Film A Week 43: The Spooktacular Seventies- Dawn of the Dead (1978)

The undead, walkers, or zombies as they are widely known as, have fascinated the world. In more recent times, the dead have set the backdrop for dramatic situations and an allegory for paranoia set by the aftermath of traumatic events. In some eyes, anything surrounding zombies seems to be, no pun intended, beating a dead horse. Yet, the master of the over-killed sub-genre set the standard for what can be done and not film has done it better than the classic by George A. Romero, Dawn of the Dead.

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Dawn of the Dead tells the tale of the mass hysteria that sweeps up the nation after the events of Night of the Living Dead as the unknown plague spreads. This leads the U.S. Government to attempt to take control of the situation, despite the problems emerging. SWAT team members Roger DiMarco, played by Scott Riegner, and Peter Washington, played by Ken Foree, are clearing out an apartment to control the plague in its third week. As this goes on, WGON reporters Stephen Andrews, and Francine Parker, played by Gaylen Ross, are amid the newsroom chaos and plan an escape. Peter gets wind of this and heads with Roger to escape Philadelphia.

Now, normally, I would do a review, but tonight is Halloween and I rather do something extremely nice. That’s right, there’s the whole film below. In a simple review, this movie is a fantastic film by George A Romero and builds upon the mythology and pathos he set up in order to create this world. The creation of paranoia and hysteria is on par with Gojira and The Thing. The effects, while dated, still hold up in the modern era of horror film. The gore is astounding and a marvel to witness. The acting is very to its time with raw and real performances. Never does the movie feel campy or tongue-in-cheek as it takes everything seriously.

Oh and…have a happy Halloween.

 Film A Week: The Spooktacular Seventies- Dawn of the Dead (1978)
A Special Feature Presentation. Not for monetary gain.
All Rights Reserved ©1978 Laurel Group, Inc & United Film Distribution Company

Next week, SergBeret.com celebrates the one year anniversary of the 007 in 23 series that helped launch the say with the film I said I would never do. There exists another James Bond film that is another telling of the plot of Thunderball. Just like Sean Connery said before and regretted, I am going to have to Never Say Never Again.

Film A Week 44: Never Say Never Again (1983) A 007 in 23 Anniversary Special

Saturday, November 9th

Film A Week 42: The Spooktacular Seventies- Suspiria (1977)

Even in the most harmless of places can a tale of fright disturb the innocent nature of what is was. Places that would be seen as safe haven of studying abroad can be more than they appear. Under the gorgeous sights, vivid colors and beautiful architecture can lie the darkest of magic as the master of art horror Dario Argento conveyed in the lovely Italian masterpiece, 1977’s Suspiria.

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Suzy Bannion, played by Jessica Harper, had no idea what awaited her at her dance school in Munich. Suzy cannot get in to the academy yet in the stormy night as it is close, but as she leaves to stay in the nearby town, she notices something. A terror come in the form of a expelled student named Pat Hingle from the academy which Suzy sees leaving. What Suzy does not see is the murder of Pat at her friend’s apartment getting maimed and killed by an unseen man beyond compare.

Suzy makes friends at the academy with Sarah, played by Stefania Casini, and Olga, played by Babara Magnolfi, and deals with her head mistress Madame Blanc, played by Joan Bennett, and dance teacher Miss Tanner, played by Alida Valli, and falls ill due to unknown circumstances. While ill, things get odd with distinct whispers from Sarah’s sleep, footsteps of the teachers in the middle of night going nowhere in particular, maggots falling from the ceiling,

and the blind piano player Daniel, played by Flavio Bucci, getting killed by his guide dog when taking his evening stroll after his dog attacked Miss Tanner.

Suzy starts to put pieces together from Sarah’s mumblings and overhears that Pat had said the words Sarah is saying before leaving. Those words being the quite mysterious ‘isis’ and ‘secret.’ With this new clue, Suzy and the girls begin to take the clues and worm their to understand what the hell is going on behind all of this. During this, Suzy passes out of nowhere with Sarah left to fend for herself and being pursued by the unknown person that may have attacked Pat, leading to Sarah’s life to be on the wire.

