Celluloid Diaries

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

HALLOWEEN BOOK TOUR & GIVEAWAY

 

halloween book tour giveaway

I'm participating in the Haunted Halloween Spooktacular Book Tour this month. There will be lots of Halloween-themed content for each stop on the tour, as well as excerpts from my latest book Evil Seeds: The Ultimate Movie Guide to Villainous Children.

Nine other authors are joining too, and every one of us will be doing a giveaway, so make sure you follow along now.

See you there!


halloween haunted book



Wednesday, September 1, 2021

EVIL SEEDS ON TOUR | BUT FILM FESTIVAL

 

but film festival

This year, the BUT Film Festival in Breda, the Netherlands, is organizing an entire program centered on cinematic evil children. I've chosen several of these titles, which I'll be introducing on September 2nd. Copies of my latest book, Evil Seeds: The Ultimate Movie Guide to Villainous Children, will be available at the festival as well.

The evil-child movies I'll be introducing at the festival are:


Kill, Baby... Kill! (1966) 

As an influential killer-kid movie, Mario Bava's Kill, Baby... Kill! put its mark on many other cult classics, including Salem's Lot, Spirits of the Dead, Fear Dot Com, and Ring. Hopefully, the image of the ghostly girl (it's actually a boy, but don't tell anyone) will haunt you forever.




The Children of Ravensback (1980) 

A busload of children has disappeared from the quiet New England town of Ravensback, and Sheriff Billy Hart is on the case. A short while later, he manages to track down the kids, but unfortunately, they seem to have been transformed into murderous zombies by a cloud of radioactive gas. How can he stop the killer tykes before they destroy the town?



Disciples of the Crow (1983) 

In this short film adaptation of Stephen King's "Children of the Corn", a bickering couple passing through a small Oklahoma town discover that it has been taken over by a homicidal cult that worships a crow god... and that all the cult members are children.




Children of the Corn (1984) 

A boy preacher named Isaac goes to Gatlin, Nebraska, and gets all the children to murder every adult in town and to form a religious cult. A young couple on a road trip stops in Gatlin to report a murder and seek help, but the town seems deserted. They are soon trapped in Gatlin with little chance of getting out alive.



sick teens


Saturday, August 28, 2021

HORROR BOOK GIVEAWAY - WHEN ANIMALS ATTACK

 

horror book giveaway

The Offscreen Film Festival, Belgium's indispensable cult film festival, launches its 14th edition on 8 September. This year's program is structured around a hot topical theme: the climate crisis and the consequences of mankind's disrespect of nature. 

As an amuse-bouche, the festival will be giving away five copies of a book that takes a deep dive into some of the films on the menu: WHEN ANIMALS ATTACK: THE 70 BEST HORROR MOVIES WITH KILLER ANIMALS. To win one of these books, all you have to like Offscreen's Instagram, Twitter and/or Facebook post about the book and leave a comment with the title of your favorite eco-horror movie. 

The winners will be announced on Offscreen's social media pages on Saturday 4 September. Good luck!

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

CHILD'S PLAY & AENIGMA

child's play
This Friday, I'll be giving introductions to the horror movies Child's Play and Aenigma at the Cinematek in Brussels, Belgium. 

Child's Play is Tom Holland's follow-up to the horror-comedy Fright Night. Chucky, the killer doll possessed by a serial killer, became a popular horror icon who would pop back for countless sequels, just like legendary boogeymen Freddy Krueger and Jason Vorhees. This modern slasher classic adds a new twist to creepy puppet films such as Dead of Night

While American horror was thriving in the 1980s, its Italian equivalent was on its last legs. Aenigma, directed by horror maestro Lucio Fulci, is one of the last remnants of Italy’s B-movie heyday. After his 1960s and 1970s masterpieces, Fulci is trying here to adapt to the aesthetics of the 1980s, and jiffs up this story of telekinetic vindictiveness (think Carrie, Patrick, and Suspiria) with a snail attack and other bizarre sequences. The result is that Aenigma, his swan song, is more like a dark Z-movie than a regular B-movie.

child's play movies


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Saturday, August 21, 2021

EVIL SEEDS | BOOK RELEASE

 

horror book release


My latest book, EVIL SEEDS: THE ULTIMATE MOVIE GUIDE TO VILLAINOUS CHILDREN, has just been released in paperback and on Kindle (including Kindle Unlimited). Forty-three film historians and critics have contributed to this book, and we've collected nearly 250 titles, sourced from 40 different countries.


Book Tour

If you'd like to participate in the virtual book tour, you can register here. Several options are available: book review, release announcement, guest post, giveaway, social media post, etc.


