Saturday, March 28, 2009

Psycho fails to sell at auction...

I'm genuinely shocked that a London auction house couldn't find anyone willing to bid the minimum price of $44,000.00 on Bernard Hermann's score for Psycho.(read more here)

Granted, I don't have $44,000.00 lying around for non-essentials and neither does anyone I know personally. But if I did, I think this would be e a pretty nifty thing to have.

I mean, Brian DePalma didn't want it? Come on!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bad Brains and Yankee Ghosts...

Check out my, um, think piece about bad brain movies on AMC TV's Horror Hacker site. It's food for thought... okay, I'll stop now.

If you don't recognize the photo, it's 1958's Fiend Without a Face, which I watched on TV as a child because it starred Marshall Thompson of Daktari, a series about a veterinarian taking care of African wildlife. Shocker.

I'm willing to bet Tim Burton had a similar experience, because if you watch Beetlejuice (1988)closely, there's a Fiend-ish sculpture lurking in a corner.

Oh, and my review of The Haunting in Connecticut, the Amityville Horror of our day, is live.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

New Reviews: Duplicity and Knowing

New reviews are here: Nicolas Cage gets a scary glimpse into the future in Knowing and Clive Owen and Julia Roberts find that love and Duplicity are tough acts to balance.

Monday, March 16, 2009

I remade a Zombie...

Just when I thought this rumor had gone away, it seems to have picked up new credence:

The I Walked With a Zombie remake now has a director in Adam Marcus, whose only previous horror credit is Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. Oh, yeah — that's the sensibility the hauntingly poetic I Walked with a Zombie — a dreamy reworking of Charlotte Bronte's feverishly perverse Jane Eyre — needs.

I'm comforting myself with the thought that it can't be any worse than Ritual, with Jennifer Grey. Made in 2001, it apparently opened in a handful of European markets before going to DVD in the US as Tales from the Crypt Presents: Ritual.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Kid flick kicks ass!

This is how the preliminary weekend box office numbers are looking:

1.) Race to Witch Mountain: $25 million
2.) Watchmen: $18 million
3.) The Last House on the Left: 14.7 million
4.) Taken: $6.7 million
5.) Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail: $5.1 million

Conventional wisdom has it that a decent kid's movie is always a winner, but this doesn't bode well for the hugely expensive Watchmen or the Last House on the Left remake.

Could it be the power of the actor formerly known as The Rock? I must confess that I'm a Dwayne Johnson fan. He's not a great actor and probably never will be. But he's got real star power; when he's on screen, everyone and everything else fades into the background.

And I have to say (though I'm very much in the minority), that I think Richard Kelly's Southland Tales is a pretty interesting movie and that Johnson is a significant part of the reason.

And remember, people jumped on Kelly's Donnie Darko with both feet when it opened, and now it's a bona fide cult classic. Just saying.

Friday, March 13, 2009

New Reviews: Last House on the Left and Miss March

My reviews of the Last House on the Left remake and the execrable (not to mention excremental) purported comedy Miss March are live!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Maitland talks horror in Pretty Bloody: Women of Horror

Last year I was interviewed for a Canadian documentary about women and horror films, and the completed film just aired on the Canadian TV channel Space.

I can't tell you when it might be airing in the US (though I will if and when I hear anything), but here's a teaser clip:

... and here's a nice write up from

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Last remake on the left.

It's probably time to stop bemoaning the plague of horror-movie remakes, but between the new Last House on the Left opening Friday and the recent releases of Friday the 13th and My Bloody Valentine it's hard to get away from the subject..

The argument for remakes is that today's audience know the old titles, but either haven't seen them (because they're old) or saw them but were underwhelmed (because they're, you know, old).

For the most part I don't buy it, for two reasons. First, the bulk of the movies that have been remade or are slated for remaking date back to the 1970s and '80s, which weren't the reticent shadows-and-suggestion '40s. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and its progeny were dubbed "meat movies" because they brought on the gore and gristle. And second, most of them are good movies, and they hold up just fine.

I'm the first to stand up for the 2009 remake of My Bloody Valentine on the grounds that, frankly, the original is an hour of lackadaisical build up before something finally happens and it's dull. At least the remake hits the ground running. And I stand by my contention that the Amityville Horror remake is no worse than the original, which isn't exactly a recommendation but which acknowledges that "made in the '70s" doesn't inherently mean good. But Friday the 13th, Dawn of the Dead, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Last House on the Left? No do-overs required. Yeah, the Dawn of the Dead remake was fine, but it doesn't improve on the original in any significant way. I know the bottom line is money, but come on… real horror buffs love nothing more than a new scare.

