Some Words On: Four Flies On Grey Velvet (Italy, 1971

Argento finishes his first series of groundbreaking gialli with 'Four Flies on Grey Velvet', one of his more seldom viewed and difficult movies. 
The story revolves around musician Roberto Tobias, played by Michael Brandon. On noticing that he is being followed by a mysterious man in a dark coat and glasses en route to a club one night, Roberto confronts the man, leading to a fevered chase into a disused theatre. 

A fight ensues between the two men, resulting in what appears to be the stalker's death. High above the murder scene, a creepily masked figure with a fixed smile takes incriminating pictures of Roberto and the apparent murder. What follows next is a cat and mouse game, between Roberto and the masked man, who begins blackmailing the protagonist, before killing those closest to him. 
In terms of style and music, composed by Ennio Morricone, a favourite of Argento, the movie is a success. However, with regard to pace and story elements, it can seem to drag for long stretches. Argento has a habit of adding uneasy humour and comic styling to his movies, more so here than his later Gothic nightmares. As an example of Argento's gialli, and of giallos in general, this is still a top notch release, despite whatever faults are inherent in the film.

    Movies I Love: The Return of the Living Dead (USA, 1985)

    After 'Shaun of the Dead' was released in 2004, everyone was quick to point out how original and clever the movie was, even suggesting it was the zombie genres answer to 'Scream'. What people tend to forget is, this melding of zombie/comedy happened years before, in the '80s horror masterpiece 'Return Of The Living Dead'. A film that playfully, but respectfully, pokes fun at classics of undead cinema, in-particular the walking dead films of George A. Romero. 
    When two bumbling employees of the medical supply store Uneeda, accidentally unleash toxic gas from a canister filled with hazardous human remains – which was misplaced by the army - the dead merchandise in the store starts to come back to life. Desperately trying to dispose of the twitching remains they attempt an ill advised cremation in a nearby mortuary. As the air fills with putrid smoke, it mixes with a rain cloud that busts over a nearby cemetery. Seeping into the soil the water re-awakens the long deceased inhabitants, who return with a fresh hunger for, "LIVE BRAINS!".

    Thanks partly to legal proceeding over the rights to Romero's seminal classic, 'Night of the Living Dead', his writing/producing partner John Russo obtained ownership to the 'Living Dead' portion of the title. After writing a novel called 'Return of the Living Dead', Russo planned on bringing it to the big screen as an unofficial sequel. He first approached Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) with the hope of shooting it in 3D. After Hooper passed on the project, Russo turned to genre writer Dan O’Bannon (Alien), who took the film in a drastic new direction, comedy. Taking familiar plot elements from Romero’s films, O’Bannon took a great risk in adding unseen meta-humor to the script,thankfully it works perfectly within the film.
    There are just so many iconic and 'kickass' moments in this flick, with Linnea Quigley's naked graveyard striptease being an obvious and personal favourite. I also love the slime covered Tarman zombie, who only recently made his long over due debut as a collectible figure. Even the movie's poster with the image of two mohawked zombies standing next to a tombstone, has got to be one of the best for an '80s horror. Inevitably 'Return' spawned its own series of films, with only part 2 keeping the comedy angle, to a far lesser degree. Part 3, the one with the rock chick who self harms to keep herself human, is easily the best, and comes closest to matching the inventiveness of the original.

    Packed with surreal, hilarious moments, 'Return' is a nonstop zombie filled, punk-rock horror classic, that will delight any fan of the genre. Now it can surely be seen as one of the finest horror films ever created.

    Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982): A Visual Guide

    Jason's Mask:
    Not wanting to use the simple bag over the head as seen in the previous 'Friday', the script called for him to wear some kind of  mask, but what could be scarier than his misshapen face?

    The story goes that during a lighting check, Steve Miner asked the effects crew to apply make-up to the actor who was playing Jason, nearing the end of the day, the exhausted crew instead decided to put a mask on the actor instead. Martin Jay Sadoff, the film's 3D effects supervisor had a bag full of hockey gear with him. What he pulled out was a Detroit Red Wings goaltender mask, that they decided to use for the test. The rest as they say is history, Miner loved the mask, and decided it was a perfect visage for the unstoppable Jason.

    Although Sadoff's mask was the inspiration, a different hockey mask was made for the movie. Using a substance called VacuForm, the films effects creator, Doug White, made a new mold to work with, and Terry Ballard finished it off with the iconic red triangles, to give it a unique appearance.

    After a brief catch up of the the last movies finale, the camera moves in on the severed head of Mrs. Voorhees. Next the 'Friday the 13th' logo zooms out towards the screen creating a 3D effect trail.

    The Kills:
    Body Count - 12
    Best Kills:
    Vera gets a harpoon in the eye, Jason's first kill in his newly acquired hockey mask.
    Andy gets hacked in half by Jason, who also likes to fold away his kills away nice and neatly, good boy Jason.
    Recalling the Kevin Bacon killing in the original 'Friday', a hiding Jason rams a knife up through an unsuspecting victim.
    Rick, the most useless leading man in the whole series, gets his head squeezed so tight his eyeball pops out, good riddance.