Suzy soon discovers from Dr. Frank Mandel, played by Udo ‘Sitting on a bullet’ Kier, that the academy was founded by Helena Markos, a Greek woman who was claimed to be a witch. Suzy pieces to together with the aide of Mandel’s assistant Professor Milius, played by Rudolf Schundler, that it may be home to a coven as a coven can not survive without their queen present, dead or living. This leads Suzy to deal with the spirit of Helena Markos face to face.

She finishes of Helena Markos and thus the coven and their home is destroyed by Suzy, yet the experience was something that Suzy hopes to never to behold again.

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Suspiria scares the hell out of me. When I first watched it a year ago, it was on a stormy afternoon while I was sick. I had the soon all the way up in the darkness of my room watching the film intently. When the main theme by Goblin started to come into play, the eerie terror of the film started to get to me. Argento’s vision of the horror in the simplest of place is quite astounding. Argento brings an artistic flair to the horror genre that is on par with classic Universal horror, but having the modern gore and kills going on in the ’70s and never strays away from it.

The acting is simplistic in nature, but that can be overlooked due to the remarkable story at hand. The mystery builds slowly and intently and eagle-eyed viewers would appreciate the use of color and vibrancy. The only gripe that would be had with this film in this era is that it does seems a little dated with its blood and gore. The way the death scenes are shot and structured, on the other hand, are revolutionary and provide a stepping stone in the right direction for filming horror. This film relies on its style to scare you and gives a perfect balance of substance to go along with it. Suspiria is a terrifying classic and worth your time.

Heck, you can even watch the whole film right here.

Next week, Film A Week’s The Spooktacular Seventies is celebrating Halloween on the site with a special Halloween post and we saved a damn good one for last that I cannot wait to review. Time to get into the local mall and protect ourselves from the living dead that terrorize our reality. They already had the night, but now the dawn is breaking. Halloween will bring about George A. Romero’s classic, Dawn of the Dead.

Film A Week 43: The Spooktacular Seventies- Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Thursday, October 31st on Halloween

Film A Week 41: The Spooktacular Seventies- The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) By Guest Writer Diego Olivares

The review you are about to read is the remnants of a tragedy which befell Serg Beret as he tried to sit through another horrific feature, in particular this week’s feature in the Spooktacular Seventies series. It is all the more tragic that Serg had to step away in order to regain his strength to carry on.

But had Serg carried on for this review, he would call this film a true beginner in a sub-genre beloved the world over known as the slasher film and never would have witnessed the sheer terror that lead him to declare this a horror masterpiece.

For this, Diego Olivares, a fresh faced reviewer from ELAC Campus News, has stepped in to tackle the nightmare. The events of that feature lead to a discovery of one of the most shocking features ever produced on celluloid, Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

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Considered one of the most scariest horror films ever made, 1974’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre definitely deserves it place among the top choices of cinematic scary stories. Directed by Tobe Hooper in his feature debut, the film serves as an important milestone in both horror cinema and indie filmmaking which continues to this day.

The film opens with a narrating title card, describing the horrors to come, all the while giving a sense of mystery that helps gives the audience a sense of dread; something all the best horror films do.

After a chilling opening montage showing unearthed corpses being photographed, we find ourselves on a hot, Texas highway where a small group of college teens travel down this road in a green van. They include Sally, and her wheelchair-bound brother, Franklin. They’ve come down to a local graveyard to check on the grave of Sally’s grandpa after reports of grave-robbing have been occurring.

After stopping by there, the kids pick a strange hitchhiker, who’s disturbing actions, which include cutting his hand and Franklin’s arm, forces the gang to kick him out of the van, which results with the psycho leaving a bloody mark on the side of their green van as they speed off.

