More than 45,000 species of spiders roam our world, varying in size from the Somoan Moss Spider, 0.11long, to the South American Goliath Birdeater, a tarantula with a leg span of one foot. The spiders representation in cinema has evolved over time and ranges in its severity and size. Initially towering over victims on screen in 50s sci-fi horror B-movies, it wasnt until 1990 when realistic practical effects, comedy, and horror were interlaced into the production with Frank Marshalls Arachnophobia, which celebrated its 30th Anniversary over the weekend.

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Relic Director Interview

Drawing from personal family experience and a love of J-horror, Japanese-Australian writer/director Natalie Erika Jamesfeature debut hits all the emotional and cinematic marks with Relic. James used her 2016 short Creswick as a proof of concept for her debut and clearly has a knack for the horror genre, tapping into the emotional side of terror. 

I reviewed Relic last week and I recently had the chance to sit down with James to talk about the personal story behind the film, utilizing practical effects, and what she’s up to next.

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relic trailer

Some say that time heals all wounds, but thats a lie. Time doesnt heal; it reshapes. As the years pass, wounds morph into new perspectives and sometimes alter into vague memories or forgetfulness altogether. However, that metamorphosis does not necessarily engender a mending. The degree of pain may fluctuate, but some wounds simply do not heal if the wound is severe enough. Japanese-Australian writer/director Natalie Erika James explores the transformational toll that time and generational trauma has on the physical, mental, and emotional body among three related women with her debut feature, the horror film Relic.

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Casper at 25

The image of a ghost conjures menacing motives and lingering negativity that can harm the otherwise safe, living person. However, a morbid fascination with the afterlife hovers over our culture and has remained present throughout time. This spiderweb of spooky intrigue is intricately woven into our traditions through a facade of cute Halloween decor and scary movies audiences can enjoy from a comfortable distance to make sense of what we wish to understand and accept the most: death. 

A refreshing and innovative perspective on phantoms arrived in 1939 with Casper the Friendly Ghost, a young and relentlessly kind protagonist desperate for a friend and longing to be accepted by people who are otherwise scared of his spectral presence. Adapted from a storybook into a Noveltoon in 1945 released by Paramount and comic book appearances first in 1949 by St. John Publications, and later in 1952 by Harvey Comics, the friendly ghost has grown into a robust franchise. It wasnt until 1995 with Universal Picturesrelease of Casper that the backstory of the lovable character was fleshed out (pun intended). Directed by Brad Silberling, the film features revolutionary CGI animation, contains mature themes of friendship and grief, and serves as a perfect primer for childrens introduction to the horror genre. 

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Birds of Prey - Harley Quinn, Margot Robbie colored smoke

English composer Daniel Pemberton is as wildly diverse and entertaining as Harley Quinn herself. He is a multi Golden Globe, Emmy and Bafta Award-nominated composer who has worked with some of the most renowned names in the industry such as Darren Aronofsky (One Strange Rock), Ridley Scott (All The Money in The World, The Counsellor), Guy Ritchie (The Man From UNCLE, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword), and Danny Boyle (Yesterday, Steve Jobs). Pemberton received critical acclaim for his score on Oscar-winning film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and is now back in the comic world with his latest score for Cathy Yans Birds of Prey

We spoke with Pemberton about his latest score and what it was like to collaborate with director Cathy Yan.

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VFW trailer

VFW stands for Veterans of Foreign Wars. It is a non-profit veterans service organization comprised of eligible veterans and military service members from the active, guard and reserve forces. Part of their mission is ”to foster camaraderie among United States veterans of overseas conflicts”. Writers Max Brallier and Matthew McArdle along with Director Joe Begos (The Mind’s Eye, Bliss) take a blood-spattering approach to brotherhood and camaraderie in their latest feature VFW

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I Blame Society Poster

There are more than a few films out there about the artistic struggles of filmmakers and writers. Outside of the films themselves, many creatives get their start directing shorts while others come out of the gate swinging with a full-on directorial feature…and the practice of abandoning projects due to lack of funding, rejection, or shifting passions is all too familiar. Having previously worked on two short films that premiered at SXSW, director Gillian Wallace Horvat tackles filmmaker frustrations and ambitions in her directorial debut, I Blame Society.

We’re pleased to premiere the first poster for the film, which you can check out below.

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The 10 Best Movie Soundtracks of the Decade

Best Movie Soundtracks of the Decade

(This article is part of our Best of the Decade series.)

The first commercially issued movie soundtrack was released in 1937 for Walt Disneys Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Since then, music has been an integral component to the cinematic experience as a means of storytelling and evoking emotion. While films typically possess a score (music composed specifically for a film that is usually instrumental), a soundtrack differs in that it contains previously recorded music matched up to various scenes. While there were some fantastic scores over the past decade, soundtracks significantly stood out with the experimental blending of musical genres and deep cuts to capture a films tone, theme, and setting. Here are my top 10 soundtracks (in no particular order) from the past decade which all feature pre-existing songs. Each film is fantastic in its own right, and the music is just the cherry on top. 

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Sandlot Reunion

Each decade has a defining film for childhood audiences. In the ‘90s, there was a surge of children’s sports movies like The Mighty Ducks, Rookie of the Year, Angels in the Outfield, and Little Giants. However, none withstood the test of time quite like the archetypal coming-of-age story The Sandlot.  Written and directed by David Mickey Evans, the film follows a group of young boys in the summer of 1962 who are brought together by their love of baseball and fear of one neighborhood dog known as “The Beast”. Filled with heartfelt moments of friendship and hilarious antics that can only occur during the slow, sweaty days of summer, The Sandlot is one of the best films of the ‘90s and a childhood favorite for many who grew up in that decade.

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Phil Tippett: Mad Dreams and Monsters Review

A common complaint in film these days is that there is too much CGI. Computer graphics have not only diminished the effectiveness of monsters in genre films, but they have put practical effects and stop-motion artists out of work. While technological advancements have their perks and their place, many moviegoers believe that practical effects will always give off a more tangible viewing experience, arousing a deeper fear than any creature designed solely on a computer. Writer/director duo Gilles Penso and Alexandre Poncets documentary Phil Tippett: Mad Dreams and Monsters reintroduces audiences to a special effects legend while also spotlighting the impact stop-motion animation has had on the movie industry despite the emergence of CGI.

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