Horror Films: Keeping us Scared

Horror

Humans have been telling horror stories and folklore for thousands of years, through oral history, literature, and, finally, film. One film genre that has evolved drastically since being introduced in the 1920s is horror. 

Come with us on a little trip down memory lane, and find out why we love horror films so much

At the start of the genre, in the 1920s and 30s, literary classics brought us the first horror films, like FrankensteinDr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and The Werewolf. As they started to develop beyond that many viewers became unnerved and heavy censoring took place. 

Frankenstein

Then came the slasher genre in the 1940s, thanks to Alfred Hitchcock with Psycho closely followed by the theme of radioactive mutation. As war was ravaging Europe and fears of nuclear fallout were high, horror introduced us to Godzilla, The War of the Worlds, and The Incredible Shrinking Man.

The 1950s and 60s were seen as the ‘gimmicky’ years, with 3D glasses, electric buzzers, and paid stooges performing in the audience. These gimmicks, unfortunately, cost a lot of money and led the movies themselves being low budget. 

The late 1960s saw an American appetite for gore and the arrival of zombie movies, the most popular one to note being Night of the Living Dead.

The 1970s and 80s took a turn towards the occult, most particularly featuring houses and children possessed by the devil, think The Exorcist and The Omen. This is also when supernatural horror films based on literature makes a comeback – with Stephen King novels entering with Carrie and The Shining

The Exorcist

The slasher genre reared its head again in the 1980s. If you were a bunch of kids, a relentless antagonist was hunting you down. Most popular, at the time, was The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street.

The 1990s was a particularly poor time for horror; computer-generated special effects were making an appearance and brought with it uninspiring monster movies such as Anaconda and Deep Rising. Luckily there were a few comedy horrors in this time that were enjoyable such as Scream and Braindead

The 2000s too were quite disappointing, only with the zombie subgenre bringing some intrigue with 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead, and I Am Legend

We are now seeing extremely original horror films emerging, giving us hope that the genre will continue to offer new intrigue for those who love a little fright with their Friday night movies. With releases like Insidious, Cabin in the Woods, and It Follows it seems as though the genre is moving into a very creative space. 

It Follows

Fear on Demand

If you’re looking to find the best genre titles the world has to offer, head off to frightfan.tv. This is a progressive website application which means that you can watch films on your pc, laptop or mobile device (Android and Apple devices running iOS9.3 or higher) without having to download an app. 

Each film is available on the service for 60 days, with new additions every week. If you can’t find it here, request it, and we will do our best to get it. R25,00 / US$1,70 per rental. Watch the film as many times as you like in 48 hours. 

Enjoy our other blogs about cinema, South African filmmakers, movies and retro vibes from Retro Afrika Bioscope.

South African Filmmaker making it big

South African filmmaker

South African Filmmaker making it big

We all enjoy a ‘rags to riches’ story. And, a South African making it big in Hollywood is just about the biggest story you can get. South Africa has had its small share of glory as a country in Hollywood – with Charlize Theron winning an Oscar for Monster back in 2004, and more recently (2015) Trevor Noah taking the lead at The Daily Show.

But the story we want to share is of Gavin Hood filmmaker, who is less in the limelight, more in the background. How much do you know about this South African filmmaker success story?

Where does this South African filmmaker come from?

Gavin Hood didn’t believe a successful career in filmmaking was on the cards for him, as a South African, so he studied law. It was while practising law that he found his way into film anyway. He was cast in the South African television series The Game in 1989 and, after that, decided to leave law behind and pursue his love for film. In 1991, he went to LA to study screenwriting and directing at the University of California and, as it turned out, found his true calling behind the camera.

Gavin Hood’s Filmmaker Career

South African filmmaker

After studying in California, Gavin Hood filmmaker returned to SA where he won an Artes Award for his work in an educational drama for the Department of Health. In 1998, he made a short film called The Storekeeper which won 13 awards at international film festivals. This success led him to be able to co-produce and direct a feature film based on a screenplay he wrote and won an award for while studying in California, called A Reasonable Man. This movie too won many international awards. After this success, Gavin worked on a Polish film set in Africa called In Desert and Wilderness, which went on to become the highest-grossing film in Poland in 2001, also winning international awards.

In 2003, Gavin wrote and directed a screenplay based on the novel Tsotsi by SA writer, Athol Fugard … and the rest, as they say, is history. Tsotsi won the People’s Choice award at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival, was nominated for a Screen International Award at the European Film Awards, and won an Academy Award – amongst others.

Since then he has directed Rendition (2007) starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon, X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) starring Hugh Jackman, Ender’s Game (2013) starring Harrison Ford, and Eye in the Sky (2015) starring Helen Mirren and Aaron Paul.

What is Gavin doing now?

South African filmmaker, Gavin Hood, bounces back and forth between London and Joburg, and he says it’s his legal background that draws him towards stories – he favours ones that offer a moral or ethical dilemma. The Storekeeper, for example, examined how far you can go in defence of your property.

