We are back and have gotten all the way to the letter M! Not only does M have some classics, we are also having the joy of having multiple parts in here. How many parts? Well we are going for the trilogy, so do not be sad if a favourite is missing this week. Anyway! Let’s see what horror films we have for you in the letter M: Part 1
Maniac Cop (1988)
A daft ridiculous film that is a true joy to watch for fans of 80s B-movies. Yet for all the humour here, it is still a slasher that works really well and has kills that will get you. This is a film that will have gone under the radar for many people, especially Bruce Campbell fans. He isn’t as caricature as we have seen before and that plays well for this performance, it is more of a straight man role. Go in expecting a fun B-movie and you will not be disappointed, high art horror this is not.
Mark of the Vampire (1935)
One of the great Tod Browning’s last pictures after the much hated (at the time) Freaks. We have horror greats Lionel Barrymore and Belo Lugosi taking the chance to eat as much scenery as possible thanks to Browning’s tremendous script. A remake of Browning’s silent film London After Midnight, we have a film made for sound era audiences, yet works best when the dialogue is gone. The film had 20 minutes cut from the film and while that does effect the overall film and make you wonder what could have been with the included footage, there is still a lot to love here. This is a treasure of a master director for the genre.
Marrowbone is a surprisingly underseen film considering where the majority of this young cast have gone on to be In Hollywood. The cast, as you expect excel in their roles and help carry the film whenever the story begins to falter. Without a doubt, the main strength here is emotion that runs through and the plan to make this more of an old school picture and not rely on modern horror tropes. A great horror that allows the slow build to work the audience expertly due to its non-generic nature.
We will straight up ignore the English language remake and focus on the Gallic torture that is this piece of nasty cinema. Not one for the faint hearted or those not fond of blood (for example I know my partner can never watch this film as she is guaranteed to faint. Despite the gore an torture porn in the film, it is an intelligent stylish film that has you gripped for our leads. A powerful film that takes no prisoners and that include the audience, who are left unsettled, which of course was the aim.
A black comedy that as we get to the third act decides to scrap the Comedy. Leaving us down a sad a descent into madness. As unsettling as a character study as there was in the horror genre in the early 2000s. For modern audiences this is one that again will have gotten by. May is a fresh film and proves that not all 2000 era films were of a poor quality. Angela Bettis is great and commits with this sympathetic character. Even when we get to the third act of the film. May is a film that would have done very well with today’s audiences and it is a shame that it was just a little before its time.
Our first introduction to Hannibal Lecter is in fact another film that doesn’t get the credit that it deserves. Everything here works very well, from Michael Mann’s visuals right down to the suspenseful performances. A lot will be mentioned about Cox’s Lecter, though in reality he is only here for a cameo. Forget remake Red Dragon (for some reason using the correct novel title) this is the version to watch. As soon as The Silence of the Lambs came out that Manhunter got forgotten to keep Anthony Hopkins iteration relevant.
A decent film that slightly fails when the script tries to over tend its aspirations. When really it should focus in more on the characters as that is when Mama works best. You become connected to the cast and in a way also the titular mama. It is an original concept, and a great look at who is your real family overrides the clichés that come through in the final act. The emotional core throughout is held together by our child actors who are wonderful as the abandoned sisters. While this is Andy Muschietti’s picture producer Guillermo Del Toro’s fingerprints are all over the place, for better or worse for the film.
Where we have films that focus more on suspense and chills, Mandy decides to go the other way. How much the other way? Well the poster is simply good ole Nic Cage covered in blood, so we have that. Speaking of Nic Cage, he is loving every single second of this madness. As an audience member it will be hard pressed to remove your eyebrows from the top of your head. This is a brutally strange film that has things in it that as a horror fan you could dream of but never imagine on screen. A gory joy.
Where Nic Cage had all the fun, Elijah Wood seems to be having just as much fun in this psychological slasher. For fans of needless gore, then you are in luck here. For those who are not fond of numerous scalping’s, then it might be better to skip this one. Maniac is all guts for glory and will make no apologies for it. We follow Wood as our villain of the piece who stalks and murders women. The interesting side of this film is that we see the majority of it from his first person perspective and this is a daunting experience for the audience. We can’t escape what he does and that makes for bold choices spread throughout. An original style and one to watch if you can hack it.
George A. Romero takes on the vampire genre and is this one of the most thoughtful vampire films released at the time. Another on this week’s list that is often forgotten for some reason unknown to me. This is a serious take on the vampire myth and it does create a lot of thought provoking ideas about the relations on a mythos that is glamorised. The flashbacks open the story up more and makes this a truly interesting piece of cinema and boy that ending. What happened to “The Count” indeed.
Richard Attenboroughs Magic is an uncomfortable slow burner hat perfectly utilises the trope of the ventriloquist and his dummy. Anthony Hopkins delivers a great performance that carries the film when it loses a bit of steam from William Goldmans self adapted book. There is no getting around that this is a creepy film and the styling of Hopkins and his dummy who multiplies that fact. For those who are not fans of dummies, you would do well to avoid. But, for fans this is a great watch and possibly even a fun double bill with some other doll focused films, you know the ones.
Steven Yeun and Tamara Weaving are great here and it wasn’t too suprising to see Weaving appear in more horror films after this. We have gone through a lot of slower paced films, so it is apt that we finish this week with a face paced ride that is very much in the dark and twisted fair. There is glee in the gore and ahem… mayhem… that the film has. This is a black comedy that is ample in laughs that are precisely timed. Did you have a bad day in your 9-5 work? There is no better film to enjoy about those in work who you hate than watching mayhem and thinking of what it would be like at your place of work…. A cathartic experience for the office worker.
That is our list for this week, come back next week for part two of three. Meanwhile have a gander down below for our previous editions.