What would happen if you were “reborn” as your ideal self? Ahead of its time, John Frankenheimer’s SECONDS (1966) gives a frightening answer to this question.
Shot in black-and-white for the drive-in and grindhouse circuit, this surrealistic, low-budget, independently produced horror movie became a cult classic decades later through repeated late-night showings on television. Its director, Herk Harvey, an experienced and award-winning industrial filmmaker, came up with the basic concept for the story while driving past an abandoned lakeside pavilion in Utah — the one that figures prominently in the film — on a business trip. Imagining the danse macabre at the film’s close, he convinced co-worker John Clifford to write a screenplay based on it. The result was “Carnival of Souls” (1962), Harvey’s first and only completed narrative fiction feature. Although consigned to relative obscurity for many years, this movie is now recognized as a genre antecedent and a stylistic precursor for well-known, unconventional films like George A. Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” (1968) and David Lynch’s “Eraserhead” (1977).
In this second part of a two-part article, I focus on the film(s) that I introduced at the end of the first part: Michael Haneke’s FUNNY GAMES (1997 / 2007).
“Post-horror” is apparently a ‘thing’ now. The thing is, it’s really nothing new.
Going back eight years is not much of a throwback in time. Yet writer-director Travis Betz’ “Lo” (2009) is worthy of a Throwback Thursday shout-out anyway. It’s an overlooked and undervalued film that deserves a wider audience. A genre-blending horror comedy musical with romantic drama elements, this indie picture takes a lot of chances and still succeeds.
On one level, Peter Bogdanovich’s first feature film, TARGETS (1968, prod. Roger Corman) is about a shift in horror cinema. In the late 1950s, gothic/supernatural and extraterrestrial monsters started to give way to the monsters of everyday life. TARGETS is a metaphor for this change in the major source of cinematic horror.
Although Wes Craven began his career with low-budget exploitation films later seen as ‘progressive,’ by the mid-80s he seems to be hedging his thematic bets. Case in point: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984).
The monstrosity of America in early 1970s? “It’s Alive” in Larry Cohen’s classic 1974 exploitation film!
Almost unbearably bleak, Dead Ringers is an endurance test – just not in the way most Cronenberg faithful will expect.