Rosemary’s Baby

Poltergeist

Everyone’s heard of movies that are cursed. One terrible event after another happens on set, things go horribly wrong, the movie goes way over budget. Sometimes, people even die. But it’s not a curse, it’s just bad luck. Right? Well, sometimes there’s just one little detail that elevates movie curses from “Oh, that sucks” to “Please, hand me the fucking holy water.”

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TIE ME UP discs

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down! (Criterion) Pedro Almodovar’s Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! was a massive cross-Atlantic hit in the early 1990s, helping to launch the global career of Antonio Banderas. Following an obsessive but charming former mental patient (Banderas)  as he captures a porn star (Victor Abril) so that she learns to fall in love with him, the dark comedy was the import of the season on summer movie screens 24 years ago, accompanyingWomen on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown as the one-two punch that made Almodovar an arthouse fixture. While Almodovar has gone through various stylistic phases since, Tie Me Up remains a prime example of his unique propensity for comic chaos that plunges unabashedly into the trenches of sexual id. The film’s success can be credited in part to its massive controversy: its sexual content threatened its US release with an X rating, which began a lawsuit that resulted in the creation of the NC-17 rating. The story behind the film is thus as much a part of it as the film itself, and Criterion justly adorns this set with a collection of new special features that illustrate how the film changed the career of those in front of and behind the camera, with Almodovar thankfully present across all of them. Hopefully this first release of Almodovar’s work promises many Criterion treatments of the Spanish auteur to come. […]

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Roman Polanski in Two Men and a Wardrobe

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career. Today marks both the U.S. theatrical release of Venus and Fur and the 40th anniversary of the U.S. theatrical release of Chinatown. So, let’s just consider it Roman Polanski day. In honor of the occasion, we should just skip his latest (see our review for why) and hold off on watching his 1974 classic for the billionth time. How many of you have seen his early short films? They’re available in proper form on Criterion’s two-disc DVD set for Polanski’s first feature, Knife in the Water, and they can also be found on YouTube. For the latter, there are no English subtitles, but that only matters for one or two that have very minimal dialogue. For the most part, they’re all really “silent” films. Nine shorts are credited to the actor-turned-director through the start of his academic and professional career in the late 1950s and early 1960s. One of these, however, is Rower (aka Bicycle), which was a 1955 student work that went unfinished thanks to an error by the lab. That leaves eight survivors. From 1957 there’s Murder, which is a nice short scene of a man being murdered but there’s no story there, Let’s Break the Ball (aka Break Up the Dance), an exceptional work of editing that’s even more stunning when you learn that it’s partly documentary in that it was shot during an […]

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Rosemary

Because nothing says “fun” like a Roman Polanski horror flick from the 1970’s, NBC has decided that their best way of turning their sinking ship of a network around is to transform Rosemary’s Baby into a shiny new limited series for primetime. Except this time around, the young couple and their demon spawn eschew Manhattan for Paris, “where this edge-of-your-seat thriller unfolds.” Apparently, Satanism is en vogue in that part of the world this time of year. The network is mum on details at this point, but offers up that it’s a modern retelling of the Ira Levin novel. Isn’t that a bit heavy for network TV? Call me old fashioned, but sandwiching in devil rape between whatever those crazy kids are doing on Camp this week and a rerun of Parks and Rec might not be the best move for NBC. Fun fact: I wrote one of my very first film reviews for this movie. It was one sentence: “My uterus is very, very sad.”

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molly weasley in action

Moms have been an important part of cinema since the beginning, as one of the first humans to appear in a film was Sarah Whitley, mother-in-law of inventor/director Louis Le Prince, in the extremely short 1888 work Roundhay Garden Scene. Since then, we’ve had mothers serving important roles in quintessential masterpieces of Soviet cinema (Mother), Bollywood (Mother India), experimental film (Window Water Baby Moving), animated features (Bambi, Dumbo, etc.), documentary (Grey Gardens), political thriller (The Manchurian Candidate), science fiction (The Terminator), horror (Psycho, Friday the 13th, Carrie, etc.), comedy (The Graduate) and of course melodrama (the whole maternal subgenre). And we’ve all grown up identifying with certain movie moms, and actresses who often played moms; for me they were usually portrayed by Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon, Dee Wallace Stone and Diane Wiest. Therefore it would be an enormous task and read if I were to attempt to either list all or narrow down the best movie moms ever let alone handpick only a handful of scenes we love involving matriarchs. So I’ve asked the other FSR writers to help out by selecting a single maternal character they favor, and with one from yours truly included we honor ten of these varied women below.

