Stories

Sort by

From Massacre to Massacre: The Heyday of Tobe Hooper, Horror’s Misunderstood Provocateur by Noel Murray

Poltergeist is by no means the greatest horror movie ever made, but its first 45 minutes offers one of the best sustained stretches of scares, jokes, and subtle subversion in the history of the genre. Long before the suburban Freeling family initiates Poltergeist’s plot by asking paranormal investigators about the disappearance of their daughter Carol Anne, the film spends over a third of its running-time jumping from everyday annoyances to supernatural disturbances, depicting modern life as damned at its root. Television remotes…

ALL SEASONS OF THE WITCH: MAGICAL WOMEN IN POST-COUNTERCULTURE CINEMA BY ALISON NASTASI

“Wildcats shall meet hyenas, / Goat-demons shall greet each other; / There too the lilith shall repose / And find herself a resting place,” reads Isaiah 34:14—the only biblical passage that mentions Lilith, the first wife of Adam and history’s first witch. The origins of Lilith are frequently conflated with a Mesopotamian demon named Lamashtu, as described in various ancient cuneiform texts. In these stories, Lilith takes the form of seven witches bearing seven names. These archetypal stories about women…

The Haunted Mansion: Blueprint For A More Intimate Thrill Ride by Steven Goldman

Given that Haunted House stories descend from Gothic literature, it’s appropriate to begin with a great American artwork, Grant Wood’s 1930 masterpiece “American Gothic.” It’s the ubiquitous image of a farmer and his daughter, or possibly his wife, standing before an Iowa house built in the Carpenter Gothic style. The farmer looks dour and holds a pitchfork. The woman looks at him with reproach or disapproval. One curl escapes the tightly bound bun of her hair, suggesting things may not…

‘America’s Not a Country, It’s Just a Business’: On Andrew Dominik’s ‘Killing Them Softly' by Roxana Hadadi

“Shitsville.” That’s the name Killing Them Softly director Andrew Dominik gave to the film’s nameless town, in which low-level criminals, ambitious mid-tier gangsters, nihilistic assassins, and the mob’s professional managerial class engage in warfare of the most savage kind. Onscreen, other states are mentioned (New York, Maryland, Florida), and the film itself was filmed in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, though some of the characters speak with Boston accents that are pulled from the source material, George V. Higgins’s novel Cogan’s Trade. But Dominik,…

This is Serious Business You’re Fucking with Here: The Films of William Friedkin by Bill Ryan

The way things currently stand, it’s probably safe to say that William Friedkin has retired. Not that there isn’t still a market for his brand of hilarious, opinionated coarseness—as two recent documentaries, Francesco Zeppel’s Friedkin Uncut, and Alexandre O. Philippe’s Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist can attest—but as a filmmaker, as a director of movies of all kind, movies that are often idiosyncratic, sometimes nakedly commercial, not infrequently provocative, even deeply shocking, he appears to have packed it in. Friedkin…