Friday The 13th: Ashtray Dirt

Apologies for being quiet for a little while but here’s the latest round-up of stories that have been floating around the past 6 weeks…

To start, the first trailer for Gareth Edwards 2014 Godzilla has landed. A moody piece, its predominantly visual with little plot details given away (even though we’re all pretty sure we know what the story will be right?) but looks like it’ll wipe the floor clean of Roland Emmerich-related memories. The film has a UK release date of May 16th next year…

Insidious: Chapter 3 hasn’t started shooting yet but has had a release date announced of April 5th 2015. Leigh Whannell is reportedly on screenplay duties again, however it’s unclear as to whether or not anyone else involved with the first two films will be joining him or where the story will go…

Death Waltz Recording Co. will release the soundtrack to Slumber Party Massacre next year, with cover art by Luke Insect and sleeve notes from director Amy Jones…

A trailer has dropped for The Strange Colour Of Your Body’s Tears, the new feature from Amer director/writer duo Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani. The film, which has been a festival darling, has no theatrical or home entertainment release date as of yet but that should change soon…

Eureka Entertainment have announced a few of their 2014 home format releases; Computer Chess (Jan 20th), Kiss of the Damned (Jan 27th), Wings (27th Jan), Roma (17th Feb), John Dies At The End (17th Feb) and Serpico (24th Feb)…

One Way Static Records latest release, the soundtrack to The Hills Have Eyes, is now up for pre-order from their website

The new trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has dropped, with a hidden easter egg for the viral website Electro Arrives and a countdown to something. Sony have also announced today that two spin-off films focusing on Spidey’s foes Venom and The Sinister Six will be made, but no word of initial release dates yet…

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‘The Last American Virgin’ (1982) review

Cult Israeli coming-of-age film Lemon Popsicle gets its Western remake released to a new generation as The Last American Virgin is now available on Blu-ray and DVD for the first time in the UK. Heartache, embarrassment, competition and friendship all set to tunes of the 80s, American Virgin is your predictable teen movie fare, but still manages to find ways to charm its audience.

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Three friends (played by Lawrence Monoson, Joe Rubbo and Steve Antin) find out growing up is, of course, not easy as they navigate their way through an array of sexual encounters, drugs, parties, school and friendly rivalries. It’s nothing that hasn’t been seen before, or since, but still manages to be effective thanks to its cast, mainly Lawrence as sensitive lead Gary and Diane Franklin as the object of affection Karen, and its depiction of the consequences of casual unprotected sex and the ‘glamour’ of paid sex. Other than that, it’s your typical teenage experience staples, although by the time the end scene rolls on I defy many to not feel a slight pang of sadness in mutual feeling.

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Credit where credit is due, Arrow have put some excellent and extensive interviews together as part of the extras side of the home release package. There’s a real in-depth and personal feature with director Boaz Davidson who discusses in detail the process of updating and translating his Israeli original for a new audience, the production of American Virgin itself and his personal experiences that went on to influence the films. Also quite fun to watch are the two interviews with leads Lawrence Monoson and Diane Franklin who open up about the film, its affect on their careers and the cult appeal that surrounds the 80s picture. All rather frank and honest, it’s refreshing to hear those involved wax lyrical about their work with no boundaries or sugar-coating.  A worthy release of a good, if not dated, feature that’s worth picking up.

Creepshow (1982) Reviewed

Thirty years after it’s original release, George Romero‘s ‘Creepshow‘ is still a deliciously dark anthology full of macabre tales and comic dark humour. With a new Blu-Ray release thanks to Second Sight, the feature is as bright and bold as ever, with its comic book style aesthetics perfectly captured on screen.

CREEPSHOW [US 1982]

Written by Stephen King and starring a whole host of familiar names and faces from across cinema and genre film, ‘Creepshow‘ is one of those special films that transcends all ages. Whilst there are some rather dark moments, the film is essentially for both kids and adults, with the slapstick comedy and childlike escaping-reality-for-fantasy comic stories coming to like being the appeal for youngsters. Adults will no doubt like the, sometimes, very comedic touches that come out of the darkest parts of the stories. Revenge, monsters, murder, bad dancing (yes Ed Harris, you are most definitely guilty of this), it’s all there, with literally something for everyone in the form of fears, terror, phobias and characters like the excessive drunk, manipulative colleague, jilted lover and oppressive family members.

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If you’ve never seen the feature, or want to upgrade your DVD to high definition format, now is the time. The transfer looks positively stunning. Not only is the picture quality terrific but it enhances the entire experience. The colours of the comic style that the films homages are once again bright and sickly with Tom Savini‘s special effects looking devilishly beautiful. Whether it be your first time or a revisit, alone or with company, ‘Creepshow‘ is the way to go. They just don’t make anthology films like it anymore.