$25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Evil Seeds, I'm giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card. To enter, fill in the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway is open worldwide. Good luck!

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Wednesday, August 18, 2021

EVIL SEEDS | BOOK COVER REVEAL

 

book cover reveal

I'm thrilled to reveal the cover of my latest book, the film encyclopedia Evil Seeds: The Ultimate Movie Guide to Villainous Children.

The cover design is by Gilles Vranckx.

What do you think of the book cover? Let me know in the comments below.


Book Tour

If you have a blog, YouTube channel, Facebook page, or Bookstagram and would like to participate in the virtual Evil Seeds book tour, you can register here. There are several options available (book review, giveaway, release announcement, interview, guest post, social media announcement, etc).


Giveaway

To celebrate the occasion, I'm giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card. To enter, fill in the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway is open worldwide. Good luck!


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Wednesday, August 11, 2021

32 BEST ECO-HORROR MOVIES

 

climate fiction movies

Together with the Offscreen Film Festival, I've concocted a program around eco-horror and animal attack movies. We came up with a list of more than 30 titles, divided between the Belgian Cinema Nova and Cinematek. From an out-of-control climate (The Last Winter), retribution from the animal world (Long Weekend) and plagues of arthropods (Kingdom of the Spiders, Phase IV) to pandemics (The Andromeda Strain), pollution (Frogs) and overpopulation (Soylent Green), it will be a dark trip through cinematic depictions of climate fear, at the point where the dystopian sci-fi of the first ecological genre films of the 1970s is increasingly becoming a dangerous and tangible reality.

The festival will take place between September 8 and September 26, 2021. I will be introducing several of the movies, and there will be copies of my books When Animals Attack: The 70 Best Horror Movies with Killer Animals and Evil Seeds: The Ultimate Movie Guide to Villainous Children available for purchase.

Here's a list of the eco-horror movies that you can watch at the Offscreen Film Festival... 

The Birds (1963)


Tippi Hedren gets dive-bombed by seagulls and stalked by crows at the behest of a sadistic director at the top of his game. Hitchcock’s thriller is all the more troubling in its refusal to offer a tidy explanation for the deadly avian attacks on farmers and schoolkids in the small coastal town of Bodega Bay. 


Long Weekend (1978)


An Australian couple tries to fix their marriage with a camping trip to the beach in this Ozploitation classic. But they unthinkingly trash the environment - killing a kangaroo, starting fires, hacking down trees - so, after a tense build-up, nature gets its revenge via insects, birds and a literally creepy dugong.


Phase IV (1974)


Two scientists investigating unusual ant activity in the Arizona desert find themselves under siege when the colony’s hive mind fights back. The only full-length feature directed by famed credits designer Saul Bass combines eco-horror thrills with awe-inspiring footage of antlife. Bow down to your insect overlords!


In the Earth (2021)


In the wake of a pandemic, a scientist sets out to join his ex-girlfriend in the woods where she has been studying fungal symbiosis, but he and his guide are waylaid by sinister forces. The director of Kill List and A Field in England serves up an intoxicating brew of folk horror and hallucinatory eco-madness.


No Blade of Grass (1970)


A virus spreads from China to destroy the world’s crops in this terrifying adaptation of John Christopher's prescient novel, resulting in food shortages, curfews, and civilization in tatters. A middle-class British family heads for the hills to escape the riots in London, but runs into even more danger on the road.


Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster (1971)


It’s a clash of titans! Toxic sludge forms itself into Hedorah, a flying amphibian behemoth that feeds off pollution dissolves human flesh, and invades a psychedelic disco. Thousands die. Japan’s last hope is Godzilla, who takes on the challenger in a Mount Fuji death match.


Kingdom of the Spiders (1977)


The peerless William Shatner plays a vet investigating livestock deaths in rural Arizona. His flirtation with a visiting lady arachnologist is rudely interrupted when they realize pesticides have upset the balance of nature, sending an unstoppable army of slow-moving but deadly tarantulas towards the nearby town.


Princess Mononoke (1997)


Set in magical 14th century Japan, Miyazaki’s bewitching animated epic tackles the nature-vs-technology theme with thrilling complexity. A prince travels west to seek a cure for a fatal curse, and finds himself caught up in the conflict between an enlightened industrialist and the ancient spirits of the forest.


Day of the Animals (1977)


Depletion of the ozone layer suddenly turns all animals at high altitude into killing machines. Bad news for a bunch of backpackers setting off on a hike through the Sierra Nevada, where they're attacked by lions, wolves, hawks, grizzlies and a demented pre-Airplane Leslie Nielsen at his most entertainingly OTT.


