All posts by David J. Sharp

Owner and Editor-in-Chief of Cinema Bluster. Critic of both film and literature. My work can be found here and on Horror Underground, Beneath the Underground, Splatterpunk and others. Film geek. Baseball nerd. Husband. Father. Part time adventurer. Twitter: @HorrorUndergr Email: Send Email

THE NEON DEMON Review

 

 

After having audience attendees leave during the screening and boo the film after it ended, to call the Cannes Film Festival run of Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon tenuous would be an understatement, especially given the similar reaction to his previous film Only God Forgives. Almost as a point of contrarianism to the attention his film Drive was given, Refn seems to be climbing further and further into the deepest reaches of art house expressionism and The Neon Demon appears to be the culmination of that intended apex. Critics have been chastising his work for being pretentious, masculine, and dull, but this hasn’t faded his process, on the contrary, it has further motivated him to explore a neo-Kubrick cinematic style that is only enjoyable by the hardened cinematic enthusiast, a style which forces the viewer to defragment a puzzle instead of seeking entertainment. While I cannot recommend this work to the majority of cinematic patrons, I will say that this is the masterwork of one of the few true auteurs currently working in the industry. At this point, it is safe to place Refn among Lars Von Trier, Terrence Malik, Gaspar Noe, and Park Chan-Wook. While you may or may not enjoy his work, there is no denying the cinematic brilliance that unfolds with each scene presented in his catalog. The Neon Demon is both the best and the worst film of the year due to this alienating style.

Given his lack of desire to tell a cohesive narrative, Refn clearly cares more about the mise-en-scene and creating an art piece within the shot than carrying on a story line or a bit of dialogue. He then uses this art style to create establishing shots for each character. Instead of hammering the viewer with backstory and long winded conversation about what drives a particular character, he chooses to  hang shots on the person and forces the actors to tell the story through their eyes. These long take shots are slowed to a crawl and are usually tightly shot around the expression and feature that Refn wants you to take note of. This trance inducing style of filming has been elevated to extreme proportions with the help of cinematographer Natasha Braier who has already established a well-known style behind the lens. The two make the perfect pair as Refn’s style has never been so lucid and rich with texture.

In the film, Jesse (Elle Fanning) moves to Los Angeles following the death of her parents. Sixteen-years-old and alone, she pursues a modeling career that quickly launches into the trajectory of a top star in the industry. On her way to the top, she encounters two models (Abbey Lee and Bella Heathcote) and a makeup designer (Jena Malone) that bring her into their collective.  Personalities collide as Jesse advances through the modeling world at a record pace, never quite sure who is friend or foe, and Refn clearly wants to keep you guessing until the end credits role.

The collective of models share similarities to the ballet school in Dario Argento’s Suspiria. Jealousy, sex, and corruption are themes that drive both films. There is also no denying the retina-frying use of color which is similar to Argento’s finest work. Blues and reds accent the emotions that pulsate throughout the film as they represent the various incarnations of Jesse that we are seeing. The Kubrickian use of shapes and lines is also an eye-catching visual theme that permeates throughout the scenes involving change, acceptance, and, as we should be accustomed to with Refn’s work, violence. The further element of occult and witchcraft is another shared similarity, although I don’t think the intention of this film was to copy and homage Argento, more of a coincidence. In fact, I see far more Gaspar Noe and Lars von Trier in this work than that of any particular horror director. This isn’t simple horror, it is high-art horror.

Ruby, played by Jena Malone, hides her darker ambitions through an altruistic persona. Although upon paying closer attention one can see that she is introduced in an outfit that is almost as demonic as she truly is. The black attire with a deep red tie makes her seem unsettling on an unconscious level. We know she is a savior or friend to Jesse, but we aren’t sure which. This is where Refn and Natasha Braier come in and give us visual cues that become less subtle as the film progresses.  Most of the other characters wear their evil or perhaps their shallow qualities on the outside. With each new character introduced, Jesse becomes more and more exposed to the vein nature of the industry and the individual evils that surround her, of course, she is beginning to accept these concepts for herself as she discovers them amongst her peers.
Although there is a script, written by Mary Laws, Polly Stenham, and Nicolas Winding Refn, the strength of the film lies in the visual journey that Refn drags you through. The plot is thin and the narrative is timed in odd ways that feel more rhythmic than natural but the concepts and themes that are shared are astounding to behold. While most people will have a hard time with the themes-over-plot narrative, The Neon Demon takes ease at being one of the most visually arresting films of the year.

Chilling clip released from new VOD hit THE LAUGHING MASK!

 

A new clip has been released from this month’s hot horror release, The Laughing Mask now available On Demand.

 

 

Director Michael Aguiar‘s indie slasher stars John Hardy, Sheyenne Rivers, Gabriel Lee and Jeffrey Jenkins.

Jake (John Hardy) has lost his wife to the Laughing Mask killer. Recently, his daughter has been kidnapped by this same madman. Jake must work with the diligent detective, Kate O’Malley (Sheyenne Rivers), to track down this elusive man. But, where the Laughing Mask takes him, Jake is unprepared to go. Jake must deal with a strange assortment of monsters and creatures, within the Laughing Mask’s darkened lair.
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LAKE NOWHERE Announces Distribution Details and Amazing New Illustrated Cover Art!