    Weapons used:
    Butcher Knife, crochet needle, pitchfork, hatchet, machete, harpoon gun, hot poker, knife, electrical box and Jason's bare hands.

    Standing there was this hideous looking man:
    Richard Brooker is Jason in part 3, a trained stuntman he later moved into television, directing 42 episodes of TV Series "Bill Nye the Science Guy".

    Best Friday moments:   
    "Hey the vans on fire", oh wait no it's just two stoners who may as well have packed their own body bags it's so obvious they're going to die.
    Meet Abel, crazy Ralph's replacement, when not sleeping on the road, he's showing off his body parts collection, that's a lovely eyeball you got their.
    Hmm where did I put those peanuts, oh yeah, there they are.
    Oh Shelly, your such a practical joker, there's no way this will come back to haunt you later.
    The motorcycle gang is the first ethnic group to appear in a 'Friday' movie, of course they are all criminals, nice one '80s American cinema.
    Debbie has a gander at some mags, hey isn't that an article on Tom Savini, the original effects artist on 'Friday 1', she's got good taste.
    The first appearance of Jason in his iconic hockey mask, bit far away though.
    The last remaining gang member gets his hand chopped off by a pissed off Jason.
    Jason takes a hatchet to the face, that's gotta hurt.
    Mrs. Voorhees makes a cameo, wasn't she decapitated the last time we saw her, this has to be the weakest of the surprise endings.

    Does someone crash through a window?
    This time Rick gets the honor of continuing a 'Friday' tradition by crashing through a window.
    The film took $9,406,522 its opening weekend, thanks to the added novelty of 3D. going on to make $36,690,067, a greater figure than the $21,722,776 of the second film.
    Money Matters:
    Budget $4,000,000 Gross $36,690,067
    To prevent the film's plot being leaked, the production used the fake title "Crystal Japan," after a David Bowie song. This began an on-again, off-again tradition of giving "Friday the 13th" films David Bowie song titles during filming.

    'Eviloution' of Jason

    Stage 3: Hockey Mask Jason

    My Top 20 Most Re-watched Movies

    Everybody loves lists right? This is the Internet after all. So I though it might be fun to list the movies I have revisited frequently over the years. Some of these flicks aren't even in my top 50, while others are just plain embarrassing. Good or bad, these are my go to movies, my chicken soup of 'filmic' goodness if you will. They perk me up after a hard days work, they make me laugh, and even cry, but most importantly they are just plain fun. That's what so great about these make believe stories we hold so dear, the characters, the emotions, and our own nostalgic fondness we instill in them. Anyway that's enough of my ramblings, lets begin the count down.

    Honorable mentions:
    The Devil Wears Prada (2004)
    Why the hell do I keep watching this movie? For me and my other half it's a flick we find ourselves regularly revisiting when we're in a funk. It's the complete antithesis from what I usually look for in a movie. There is no horror element, no badly dubbed ninjas, all you get is a hassled Anne Hathaway, a pickled faced Meryl Streep, and clothes, lots of clothes. I really don't get it, even this summary is making me want to pop in a copy, God help me!

    Evil Dead 2 (1987)
    This was one of the few movies back in the day I used to watch on repeat. To the teenaged brain, 'Evil Dead' 2 is pure unadulterated crack.

    Captain America: The Winter Solider (2014)
    The Marvel movie I find myself watching the most often, and yet if you were to ask me what my favourite Marvel flick is, it wouldn't be this one. So why am I continually drawn back to the 'Winter Solider'? Is it the opening siege on the boat that reminds me of 'Metal Gear Solid 2'? Or Nicky Fury's tension filled escape from Hydra? Maybe it's the badass character of the Winter Solider himself? Probably all these elements and more, and yet it isn't my fav', weird.

    20. Fight Club (1999)
    This was a big movie for my generation growing up. It perfectly echoed the feeling of being lost and uncertain we all felt during the '90s. The visuals, the amazing music, everything sings perfectly, David Fincher's best for sure.

    19. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
    Probably my favourite entry in the Haddonfield saga, I have watched this horror sequel a nauseating amount of times, this is pure nostalgia. I find 'Return Of' strikes the perfect balance between the slow buildup of 1, and the violent murders of 2, and man those creepy opening credits with the desolate farms and swaying scarecrows, just brilliant. Daniel Harris is also terrific, probably the best she has ever been.

    18. The Shape Of Things (2003)
    This is my go to flick for when I am feeling a bit misogynistic. Be it reeling from a bad brake-up, our generally feeling shitty about the opposite sex. The twist is so good, you should see it coming from the opening scene, the fact it's so abhorrent you probably think the movie won't go there, and yet it does.

