Talk Horror To Me
27: Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

27: Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

July 29, 2019

Going into this episode, neither Mr. Bean or I had seen Assault on Precinct 13.  From all indications, it wouldn't be much of a horror movie per se, but it seemed to me that it had the potential to be a touchstone to refer back to as we continue this exploration of the genre that Talk Horror To Me was always intended to be, and that we've now got the reps in to continue in an increasingly satisfying way.  While not John Carpenter's first completed film, it was his first Hollywood release, which meant I was doing myself a disservice by leaving that hole in my picture of genre history.  Few people of that late analog era (the time just before computer technology changed not only how films are made and distributed, but ultimately experienced as mass communication in the hands of the individual would change all aspects of the human experience) have had the impact on the genre like John Carpenter has, and while this particular film is one of his less highly profiled movies these decades later, I was hoping it would shed some light on the things to come.  

Hopefully this conversation does some little bit to relay the enthusiasm with which we tested this concept, because we were quite pleased with what we found.  Not only does Assault already begin to portray various writing and directorial elements that John Carpenter would refine and in many ways perfect as his filmography grew, but it provides an excellent example of the "siege narrative" story.  There's something intrinsically compelling about a scenario involving relatable characters attempting to survive in a confined environment, with only the materials around them, materials the viewers themselves can see.  Perhaps there's something existential to the theme, or perhaps it's just fun to participate with the storytellers themselves, because by limiting the working space for our potential survivors, we as viewers can relate with some immediacy to the choices that they make, because of the restricted nature of their plight.

Whether it's a gang of outlaws on horses in the old American West, or a zombie outbreak (Night Of The Living Dead).  Deadites surrounding a remote cabin (Evil Dead), or fish folk assaulting a remote lighthouse (Cold Skin), it's a tried and true narrative that when done well, can still captivate, and revisiting this pivotal example of the structure was enlightening and enjoyable.  We hope you think so too.

 

Cheers!

Shonny Constant

7.29.19

 

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Cover art for this episode by Crystal Mielcarek!  Find more of her work on FacebookInstagram, or Smushbox.net

 
 
26: Poltergeist (1982)

26: Poltergeist (1982)

July 21, 2019

 

 

 

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Our Talk Horror cover design is by artist and friend Crystal Mielcarek.  More of her work can be found on Instagram @Smushbox

25: Final Destination (2000)
24: Cabin In The Woods (2011)
A Brief Interlude
23: Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil (2017)

23: Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil (2017)

May 12, 2019

There was a bit of division between us concerning this film, as Matt didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I did.  To be sure, Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil, the first feature length film by Spanish director Paul Urkijo Alijo is less an adults horror film and more a hybrid of dark fantasy and morality play, based on regional folklore and falling into line with stories more like those found collected by the Brothers Grimm than those told by George Romero or John Carpenter.  In my defense of the film, as you will hear in the episode, I think it has several things going for it that will lead a segment of the horror audience to appreciate it.  Beautiful staging, lighting, costumes and practical effects.  While there are elements of it that lends it more to a young audience (the films primary protagonist is a young girl struggling with the loss of her mother to suicide, and the ramifications that has in a small 19th century Christian community) some of the sets have art direction reminiscent of another Spanish and French co-production from the same year Cold Skin, which we covered enthusiastically in episode 18.

If you like lighter fare in terms of storytelling, or you like classical European religious iconography, I contend this is a film that may not have come across your radar that is well worth your time.  If you like those dark children's movies of the 80s, the ones with a decidedly Hensonian flair like the Dark Crystal or Labyrinth, I think this movie is certainly worth your time.  Perhaps Errementari doesn't plant it's foot firmly enough in one genre to have widespread appeal for a contemporary American audience, but having seen it twice, I thoroughly enjoy it, and I hope at least a few of you might find it as charming and entertaining as I have.

If not, I trust Matt will be happy to gripe about it with you on social media!  There's always that, and you can do so at one of the links below.

 

Cheers!