Running  low on gas, they check by a local gas station, which out too. Out of opinions, they stop by Franklin and Sally’s grandparents home to stay for the night. Two of the kids decide to go to near-by water-area for a swim, but strangely don’t return. When Sally’s boyfriend goes to check on their whereabouts,  he too doesn’t come back. Their mysterious disappearances cause the siblings to freak out. Unaware to them, their friends have suffered a deathly fate by the hands of hulking killer, Leatherface.

Fed up of waiting, for Sally and Franklin decide to look for their missing through the darken woods as night as now fallen on them. Suddenly, both are surprised by Leatherface, as he, armed with a chainsaw, ruthlessly cuts Franklin to pieces. Horrified to the extreme, a helpless Sally makes a run for it as Leatherface give pursuit through a darken woods.

After a terrifying chase, poor Sally is able to take shelter at the same gas station she had stopped by earlier. She loses Leatherface. However, her feeling of safely quickly ends when the owner of the station kidnaps her, loads her in his truck and drives her back to Leatherface house, not before picking the psychotic Hitchhiker along the way.

It is at the house that they are completely helpless Sally discover that Leatherface, the station owner, and the weirdo Hitchhiker are a family of former slaughterhouse workers-turned-cannibalistic serial killers slash grave robbers, hence the grave robbing from the start of the movie. The final moments of the film are the most disturbing; Sally, covered with pure fear, is forced to sit in a hellish freak show of dinner scene among the psychotic trio and their near-dead grandpa, who they consider a “the best killer ever.”


After a huge mishap, Sally escape and runs out to a nearby road as the Hitchkiter and Leatherface give chase. As the Hitchkiter catches up to her and tries attacking her, he is then ran over by an oncoming semi truck. Leatherface tries to attack Sally, but she escape by climbing on to a passing pick-up. The truck speeds way as Sally screams and laughs as Leatherface is unable to catch up to her. The film comes to a end as Leatherface swings his active chainsaw around in total frustration as the sunrise starts to shine over this. Credits roll.

One of the reasons the film captures the element of a horror film is it’s raw realism. This is all due its documentary-style cinematography, naturalistic acting from it’s unknown actors, and the fact that the film based within reality, unlike most horror films of today. Re-watching this movie for this review reminded me how good horror films can be when their not covered with hyper-styled cinematography and gorgeous cw actors. The in fact that this was done on a low-budget made the film more effective than if it done on a much higher budget, which would been least effective.

As the years go on, the film’s influence continues as many other low-budget horrors such as Halloween, The Evil Dead, and The Blair Witch Project take their inspiration from this 70s horror classic. Sadly though, the film also inspire four sequals, a remake, and prequel to the remake; all of them are terrible. The less you know about them, the better off you are. Trust me.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is of course with out a doubt one of the most scariest and disturbing horror movies of all time.

Next week, Serg returns to review the masterpiece of art horror as young Suzy Bannion heads to an acclaimed dance school in Germany, which might very well be home to a coven of witches and filled with more frights than she will ever know. Let’s join the master Dario Argento and enter his masterpiece, Suspiria.

Film A Week 42: The Spooktacular Seventies- Suspria (1977)

Saturday, October 26th

She Was…

She was the only one to hold me close
She was someone from above that I did not know
An angel among demons, a light in the darkness
A spark that constantly glowed
She was the one for me and I needed
Everything about her heart and soul
She was the one that I did not want to let go

She came around to give me a rebound in my life
She spoke to me and tried to help me see what I am about
She was the most gorgeous creation in the world
An unknown person of unspoken origin
She was the one to break my fall

She knew the wonders of stars I wanted her to behold
She appreciated the beauty of the world
She was the one I wanted the most

Then she let me, letting the romance begin
So we found the flame to ignite our collective heart
She held my hand, we tripped into a dance
Spinning around and I loved her so
She was the one I needed the most

Then she left me out of the world
She shunned me, deserted and left me in the cold
She was the first to let go

Time has now passed and she fell someone new
She is happier than she ever was before
She was the one I had to let go

Film A Week 40: The Spooktacular Seventies- The Exorcist (1973)

Demonic possession is a terrifying event to witness for any human. It is when the supernatural and the religious world collide and butt heads over the merit of what exactly is going on. Sadly, the ones that get the worst of the possession our those in their youth from the infant Rosemary bore in Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby to the son of the dark lord in the form of Damian in Richard Donner’s The Omen. The most well known of these cases still carries its weight four decades after its first appearance.  Young Regan, played by Linda Blair, was taken control of Pazuzu aka the Devil himself leading to an exorcism that shocked the horror world and tested the temporal lobe of audiences. Witness the sheer terror of William Friedkin’s The Exorcist.