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You read the headline correctly. The number of horror classics that could be remade outnumbers the number that shouldn’t be. I’ve bought into it. I’ve seen enough good examples of remakes done well to no longer balk at the announcement of a new one outright (and I’m sure 5 more will be green-lit by the time I’ve finished typ…okay 5 more just got green-lit…); and if early word on the new Evil Dead picture is to be believed then it’s just one more punctured notch into the human-skinned belt of worthwhile horror remakes. No horror picture is safe from being resuscitated and put back through a brand new shiny meat grinder. Sometimes we get unexpectedly tasty ground sirloin; and sometimes we get mildewy grotesqueness reminiscent of “The Stuff” (which could use a remake). Talented filmmakers will make a good picture while talented accountants will make money. Sometimes both can be satisfied, and that readily occurs in the production of a horror remake because they’re cheap to make, easy to sell, and fun to play around with. They’re the pancakes of the film industry. Almost any horror picture is capable of being remade well given the right kind of people with the right kind of attitude. While it feels like everything’s already been remade, there are still a few stragglers that haven’t. Here are 5 that shouldn’t and 10 where an update might not be so bad.

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Stigmata

FACT: For millions, the Bible is a wellspring of hope and inspiration for daily living. FACT: For decades, horror filmmakers have also turned to the Bible and Biblical lore for inspiration. Why? For starters, there’s some gruesome imagery there. Let’s not even start on the eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth gore of the Old Testament. In the kinder, gentler New Testament there’s death by stoning, death by beheading and (SPOILER ALERT) death by crucifixion. So, if seeing The Last Exorcism 2 this weekend left you wanting something more (and I’m told by a reliable source that it might have), here are seven great ways to scratch your religious horror itch. Just don’t scratch too hard. Unless, of course, you’re a practicing flagellant.

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Year in Review: Best Criterion

It seems like every year we have to begin this particular article with the disclaimer that we aren’t necessarily talking about the best releases Criterion put upon us this calendar year. If one made a list of top 10 home releases in a given year one could conceivably litter that list with nothing but Criterion releases, and still find themselves in the same predicament. Here, our approach to this article has, more often than not, been based on a wow factor in one of many different areas. Either a wow for the presentation of the release, a wow for the personal discovery of something previously unknown, a wow for the collective power of a set, or, occasionally the most fun, a wow for the “I can’t believe Criterion released that….I’m really happy Criterion decided to release that…but seriously can you believe they released that?” This year was no different in any of those respects for Criterion as they continue to put out some of the most impressive releases month in and month out with films that have been in dire need of the Criterion treatment for a long time (Purple Noon), notoriously maligned and controversial artworks that deserve a second chance (Heaven’s Gate), their continuous support for the unique voices of the next generation of filmmakers (Tiny Furniture) while trying to also include the early works of some of modern cinema’s most exciting visionaries (The Game, Being John Malkovich, Shallow Grave); which, on that note, brings us to our first […]

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Tyler Bates

If you have ever grabbed your arm rest in fright while watching the recent Halloween remake or buried your face in your scarf (as I often do during the scary parts of movies) when a particular stanza in the Dawn of the Dead score made you jump, you are already familiar with composer Tyler Bates‘ work. With Halloween upon us, I thought it only appropriate to sit down with Bates to pick his brain about all things horror from his favorite scary movies to what he loves about composing for them to his favorite Halloween memories (and costumes.) Read on to hear about his experience working with directors Rob Zombie and Neil Marshall, how his early exposure to horror films may have set his current career in motion, and what may happen when you attend a wedding on Halloween.

