The Silver Emulsion Podcast: Ep. 111 – Re-Animator

This week on the Silver Emulsion Podcast, Stephen and I talk about Stuart Gordon’s 1985 horror classic, Re-Animator, adapted from H.P. Lovecraft’s short story! Listen and enjoy! πŸ™‚

Watch Re-Animator along with us on Blu-ray, DVD, Amazon Instant Video, or iTunes!

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Music Notes

Intro:

  • Manilla Road – Masque of the Red Death

Outro:

  • The Rolling Stones – Stray Cat Blues

If you’ve got feedback, throw it into the comments below or email it to me via the contact page! We’ll include it in a future show!

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The Frighteners (1996)

thefrighteners_1Starring Michael J. Fox, Trini Alvarado, Peter Dobson, John Astin, Jeffrey Combs, Dee Wallace, Jake Busey, Chi McBride, Jim Fyfe, Troy Evans, Julianna McCarthy, R. Lee Ermey, Elizabeth Hawthorne

Directed by Peter Jackson

Expectations: High. I love this.

threehalfstar


The Frighteners is Peter Jackson’s transitional film, bridging the gap between his small, imaginative indie movies, and his blockbusters to come. The Frighteners isn’t a perfect amalgamation of these things, but it does represent the closest that Jackson could probably come to replicating the manic energy of his early work while under the watchful eye of Hollywood producers. Thankfully, Jackson’s executive producer here was Robert Zemeckis, who let Jackson be himself while trusting him to deliver a fun film. Jackson definitely delivers the goods, but it is also such a tonally varied film that it completely alienated most of the American audience, causing the film to undeservedly flop.

In addition to the wildly flip-flopping tone that goes from absurd comedy to grisly horror without a moment’s notice, the plot itself is nowhere close to being a traditional “Point A to Point B” Hollywood plot. Instead, the film opens with a thrilling scene that we have no context on, and then moves into introducing us to the many characters around town. This gives The Frighteners something of a small-town, Stephen King novel vibe, as Jackson sets up the world that his characters will play in before really going for the jugular. And like a good Stephen King novel, The Frighteners might take a little while to get going, but it is still engaging its audience with exciting and whimsical things around every corner.

Continue reading The Frighteners (1996) →

Lurking Fear (1994)

Lurking Fear (1994)
AKA H.P. Lovecraft’s Lurking Fear, Shocking Fear

Starring Jon Finch, Blake Adams, Ashley Laurence, Jeffrey Combs, Allison Mackie, Paul Mantee, Vincent Schiavelli, Joseph Leavengood, Michael Todd, Cristina Stoica, Luana Stoica, Adrian Pintea, Ilinca Goia

Directed by C. Courtney Joyner

Expectations: Moderate. If nothing else, Jeffrey Combs is in it.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


Lurking Fear is yet another Full Moon film based upon an H.P. Lovecraft tale, but this is definitely one of the minor entries into that sub-genre. Ever since Stuart Gordon scored a major genre hit with Re-Animator, Full Moon has loved going back to the Lovecraft well and Lurking Fear shows them trying that schtick without Gordon’s involvement. It doesn’t work out near as well without him at the helm, but the film is definitely interesting enough to hold your attention.

The story starts off as a couple of separate tales that eventually intersect. The only problem is that once they do it kinda feels like each story’s characters have done a Purple Rose of Cairo and walked out of their movie and into another. I guess this is because the gangster story starts in the city, and the deserted town story feels distinctly removed from that setting. It creates a disjointed feel to the overall movie that even white-eyed, subterranean-dwelling mutants can’t fix. Although I do have to give them credit for creating characters distinct enough to feel like they come from their own worlds.

Continue reading Lurking Fear (1994) →

The Evil Clergyman (1988)

Starring Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, David Warner, David Gale, Una Brandon-Jones

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Very high. There’s no way it can live up.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


The Full Moon archive is home to many unreleased films. Back in the VHS days (and earlier), sometimes low-budget studios needed to create a killer poster before they shot the movie in order to secure the necessary funding. Many of these advertised Full Moon films were never produced, or were later assimilated into other Full Moon projects in some altered form. But in the case of Pulsepounders, Full Moon’s 1988 unreleased anthology film, the film was actually done shooting and in the can. Its legend had grown so large that it seemed that it would never see the light of day. But if it was done shooting, why was it never released? I always assumed it was some sort of rights issue, but apparently the negative was lost, never to be found. But hark! In 2011 a workprint VHS was uncovered deep in the dark recesses of the Full Moon archive, and Band’s team went to work to ready it for release.

As an anthology film, Pulsepounders consisted of three 30-minute segments: a sequel to Trancers (now affectionately known as Trancers 1.5), a sequel to Ragewar (which is the most interesting to me because Ragewar itself was kind of an anthology film), and, of course, The Evil Clergyman. This film was to be a spiritual successor to Re-Animator, a highly successful H.P. Lovecraft adaptation directed by Stuart Gordon (as if Re-Animator needs an introduction). There were times when I thought this ambitious project was lost to time, and there were other, more hopeful times when I imagined its illustrious, remastered release, but I honestly never thought it would actually happen.