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Regan MacNeil of Georgetown comes under the possession of a spirit called Captain Howdy, an imaginary friend to Regan. Known as Pazuzu to Father Lankester Merrin, played by Max von Sydow, he realizes the he may come back for revenge after discovering a statue of the demonic spirit in Iraq. Back in Georgetown, Chris MacNeil, played by Ellen Burstyn, notices Regan is not herself after reliving herself on the floor and the bed shaking violently. Chris takes Regan to the doctor to help find the cause, yet the mere and simple minds of the healthcare industry are no match for the power of the occult.

With the events occurring and Regan killing Chris’ love interest, Detective William Kinderman, played by Lee J. Cobb, calls upon Father Damien Karras to help investigate the crime at hand. Karras has his own trouble to deal with after losing his faith in God and the church due to the passing of his mother. Karras decides to face the terror head on in some of the most terrifying sequences captured on celluloid.

Karras comes face to face with Pazuzu within Regan alongside Father Merrin helps him face his fears to realize that even the most sane of people can be taken advantage of to lose their faith not only in a higher calling, but within themselves. Karras gets pestered and chastise by Pazuzu to the point he exits the room and leave Father Merrin alone to die at Regan’s hands. Karras, knowing the dangers that Pazuzu can cause to the world, takes down Regan and has Pazuzu enter him. Sadly, in order to defeat the beast from within, Karras kills himself to end the madness and, god-willing, stop Pazuzu from enacting his revenge. Regan is freed in the ending that is bittersweet, but beware, for just because the demon is gone from the body of another does not mean the spirit will never return.

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Sitting through the film declared by Warner Bros. the ‘scariest movie of all time’ and tempting fate of skeptics of the statement, The Exorcist is surprisingly a terrifying film still, but not for the reasons many viewers would have you believe. The exorcism scenes have been desensitized for me due to years of parodies in the media, yet it is the slow burn the movie has leading to that causes a true terror. With the face of Pazuzu constantly appearing and the fears engulfing the minds of Chris and Karras of how such an innocent person can go mad is pure horror in itself.

It is made clear when Merrin says to Karras that Pazuzu is using Regan to show that humans can be animal in nature and that those we think love us, such as God, cannot protect us. Chris cannot protect Regan from the being and the fear grows when she realizes the problem is not a medical issue, but rather one she cannot explain. Karras loses his mother and the fear that he can no longer get a hold on reality or himself terrifies him that in the end, he becomes the animal in order to rid the beast of the world. The movie plays on these fear to make the possession of Regan not only a scary experience, but one that viewers can relate to by hitting close to our most vulnerable points. the film succeeds more as a thriller than a typical horror movie riddled with cliches.

As for the film itself, Friedkin does a hell of a job directing the actors in scenes that would be hell for some otherwise including freezing Regan’s room in order to capture the cold nature of the sequences and delivering a greater payoff. Hell, he slapped Father William O’Malley just to get a great performance out of him in the end of the film. Someone who slaps a real life man of the cloth for a scene has to be great. The acting is great with Blair selling her scenes along with the voiceover of Mercades McCambridge as the demon helping fuel the intense nature. The score stuns bringing an unsettling backdrop for the film with the famous ‘Tubular Bells’ being the highlight.

The film has had its share of controversy from the subliminal imagery within the film to the urban legends corresponding with the deaths of two actors and the sets, but that is secondary to the true testament of this film. After forty years of terrifying the world, The Exorcist remains a delightful scare for ages and a powerhouse of the thriller and horror genres.