His latest project, Official Secrets (2019) starring Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes, premiered at Sundance and earned a standing ovation from the audience – and IFC Films acquired the US rights. With a strong woman at the helm of this movie, Gavin explores the theme of loyalty, and it looks as if he has another box officer winner on his hands.

Enjoy our other blogs about cinema, South African filmmakers, movies and retro vibes from Retro Afrika Bioscope.

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The rise of the drive-in cinemas

drive-in cinemas

Remember the days of bundling into the backseat to make your way to the drive-in cinema?  Or, meeting friends to watch the latest movie, with popcorn and a drink too large? These seem to be distant memories for most of us now. While the reopening of cinemas in South Africa is now allowed, these spaces will not be back to ‘business as usual’ for a while. Cinemas need to open in compliance with measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.

What does this mean? To comply with social distancing protocols, cinemas will only allow 50 people or less in at one time. There are also limitations on operating hours, service, and contact. For places such as Ster-Kinekor, limiting contact is easy, with movies tickets and snacks being available for purchase through their app or website. But for smaller, private cinemas this can be tricky.

If the idea of being in a cinema with 49 other people still makes you nervous, we may have the answer to your movie cravings. It seems that the pandemic has seen a rise in the return of the drive-in cinema. Now there’s a distant, and fond, memory.

Drive-in cinemas around the world

It makes sense that as the pandemic continues and moviegoers are hesitant to venture out, that cinemas will see a decline in attendance. In contrast, drive-in or open-air cinemas may see an increase in popularity.

Here are just three examples of the return of the drive-in cinema.

Galileo Open Air Cinema

drive-in cinemas

Already bringing cinema to the outdoors, Galileo holds open-air cinema options throughout South Africa, in beautiful settings too. But now they are offering a drive-in cinema experience to keep things COVID-friendly. You can buy tickets and food online, and when you arrive, you park, cuddle and enjoy the film from the comfort of your own car.

Walmart Pop-up Drive-in Cinemas

drive-in cinemas

For the summer, Walmart will transform 160 parking lots into drive-in cinemas. The movies featured will be programmed by Tribeca Enterprises, which also brings music and sporting events to other drive-ins throughout the US. Walmart will also offer concessions that are ordered online for curbside pick-up ahead of the movie screening.

Floating Cinema in Paris

drive-in cinemas

Okay, so this one was just a one-off but is still worth mentioning. The city of Paris made a big event out of the announcement that cinemas were reopening. They arranged an organised screening of the French movie ‘Le grand bain’ on the banks of the Seine. Moviegoers attended on boats and deck chairs on the bank of the river. Now that’s style.

With many movie-lovers still quite apprehensive at the thought of going back into the cinemas, we hope to see many more open-air or drive-in cinema options open throughout South Africa over the summer. We are desperate to have our favourite past-time back, in one form or another.

Enjoy our other blogs about cinema, movies and retro vibes from Retro Afrika Bioscope.

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The DC Franchise

What is the DC Franchise?

Ever heard of Batman? Superman? Wonder Woman? These are just a few of many legendary characters who have been a part of our lives for decades. They have created a legacy beyond the imaginable with an intent to inspire the world of fantasy. The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) is an American media franchise, centred on a series of superhero films based on the characters that appear in publications by DC Comics. DC Comics are known for their material featuring well-known superhero characters, which has shaped their tremendous fame and success.  Here are just a few to bring back some memories.

Doctor Occult [1935]

Doctor Occult is one of DC Comic’s earliest character.  He is known as “The Ghost Detective” and is a private investigator who specializes in cases involving the supernatural. Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the character first appeared in “New Fun Comics #6” in October 1935, three years before Superman made his debut.

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Doctor Occult [1935]

In the 1980s, after nearly 50 years of no appearances, Roy Thomas revived the character as part of the World War II team, “The All-Star Squadron” developing further his backstory with the Seven. He was revived, once again, in the 1990s by Neil Gaiman for his “Books of Magic” mini-series where he was one of the mystical guides of the DC Universe for the boy “Tim Hunter.” Gaiman introduced the character as being bonded with “Rose Psychic” in one body, as male and female aspects of the same spirit. Other writers later explained this as occurring during an incident when one was dying, thus bonding their souls to restore the other.

Batman [1939]

The character, known as “Batman”, was created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, and first appeared in DC Comics #2 on May 1939.  Batman became popular soon after his introduction in 1939 and gained his own comic book title, “Batman”, the following year. As the decades went on, differing interpretations of the character emerged. The late 1960’s Batman television series used a camp aesthetic, which continued to be associated with the character for years after the show ended.

batman-dc-comics

Batman [1939]

Various creators worked to return the character to his dark roots, culminating in 1986 with “The Dark Knight Returns” by Frank Miller. The character has remained a huge success and fan favourite amongst the public due to Warner Bros.’ ’ live-action “Batman” feature films. Batman has been portrayed in both film and television by Lewis Wilson, Robert Lowery, Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale, and Ben Affleck.

