Only's guide to cool, old halloweeney films

In an effort to help make everybody’s favourite non-religious holiday even more exciting, we suggest some of the all-time greatest horror films ever made. Now we know Halloween isn’t the night to sit at home and watch movies, but if you’re like us, you might want to think about putting some of these on in the background as you get your costume together. If you are hosting a party, these will also provide creepy-cool background visuals to what, if you’re at our place, will be the best party of the year.

Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922)
Dir. Benjamin Christensen
Part fantasy and part documentary, this is a controversial film that was
envisioned by director Benjamin Christensen as a study in black magic,
witchcraft and demonology from the Middle Ages to the present. Mixing fact and fiction, the film offers freaky re-enactments of medieval life – like gathering sticks in the woods – but then shocks us with scenes of possession and demon rearing as well as with scenes of flagellation and satanic orgies. Rediscovered in the 60s, the 1968 re-release features narration by William S. Burroughs and a swinging, jazzy soundtrack.

Nosferatu: A symphony of Horror (1922)
Dir. F.W. Murnau
A product of the German expressionist era, this film is a milestone in the history of world cinema. Unable to get the rights to Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, Murnau went about and changed some names and events, but the essential story is the same. What is remarkable is actor Max Schreck’s rat-like visage. Paired with elongated fingers and trademark expressionist lighting, the film is a true masterpiece. The scenes of Count Orlok’s shadow reaching across the room or stopping the heart of a sleeping woman are timeless and haunting. They also make for good pumpkin carving ideas.

Vampyr (1932)

Dir. Carl Dreyer
Danish master Carl Dreyer achieved a revolutionary and
mesmerizing sense of atmosphere in this profoundly unsettling tale,
largely regarded as the first sound horror film. When an occult student
arrives in a small town he is assailed by various supernatural haunts
and local evildoers as Dreyer combines trick photography, multiple exposures and densely layered sound to create one of cinema’s great nightmares. 

Carnival of Souls (1962)
Dir. Herk Harvey
Relying more on mood than special effects, this low-budget effort has continued to delight those in the mood for something macabre. A strange and haunting little movie, the film centers around a young woman who surprisingly survives a car accident. Or does she? As she moves through the “real” world she is haunted by an apparition that seem to be emanating, even drawing her towards from an other world. The use of stark locations and  a spooky organ soundtrack add to the odd and eerie vibe.

Orgy of the Dead (1965)
Dir. Stephen C. Apostolof
“Written” by B movie legend Ed Wood Jr., this is essentially a series of stripteases, where women, er the undead, dance around topless in a badly recreated graveyard while a wholesome couple are held captive and forced to watch the proceedings by The Emperor of the Night. Bad costumes and bad acting abound but the giggles – and jiggles are worth it in what is a pretty tame, pseuso-sexy bit of nightime naughtiness.

Vampyros Lesbos (1971)
Dir. Jess Franco
Every movie nerd’s favourite maverick filmmaker Jess Franco pulls out all the glorious stops with this sexy, seductive and psychedelic tale of vampirism and pop-lounge music. A lustful, female vampire who seduces unwary victims with her sexy nightclub act sets her sights on a beautiful blonde. They do it. Then some other sexy, female vampires show up. They do it. Then this guy show up. He dies. Basically all you need to know is that there are plenty of tripped out, swirly visuals, a great – dare we say funky – lounge-pop soundtrack and some seriously vampy vamps all crammed into a sexy 89 minutes.

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Student Bodies & Saturday the 14th (1981)

Eighty One was a pretty mixed bag of a year for horror movies. There were classics like My Bloody Valentine, Friday The 13th part 2, An American Werewolf in London, Scanners, Halloween 2 and The Howling. Then there were the B grade shlockers like Crocodile, Frankenstein Island, Hell Night (with Linda Blair) and Piranha 2: The Spawning and even some remarkably gory efforts from the Italian maestros like Lucio Fulci’s The House By The Cemetery, Gianetto de Rossi’s Cannibal Ferox and the classic Italian “gorror” Antropophagus. But then there was Student Bodies and Saturday the 14th; two of the first American movies in what would become a mainstay in the horror subgenre – the horror comedy. Blending comedy (natch) and self-referencing horror elements these films played up on the expectations and conventions of the traditional horror film and then, well, had fun with it.