    17. Sorority House Massacre (1986)
    I remember the exact moment I feel in love with this movie. I was off work for the day, lazily I dragged myself out of bed around 11 am and headed for a nearby shop. After securing my prize of a cholesterol stuffed role, I climbed back into bed and bathed in the warm glow of a fuzzy downloaded copy of this flick. The warm feeling of fullness emitted from my stomach, as I surrendered to the cheesy delight of this '80s slasher. Recently released on a stunning blu-ray, I continue to revisit it again and again, and yes I know it's terrible.

    16. (500) Days of Summer (2009)
    Another movie that has grown on me over the years. the music is amazing, Joseph Gordon Levitt is probably the best romantic lead ever, and he doesn't even get the girl. Another go to in a crises flick.
    15. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters  (2007)
    This is probably my favourite movie at the moment, every time I feel like shit, or need the world to seem right, I pop this in. A perfect blend of retro gaming, competitive dick measuring, and the craziness of nerd culture.

    14. Singles (1992)
    'Singles' takes me back to the first time I heard Nirvana, to grunge, long hair, ripped jeans and my youth, thank you 'Singles'.

    13. High Fidelity (2000)
    Every-time I watch this movie I immediately want to listen to my CD collection. 'High Fidelity' reminds us how essential music is in our lives.

    12. Chasing Amy (1997)
    Probably the best of Kevin Smith's marmite aesthetic we will ever see. A perfect meld of his weird dialogue, unreal characters, and dick and fart jokes. Still funny as fuck though.

    11. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
    Saw this at the cinema when it first came out, can't stop watching it ever since, prefer it to 'Scream', I am also insane by the way.

    10. Ghost in the Shell (1995)
    If you could hand a '90s kid his perfect movie distilled into animated form, this would be it. Amazing stuff.
    9. Halloween (1978)
    The first movie to properly scare me as a kid. I remember returning to bed after watching it, I could feel my breath quickening, I was now terrified of the dark, all thanks to Michael Myers. Of course that didn't stop me from watching the Hell out of it again and again.

    8. Legally Blonde (2001)
    To me this is the ultimate, "Hey looks what's on TV", now I have to stop what I am doing and watch this thing for the millionth time, movie ever.

    7. Curtains  (1983)
    'Curtains' has had me in a choke hold for the past 9 years, ever since I watched the most fuzzy washed out VHS rip imaginable. I don't really know why I love it so much? Is it Paul Zaza's perfectly creepy music? John Vernon's magnetic performance? The fact this came out on blu-ray is enough for me to never want anything in life again.

    6. Akira (1988)
    'Akira' still blows my mind, in-fact I only watched it again two weeks ago and man does it still grab me. The music, the visuals, nothing has aged, check out the blu-ray to further your experience with this influential masterpiece.

    5. The Wedding Singer (1998)
    Proof that when given the right material, Adam Sandler can be both funny and watchable. This, 'Happy Gilmore' and 'Punch Drunk Love' are just enough to suffer through years of shite like, 'Jack and Jill', only just.

    4. Friday the 13th (1980)
    I used to just randomly put this movie on as a kid, I still do, and it remains awesome.
    3. Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999)
    I had no idea what this movie was about when I first watched it, I remember hearing a lot of positive buzz when it hit home video and being intrigued. The night I rented it, I had a great triple bill of, 'South Park The Movie', 'Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas' and this. Out of the three 'Drop Dead Gorgeous' is easily my favourite. Even after all these years the comedy/characters still works, and the sheer madness of it all is still just as infectious.

    2. Mean Girls (2004)
    One of the most quoted flicks of the naughties, 'Mean Girls' is so much more than just another disposable teen comedy. For starters the screenplay is written by Tina Fey, one of funniest, smartest, cute-sexy women around - yes I have a thing for her. This is a hysterical, mean, whip-smart, biting look at teenage life.

    1. American Psycho (2000)
    After wearing out my original VHS tape, I decided the best thing to do was savour it as much I could. Now I only watch it once a year on my birthday, a tradition I have maintained for the past 5 years.

    Red Band Trailer For: The Neon Demon (2016)

    'The Neon Demon', is Nicolas Winding Refn's latest cinematic endeavor after the polarising, 'Only God Forgives'. It's hard to tell from the short snippets that have been released thus far what the actual movie will entail. It does look very similar in style to 'Only God Fogives', a film I must admit not really liking the first time I watched it. On later revisits I grew ever fonder of it, to the point now I hold it in higher estimation than the critically lauded 'Drive'. 

    In truth Refn was never going to be lured into the Hollywood commercial machine after 'Drive', like so many indie directors before him. No, he was always going to be different, his tastes and style are far too bizarre and violent for the general movie going public - imagine him helming a Marvel movie. I personally find his storytelling methods, and visuals, very similar to both Alejandro Jodorowsky - a known influence - and David Lynch, with a just a hint Kubrick. Now I don't think he has directed a film that can match those masters, as yet, still he has come very close over the years. Will the 'Neon Demon' be the movie to finally cement him as one of modern cinema's greats? Probably not. More than likely it will just further alienate those remaining fans who fell in love with 'Drive', and have wanted more of the same ever since. However the film turns out it will definitely warrant a viewing from any serious movie lover, I personally can't wait.