Superman [1938]

The origin story of Superman relates that he was born Kal-El on the alien planet Krypton, before being rocketed to earth as an infant by his scientist father Jor-El, moments before Krypton’s destruction. Discovered and adopted by a Kansas father and his wife, the child is raised as Clark Kent and imbued with a strong moral compass. Very early on he started to display various superhuman abilities, which, upon reaching maturity, he resolved to use for the benefit of humanity through a secret “Superman” identity.

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Superman [1938]

Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the creators of the fictional character, sold Superman to Detective Comics (DC) in 1938. Superman debuted in Action Comics #1 and subsequently appeared in various radio serials, newspaper strips, television programs, films, and video games. With this success, Superman helped to create the superhero archetype and establish its primacy within the American comic book. This fictional character is widely considered an American cultural icon. He has fascinated scholars, with cultural theorists, commentators, and critics alike exploring the character’s impact and role in the United States and worldwide. Several actors have portrayed Superman in motion pictures and TV series including Kirk Alyn, George Reeves, Christopher Reeve, Tom Welling, Brandon Routh, Henry Cavill, and Tyler Hoechlin.

The DC franchise created a fictional universe full of imagination, creativity, and power. The franchise will forever remain a legacy to its followers and will continue to influence the development of future fictional superheroes.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superman

http://comicvine.gamespot.com/doctor-occult/4005-11291/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DC_Comics

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DC_Extended_Universe

The Evolution of Superheroes: Then and Now

This month, we will be exploring the wonderful world of Superheroes! How the comics were portrayed on the silver screen and how these masterpieces have evolved over the years. It’s not surprising that with the evolution of technology a whole world of possibilities has opened for filmmakers to push the boundaries. These days you can experience a sensory explosion in a 4D Cinema, from characters jumping out at you (in 3D) to actual water spraying on you during a rainy final battle scene. We have selected a couple of retro films that have had remakes in recent years and we’re comparing them to see how much they have evolved.

And where better to start than …

Captain America [1990] vs. [2016]

During World War II, a brave, patriotic American Soldier undergoes experiments to become a new supersoldier, “Captain America.” Racing to Germany to sabotage the rockets of Nazi baddie “Red Skull”, Captain America winds up frozen until the 1990s. He reawakens to find that the Red Skull has changed identities and is now planning to kidnap the President of the United States.

Synopsis from the 1990 Movie version

Click on the images to view the trailers

His costume might have changed but the good old captain stayed the same!!

Spiderman [1977] vs. [2016]

Peter Parker has a laboratory accident that changes his life. He finds himself with greatly increased strength, the ability to stick to walls so to climb them without needing hand and footholds and a “spider-sense” (presented in this series as clairvoyance) that allows him to sense danger. Designing a costume and a web shooter that allows him to fire a strong artificial web, he fights crimes as Spiderman.

Synopsis from the 1977 TV Series version

Click on the images to view the trailers

Not only did this legendary superhero have a change of costume, he also thanks to the wonders of CGI and special effects, could showcase his superhero powers and not just shoot fishing net out of his wrist and parkour over a little wall here and there!!

Hulk and Thor [1978] vs. [2012]

Now for a combo. These two Marvel characters have been side by side in battle for generations and in the most recent Avengers movie and its sequel these two were seen back together owning it on the silver screen with special effects galore.

Nick Fury is the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., an international peace-keeping agency. The agency is a who’s who of Marvel Super Heroes, with Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow. When global security is threatened by Loki and his cohorts, Nick Fury and his team needed all their powers to save the world from disaster.

Synopsis from the 2012 Movie version

Click on the images to view the trailers

No Superhero blog will be complete without giving the women some airtime …

Catwoman [1966] vs. [2012]

Though Batman escapes the Sandman’s trap, Robin is left to wander in a deadly maze. A clue leads Batman to Catwoman’s lair, where he informs her of Sandman’s plans to elope with J. Pauline Spaghetti and keep her fortunes to himself. Enraged by the Sandman’s trickery, Catwoman sets out after him. Batman, with the now-rescued Robin, also follow, and the group meet up at Spaghetti’s old deserted pasta factory.

Synopsis from the 1966 Series version

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on the images to view the trailers

Catwoman has traditionally been portrayed as a supervillain and adversary of Batman, forming part of the DC Universe Franchise. I don’t know about you, but the universe has been kind to her and like a true lady she has just gotten better with age.

We hope this tantalised your taste buds to see for yourself how these movies have changed, and maybe even spur you on to get those old comic books you used to read as a child out from under your mattress.

Stay tuned for more amazing blasts from the past in this month Superhero themed blogs. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel and Like and Share our Facebook and Twitter posts.

Content Sources:  

http://www.boredpanda.com/superheroes-then-and-now/

http://www.imdb.com/?ref_=nv_home

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The Paranormal

It is only fitting to end off our horror-themed month with films about paranormal events. There is nothing spookier than the unknown, and what better way to get viewers on the edge of their seats. Here are three famous paranormal films that will get your hearts racing. Enjoy!!!