This Saturday, Film A Week gets massacred. With the help of new writer & fellow horror fan Diego Olivares, FAW heads to 1974 Texas to take down Leatherface and witness a horror like no one can believe. It’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Film A Week 41: The Spooktaculr Seventies- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
with Special Guest Writer Diego Olivares

Saturday, October 19th/Sunday, October 20th

Film A Week SHORTS! The Thing (1982)

John Carpenter’s The Thing still manages to scare the ever loving crap out of me since my first viewing two years ago.

For those not in the know, The Thing is a remake of the 1951 film The Thing from Another World dealing with a group of Antarctic explorers and researchers dealing with an unknown creature of interstellar origin that can shape shift itself into other forms. It is up to helicopter pilot R.J. MacReady, played by 80’s badass Kurt Russell, to figure out who is human and who has turned into ‘the thing.’

One of the key factors into what makes this film so damn terrifying is the paranoia that seeps in. These are researchers isolated from the rest of the world, so the fact that a number of them are being turned into something unfamiliar delivers an eerie aura around the site. Heck, even Wilford ‘Diabeetus’ Brimley goes bats*** insane over the chaos that is being created from this. Eventually, no one can be trusted and the characters start to deal with the concept of morality and ethics in order to survive their stay.

The special effects work and puppetry is beyond stunning as in this terrifying moment of the thing’s first appearance.

It’s weird and pissed off, but the work put into this and many of the other monster scares are downright gorgeous in their grotesque nature. These moments where ‘the thing’ appears and makes its presence known stay embedded in your mind and haunt the very core of our fears. The score for this film also helps set the tone of paranoid isolation done by legendary cinema composer Ennio Morricone being hauntingly simple.

I strongly recommend the hell out of The Thing for any up and coming horror fan and those who need to dive deeper into some classic scares.

Figure Myself Out

You claim I am a perfect being
I still have yet to see what you mean
My reflection, a monster from demonology
Your viewpoint stuck in fantasy

An original according to your memory
One step above the men that speak in malarkey
I still say there is something wrong with me
Your reassurance tries to help me be

Why don’t you set me free?
Please help me to see

Time to figure myself out
Always surrounded by self-doubt
My perception is all but gone
Come and help me figure myself out

Friends turn on me to be strangers
Always aware of the resulting dangers
No one stays long enough to see it through
What makes them different from you?

You need a fix I can’t provide
You say ‘in due time, you shall realize’
Trying to see through a beastly disguise
To see a deeper man within my eyes

Why don’t you set me free?
Please help me to see

Time to figure myself out
Always surrounded by self-doubt
My perception is all but gone
Come and help me figure myself out

Unleash your warmth upon my Earth
Wrap you arms around me to save my worth
Transform the essence of my soul
And help me see what I cannot behold

Time to figure myself out
Always surrounded by self-doubt
My perception is all but gone
Come and help me figure myself out
Time to figure myself out
Always surrounded by self-doubt
My perception is all but gone
Come and help me figure myself out

 

Film A Week Shorts! Frankenstein (1931)

Film a Week Shorts! takes a look at films I have seen and therefore were not picked for the main series. These are films I considered, but I rather give a small take on them. Without further ado, here is the first entry.

Before deciding on a theme for the month of October, I had a variety of horror films to choose from, but I decided to forgo some of those in order to focus on the horror of the Seventies. One film in particular is a personal favorite of mine known for turning a professor into a madman close to god.

The story is quite simple and told is a short amount of time. At only 72 minutes, Universal Pictures and Carl Laemmle, Jr. managed to adapt Mary Shelley’s masterwork into a gorgeous masterpeice. Dr. Victor Frankenstein, played expertly and manic by Colin Clive, brings to life his greatest experiment known as The Monster, played by then unknown actor Boris Karloff, who wanders in the world around him to try and fit in. It all goes wrong as one would expect, but to see the journey he goes on is one ride to never forget.