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31 Days of Horror - October 2011

They said it couldn’t be done. A fifth year of 31 Days of Horror? 31 more terror, gore and shower scene-filled movies worth highlighting? But Rejects always say die and never back away from a challenge, so we’ve rounded up the horror fans among us and put together another month’s worth of genre fun. Enjoy! Synopsis Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow) and her husband Guy (John Cassavetes) move into an old Gothic Manhattan apartment building with an unsavory reputation. An aura of evil hangs over the building according to their good friend Hutch, but Rosemary and Guy aren’t put off by the stories and rumors. This is their dream apartment, and no tales of murder, mayhem and covens of witches are going to stop them from moving in. Their next door neighbors, Roman and Minnie Castevet are friendly and helpful, more helpful than Rosemary could ever imagine. Suddenly Guy, a struggling actor, starts getting the parts he’s missed out on. An actor suddenly goes blind, paving the way for Guy to get his career on track. Things are going better than ever and Guy who had been reluctant to have a child is all for it much to Rosemary’s surprise and delight. But be careful what you wish for especially when your ambitious husband has become BFF’s with the creepy couple next door.

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Terrifying Parents

It’s always smart to look up to those who’ve managed to stay alive for considerably longer than we have; clearly they did something right. In the world of villains and murderers – this quality goes double, for it means that they are not only capable of murder but also cunning enough to get away with their evil deeds. Here are some older mentors and parental figures that you straight up do not want to mess around with. Stone-cold killers in wrap-around sunglasses.

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Trying to have a child is hard enough without being raped by Lucifer and hounded by neighbors that want way more than a cup of sugar. Written and directed by Roman Polanski and suggested for…mature audiences, this classic of cult-based horror was both Polanski’s first American film and his first novel adaptation. It’s part of the Apartment Trilogy, along with Repulsion and The Tenant. Apparently Polanski was not a huge fan of city living. It’s also not the last time Mia Farrow would deal with Satanic children. She’d go on to play the nanny to Damien in the 2006 remake of The Omen.

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Culture Warrior

This editorial features some spoilers for Hanna and Kick-Ass. Consider yourself warned. In preparation for this post I ran a quick Internet search on child assassins and found this video from New York Magazine. While I wasn’t promised a video exclusively on child assassins here, and instead got something that explores the notion of child killers at large, this video conflates two categories of child killers that I think deserve remarkably different types of consideration. The great majority of killings performed by children in this video are from horror movies. From Rosemary’s Baby to The Omen to The Brood to Firestarter to the other Omen and beyond, the child/killer is an exhaustively repeated horror trope to the point of cliche (and is often confused with the simple overlapping category of “scary children,” like in The Shining and The Sixth Sense). But every so often a child-killer horror film comes along that works in line with the formula (The Children, anyone? Bueller? Okay, how about Let Me In?), reminding us why child killers still have the capacity to be engrossing and entertaining even if they’ve lost the ability to be outright horrifying: because they play on our society’s veneration of childhood innocence, replacing the ignorant bliss of childhood with benevolent, malicious intent to do harm to the much taller individuals that surround them. But child assassins are quite different from the overall category of child killers. And while two recent films in two subsequent spring movie seasons that feature child assassins, […]

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Filling up seconds with paragraphs of words, director Matt Reeves impressed a full Comic-Con crowd with his technical knowledge and his film fandom. Those who could keep up with him, at least. The man spoke in the knowing pace of a hundred miles a minute with an audience fortunate to catch words like Hitchcock, Kino, and Dutch Angle like pennies from Heaven amongst the strikingly long statements. It was his expertise and passion that held everyone captive, but it was also the names he dropped. Not in the form of famous talent he’s sat down to lunch with, but in the form of the films that truly inspired him while working on Let Me In. After some impressive footage, it seems like these films sunk in deep. Thus, by way of a mini-Masters class on the subject, here are the four films that Matt Reeves kept in the forefront of his mind while shaping his coming-of-age vampire film.

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Cinematic Creepy Children

There is nothing creepier than small children. Except clowns. Oh, crap, what if someone makes a horror film featuring child-clowns? We’d be screwed, but until that frightful day, these are the Ten Creepiest Children in Film.

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Mia Farrow in Rosemary

Rosemary is going to have that devil kid again thanks to Platinum Dunes.

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