Continue reading The Evil Clergyman (1988) →

Doctor Mordrid (1992)

Doctor Mordrid (1992)
AKA Rexosaurus (Germany), Invasori dalla IV dimensione (Italy)

Starring Jeffrey Combs, Yvette Nipar, Brian Thompson, Jay Acovone, Keith Coulouris, Ritch Brinkley, Pearl Shear, Murray Rubin, Jeff Austin

Directed by Albert Band & Charles Band

Expectations: High. This one should be a load of fun.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


If anyone reads the teasers I put at the end of these series reviews, I have a redaction to make. Last week I claimed that I’d be reviewing Doctor Mordrid, “the closest the world has ever come to an actual Doctor Strange movie!” This is actually untrue, as it seems there was a real, sanctioned TV movie in 1978. Maybe at some point I’ll get around to tracking that one down, but for now you’re stuck with the Full Moon rip-off. What’s interesting about this film, though, is that Charles Band held the license to the Marvel character while in pre-production for the film. The license expired before actual production could begin, and the rights reverted back to Marvel, but Band being the ever resourceful filmmaker decided he could switch everything around and still crank out a fun intergalactic sorcery movie. He fulfills every promise except the fun, so while Doctor Mordrid is a total disappointment to me, it still manages to be marginally enjoyable due to a whole host of impressive practical FX work.

You might ask, “How did Full Moon ever get the license to produce a Marvel Comics film?” Well, this was 1992 and Marvel was still in the period of finding how best to bring their stable of characters to the cinema. While DC was making popular movies based on Superman and Batman, Marvel licensed out Captain America to notable low-budget filmmaker Albert Pyun who made a bunch of Full Moon movies, some films starring Ice T, and a more recent film titled Bulletface. Anyway, also around this time Roger Corman got the license for the Fantastic Four, and apparently Band got the Dr. Strange rights. For some reason, Marvel bet hard on low-budget, whimsical takes on their characters and boy, did that pay off! As I’m inclined to connect unrelated things that may have influenced one another, I’d love to believe that this period of Marvel’s cinematic history led them immediately to shelve any attempts at filming their characters until they could pull it off right. Enter Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, and the rest is history. But enough about Marvel’s misguided licensing practices of the early ’90s…

Continue reading Doctor Mordrid (1992) →

Cyclone (1987)

Starring Heather Thomas, Jeffrey Combs, Ashley Ferrare, Dar Robinson, Martine Beswick, Robert Quarry, Martin Landau, Huntz Hall, Troy Donahue, Michael Reagan, Tim Conway Jr., Dawn Wildsmith, Bruce Fairbairn

Directed by Fred Olen Ray

Expectations: Low. I’m expecting some low-budget action trash.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:


Prior to seeing Cyclone, I had heard the name Fred Olen Ray, but I had never seen any of his work. From the stories I surmised that Cyclone would be ultra low-budget and ultra stupid, but instead it was fucking awesome! It’s definitely low-budget, and high-brow motherfuckers will turn their noses up at its ridiculous plot, but in terms of entertainment value, this is one of the better films I’ve seen in the past few months. Seriously. Maybe this is just disappointment and indifference talking after seeing The Adventures of Tintin and Melancholia in the theaters, but Cyclone is actually a really well made and produced film, featuring incredible car stunts, explosions and a bevy of quality actors.

Cyclone tells the story of Teri (Heather Thomas) and her inventor boyfriend Rick (Jeffrey Combs). Rick has built an incredible motorcycle fitted with armor plating, laser guns and missiles, and now that it’s complete he starts receiving death threats. The couple goes out to celebrate Rick’s completion of the project, but instead of a champagne toast he receives an ice pick to the brain. Now Teri’s duty is to protect the Cyclone from falling into the wrong hands, but in a world inhabited by greedy people, there’s no telling who she can trust.

Continue reading Cyclone (1987) →

Castle Freak (1995)

Starring Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Jonathan Fuller, Jessica Dollarhide, Massimo Sarchielli, Elisabeth Kaza, Luca Zingaretti, Helen Stirling, Alessandro Sebastian Satta, Raffaella Offidani, Marco Stefanelli

Directed by Stuart Gordon

Expectations: Super high. I’ve loved every other Stuart Gordon film I’ve seen.

On the general scale:
twohalfstar

On the B-Movie scale:
threestar


Well, it was inevitable. There was no way that Stuart Gordon could continually impress me without letting me down at some point. Unfortunately Castle Freak is that point, but make no mistake, it does have its merits. In fact, it has a lot of great things going for it, but where Gordon’s other Lovecraft adaptations have been characterized by inventive plot twists and tension-filled moments of dread, Castle Freak is fairly straight-forward and standard in the plot department.

Upon the death of an elderly Duchess living in a massive castle, Jeffrey Combs inherits the estate and moves to Italy with his wife (Barbara Crampton) and their blind daughter. What they don’t know is that the Duchess held a dark secret in the depths of the castle’s dungeons, a deformed man chained to the wall! Even if you’ve never seen another horror film, I’m sure you can guess where this is headed. And for the most part, that’s where it goes. It’s a shame that Castle Freak should be so predictable, but perhaps with a fairly standard plot framework like this, it is to be expected.

Continue reading Castle Freak (1995) →

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