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15 YEAR-OLD REVIEWS NEW TRANSFORMER MOVIE

If you enjoyed the first Transformers movie then you will definitely enjoy this one. If you did not enjoy the first movie for whichever reason then… well I don’t know. Personally I found Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen an entertaining film to watch, but not much more. It’s loud, action filled, with lots of explosions and hot chicks. Well, one. Pretty much 20 minutes into the film the action explodes and from then on you get to witness ridiculous amounts of electronic devices battling over the destiny of the planet we call home. The sappy moments of this movie highly annoyed me because of the lame writing. You get to know all the quirky little personalities of the machines yet all you get to know about the characters is that Megan Fox looks really damn good running in slow motion. - Lili Davis
It’ll probably be a big hit. [ED]

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ONLY Remembers Harold Lloyd

The third most famous comedian in silent movies.

Before the modern era of sound, movies had to tell a story, quite literally through action. While there were slates offering moments of written description or even dialogue, the vast bulk of early movies was carried by the action the characters displayed on screen, and nowhere is this more focused than in the silent comedies of the time. While this purity of action is most simply demonstrated in the slapstick romps of acts like the Keystone Kops , throughout cinema’s early history, performers, and particularly comedians worked out gags and sequences that are both rich in action as well as in pathos.

It is no surprise then that those actors who managed to take the concept and practice of “action” to the extreme became indelible figures in the history of cinema. To that end the two most prominent and successful figures remain Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton . But against the artistic genius of Chaplin and the indestructible ingenuity of Keaton there exists another soul who’s name is often forgotten, but whose contribution to the history of cinema, though often overlooked, is equally important.

With over 200 films to his credit, Harold Lloyd began his career after having seen a Thomas Edison moving picture in 1913. Soon he teamed up with producer Hal Roach and between 1915 and 1917 they produced over 60 short one reel comedies. Largely focusing on a simple story of boy sees girl, boy wants girl, these films were slapstick in nature often featuring a character named Lonesome Luke , directly inspired by Chaplin’s successful persona of The Tramp. Despite mediocre success, Lloyd began to search for his own character and by 1918 he devised a character, always named Harold, who with round glasses would prove to be Lloyd’s signature and most successful persona. Presented as a regular guy, he was always hard working and resourceful; who as a bit of a romantic go-getter, struck an immediate chord with audiences as someone they could relate to. True to form his films were filled with physical daring and thrilling action sequences and by the 1920’s Lloyd had taken his short one reel character into the age of feature length films and at his peak in the mid 1920s out grossed both Chaplin and Keaton, making him the most financially successful comedian of his generation.

As the Keystone Kops continued to run zig zags across the screen, both Chaplin and Lloyd worked to develop the art of cinematic comedy. Not content to rely entirely on a gag-joke-gag formula each strove to breathe life into their characters and Lloyd’s 1922 hit Grandma’s Boy , like Chaplin’s 1921 classic The Kid took comedy to new heights by introducing stronger character development and situational humor. While Chaplin’s work channeled poverty and the misadventures of the Tramp and Keaton’s comedy provided startling escapades where the never smiling actor managed to tumble down streets in a tornado or avoid being crushed by a collapsing house, Lloyd took to the technical possibilities that cinema offered to create his thrilling masterpieces. While as equally daring as Keaton, Lloyd combined elaborate situational set-ups, specific camera angles and precarious sets to deliver his own form of movie magic. For his film Never Weaken (1921), Lloyd built a set above a New York tunnel and from a specific angle managed to create the illusion that when hanging from a iron girder, that he was dangerously high up, when in fact he was never more than three stories above a safety mattress. The tension he created then is so convincing that even today the film remains an absolute thrill to watch. These were the original stuntmen, dangling here and balancing there, risking it all; each an actor, writer and producer in their own destiny.

