“Vinyl is one of those beautiful mediums that should not die out. I think film scores are in general enjoying more of a renaissance as a celebrated art form, and that’s beautiful. Vinyl is one of the things that contributes to letting people know that the scores to films are in themselves works of art that are worth being treasured.” – Michael Abels, Composer of Us and Get Out
In the foreword of 1984 Publishing and Rue Morgue’s latest book, Blood on Black Wax: Horror Soundtracks on Vinyl, writer/director/producer Mick Garris writes “film music is its pulse, and when the right film and composer meet, magic happens”. While film scores and composers do not always get the recognition they truly deserve, there is no denying that horror scores linger in our memories and have tendencies to haunt listeners years later. If you’ve ever heard John Williams’ “Main Title” from Jaws in your head while at the beach or Bernard Herrmann’s “The Murder” from Psycho while taking a shower, then you understand.
Rue Morgue Music Editor Aaron Lupton, and Rue Morgue contributor Jeff Szpirglas, collaborate as co-authors on the hardbound, 240-page book to capture the beauty, talent, and terror behind horror scores by filling the pages with album reviews, original and rare artwork on LP sleeves, and exclusive interviews. Blood on Black Wax even accompanies a vinyl release of its own with a first-time pressing of Prom Night in either a disco ball variant or the acid flashback variant.
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The month of February observes Black History Month and Women in Horror Month. So, it’s fitting that the world premiere of Shudder’s first original documentary Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror occurred on February 1. Featuring acute commentary from legendary actors, writers, and directors in the genre, Horror Noire provides critical analysis while delving into a century of genre films that utilized, caricatured, exploited, sidelined, and finally embraced Black culture. Executive producers on the documentary include horror-loving academics and professionals including Robin R. Means Coleman, Ph.D, educator Tananarive Due, and Phil Nobile Jr., Editor-in-Chief of the recently resurrected Fangoria.
In a statement, director Xavier Burgin emphasizes: “I want black boys, girls, men, and women to know their creativity is valid and justified when they watch. I want them to understand the massive triumphs and struggles that have led to a landscape where we can no longer be silenced. When they look up at the screen, they see themselves. That is the greatest gift Horror Noire can give.”
This documentary is definitely a gift and here are five reasons why.
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“You are all completely insane.”
Last night in Austin, Texas, director Nicholas McCarthy lovingly sent this message to all of the brave women in the audience who attended an Orion Pictures and Fons PR-sponsored screening of his new evil-child horror film, The Prodigy…while pregnant.
McCarthy does have a point – as far as elaborate screening stunts go, this one is pretty wild. McCarthy went on to emphasize that “you should not fear what you are going to see, because most of it will likely not happen to you. MOST of it.” As the lights went down, I saw ladies calmly lay their hands across their round bellies and there was an air of unease and morbid curiosity as we all set out on this journey.
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2018 created a common thread within the horror genre: stories contained a family drama at their core while utilizing disabilities and themes of loss to augment tension and fear. Disabilities displayed on screen ranged from food allergies to vision loss and hearing impairments. Monsters and elements of the supernatural served as secondary plot devices, while primary storylines navigated the psychological depths within the nuclear family as a result of the body’s limitations to enhance the severity of grief and survival, all while providing much needed representation of marginalized communities.
Spoilers for Hereditary, Bird Box and A Quiet Place follow.
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“Please. You need to do something. This is my life. This is my job.” Frantic and desperate, Alice begs policemen to track down whomever has stolen her camgirl account and online persona as “Lola”. After slyly expressing “it’s a shame” Alice does not engage in sexual activity with her clients in real-life, the officers tell her “if you don’t want to see stuff like this, then stay off the internet.”
This is just one relatable example of accusatory sex-shaming women, especially sex workers, face on a daily basis. Director Daniel Goldhaber and writer Isa Mazzei further explore the notion of agency and freedom of sexual expression through their sex-positive horror film, Cam. While many genre films utilize sex workers to drive the plot forward by killing them off in the first act, Cam enables audiences to empathize with Alice as she fights to take back her stigmatized, although chosen and loved, profession.
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Netflix recently premiered its newest hit horror film, Cam. A festival favorite that earned a seal of approval from Stephen King, the film follows a cam girl named Lola, whose identity and account has been hijacked by a doppelgänger. Fighting to recover her online persona, she must navigate exposure to her family, obsessive male viewers, and judgmental authorities to reclaim her chosen profession.
The use of doppelgängers shines either a dreamy or dismal kaleidoscopic depiction of one’s identity through the self’s exploration, preservation, or destruction all within a duplicated projection of an individual. While the concept of duality is stereotypically explored with themes revolving around good versus evil, Cam utilizes a doppelgänger to challenge societal norms, specifically concerning females and sex industry workers. For women, social conventions focusing on appearance, sexuality, and demeanor warrant the use of a paradoxical double in film: the need to be attractive, to be submissive, to be modest, to be a mother, and to be both fragile and durable simultaneously.
In Cam, director Daniel Goldhaber and writer Isa Mazzei (a former camgirl model herself) subvert these feminine ideals and sexual stigmas in a uniquely bold and badass style. To celebrate such a killer sex-positive and feminist thriller, I’ve compiled five other impactful films within a feminine doppelgänger paradigm.
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“Is there anything we can do?” His words tremble as officer Funes stands bleeding, quickly losing his grasp on reality in front of a paranormal investigator. As quickly as the word “no” escapes her lips, a monstrous hand violently reaches out from the wall and breaks her neck.
It’s this kind of hopelessness, fear, and quick shock value that drives director Demián Rugna’s film, Terrified, full-throttle with its viciousness. Utilizing a group narrative structure that translates as an urban legend filled with multiple supernatural encounters, Terrified is an astute addition to the horror genre that strategically plays with tropes like a seasoned puppet master.
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Late at night, distraught, and coldly standing over the crib, Reed stares down at his baby girl while firmly gripping the ice-pick behind his back when he suddenly hears his wife calling him to bed. This opening scene exemplifies director Nicolas Pesce’s ability to draw an audience in and immediately set an unnerving tone. His debut film, The Eyes of My Mother, is an eerie black-and-white horror story filled with depravity and disturbing imagery that, like the anti-hero’s surgical knife, cuts deep into the comfort zones of an audience with razor-sharp precision. Inspired by the novel written by Ryû Murakami (author of Audition), Piercing takes a different approach by combining elements of horror and black comedy to deliver a macabre story about trauma as a catalyst for murder.
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Describing his time in Auschwitz, Jewish chemist and Holocaust survivor Primo Levi stated: “monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the common men, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions.” The line between man and monster is obscure and when a person is a witness to wrongdoing, their reactions reveal their true character.
Filled with supernatural folklore and social realism, Danish-Iranian director Ali Abbasi tackles the constructs of monsters and morality in his new film, Border.
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“If there is no one there to hear the falling rain in the garden, what sound does it make?” “If there’s nothing, it could be anything.” This is Etta’s response to a philosophical question pertaining to the manipulation and dangers experienced from sound– a concept that is deviantly explored in Shudder’s upcoming series, Deadwax. Inspired by the Satanic Panic of the ‘70s where people demonized backmasking, a technique for playing the record backwards to reveal hidden messages, Shudder provides its own spin that will make audiences want to turn the volume way up. Read More »