The Amityville Horror [1979]

The Amityville Horror is a timeless classic that will forever live in the hearts of horror fanatics. Many speculate whether or not the story is real or just a publicity hoax, but we’ll leave that for you to decide. The film is truly terrifying and stands out as one of the best paranormal stories and horror films ever made. The film is eerie throughout, filled with haunts and disturbing imagery that was original for its time.

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The Amityville Horror [1979]

Synopsis

Based on a true story that was claimed by writer Jay Anson, The Amityville Horror is about a large house on the coast of Long Island where newlyweds George and Kathy Lutz and their three children move into the house that they hope will be their dream house which ends up in terror. Despite full disclosure by the real estate agent of the house’s history, George and Kathy buy the house. George says, “Houses don’t have memories,” but they turn to their family priest Father Delaney who believes the house is haunted and performs an exorcism on the house. But the evil spirit in the house causes him to become blind and makes him very sick. With the help of another priest Father Bolen and a police detective, George and Kathy face the fears of the house, but not knowing the spirit is planning to possess George and then the children…

In November 1974, the prior owner of the home had a son, Ronald “Butch” Defeo Jr, who killed his entire family in a single night as they slept in their beds. He claimed to police authorities that a hitman killed his family, but several other stories of how his family was murdered began to unravel. Ronald was immediately labelled a suspect to the murders, and after enough police interrogation, he confessed to his crimes. But this was no ordinary confession, as Ronald believed that evil spirits in the house told him to kill his whole family. Was he delusional? Or could it be the same spirits who haunted and scrutinized the Lutz family?

Poltergeist [1982]

Produced by Steven Spielberg, directed by Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), one could only imagine this horror film to be anything but a disappointment. Audiences knew they were in for a whirlwind of terrifying experiences combined with never seen before special effects (in case we weren’t scared enough). And, if you’ve never had a phobia of clowns, that’s all about to change …

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Poltergeist [1982]

Synopsis

While living an average family house in a pleasant neighbourhood, the youngest daughter of the Freeling family, Carol Anne, seems to be connecting with the supernatural through a dead channel on the television. It is not for long when the mysterious beings enter the house’s walls. At first, seeming like harmless ghosts, they play tricks and amuse the family, but they take a nasty turn- they horrify the family to death with angry trees and murderous dolls, and finally abduct Carol Anne into her bedroom closet, which seems like the entrance to the other side.

 

Poltergeist was a success due to its believable characters, fantastic storyline, and that wonderful sense of twisted imagination. Instead of just standing still and letting the special effects overwhelm the cast and audiences, Spielberg and Hooper tried to envision the movie’s strange events through the eyes of the family. This way, the scenes felt more authentic and chilling, as a horror film should.

The Exorcist [1973]

It goes without saying that ‘The Exorcist’ is one of the scariest horror films in film history. No one can deny the brutal shocks and indescribable obscenities that this movie carries, leaving audiences feeling raw and unsettled. One man placed a bet with his friends that he could sit in an empty cinema and watch the entire film. If you guessed he lost the bet, you were right.

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The Exorcist [1973]

Synopsis

A visiting actress in Washington, D.C., notices dramatic and dangerous changes in the behaviour and physical makeup of her 12-year-old daughter. Meanwhile, a young priest at nearby Georgetown University begins to doubt his faith while dealing with his mother’s terminal sickness. And, book-ending the story, a frail, elderly priest recognizes the necessity for a show-down with an old demonic enemy.

 

 

 

The film establishes a new low for grotesque special effects. Among the sights to which the audience are exposed to, nothing can be more shocking than watching the possessed girl walk down a staircase on all fours with a face that can only be described as mutilated and ghastly. It is an image that many struggle to erase. The film is not for the faint-hearted, but even horror fans need to prepare for the events of this film.

There are many other paranormal films just as scary and worth watching. Just make sure you’ve got someone sitting next to you – watching horror on your own is never the best idea. Let us know what your favourite paranormal film is! We hope you enjoyed being spooked out!!!

Reference: www.imdb.com  

Serial Killer Movies: Then and Now

All of us horror fans have a slight obsession with serial killers. We find their psychopathic frame of mind rather intriguing, and we all want to know where everything went wrong that led them to become sadistic murderers. But more importantly, which serial killer is the deadliest of them all? Many psychotic thrillers have turned into enormous franchises, thus; following one or two remakes. Let’s take a look at Hollywood’s three greatest serial killers: Norman Bates, Leatherface and Hannibal Lecter.

Psycho [1960] vs. Psycho [1998]

If you haven’t heard of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 horror flick, “Psycho”, you’ve been living under a rock! This psychological horror masterpiece painted Hitchcock as a master film-maker and director, as he changed the way that audiences looked at the psychological horror genre.

Synopsis

Phoenix office worker Marion Crane is fed up with the way life has treated her. She has to meet her lover Sam in lunch breaks and they cannot get married because Sam has to give most of his money away in alimony. One Friday Marion is trusted to bank $40,000 by her employer. Seeing the opportunity to take the money and start a new life, Marion leaves town and heads towards Sam’s California store.