 

 

BrinkVision to bring the 80’s-style slasher to Blu-Ray, DVD & VOD on August 16th!

 

LAKE NOWHERE, the 80s-style slasher horror film that Fangoria called “a little slice of heaven for fans of vintage bloodfests” has unveiled a brand new, hand-painted poster to the celebrate its August 16th release on Blu-Ray, DVD & VOD!  BrinkVision recently acquired the U.S. Distribution rights to the film and plans to deliver a “Limited Edition” Blu-Ray/DVD combo jam-packed with special features, including a half hour behind-the-scenes featurette documenting the skeleton crew’s six fateful days on location at a remote lakeside cabin.

Fresh off its festival run, LAKE NOWHERE has been lauded for its authentic recreation of the look and feel of a long lost bootleg tape. Preceded by original trailers & commercials, the film resurrects the thrill of gory midnight movies for an hour-long plunge into the depths of horror. LAKE NOWHERE traces the familiar tale of a group of friends who arrive at a desolate lakeside cabin only to be stalked and murdered by a “Masked Maniac.” This age-old tale of senseless slaughter quickly spirals into the realm of supernatural horror and classic monster movies, as we learn the true power that lies within LAKE NOWHERE.

The “Limited Edition” Blu-Ray/DVD combo will include the behind-the-scenes featurette, along with a writer/director commentary, actors’ commentary, and several previously unreleased teaser trailers for HARVEST MAN, one of the trailers which precedes the film.

The film was directed by Christopher Phelps and Maxim Van Scoy, produced by R. S. Fitzgerald and Rose Sambrato in association with Ursidae Parade and The Ravacon Collective. Additional film & VHS processing by Muckraker Productions. The film stars Laura Hajek, Wray Villanova, Nathan Andrew Wright, Oscar Allen, Melody Kology, Paul Gagnon, Charles Gaskins, and Matthew Howk as the “Masked Maniac.” Cover art by Rain Delmar.

 

LAKE NOWHERE - Hand-Painted Cover

 

 

SYNAPSE FILMS ANNOUNCES THE SINGLE-DISC RELEASE OF TENEBRAE, DARIO ARGENTO’S GIALLO MASTERPIECE, ON BLU-RAY AND DVD SEPTEMBER 13th

 

 

Italian terror master Dario Argento elevates the Giallo genre to new heights with 1982’s TENEBRAE, a darkly humorous, futuristic and notoriously grisly horror film many consider to be one of his finest works.

American mystery author Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa) comes to Italy to promote his newest novel, TENEBRAE. Unfortunately, a razor-wielding serial killer is on the loose, taunting Neal and murdering those around him in gruesome fashion just like the character in his novel. As the mystery surrounding the killings spirals out of control, Neal investigates the crimes on his own, leading to a mind-bending, genre-twisting conclusion that will leave you breathless!

Following its successful limited edition Steelbook release earlier this year, Synapse Films is thrilled to bring this legendary Italian horror classic into wide release. Featuring an amazing synth-music score from Claudio Simonetti, Fabio Pignatelli and Massimo Morante (formerly of Italian progressive-rock band, Goblin), this all-new 1080p high-definition TENEBRAE release was created from the original uncut camera negative. Also stars John Saxon (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET), Daria Nicolodi (Dario Argento‘s PHENOMENA) and John Steiner (CALIGULA).

 

 

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RAZOR-SHARP BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE:
– All-new Synapse Films supervised color correction and restoration of a 1080p scan from the original camera negative, presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1
– Dual English and Italian language options with newly-translated English subtitle tracks for both
– Audio commentary track featuring film critic and Argento scholar, Maitland McDonagh
– Rare high-definition 1080p English sequence insert shots, playable within the film via Seamless Branching
– Feature-length documentary, YELLOW FEVER: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE GIALLO by High Rising Productions, chronicling the Giallo film genre from its beginnings as early 20th century crime fiction, to its later influences on the modern slasher film genre.
– Original UNSANE (U.S. version of TENEBRAE) end credits sequence
– Alternate opening credits sequence
– Theatrical trailers

 

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DVD SPECIAL FEATURES:
– All-new Synapse Films supervised color correction and restoration from the original camera negative, presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1
– Dual English and Italian language options with newly-translated English subtitle tracks for both
– Audio commentary track featuring film critic and Argento scholar, Maitland McDonagh
– International theatrical trailer

BLU-RAY SPECIFICATIONS
Video: High-Definition 1080p Widescreen (1.85:1) Presentation / AVC Codec
Audio: DTS-HD MA English 2.0 Mono / DTS-HD MA Italian 2.0 Mono
Subtitles: English
REGION: A
SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE: $34.95

DVD SPECIFICATIONS
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) Presentation / NTSC
Audio: Dolby Digital English 2.0 Mono / Dolby Digital Italian 2.0 Mono
Subtitles: English
REGION: 1
SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE: $24.95

These single disc releases of TENEBRAE are indeed different from the Limited Edition Steelbook release that was available exclusively from our website and is close to sold out. The single disc versions of TENEBRAE do not come in the collectible Steelbook packaging, are not dual-format, and do not contain the CD soundtrack or the collectible color booklet.

