stream right after the game. In a move no one saw coming, Netflix shook the film industry to it’s very core. A few days later, Netflix quietly released horror festival darling: The Ritual.
Hold on to your Higgs Boson, because this week we’ve got a double header for ya, and we’re not talking about that “world’s largest gummy worm” in your mom’s nightstand. Why was one film marketed during the biggest sporting event of the year, and why was one quietly snuck in like a pinky in your pooper? Tune in a find out!
Meet me at the waterfront after the social for the Who Goes There Podcast episode 152!
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The Housemaid Review – Love Makes the Ghost Grow Stronger
Written and directed by Derek Nguyen
Vietnamese horror films are something of a rarity due largely to pressure from the country’s law enforcement agencies that have warned filmmakers to steer clear of the genre in recent years. The country’s exposure to the industry is limited, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a handful of filmmakers out there that are passionate and determined to get their art out into the world. IFC Midnight has stepped up to the plate to shepherd writer/director Derek Nguyen’s period ghost thriller The Housemaid in hopes of getting it in front of American horror fans.
Aside from a few moments that delve into soap opera territory, Nguyen’s film is full of well-crafted scares and some surprisingly memorable scenes that sneak up at just the right times. For history buffs there’s also a lot of material to sink your teeth into dealing with French Colonial rule and mistreatment of the Vietnamese during the 1950’s. Abuse that, if you’re not careful, could lead to a vengeful spirit seeking atonement.
Desperate and exhausted after walking for miles, an orphaned woman named Linh (Kate) seeks refuge and employment as a housemaid at a large rubber plantation in 1953 French Indochina. Once hired, she learns of the dark history surrounding the property and how her mere presence has awakened an accursed spirit that wanders the surrounding woods and dark corners of the estate. Injured in battle, French officer Sebastien Laurent (Richaud) returns to preside over the manor and, unexpectedly, begins a dangerous love affair with Linh that stirs up an even darker evil.
Told in flashbacks, the abuse of workers reveals a long history of mistreatment that enshrouds the surrounding land in darkness and despair, providing ripe ground for a sinister spirit that continues to grow stronger. Once it’s revealed that the ghost has a long history with Laurent before her death, the reasons she begins to kill become more and more obvious as the death toll piles up. Using the real life history of indentured servants during Colonial rule, The Housemaid becomes more than just a self-contained ghost story, adding a good deal of depth to a story that could have just centered around a love triangle among Laurent, Linh, and the specter of Laurent’s dead wife.
Powered by desire to avenge tortured workers of the past and the anger fueled by seeing her husband in the embrace of a peasant girl, the apparition is frightening and eerily beautiful as she stalks her victims. One scene in particular showing her wielding an axe is the most indelible image to take away from the film, and other moments like it are what make The Housemaid a standout. The twisted sense of romance found in a suffering spirit scorned in death is the heart of the story even if the romance between the two living lovers winds up having more screen time.
The melodrama and underwhelming love scenes between Linh and Laurent are the least effective part of The Housemaid, revealing some of Nguyen’s limitations in providing dialogue and character moments that make us connect with these two characters as much as we do when the ghost is lurking around the frame. What does help to save the story is a well kept secret revealing a connection with the housemaid and the apparition.
Honestly, if this was an American genre film, the limitations seen in The Housemaid might cause more criticism, but seeing an emerging artist and his team out of Vietnam turn out a solid product like this leads me to highlight the good and champion the effort in hopes of encouraging more filmmakers to carry the flag. Ironically, the film is set for a U.S. remake in the near future.
The Housemaid hits select theaters, VOD, and digital platforms TODAY, February 16th.
Using the real life history of indentured servants during Colonial rule, The Housemaid becomes more than just a self-contained ghost story, adding a good deal of depth to a story that could have just centered around a love triangle.
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