-Shonny Constant

5. 12. 2019 

 

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Our Talk Horror cover design is by artist and friend Crystal Mielcarek.  More of her work can be found on Instagram @Smushbox

22: The Fly (1986)

22: The Fly (1986)

May 3, 2019

As the analog era was reaching it's supernova status in the 1980s, unknowingly (to most of us) plowing towards the internet, shared intelligence, AI and the like, certain movies began to capture the anticipation of things to come.  Biology was on the cusp of being inextricably tied to the data flows of machines.  While stories of mad scientists have long been a part of the horror landscape, going notably back to Mary Shelley's book Frankenstein (1818), it wasn't until the 1950s and the emergence of the Atomic Age that film makers began to dig deeply into the idea that science was infringing on nature whether we collectively cared to admit it or not.  By the 1980s, computers had begun to populate homes in numbers that would predict our current melding of daily life with technology.  The internet, collective intelligence, and eventually, near sentient AI.  This was also perfect timing for a new generation of artists who had been raised on these 1950s sci-fi dystopias to add their reflection on the subject matter in their own films.

David Cronenberg's The Fly (1986) may not stand as a prime example when it comes to horror fandom's top ten lists of films from the era, but I contend that perhaps it deserves a revisiting.  Indeed, it contains AI, body dysmorphia, and the breakdown of human relationships in favor of technological promises of something greater than the human experience.  Oh, and for the genre fan who doesn't care to be bothered by layers of subtext, it's got gore.  So much oozing, bloody, delightfully gross practical gore.  It stands out as a movie that hits so many marks that it perhaps demands a revisiting as we wrap up the first generation of tech-infused people charging headlong into this brave new world of human advancement.  Perhaps it hasn't been overlooked, or perhaps not landing on one of the contemporary streaming services without a rental fee has stifled it's reach.  Regardless, I was excited to revisit it myself for this episode, and it did not disappoint.  I can without hesitation recommend that you see it, especially if you never have before.  Just be ready to be impacted, because above all, this is a movie that will find a way to make your skin crawl.

 

Cheers!

Shonny Constant 

5.3.19

 

 

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21: Friday the 13th (1980)

21: Friday the 13th (1980)

April 19, 2019

When it comes to the American slasher movie, 1980 is a big year.  There's little doubt that 1978s Halloween was the supernova that started the process, but with the long production process of film, especially in the celluloid days of hand editing, it wouldn't really be until 1980 that producers and directors would be able to sift through the formula and build on it in ways that they thought would grab fans of Halloween while adding their own signature to gain adherents of their own.  For my money (and the money of the theater going public of the day,) if Halloween is the proof of concept, Friday the 13th is the blockbuster success that opened for floodgates for the dozens and dozens (by some accounts over 100 entries in just 4 short years) of films that would follow the blueprint and try to grab as much adulation and cash as they could before fan burnout and political pressures in Ronald Reagan's newly conservative political climate would essentially lead to a smothering of excitement for the genre both amongst horror fans and film makers.  

Despite being a film that clearly leans heavily on the legacy of Halloween, I'd suggest that Friday the 13th is an unabashed success both as a catalyst in shaping film history, but also in simply being a film of excellent quality that stands up today.  While done on a very modest budget with a young inexperienced cast, and apparently with a script written in just a couple of weeks, it's got a depth that I think will be surprising to people who rightfully have a generalized assumption of what an 80s slasher has to offer.  If you haven't seen it, Matt and I both highly recommend it.  If you have, we hope you enjoy our analysis of this fun and important film in the history of Horror.

Cheers!

Shonny Constant 4.19.19

 

 

 

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20: Bandersnatch (2018)

20: Bandersnatch (2018)

March 21, 2019

It's been a bumpy release schedule, but we've made it to 20 episodes.  Thank you so much for sticking with us through these early growing pains.  This week, we went tangential again with the choose your own adventure inspired Netflix experience Bandersnatch.  It's an interesting tale set in the framework of Black Mirror, the British series that explores potential dystopian outcomes to technological advancements colliding with the human experience today.  It's not close to what one might call pure horror, but it's full of intrigue, madness, and murder so we decided to check it out.  Let us know what you think!

 

Cheers!

Shonny Constant

3.21.19

 

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19: Evil Dead (1981)

19: Evil Dead (1981)

March 7, 2019

 

 

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Cover art for this episode by Crystal Mielcarek!  Find more of her work on FacebookInstagram, or Smushbox.net