 

 

Arrow Video US – August 2016 Releases

 

 

New from Arrow Video US

Microwave Massacre [Blu-ray + DVD] (August 16th)

 The Bloodstained Butterfly [Blu-ray + DVD] (August 23rd)

via MVD Entertainment Group

 

 

 

MVD Entertainment Group furthers the distribution of Arrow Video in the US with several new titles in August…

 

 

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Microwave Massacre [Blu-ray + DVD] (August 16th)

THEY CAME FOR DINNER…TO FIND THEY WERE IT!!

Microwave Massacre stars legendary stand-up comedian and actor Jackie Vernon as Donald, a disgruntled construction worker whose wife’s predilection for haute cuisine drives him to cannibalism.

Donald unwittingly stumbles upon a solution to his two major problems in his life – his nagging wife and his lack of decent meals – when, one night, he bludgeons his better half to death with a pepper grinder in a drunken rage. Thinking on his feet, Donald dismembers the body and sets about microwaving the remains, which turn out to be rather delicious. Trouble is, now he has a taste for human flesh that needs satisfying…

Eschewing all notions of good taste, Wayne Berwick’s Microwave Massacre is a deliciously depraved exercise in political incorrectness that has gone on to gain a cult following thanks to a characteristically deadpan performance from Vernon, who delivers such choice lines as “I’m so hungry I could eat a whore.” Vegetarians need not apply!

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
– Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative
– High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
– Original mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
– Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
– Brand new audio commentary with writer-producer Craig Muckler, moderated by Mike Tristano
– Brand new making-of featurette including interviews with Muckler, director Wayne Berwick and actor Loren Schein
– Trailer
– Original treatment and 8-page synopsis (BD/DVD-ROM content)
– Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Wes Benscoter

Product Details
An MVD Exclusive
Format: BLU-RAY
SKU: AV062
UPC: 760137880295
Street Date: 08/16/16
PreBook Date: 07/12/16
Label: Arrow Video »
Genre: Cult
Run Time: 76 mins
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: STEREO
Year of Production: 1983
Director: Wayne Berwick
Actors: Jackie Vernon, Loren Schein, Al Troupe
Language: English
Pre-order at the MVD SHOP or on Amazon

 

 

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The Bloodstained Butterfly [Blu-ray + DVD] (August 23rd)

 

Directed by Duccio Tessari (Death Occurred Last Night, A Pistol for Ringo), The Bloodstained Butterfly melds the lurid giallo traditions popularized by Dario Argento and Mario Bava with courtroom drama, resulting in a film that is as concerned with forensic detail and legal process as it is with grisly murders and audacious set-pieces.

When a young female student is savagely killed in a park during a thunderstorm, the culprit seems obvious: her lover, TV sports personality Alessandro Marchi (Giancarlo Sbragia, Death Rage), seen fleeing the scene of the crime by numerous eyewitnesses. The evidence against him is damning… but is it all too convenient? And when the killer strikes again while Marchi is in custody, it quickly becomes apparent that there’s more to the case than meets the eye…
Starring 70s heartthrob Helmut Berger (Dorian Gray, The Godfather: Part III) alongside genre mainstays Evelyn Stewart (The Psychic, The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail) and Carole André (Colt 38 Special Squad), and featuring a score by Gianni Ferrio (Death Walks at Midnight), The Bloodstained Butterfly is presented uncut and in a sumptuous new 4K restoration that allows this unique and haunting thriller to shine like never before!
BONUS MATERIALS
– Brand new 4K restoration of the film from the original camera negative
– High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
– Original Italian and English soundtracks in DTS-HD MA mono 1.0
– Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
– Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
– New audio commentary with critics Alan Jones and Kim Newman
– Murder in B-Flat Minor, a new visual essay on the film, its cast and crew by author Troy Howarth.
– Mad Dog Helmut, a new interview with actor Helmut Berger
– Exclusive introduction by Helmut Berger
– New interview with actress Evelyn Stewart/Ida Galli
– Interview with Lorella De Luca, actress and wife of director Duccio Tessari
– Original Italian and English theatrical trailers
– Gallery of original promotional images
– Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin
– Limited edition 36-page booklet (first pressing only) illustrated by Tonci Zonjic, containing writing by James Blackford, Howard Hughes and Leonard JacobsProduct Details
An MVD Exclusive
Format: BLU-RAY
SKU: AV063
UPC: 760137880394
Street Date: 08/23/16
PreBook Date: 07/19/16
Label: Arrow Video »
Genre: Cult
Run Time: 99 mins
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: MONO
Year of Production: 1971
Director: Duccio Tessari
Actors: Helmut Berger, Giancarlo Sbragia, Evelyn Stewart
Language: Italian/English
Pre-order at the MVD SHOP or on Amazon