CREEPSHOW [US 1982]

Creepshow is out from Second Sight on 28th October, just in time for Hallowe’en, pre-order it here

Ashtray Dirt Volume 16

The BFI has announced the first wave of its Gothic season, which features a whole host of screenings and events. Taking inspiration from four different areas, October and November see’s focus on ‘the Monstrous’ and ‘The Dark Arts’. Films screening include Dellamorte Dellamore, The Beyond, Dracula, Werewolf of London, Suspiria, Faust, Vampyr, The Ghoul, Daughters of Darkness and Eyes Without A Face. Also appearing for events are Roger Corman, Dario Argento, Sara Karloff and George Romero…

Sean Cunningham has hinted that a Friday The 13th sequel might be shot in the spring and released in 2015, with a possible television or internet series also in the works…

Death Waltz Recording Co. have announced their latest future releases; The New York Ripper (with below cover art by Nick Percival), Goblin 2013 Tour EP (cover art by Graham Humphreys) and Room 237 (cover art by Sam Smith)…

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Insidious is becoming a franchise with a third chapter confirmed. Whilst James Wan won’t be returning to direct, Leigh Whannell (who wrote and starred in the first two) is rumoured to be writing the script…

London film soundtrack club night Reel Music have announced their Halloween event on November 2nd. Information and a link to buy tickets can be found on their Facebook page

Work has started again on remaking Park Chan Wook’s Sympathy for Mr. Vengence. Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Lost) is the latest director to be attached to the project…

The full line up for this year’s Sitges Film Festival has been announced. Running from October 11th to the 20th, the festival will play host to Mindscape, The Green Inferno, Only Lovers Left Alive, Kiss of the Damned and The Dirties, alongside opening film Grand Piano and closing film The Sacrament. Full details can be found on the official website

Roger Corman’s ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ (1960)

Back in 1960, American International Pictures took a gamble. Known for making low-budget black and white features to use in double bills, the company decided to make a larger budgeted colour film when they feared the market for the former was declining. The result was The Fall of the House of Usher (also known as the truncated House of Usher), scripted by Richard Matheson and the first in what would become a series of eight films that director Roger Corman would helm based on the work of author Edgar Allan Poe. Thanks to the lovely folk at Arrow, the film received its UK Blu-ray debut last month. And boy is it pretty.

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Usher tells the tale of a young Philip Winthrop (a slightly wooden Mark Damon) who travels to the desolate Usher mansion to visit his fiance Madeline Usher (a beautiful and eerie Myrna Fahey). There he meets Madeline’s brother Roderick (Vincent Price), who is opposed to idea of their union, believing that the Usher bloodline is cursed by some madness that will only continue if Madeline and Philip get married. Desperate to take her away from her brother, Philip manages to persuade Madeline to leave with him, but will Roderick, or the Usher mansion itself, let them?

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The film is a great watch, a slow burning tale of madness focusing of psychological decline and the influence of environments. The star is, of course, Vincent Price but the mansion itself gives its human cast a run for their money. Price might come across as a little camp in his portrayal but when faced with the force of the house’s presence, it’s a perfect fit. Thanks to the transfer that Arrow have released (taken from a restoration done by MGM), the mansions madness has never felt more real or looked so stunning. The colours are rich and, at times, sickly, the fog in the desolate swap that surrounds the property is more uninviting and foreboding and the large crack in the mansion’s wall casts a greater shadow over the players than ever before. Simply put, it brings the house back to life, cementing it as the real villain of the picture. One even had to remind themselves that Corman made the film on a $300,000 budget; the film here looks more lavish than any version I have watched previously, a testament to Corman’s, now well-known, ability to deliver well crafted films within monetary constraints.

Vincent Price in House of Usher, 1960.

If the quality and beauty of the films transfer aren’t enough to make you part with your cash, then the extras certainly should. All are worthy of their long running time; in-depth analysis and anecdotal history of various departments and the film’s production proving very informative. There are two brilliant interviews, one with director Joe Dante and one with horror expert Jonathan Rigby, which provide the most insight (covering everything from novel to film comparison, costume, set design, production history, score) and are well worth buying the release for. Also included is a great video essay exploring the film’s relationship to Poe’s original short story and a nice little archival interview with Price which shows him to be friendly, engaging, funny and polite. An audio commentary by Corman and collector’s booklet provide the standard extras that audiences expect from Arrow releases.

I’ve seen some who have argued that it’s not the most deserving of the Poe/Corman cycle to be released first but its a wonderful start, and a most deserving way to spend your cash and update your Blu-ray collection.

Ashtray Dirt 15

Kicking off with a sad point, director and writer Jose Ramon Larraz passed away this week. Best known for 1975 release Vampyres, Larraz also directed Whirlpool, The Coming of Sin and Black Candles. He was 84…

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The full line up for the London Film Festival has been announced. Films playing include Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave, Alfonso Cauron’s Gravity and Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive. The festival’s ‘Cult’ strand will also play host to The Sacrament, The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears, Grand Piano and All Cheerleaders Die. The full line up can be read on the official website

One Way Static Records have put up their release of the Last House On The Left soundtrack by David Hess for pre-sale. Formats include vinyl, cassette and digital…

Arrow have announced their November releases. Coming to Blu-ray will be Wes Craven’s The People Under The Stairs, Rabid Dogs aka Kidnapped, Philip Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Cinema Paradiso. All are available for pre-order…

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The first image for horror-comedy Cooties has dropped. Directed by Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion, written by Ian Brennan and Leigh Whannell and starring Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson and Alison Pill, Cooties is slated for a 2014 release…

It’s yet to be released, but it seems that Eli Roth is already working on a sequel to The Green Inferno. Titled Beyond The Green Inferno, Roth is likely to produce the feature and hinted that Nicolas Lopez (Aftershock) might direct…

David Cronenberg’s Shivers is getting the remake treatment, with Dutch director Rie Rasmussen apparently at the helm…

On the subject of remakes, a trailer has dropped for the new Robocop reboot…

Welsh horror film festival Abertoir have announced their participation in Wales After Dark. Part of the BFI’s Gothic Season, Wales After Dark will see  genre screenings and events happening across the country. A line up of the different events can be found here