May 132019
 

Crimes of Passion is a 1984 erotic thriller, directed by Ken Russell and starring Kathleen Turner. Russell is known for his sexy and hallucinatory filmmaking (see Tommy, Lair of the White Worm, Salome’s Last Dance, et al.) so this should be interesting.

Kathleen Turner plays a woman with two sides: one is Joanna Crane, uptight clothing designer, and the other is China Blue, cheerful hooker. Joanna is being stalked by a private detective, Bobby (John Laughlin), hired by her boss. China is being stalked by an unhinged street preacher, the Reverend Shayne (Anthony Perkins), who may want to save her or kill her. The worlds of Joanna and China start to bleed into each other.

China (Kathleen Turner) plies her trade
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May 072019
 

Eating Raoul is a 1982 black comedy directed by and starring and co-written by Paul Barte

Set in a squalid, pre-HIV Los Angeles, Paul and Mary Bland (Paul Bartel, Mary Woronov) are a married couple who want only to leave the city and open a country restaurant, so they can get away from the swingers that have taken over their apartment building, driving the rent up. When one of the swingers gets into their apartment by accident and attempts to rape Mary, Paul kills him with a cast iron frying pan. This gives them an idea: place sex worker ads in newspapers, lure swingers (Mary: “Horrible sex crazed maniacs that no one in the world would miss.”) to their apartment, kill them and rob them.

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Apr 302019
 

Body Double is a 1984 psychological thriller directed by Brian DePalma.

Jake Scully (Craig Wasson) is a struggling actor who loses a job in a vampire movie because of his claustrophobia. He’s then kicked out by his girlfriend who’s with another man. Down on his luck, Jake agrees to house sit for a friend. The luxury house comes with a view of a beautiful woman in another apartment, who dances nude every night.

When Jake witnesses the woman’s murder, but he suspects he has been set up as a witness. He infiltrates the LA porn scene to find the body double of the murdered woman

Did Jake (Craig Wasson) see what he thought he saw?
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Apr 172019
 

Because they didn’t live up to Clive Barker’s original novella:

He had anticipated this moment so keenly, planned with every wit he possessed this rending of the veil. In moments they would be here—the ones Kircher had called the Cenobites, theologians of the Order of the Gash. Summoned from their experiments in the higher reaches of pleasure, to bring their ageless heads into a world of rain and failure.

He had worked ceaselessly in the preceding week to prepare the room for them. The bare boards had been meticulously scrubbed and strewn with petals. Upon the west wall he had set up a kind of altar to them, decorated with the kind of placatory offerings Kircher had assured him would nurture their good offices: bones, bonbons, needles. A jug of his urine—the product of seven days’ collection—stood on the left of the altar, should they require some spontaneous gesture of self-defilement. On the right, a plate of doves’ heads, which Kircher had also advised him to have on hand.

[…]

The doorway was even now opening to pleasures no more than a handful of humans had ever known existed, much less tasted—pleasures which would redefine the parameters of sensation, which would release him from the dull round of desire, seduction and disappointment that had dogged him from late adolescence. He would be transformed by that knowledge, wouldn’t he? No man could experience the profundity of such feeling and remain unchanged.

Apr 162019
 

Hellraiser Bloodline (1996) is the fourth film in the Hellraiser franchise. It was also the last to be released in theatres and the last to have Clive Barker as a writer, director or producer. Directed by “Alan Smithee”, actually Keven Yagher, who is primarily a makeup artist, and written by Peter Atkins, who also wrote the second and third films.

Hellraiser: Bloodline starts off promising, but dissolves into a mess. Lots of plot threads dangle, lots of things happen for no reason. Apparently, this was a troubled production, which would explain why the director took his name off the picture, replaced by the “Alan Smithee” credit.

Philippe Lemerchand (Bruce Ramsay) and his creation.
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Apr 152019
 

Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth (1992) is the third entry in the Hellraiser franchise, and it benefits from a more conventional story structure. The new protagonist, Joey Summerskill, is introduced early to replace Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence has a cameo on video recording).

Another victim of the Cenobite puzzle box
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Apr 042019
 

Hellbound: Hellraiser II was released only a year after the original, with a larger budget and mostly the same cast. Clive Barker wrote the story and served as executive producer. However, the sequel gets further away from what I thought of as the main themes of the franchise.

Return of the Cenobites
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Apr 012019
 

Hellraiser is a 1987 horror film, based on a novella, “The Hellbound Heart”, by Clive Barker, and the film was also written and directed by Barker.

For the notoriety attached to the Hellraiser franchise, there’s very little of the hyper-sadomasochistic Cenobites and their apparent leader, the iconic Pinhead, in the first film. The Cenobites are a background threat to the main action. They appear in only a few scenes, and there’s little exploration of what they’re about.

Poster
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Mar 272019
 

From Beyond is a 1986 horror-science fiction film, directed by Stuart Gordon. It’s based on the short story of the same name by HP Lovecraft. The film takes a lot of liberties with the original story, particularly in the realm of adding T&A to the story, probably to increase the commercial appeal.

Lovecraft’s fiction generally revolved around the idea that there are hidden realms, just on the threshold of human perception, and his characters are simultaneously fascinated and terrified by these realms and their inhabitants.

Crawford (Jeffrey Combs) and Katherine (Barbara Crampton) face the resonator.

The basic premise of the story and film is the invention of a device, “the resonator”, which makes an unseen world, which exists in parallel to our own reality, visible and tangible. The problem is that the device attracts creatures from this other realm and allows them attack people. In the film, the device’s creator, Dr. Crawford Tillinghast (Jeffrey Combs), is accused of killing and decapitating his colleague and financial backer, Dr. Edward Pretorius (Ted Sorel). (Pretorius, incidentally, is the name of another mad scientist in the 1935 Bride of Frankenstein.)

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