Tired after the long drive and caught in a storm, she gets off the main highway and pulls into The Bates Motel. The motel is managed by a quiet young man called Norman who seems to be dominated by his mother.

The 1998 remake, directed by Gus Green Van Sant Jr. angered many critics and viewers, simply because Van Sant didn’t not so much remake the film as he did clone it, virtually shot for shot, line for line. From experience, it is evident that many movie remakes do not exceed the level of the original, however; audiences like to compare the similarities between the two versions, but in this case, it’s easier to talk about what’s different! The most obvious difference is colour. Hitchcock chose to film in black and white, as it added a darker, sinister edge to the film. The 1960 cast also set a high standard of performances portrayed by Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates), Vera Miles, Janet Leigh, and John Gavin. However; Vince Vaughn’s performance of Norman Bates in the 98’ version was quite chilling and seriously disturbing. We’ll give him a thumbs up for that! But one thing we can’t take away from Anthony Perkins is his close up shot in the final scene. His dark, emotionless eyes really translate the look of a serial killer and psychopath, sending shivers down your spine. Nonetheless, this goes to show that some films should be left alone rather than be tampered with.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre [1974] vs. [2003]

In 1974, director Tobe Hooper introduced us to the gut-wrenching, American slasher film, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The film depicts a family of monstrous individuals who resort to murder and cannibalism after the town they live in becomes deserted. The executioner behind the murders is known as Leatherface, a large, delinquent man who uses a chainsaw to kill his victims. Based on the real-life serial killer, Ed Gein, Hooper thought it would scare viewers even more if Leatherface wore his victim’s faces as masks!

Synopsis [1974]

En route to visit their grandfather’s grave (which has apparently been ritualistically desecrated), five teenagers drive past a slaughterhouse, pick up (and quickly drop) a sinister hitch-hiker, eat some delicious home-cured meat at a roadside gas station, before ending up at the old family home… where they’re plunged into a never-ending nightmare as they meet a family of cannibals who more than make up in power tools what they lack in social skills…

Synopsis [2003]

Driving through the backwoods of Texas, five youths pick up a traumatized hitchhiker, who shoots herself in their van. Shaken by the suicide, the group seeks help from the locals, but their situation becomes even more surreal when they knock on the door of a remote homestead. It’s quickly apparent the residents are a family of inbred psychopaths, and the unlucky youths suddenly find themselves running for their lives. In hot pursuit is a disfigured, chainsaw-wielding cannibal known as Leatherface.

Most viewers like to remain loyal to a film’s original piece, but in this case, there are mixed opinions. Both versions are terrifying and will leave you with an unsettling feeling throughout the film, but which one is better? In 2003 Marcus Nispel and Michael Bay decided to produce a remake of this classic horror flick with a little modern-day twist. Although the remake followed the same story line, more or less, slight alterations were made. The biggest change of all was the transformation of the Sawyer family to the Hewitt family. Some female characters were added to the Hewitt family but the same level of cruel and merciless behavior was present.

The 1974 version lacks a lot of blood and guts, which actually makes this a masterpiece as it still brings out the terrified side in all of us. All of the gore that was absent from the original was put full-force on display in the remake. The modernization of film making has left viewers almost desensitized to the amount of violence exposed to us on screen, so what good would the 2003 remake be without all the blood and guts? One thing is for sure, the obscene amount of gore in the remake brings a new form of discomfort and anxiety to the audience that was missing in the original. Most viewers would agree that the sight of leatherface alone is enough to make your skin crawl. He is ruthless, sadistic, and to put it plain and simple, psychotic.

Silence of the Lambs [1991] vs. Hannibal [2001]

Anthony Hopkins gives the award-winning performance of Hannibal “the cannibal” Lecter, a flesh-eating psychiatrist villain with no mercy to spare. Lecter was first introduced to us in the well-acclaimed thriller, The Silence of the Lambs, followed by the riveting sequel, Hannibal.

The Silence of the Lambs [1991]

Synopsis

FBI trainee Clarice Starling works hard to advance her career, including trying to hide or put behind her West Virginia roots, of which if some knew would automatically classify her as being backward or white trash. After graduation, she aspires to work in the agency’s Behavioral Science Unit under the leadership of Jack Crawford. While she is still a trainee, Crawford does ask her to question Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a psychiatrist imprisoned thus far for eight years in maximum security isolation for being a serial killer, he who cannibalized his victims. Clarice is able to figure out the assignment is to pick Lecter’s brains to help them solve another serial murder case, that of someone coined by the media as Buffalo Bill who has so far killed five victims, all located in the eastern US, all young women who are slightly overweight especially around the hips, all who were drowned in natural bodies of water, and all who were stripped of large swaths of skin.