Seeing The Monster try to be human and accepted has a bittersweet wonder to it. It is delightful to see him interact with a blind man who introduces him to the fear of fire and a young girl who he unfortunately drowns on accident. The Monster goes not go out of his way to cause, but makes an incentive to understand the reality around him. Karloff does this with raw emotion and performs through the makeup to show us a misunderstood creation.

The Creator vs. the Creation

As for Victor Frankenstein, the man formerly known as a great genius sinks into his own madness and despair to search for his creation and realizes what he has done. In the near end, Victor realizes that this has caused madness and it must be stopped. The Monster grabs him and drops him from the windmill, but Frankenstein witnesses his creation get burned to a crisp and learns one should not play god without being aware of the risks.

The film has stood the test of time and became a classic horror icon, despite the Monster always being called Frankstein. Seriously, you would think after 82 years people would have solved that issue, but it still happens. Frankenstein is a pure classic and I always watch it around Halloween just to revisit it to experience every emotion and moment.  I always remember what makes this not only a great horror film, but one of my favorite films of all time.

Film A Week 39: The Spooktacular Seventies- The Wizard of Gore (1970)

There is nothing wrong with this website and nothing wrong with the text you are reading/ You are about to enter a realm that is beyond comprehension, where cinema fell into a decade of horrific sights and images displayed upon you on the silver screen. A decade of demonic possession, pure mutilation, and apocalyptic devastation of the human race. This decade brought on a trend in the world of Hollywood that shocked and beautified the world of the scares. This decade known only as The Spooktacular Seventies.

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Mutilation and torture of the body has been something that has intrigue the sanest of minds and performed by those whose minds have been corrupted by viewing the gruesome images of accidents and events that have ended with bodies dismembered and wrecked. Yet, what if someone took that concept to the extreme and created a show out of it? It certainly worked for Montag the Magnificent, played by Ray Sager, as he hypnotized his audience as he performed his seemingly simple illusion, but behind the hypnosis lied a brutal display. Come one and all and take in Montag’s show in Herschell Gordon Lewis’ The Wizard of Gore.

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Lewis weaves the story of the twisted disgusting murders behind Montag’s simple magic by incorporating local talk show host Sherry Carson, played by Judy Cler, and her skeptical boyfriend Jack, played by Wayne Ratay, as the plunge into the events head first. After Montag performs illusions, the female assistants that have suffered seem unharmed until they are find dead from the same fates that encountered on stage. For example the punch press murder in the title card above in this clip.

The police cannot explain what the hell is happening with Jack determined that it must be a copycat killer. When Montag performs a trick on two separate woman later int he film, the police follow them, but then prove unsuccessful in their plan as both women promptly turn up dead within seconds after the police leave them. It is not till Montag performs his hypnosis on public television that Jack discovers that the hyponosis was to blame and tosses into the fire Montag creates to kill those hypnotized. Finally, with Montag defeated, everything can return to normal.

Then this happens…

Yes, dear readers, this movie bends the mind and screws into you thinking that all is saved, but everything was merely…an illusion.

Jack turns out to be Montag and leaves Sherry in shock as she also is just an illusionist as well. Between the madness of blood being spilled lies to true madness of illusion. As Montag said, “What is real? How do you know that at this second you aren’t asleep in your beds, dreaming that you are here in this theater?” and that is a true testament to the illusion.

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The Wizard of Gore is really fuckin’ weird. I have seen my fair share of odd cinema and exploitation, yet this one takes the cake. The story makes absolutely no sense with terrible dialogue and confusing moments. The actors are all mid-level and can barely manage a scene and the audio and sound effects are out of sync and sound off. Yet, I could not turn away from this film for a second.