Like Chaplin and Keaton, Lloyd was a true pioneer whose work spans the periods and embodies all that cinema has to offer. It is thrilling, funny, dangerous and smart, and technically, as innovative for its time as Citizen Kane would be, almost twenty years later. Yet while his name is almost forgotten, his contribution to the art of cinema extends past his recognition. As with Chaplin and Keaton, Lloyd put himself – his body and mind, on the line. But while audiences may not remember the source, his films, like Safety Last! (1923) with the character of Harold dangling dangerously from the hands of a large clock on the side of the building, constantly offer imagery that even today, remain etched in our collective consciousness. I guess it’s just tough being the third most famous comedian of the silent film era.

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Top 5 Movies The Movie The Wrestler Made Us Want To Re-Watch

After the existential and fantastical The Fountain, director Darren Aronofsky has pulled in the reins and gone back to basics. He unearthed one of Hollywood’s favourite fallouts, Mickey Rourke, the perfect choice to play Randy the Ram; a beat-up, past his prime-pro-wrestler, down on his luck who has just suffered a heart-attack and in his effort to re-evaluate his life, seeks to repair his damaged relationship with his estranged daughter. Rourke, with his swollen face and muscular build gives a touching and personal performance in what feels like more like a documentary than a Hollywood blockbuster. And that’s not that surprising considering Aronofsky and crew shot the film in real small-town arenas and feature actual small-circuit wrestlers and fans. There is a natural beat down vibe to the whole thing as we watch a man, struggling to face his imminent mortality and reclaim some shadow of his former glory face constant personal failure. And that got us to thinking…

Beyond the Mat (1999)
dir. Barry Blaustein


There may be more documentary than you might think in The Wrestler. This actual documentary by self confessed longtime wrestling fan Barry Blaustein takes a fans look behind the curtain in the former World Wrestling Federation. It features interviews with WWF’s Vince McMahon and profiles up and coming wrestlers and there’s some great stuff about Mankind aka the world’s nicest giant crazy wrestler dad and his bouts against Hollywood pretty boy, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Awesome. But the best part of this doc is when Barry tracks down former WWF icon, Jake “the Snake” Roberts. You know the guy who back in the 80’s and early 90s would pull out a boa constrictor on his defeated opponents? Well Jake’s drop form the top hasn’t been too kind. He’s getting old, his elbow is shot and he’s got a crack habit. He now wrestles on the small-town circuit, getting by on his reputation as one of the greats. He also has an estranged daughter he tries to reconnect with. Just like in The Wrestler, except for the crack. There is no crack in The Wrestler. That’s too depressing, even for the movies. Thank goodness.

Hard Core Logo (1996)
dir. Bruce McDonald


While it might seem a big jump but we kind of see punk rock as a form of wrestling. Sure a good part of it is performance, but if you do it right, the body takes some serious punishment. We like this movie. It’s dirty and wild, and smartly directed and maybe one of the best music movie biopics about a band that wasn’t real. There’s spit and blood, booze and smokes galore but it’s ultimately a collectively personal tragedy. A one-time punk band, trying to not live in the shadows of it’s past gives it one last shot and get back together and tour. It doesn’t work out that well.

Raging Bull (1980)
dir. Martin Scorcese


This seemed, after Beyond The Mat, to be a natural to re-watch. An initially we were like “yeah ex-boxer Jake LaMotta is a tragic character, just like Randy the Ram.” But there are as many real differences between the two films that it’s almost fair to say that beyond the beaten-up central character these two movies hold little in common. For one the aesthetics between the two couldn’t be more different. Where Scorcese creates iconic moments and composes shots with classical and timeless skill, Aronofsky takes to the grainy hand-held of on-the-fly documentary filmmaking. From it’s black and white cinematography to the convincing boxing scenes with it’s careful framing and artful execution, Raging Bull is dedicated to telling a story. The Wrestler on the other hand is showing us one. It is intimate, immediate and lonely. There are no sweeping cameras to drive or create emotion, only actors inhabiting a world. In terms of character, while both men are beaten down, it is difficult to find much sympathy in LaMotta; he is mean, violent and paranoid. But Rourke’s Randy the Ram is much more sensitive and there is a humanity in Randy that is more accesible or upfront, something that is more complicated and brutal in Deniro’s LaMotta, if not in the man himself.