Hannibal [2001]

Synopsis

The continuing saga of Hannibal Lecter, the murdering cannibal. He is presently in Italy and works as a curator at a museum. Clarice Starling, the FBI agent whom he aided to apprehend a serial killer, was placed in charge of an operation but when one of her men botches it, she’s called to the mat by the Bureau. One high ranking official, Paul Krendler has it in for her. But she gets a reprieve because Mason Verger, one of Lecter’s victims who is looking to get back at 

Lecter for what Lecter did to him, wants to use Starling to lure him out. When Lecter sends her a note she learns that he’s in Italy so she asks the police to keep an eye out for him. But a corrupt policeman who wants to get the reward that Verger placed on him, tells Verger where he is. But they fail to get him. Later Verger decides to frame Starling which makes Lecter return to the States. And the race to get Lecter begins.

Just when you thought a sequel might ruin the original, an even better adaptation unfolds. Even the name “Hannibal” gives people the creeps, because most of us associate the name with the cannibalistic serial killer. It is evident that both films were a tremendous success, however; Silence of the Lambs is where we first met Lecter, suggesting that this was the starting point of his sadistic legacy. Hopkins’ portrayal of Hannibal Lecter caught the imagination of viewers and transformed the doctor into an unforgettable monster and comic figure.

All three serial killers are inspired by real-life events, which makes the films even more terrifying to watch. But that’s what horror is all about! It’s hard to explain why we like watching horror flicks, even though they give us nightmares and scare us beyond belief. Maybe it’s the thrill we get when we don’t know what’s coming! It’s all about SUSPENSE! It’s a great excuse to chow on your popcorn or cuddle up close to a friend. Either way, horror is here to stay!

Movie content source: http://www.imdb.com/

Dracula: Then and Now

Dracula has been around for years and every generation of filmmakers has their own take on this mythical creature. Where did Dracula originate from and how did filmmakers bring their renditions to the screen.

Dracula (Nosferatu) [1931]

This movie is based on the novel written by Bram Stoker and even though it had been put into a film in 1922 under the name ‘Nosferatu’ this German masterpiece was still not a match for this true cinematic classic that was ‘Dracula’. The main actor, Bela Lugosi, rose to instant fame when he played the part of this suave and sophisticated nobleman who had ladies swoon with his cultured Hungarian accent.

Synopsis

After a harrowing ride through the Carpathian Mountains in eastern Europe, Renfield enters castle Dracula to finalize the transferral of Carfax Abbey in London to Count Dracula, who is actuality a vampire. Renfield is drugged by the eerily hypnotic count, and turned into one of his thralls, protecting him during his sea voyage to London. After sucking the blood and turning the young Lucy Weston into a vampire, Dracula turns his attention to her friend Mina Seward, daughter of Dr Seward who then calls in a specialist, Dr Van Helsing, to diagnose the sudden deterioration of Mina’s health. Van Helsing, realizing that Dracula is indeed a vampire, tries to prepare Mina’s fiancé, John Harker, and Dr Seward for what is to come and the measures that will have to be taken to prevent Mina from becoming one of the undead.

Now, fast-forward to present day and we have a smorgasbord of Dracula / vampire movies and TV series to choose from and most of them have the common thread, that Count Dracula was the first vampire and their character origins relate to the Count himself. Let’s have a look at a couple of these variations…

Bram Stoker’s Dracula [1992]

Synopsis

This version of Dracula is closely based on Bram Stoker’s classic novel of the same name. A young lawyer (Jonathan Harker) is assigned to a gloomy village in the mists of eastern Europe. He is captured and imprisoned by the undead vampire Dracula, who travels to London, inspired by a photograph of Harker’s betrothed, Mina Murray. In Britain, Dracula begins a reign of seduction and terror, draining the life from Mina’s closest friend, Lucy Westenra. Lucy’s friends gather together to try to drive Dracula away.

 

The cast includes Gary Oldman as Count Dracula, Winona Ryder as Mina Murray / Elisabeta and Anthony Hopkins as Professor Abraham Van Helsing and directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

Dracula: Untold [2014]

This movie was the most recent in the telling of Dracula’s tale.

Synopsis

At the turn of the century, the young lord Vlad and his family live a peaceful life ruling over their small kingdom, but when a Turk warlord demands from Vlad a thousand boys and his son to create an army Vlad seeks a terrible power that will allow him to protect his kingdom and family from the Turks at a terrible cost.

The cast includes Luke Evans as Vlad, Sarah Gadon as Mirena and Dominic Cooper as Mehmed and directed by Gary Shore.

 

 

A couple of honourable mentions when it comes to spin-offs from the original movie would definitely be….

Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles [1994]

Synopsis

It hasn’t even been a year since a plantation owner named Louis lost his wife in childbirth. Both his wife and the infant died, and now he has lost his will to live. A vampire named Lestat takes a liking to Louis and offers him the chance to become a creature of the night: a vampire. Louis accepts, and Lestat drains Louis’ mortal blood and then replaces it with his own, turning Louis into a vampire. Louis must learn from Lestat the ways of the vampire.

 

 

Directed by Neil Jordan and cast includes Brad Pitt as Louis, Christian Slater as Malloy and Tom Cruise as Lestat.