Stalker (1979)


In a dystopian future, a "stalker" leads a writer and a professor through a polluted environment into a heavily guarded Forbidden Zone to search for a room that may grant wishes. A visionary work by a master filmmaker weaving camerawork and design into an extraordinary meditation on faith, dreams and desire. 


Jallikattu (2019)


An escaped buffalo wreaks havoc in an Indian village, stirring up primal instincts in the menfolk as they compete to catch the beast. This study of toxic testosterone at its most unhinged pelts you with astonishing music and imagery on its way towards an unforgettably hellish climax. 


Waterworld (1995)


The polar icecaps have melted, flooding the planet. A samurai-like mariner (Kevin Costner) sails in search of mythical "Dryland" while Dennis Hopper and his band of chain-smoking pirates cause trouble. Unfairly dismissed as a turkey on its release, this blockbuster B-movie delivers aquatic action aplenty.


The Hellstrom Chronicle (1971)


Dr. Nils Hellstrom (played by an actor) claims insects are poised to inherit the Earth in this faux-documentary full of extraordinary nature footage. The hypothesis is all too credible, though Hellstrom himself, whose "experiments" include hiding bugs among supermarket produce to scare the shoppers, is clearly quite mad.


Soylent Green (1973)


In 2022, Charlton Heston plays a cop whose investigation into a lawyer’s murder uncovers an unpalatable truth. This adaptation of Harry Harrison’s Make Room! Make Room! tackles pollution, overcrowding, social inequality - and adds a secret ingredient to the mix! Edward G Robinson is very moving in his final role.


Silent Running (1972)


Earth’s plantlife is dying and a fleet of spacecraft carries the last remains of the planet’s flora. Bruce Dern plays the only crew member who cares about his cargo, so when an order comes through to destroy it, he rebels. A melancholy, visionary film, and a stunning directing debut for effects wizard Trumbull.


The Last Winter (2006)


An American oil company rep (Ron Perlman) clashes with an environmental scientist on a remote Alaskan outpost afflicted by odd phenomena. An effect of climate change, or is everyone going stir crazy? Eerie indie eco-horror in which the snowy wasteland draws on its paranormal heritage to oppose the human invaders. 


The Bay (2012)


"There’s something wrong with the water!" Superior found-footage eco-horror, stitched together by skilful editing, in which chemical waste leads to an outbreak of parasitic isopods in a Maryland seaside town where (echoes of Jaws) the mayor tries to downplay the gruesome havoc so as not to scare off tourists.


Pom Poko (1994)


Tanuki, according to Japanese folklore, are shape-shifting raccoon-like creatures with unusually versatile (and family-friendly) testicles. When their bucolic way of life is threatened by urban expansion, the critters fight back. In typical Studio Ghibli style, this enchanting fable packs a poignant ecological message. 


The Andromeda Strain (1971)


A crashed satellite unleashes a virus that turns human blood into powder. Can scientists isolate the organism before it takes out the entire West Coast? Wise’s sober adaptation of Michael Crichton’s sci-fi thriller is alarmingly plausible - but the inventive 70s production design and visual effects are a lot of fun.


Avatar (2009)


Sci-fi blockbuster about a paraplegic ex-marine from Earth whose able-bodied avatar infiltrates the Na'vi, peaceful blue humanoids 10 feet tall, before joining them in a struggle to save their planet from an evil mining company. An action-packed allegory of colonialism's effect on nature and indigenous societies.


The Last Wave (1977)


Australia is plagued by freak weather conditions, and a white lawyer's life begins to unravel after he takes on an Aborigine murder case and falls prey to strange apocalyptic dreams. The logical realism of the modern world collides with the ancient Dreamtime of the land's original inhabitants, to haunting effect.


The Road (2009)


Cormac McCarthy's bestseller comes to the screen with all its bleakness intact, plus a keening soundtrack by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. Viggo Mortensen plays the man trudging through a perilous post-apocalyptic landscape, trying to protect his young son from starvation, marauding cannibals and existential despair.


The Happening (2008)


An unseen force is making New Yorkers kill themselves in cruel and unusual ways. Science teacher Mark Wahlberg and his wife try to escape the city before it's too late. But is the countryside any safer? This eco-disaster movie uses the sound of leaves rustling in the breeze to evoke a uniquely uneasy mood.


Take Shelter (2011)


Michael Shannon plays a family man whose apocalyptic dreams prompt him to dig a tornado shelter in his Ohio backyard while wife and workmates wonder if he’s going mad. Is Jeff Nichols’ gripping psychodrama a small-scale disaster movie or an update of Noah’s Ark? Either way it’ll give you extreme weather anxiety. 