Fat City (1972)
dir. John Huston


Another boxing as “tough way to make a living” parallel to wrestling, this gritty little drama mirrors many of the same moments of fate that behold all of those who find themselves at a crossroads where their glory days are behind them and the future looks bleak and lonely. Here Stacy Keach plays Tully, an aging, small-time boxer who’s looking for a second chance, any where he can get it. He finds a kid who shows some promise (Jeff Bridges), and thinks he has helped the up-and-comer by giving them a shot, but finds out later that the kid got a girl pregnant right away and has quit boxing. Next he tries to start up a relationship with a booze-hound he meets in a dive-y bar one afternoon and she proves to be another in a lifelong series of bad decisions.

Wrestlemania III (1987)


Before it was the World Wrestling Entertainment, there was a time where professional wrestling maintained some sense of magic realism. People wanted to play along even though they new it was spectacle; large, loud theatre. Throughout the 1980s the World Wrestling Federation set arena attendance records across the United States and saw the rise of people like Hulk Hogan, Randy “The Macho Man” Savage, Andre The Giant and Jake “The Snake” Roberts all mixing it up for a rabid public. This was when the McMahon family took wrestling from the small-town circuit into the super event arena and made millions doing it. Hulkamania was running wild and in this classic Wrestlemania, the two heavyweights, Hogan and The Giant square off for the title match…and is it something to see. A classic match where the Hulkster picks up and body slams the 500 pound Giant for the win, this was a good time for professional wrestling. The characters were comic book; a mass of lumbering muscle men bouncing of the ropes and laying chops about the heads and shoulders. It was still innocent and Jesse Ventura had yet to enter politics…Yes, some generations are better than others.

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16 films featuring Manic Pixie Dream Girls

16 films featuring Manic Pixie Dream Girls: Heard about this on NPR the other day and it totally blew my little cinemaphile mind.

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VIFF 08 | DAY SIXTEEN

ONLY PICK: Wrecking Crew



If you’ve been to as many films as we have this year you are probably just as burned out. Wow we were movie watching machines…So this being the last day you’re on your own. But we will help you get started…GO see the Wrecking Crew at noon. A pretty standard documentary abut a group of spectacular session musicians who set the standard for so much of the classic 60s music you know. This collective of musicians were responsible for being the actual “wall of sound” Phil Spector dreamed of and they played on everything from the Beach Boys, Pet Sounds to The Mamas and The Papas’ California Dreaming to Nancy Sinatra’s The Boots Were Made For Walking. And a zillion more. They were the unsung heroes of the hits were hear today on AM 650. The unflinching groove machine that could record four songs in three hours. The invisible musical backbone of a generation.


ONLY suggest…


11:30 am – GR3 – Filth and Wisdom
12:15 pm – GR1 – Wrecking Crew
01:00 pm – GR2 – Afterschool
01:30 pm – PCT45 RPM

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VIFF 08 | DAY FIFTEEN

ONLY PICK: Crime



Tom Scholte made it “big” in the late 90s in Bruce Sweeney’s film Dirty, or at least “we” loved him in that. In fact we think Tom is a one of favourite local actors. But what’s this now? His directorial debut? Great! And what’s this? It’s a Canadian contribution to the Dogme 95 film aesthetic? Wow. We thought that was well over. But so what. Scholte’s Crime is a multi-verse story with intersecting stories that are both honest and well told. And the decision to go Dogme really works. It eliminates the melodrama and replaces it with real drama to the point that you really feel like you might know these people. and that for a movie like this, is a good thing.