Queen of the Damned [2002]

Synopsis

After many years of sleeping in his coffin, the vampire Lestat awakens only to find that the world has changed and he wants to be a part of it. He gathers a following and becomes a rock star only to find that his music awakens the ancient Queen Akasha and she wants him to become her king…

Directed by Michael Rymer and cast includes the late Aaliyah as Queen Akasha, Stuart Townsend as The Vampire Lestat and Marguerite Moreau as Jesse.

 

And, last but not least …

Dracula [2013 – 2014] TV Series

Synopsis

Dracula travels to London, with dark plans for revenge against those who ruined his life centuries earlier. However, his plan is complicated when he falls in love with a woman who seems to be a reincarnation of his dead wife.

This TV Series consists of 10 episodes, directed by Cole Haddon and the cast includes Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Alexander Grayson, Jessica De Gouw as Ilona and Thomas Kretschmann as Abraham Van Helsing.

 

If the supernatural is your kind of thing, then it’s safe to say you are familiar with the Count and all the variations of his origin and existence. We might have mentioned a couple of movies that you have not seen yet or we might have rekindled some spark in you to watch them again. Either way vampire stories are here to stay so if you love them, welcome them into your home and if not, stock up on the garlic…. It’s gonna be a long night.

Movie Information courtesy of IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/?ref_=nv_home

Creature Features: The Classics

Seeing as it’s October and Halloween is around the corner, we have decided to make this month’s theme a compilation of the horrors and thrillers the film industry has to offer. We have chosen a couple of movies that are definitely worth a mention and that might spark some memories from your childhood.

IT [1990]

In 1960, a group of social outcasts who are bullied by a gang of greasers led by Henry Bowers are also tormented by an evil demon who can shape-shift into a clown and feed on children’s fears and kill them. After defeating the demonic clown as kids, it resurfaces 30 years later and they must finish it off as adults once again.

This TV Mini-Series based on the book written by Stephen King was definitely one of the scariest movies of its time and most definitely one of the main reasons people are afraid of Clowns. It is currently being remade under the direction of Andreas Muschietti and will be released in late 2017. First Look at New It [2017]

The Fly [1986]

Seth Brundle, a brilliant but eccentric scientist attempts to woo investigative journalist Veronica Quaife by offering her a scoop on his latest research in the field of matter transportation, which against all the expectations of the scientific establishment have proved successful. Up to a point. Brundle thinks he has ironed out the last problem when he successfully transports a living creature, but when he attempts to teleport himself a fly enters one of the transmission booths, and Brundle finds he is a changed man. This Science-Gone-Mad film is the source of the quotable quote “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”

 

#DidYouKnow, the infamous cat-monkey scene where Brundlefly fuses a cat and the remaining baboon and then beats it to death with a lead pipe was cut following a Toronto screening. According to producer Stuart Cornfeld, the audience felt that there was no turning back for Seth and they lost all sympathy for his plight, which caused the rest of the film to not play as well. In Cornfeld’s own words: “If you beat an animal to death, even a monkey-cat, your audience is not gonna be interested in your problems anymore”.

Gremlins [1984]

Miniature green monsters tear through the small town of Kingston Falls. Hijinks ensue as a mild-mannered bank teller releases these hideous loonies after gaining a new pet and violating two of three simple rules: No water (violated), no food after midnight (violated), and no bright light. Hilarious mayhem and destruction in a town straight out of Norman Rockwell. So, when your washing machine blows up or your TV goes on the fritz, before you call the repairman, turn on all the lights and look under all the beds. Cause you never can tell, there just might be a gremlin in your house.

 

#DidYouKnow, the set for Kingston Falls is the same one used for Back to the Future (1985). Both movies were filmed in the Universal Studios backlot.

Leprechauns [1993]

When Dan O’Grady returns to the U.S. after stealing some Irish leprechaun’s pot of gold, he thinks he can settle down and enjoy his newfound wealth. He thought wrong. The leprechaun followed him and O’Grady barely gets away with his life, having locked the little monster in his basement. Ten years later, J.D. and his spoiled daughter Tory move in. By accident, the leprechaun is released and almost immediately the annoying creature starts to look for his gold, not displaying any respect for human life.

#DidYouKnow, according to the director, Warwick Davis, the movie was originally planned as a scary kid’s film, but the studio thought it would work better as a more adult horror, so inserts were filmed to increase the gore and violence.

All these movies have a few things in common: Growing up they were the scariest movies around and it haunted our dreams for years to come. We were definitely not allowed to watch them and because of that reason we wanted to watch them even more no matter the consequences.

 

At Retro Afrika Bioscope we love our old Classics so we hope this sparked a new flame of nostalgia so you can curl up in front of the TV with your favourite childhood scary movie this October if you dare!!!

Movie content source: http://www.imdb.com/?ref_=nv_home

Blaxploitation: Actors of Their Time

To end off our Blaxploitation week, we feel it is appropriate to honour and recognize the stars who made the Blaxploitation genre what it is today. Every actor has a backstory, so it makes it interesting to learn about their journey and the events that led them towards the industry. Here are three famous actors who played a role in the Blaxploitation genre.