 

The direction by Lewis is quite well for a film like this showing off the gore effects in all its glory and never shying away for a moment as Montag pulls out the remains of the bodies, which for the film where actually sheep carcasses. Lewis managed to make gore look not only frightening, but deliver a gorgeous display of blood and guts missing in splatter films today with CGI taking over. The film is terrible, but a great terrible that has moments that will shock and delight those watching it just for the sheer horror. With that said, The Wizard of Gore does its trick just fine and is quite a thrill to see in this decade of horror. It has gone on to be remade in 2007 with Crispin “George Mcfly” Glover as Montag the Magnificent and got a shoutout in Juno as she praised the gore effects. This is one wizard that intends to stay.

Next weekend, the horror film that shocked the world by taking a look at demonic possession and creating a thriller no one had ever witnessed. It has terrified for generations and has continue to stay in the recesses of mind as Pazuzu takes control. It is haunting , gripping and even terrified the Academy into a Best Picture nomination. Time to take a visit to Reagan’s house and witness The Exorcist.

Film A Week 40: The Spooktacular Seventies- The Exorcist (1973)
Saturday, October 12th

Film A Week 38: Akira (1988)

In 1988, a change to animation was felt in the Western world. Animation is cinema during the 80’s was thought of as family-friendly or kid’s stuff with Disney fare coming on the screen and Don Bluth joining alongside Universal to release classics like An American Tail and The Land Before Time with the only risk takers in animation coming from the art house and independent film scenes. Then, one film stepped in to give everyone a shock to their system.

Akira, based on the Japanese manga series by Katshumiro Otomo, brought upon Anime to the Western world. It is hard now to think of a world without anime being a part of the animation world, but before Akira access to Japanese animation was limited to film clubs and bootlegs being passed back and forth with homemade subtitles and dubs. Yet, Akira is claimed to be the one that brought an entire sub-genre of animation to the West.

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The story of Akira follows Shotaro Kaneda and his biker gang the Capsules in 2019 Neo-Tokyo, a bustling metropolis sprung from the ashes of World War III filled with color, sights to behold and ruthless filth both on the street and on the pavement. Kaneda’s best friend Tetsuo Shima nearly crashes into a small man child that has escaped from a laboratory named Takashi. Takashi has been the subject of test by the government due to his psychokinetic skills. Tetsuo gets taken a hold of by the government after it is revealed he has psychokinetic powers as well and may help to bring about the rise of the psycho criminal Akira, who caused major devastation. This leads to a tale of betrayal, the over-powerment of one’s being and how far someone can dive before they lose complete control.

It seems that this story has been told before as one of the protagonist’s cohorts turns rogue against those who supported him and those who came to make them the person they are. It is the point where the character learns if it is really worth it and with their new powers, they can finally see their full potential or lack thereof. The character practically turns into their own worst enemy. Tetsuo gets corrupted by his power and turns into the worst alongside everyone. Akira accomplishes this by showing us the darker side of obtaining powers and the pressures one goes through. As it captures the seedy side of human nature, it also captures the seedy side of life in general. The punk and degenerates may be perceived as wrong, but the government and military are ten times worst that whatever they have to offer having handling of the politics and the science. The full control of the law surrounding the world of Neo-Tokyo is gritty and dirty filled with danger everywhere. Nothing seems safe, yet everything seems perfect.

The animation in this film still holds up and seems to be a window to the past of anime in the best way. The designs seem dead set in a more bizarre version of the works of Osamu Tezuka, but very much a new style that would be seen in such films as Ghost in the Shell and Porco Rosso. It is quite clean and balances colors quite well against the darkness. The action sequences are stellar with fluid and fast paced animation taking hold and becoming more than just a style, but a substance all its own. Akira takes the foundations of Japanese animation it was built on and expands it into something new, something broader and more of a acid-influenced experience to behold.

This weekend on Film A Week….

THE SPOOKTACULAR SEVENTIES ARE HERE
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To kick off the celebration, Herschel Gordon Lewis lays on the gore thick as Montag the Magnificent brings gruesome display to crowds with pure mutilation of his assistants and chaos in The Wizard of Gore. 

Film A Week 39: The Spooktacular Seventies The Wizard of Gore (1970)

Saturday, October 5th