So bring some on!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sexy Joi Lansing in a surreal proto-music video!

Before there was MTV, there were Scopitone players. Video jukeboxes invented France, scopitone players spurred the production of what can only be called pre-video music videos that ranged from fairly straightfoward concert-style clips to full realized mini-movies. My favorite on this particular haphazard collection is Joi Lansing's "Web of Love." Can't place her? Lansing is the bleached-blond in the doomed convertible in the opening shot of Orson Welles' Touch of Evil... the one who says "I've got this ticking... I've got this ticking noise in my head" right before the car explodes in a ball of flame. Lansing was also a nightclub singer, scene maker and favorite icon of James Ellroy, the suicide blond to end all suicide blonds. And this is the scopitone clip that started me thinking about her:

It doesn't get better!

Friday, March 6, 2009

My Watchmen review... live, and you can read it here.

I'm amazed by how negative many of the reviews are, and I actually feel bad for Zack Snyder having to read both that his movie doesn't work because it's too faithful to the source material and that it doesn't work because it's not faithful enough to the source material. Damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. I'd love to hear what you think.

I also caught up with the Clive Owen-Naomi Watts thriller The International, which I thought was much better than the reviews would lead you to believe, and I saw an Indian horror movie called 13B, which is not to be confused with District B13. And you know what? I liked it, too, even though there were no lavish production numbers for restless ghosts.

I'm just Little Miss Sunshine this week... or maybe I'm the pod Maitland.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Know your Hollywood style icons!

No one expects fashion writers to be real journalists. At least nobody I know does. But I expect them to know fashion.

Which is why I was stunned by the first line of the New York Times "Thursday Styles" piece A Strong Woman for Hard Times: "There were times when you half expected Norma Shearer or Carole Lombard to come swinging down the runway, so wide were the shoulders at the Italian fall shows." Huh? I thought maybe I had been brain damaged by the photo of a gaunt Prada model in a dumpy raspberry cardigan and baggy, knitted brown shorts that made her look like a farm-fed Fraulein who could out-plow a team of oxen, but no. I read right.

Shearer and Lombard were silver-screen goddesses of the 1930s, the age of haute swank and slinky, bias cut even gowns so body hugging that underwear was a fleeting memory. If you want to talk shoulder pads, you want to evoke Joan Crawford, specifically the Joan Crawford of the 1940s, when she graduated from high-spirited flappers to tough women who face a tougher world with their heads held high and their gimlet eyes on the prize. Though smaller than she looked on screen — a mere 5' 4" — Crawford had shoulders like an Olympic swimmer (as did her robust contemporary, Greta Garbo), and her favorite costume designer, the legendary Adrian, opted to play them up rather than trying to hide them.

Does this matter in the grand scheme of things? No. All I'm saying is that if you're going to write about fluff, know the fluff you're writing about.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Watching Watchmen

This isn't a review, because I feel compelled to respect review dates.

But I just got back from a screening and it's a review I look forward to writing. I bought the first collected edition and loved it, but I also loved Alan Moore's V for Vendetta and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and was underwhelmed by the movie version of the former and appalled by the latter.

Not so Zack Snyder's Watchmen... and that's all I'll say for now.

The monster in the closet...

My friend Alan passed along this roundup of horror movies with apparently unintentional gay subtexts, and I have to say, it's on the money.

Those of you who used to listen to the podcast may remember my amazement at 2006 The Covenant, which rightly makes the list... frankly, I can still hardly believe it was directed by Renny Harlin rather than David DeCoteau, who's never been particularly coy about what he's up to in movies like Wolves of Wall Street and House of Usher.

Maybe it's time for all the monsters to come out of the closet...

Monday, March 2, 2009

Hey Sister, Go Sister, Go Sister, Go Sister!

It's not that I love Madea Goes to Jail (though I have to admit the character makes me laugh more often than I expect), but I'm tickled pink that Madea kicked the collective scrawny asses of the Jonas Brothers and their 3-D concert movie.

And by a sizeable sum, too: Close to $4. million. And in its second week... could the TV-tween star reign of vapidity be over? We can only hope.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I'm back!

Lest you think I've abandoned my faithful readers, I've spent the last week dealing with technical problems that locked me out of my own site.

But I'm back in now, and adding all kinds of material. More tomorrow, and thanks for sticking with me.