Pam Grier

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Pam Grier

Pamela Suzette Grier was born in Winston-Salem, NC, one of four children of Gwendolyn Sylvia (Samuels), a nurse, and Clarence Ransom Grier Jr., an Air Force mechanic. Pam has been a major African-American star from the early 1970s. Her career started in 1971, when Roger Corman of New World Pictures launched her with “The Big Doll House” [1971], about a women’s penitentiary, and “The Big Bird Cage” [1972]. Her strong role put her into a five-year contract with Samuel Z. Arkoff of American-International Pictures and she became a leading lady in action films such as Jack Hill’s “Coffy” [1973] and “Foxy Brown” [1974], the comic strip character “Friday Foster” [1975] and William Girdler’s“Sheba, baby” [1975].

She continued working with American-International, where she portrayed William Marshall’s vampire victim in the Blacula [1972] sequel, “Scream Blacula, Scream” [1973].

Grier continued to star in more films during the 1980s, but her most famous role in the 1990s was probably “Jackie Brown” [1997], directed by Quentin Tarantino, which was a homage to her earlier 1970s action roles. She also appeared in John Carpenter’s “Ghosts of Mars” [2001] and co-starred with Snoop Dogg in “Bones” [2001]. Her entire career of over 30 years has brought only success for this beautiful and talented actress.

Calvin Lockhart (1934–2007)

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Calvin Lockhart

Born Bert Cooper to a large family in Nassau on October 18, 1934, he was raised there before moving to New York in his late teens with initial designs on becoming a civil engineer (Cooper Union School of Engineering). Dropping out after a year to pursue an acting career, Calvin worked as a carpenter and construction worker, among other odd jobs. He first studied with legendary coach Uta Hagen and then hit the New York theatre boards. The story goes that he was discovered by playwright Ketti Frings while working as a taxi driver. She was so impressed with his arrogance that she cast him in her play “The Cool World” in 1960.

From there Calvin drummed up interest via a bit of controversy on Broadway when he played a sailor in love with a white girl in the racially-themed “A Taste of Honey” starring Angel Lansbury.

Calvin made a distinct early impression as a slick preacher bent on fraud in the hip cop flick “Cotton Comes to Harlem” [1970] and as an English teacher in the inner-city potboiler “Halls of Anger” [1970]. He also involved himself in such black action features as “Melinda” [1972], “Honeybaby, Honeybaby” [1974] and “The Baron” [1977]. Calvin was then cast in “Uptown Saturday Night” [1974] and “Let’s Do It Again” [1975]. He could also play fey upon request, camping it up briefly in “Myra Breckinridge” [1970]. During this rich period, he also became an artist-in-residence with the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford (the first black actor) and appeared prestigiously in such productions as “Titus Andronicus” [1972].
In 1974, Calvin married a woman also from the West Indies and had three children.

After his career subsided, he decided to return to his homeland in the mid-’90s and resettled in Nassau with his fourth wife, Jennifer Miles. There he involved himself with the Freeport Players Guild as a director. He also returned to films after a 15-year absence, completing “Rain” [2008], a movie shot in the Bahamas, shortly before he suffered a major stroke. Sadly, Calvin died of complications on March 29, 2007, and his family is in the process of establishing a scholarship fund in his name for Bahamian student pursuing an acting or film making career.

Ken Gampu (1929–2003)

Ken Gampu was one of the first black South Africans to be featured in Hollywood films, working alongside such stars as Edward G. Robinson and Burt Lancaster. A former schoolteacher, law clerk and interpreter, he spoke seven native dialects in addition to English and Afrikaans. Discovered by playwright Athol Fugard, he was cast in the play “No Good Friday” in 1958. In the 60’s he moved to films and earned international distinction for his role in the movie “Adventure Dingaka” [1964]. He earned excellent notices as well a year later in Cornel Wilde’s African adventure “The Naked Prey” [1965] as a warrior leader. Several of his films have earned cult status with time, including “Zulu Dawn” [1979] and “The Gods Must Be Crazy” [1980].

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Ken Gampu

Ken was involved in many theatre musicals by Bertha Egnos, including “Dingaka” and “Ipi Tombi,” the most successful musical ever staged in South Africa. He was also featured in the jazz opera “King Kong”. He suffered indignities as a black actor in South Africa despite his success in Hollywood. In 1975, he was cast as Lennie in a South African stage production of John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men,” but was allowed to play the role only after the government gave him permission to share a stage with white actors. Gampu died at age 74 in Vosloorus, South Africa.

Many actors of this genre displayed a tremendous amount of talent and pazazz. Every actor showcased what they thought to be unique and most importantly, their own. During this time, being of colour was extremely limiting and difficult, especially for those who wanted to be taken seriously in the film industry in Hollywood. This re-emphasizes the stamina and determination of these actors, making them a true inspiration.

Credit Sources: http://www.imdb.com/