ONLY suggests…

11:00 am – GR4 – Real Time
12:15 pm – GR1 – Circus Rosaire
01:00 pm – GR7 – Edison and Leo
02:00 pm – GR4 – I Am Good
03:00 pm – GR1 – Crime
04:00 pm – GR7 – [REC]
06:20 pm – GR4 – Afterschool or p.144
09:00 pm – GR4 – Filth and Wisdom or p.141
09:30 pm – GR2 – [REC]


Location Guide: GR1,2,3,4,5,6,7=Granville 7 | VCT=Vancity Theatre | PCT=Pacific Cinematheque | RID=Ridge



ONLY BONUS PICK: Filth and Wisdom



Ok so as we get down to it this is a pure pop culture curiosity. Madonna’s directorial debut. Featuring that quirky eastern European guy from Everything Is Illuminated, the VIFF write-up charges that she is an even better filmmaker than the self proclaimed anti-miserablist Mike Leigh. Well…that’s a pretty big claim. But it did peak our interest. Has her time in England bumping uglies with her flash-in-the-pan rock star of a filmmaker husband given her some insight and talent? We will see. Tonight we dare Madonna’s movie to be good…we dare it you hear!
FINE

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VIFF 08 | DAY FOURTEEN


ONLY PICK: [REC]



European horror has really come into its own over the past few years. The French have opted for mind messing gore fests like High Tension and Frontier[s] while the Spanish have moved towards more psychological thrillers like The Orphanage. Now comes [REC], a psycho-supernatural thriller about a Spanish emergency response team that gets way more than just a backdraft when they are called to an apartment building. A popular hit at TIFF this year, this one is a bit of a freaker. Shot all hand held and creepy cam style, it’s sure to give you the hee-bee-jee-bees…if you believe in that kind of stuff.


ONLY suggests…


10:00 am – GR7 – Erik Nietzsche:The Early Years
10:30 am – GR2 – Cat Dancers
01:00 pm – GR7 – Let the Right One In
01:30 pm – PCTThe Atom Smashers
03:00 pm – GR5 – Jay
04:00 pm – GR2 – RocknRolla
04:00 pm – GR7 – Gomorrah
07:00 pm – PCT45 RPM or p.95
07:15 pm – GR1 – Crime or p.97
09:15 pm – GR3 – Flame and Citron
09:45 pm – GR1 – The Drifter
09:45 pm – GR7 – [REC] or p.138


Location Guide: GR1,2,3,4,5,6,7=Granville 7 | VCT=Vancity Theatre | PCT=Pacific Cinematheque | RID=Ridge

FINE

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VIFF 08 | DAY THIRTEEN


ONLY PICK: Gomorrah



There’s that opening scene to Sexy Beast where Ray Winstone is wearing a hot pink speedo and suntanning beside the pool, talking about how hot it is. Just as he gets up and steps over the camera, his speedo-ed “marble bag” front and center and the frame freezes and the title reads Sexy Beast. It’s kind of badass and strangely original. This Italian gangster movie is a little like that. It takes the convention of the gangster movie and breathes a whole lot of life into it. And it should, seeing as it’s based on the bestselling book by a guy who knew the glamour and gore of Neapolitan Mafia life. In fact the book was so honest and telling that the author is still in hiding to this day. Should have been a filmmaker.


ONLY suggests…


11:00 am – GR4 – Hunger
02:30 pm – GR3 – Under Bombs
04:00 pm – GR7 – Flame and Citron or p.118
04:30 pm – GR2 – After School
07:00 pm – RIDI Am Good
07:00 pm – GR7 – Edison and Leo or p.92
09:00 pm – GR4 – Wendy and Lucy
09:30 pm – GR7 – Gomorrah or p.127
09:30 pm – GR2 – Real Time or p. 109
09:45 pm – RIDRocknRolla or p.143


Location Guide: GR1,2,3,4,5,6,7=Granville 7 | VCT=Vancity Theatre | PCT=Pacific Cinematheque | RID=Ridge

FINE

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