The Host (2006)


Pollution from a US military base creates a giant mutant tadpole that runs amok in Seoul, carrying off a girl whose flawed family must pull together to get her back. The director of Parasite stirs eco-thriller and sociopolitical subtext into a monster movie that will make you laugh and cry, sometimes both at once. 


Annihilation (2018)


A team of female scientists embarks on a suicide mission into the "Shimmer", an eerily verdant enclave from which only one explorer has previously reemerged. Garland’s adaptation of the first book in Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy is cerebral sci-fi with a streak of haunting Lovecraftian surrealism. 



Frogs (1972)


Ray Milland plays a bigoted southern patriarch who insists on celebrating Independence Day, even as members of his family and staff are killed off, one by one, by the deadly reptiles, amphibians and arthropods invading his Florida estate as payback for his polluting the swamp with pesticides. Nature is healing! 


Prophecy (1979)


Lumberjacks go missing in a New England forest. Local tribes blame the vengeful spirit of the woods, while a visiting environmentalist blames pollution from a paper mill. Either way, there's a giant mutant bear-creature running amok, with the director of The Manchurian Candidate serving up plenty of B-movie carnage. 


Isolation (2005)


A genetic experiment to boost bovine fertility goes awry on a remote Irish farm, leaving a small but solid cast (including Essie Davis, Sean Harris and Ruth Negga) fending off a herd of malformed cow foetuses ready to sink their fangs into anything that moves. Mud, blood and Alien-style splatter down on the farm!

  

The Crazies (1973)


A plane crash infects inhabitants of a Pennsylvania town with a secret biological weapon, leading to a surge of psychotic behavior, social chaos and martial law. Romero parlays his usual low budget, pitch-black humor and angry political subtext into a virus scenario that now seems uncomfortably close to the bone.

 

Koyaanisqatsi (1982)


The title of this experimental documentary is Hopi dialect for "life out of balance". The filmmakers use time-lapse, slo-mo and sped up film of nature, cities, people and traffic to create an impressionistic portrait of humanity’s fraught relationship with the planet, all set to a mesmerizing score by Philip Glass.



Read more about several of these movies in the book When Animals Attack: The 70 Best Horror Movies with Killer Animals.

eco-horror films

Thursday, June 24, 2021

The Exorcist III & The Keep

 

the keep michael mann

This Friday, I'll be giving an introduction to the movies The Exorcist III (1990) and The Keep (1983) at the Cinematek in Brussels. Tickets for The Keep are already sold out. Only a few more left for The Exorcist III.

The Exorcist III, after the negative reception of The Exorcist II: The Heretic, was hailed as the true sequel to William Friedkin's 1973 masterpiece. The director is none other than the author of the book on which the original film was based. William Peter Blatty took his own novel Legion as a starting point and - despite studio interference - delivered a chilling detective story that thoughtfully combines theological themes with stunning scenes of pure visual terror.

The Keep, one of Michael Mann's earlier films, is a true curiosity: the director’s vision was compromised by studio interference, and the film has barely been screened since its initial release. A screenplay riddled with problems results in an uneven and at times bombastic genre exercise that nevertheless manages to conjure an extraordinary atmosphere with its mix of stunning gothic and fantastique imagery. Glowing eyes in swirling smoke, Xanadu-style laser effects in a German Expressionist mise-en-scène, all set to the ethereal electronic stylings of Tangerine Dream: this is pulp cinema at its most delirious.

More info: https://www.offscreen.be/en/b-z-double-bill-cinematek/godforsaken-demons

Monday, October 12, 2020

MASSACRE AT CENTRAL HIGH

 

Massacre at Central High

I'll be introducing a double screening of Massacre at Central High (René Daalder, 1976) at the Cinematek in Brussels on October 30, 2020 (7 pm and 9 pm).

Massacre at Central High is an icy foreshadowing of the Columbine shooting and other massacres committed by students in American schools. Director René Daalder plays with the conventions of the 1970s teen film and revenge thriller and portrays a high school where a young man stands up for the victims of a gang of thugs terrorizing the campus. The bad guys target him as well, but he won't let himself be pushed around. His response is brutal. Is he only dealing with injustice? Or is he a serial killer?


 

Monday, September 7, 2020

Crash


Crash special edition box set from Arrow Video

 I wrote a piece on David Cronenberg's Crash for an upcoming limited edition Blu-ray from Arrow Video. You can pre-order it here. The release is scheduled for November 11, 2020.