Monday, October 31, 2011

The 50 Scariest Movies of All Time

As a Halloween treat today I want to highlight film critic Glenn Kenny's list of "The 50 Scariest Movies of All Time" that was posted to as a photo slideshow.

Normally I'm a bit dismissive of lists like this, but from the start at #50, you'll see why I'm sharing it here. Whereas most "top X of all time" lists seem to be written by people with memories that cover only the past 15 or 20 years, Kenny does review the whole gamut of horror cinema with his list. Universal and Hammer horror, Mario Bava, Georges Franju, J-horror, Nosferatu, Coffin Joe, Herschell Gordon Lewis, and even Dreyer's Vampyr -- I can't fault a list with entries like these. On his blog he confesses to the one film he forgot and left out. Crucial to the success of this list is the overriding philosophy that "scary" does not automatically mean bloody slasher violence. Much more often it is the threat, or the unseen threat lurking, left to the imagination, that can cause real terror in the aisles.

Any others that he left out of the list? What are your favorites?
To give you an idea of the range of the audience MSN Movies is addressing, I'm told that the gallery got something like 20 million page views first day up. Any day I can possibly get 20 million people interested in Mario Bava and Jose Mojica Marins isn't a bad one. -- Glenn Kenny

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Free DriveThruRPG treats (and tricks) for Halloween

Just saw the post on Stargazer's World about the 13 Halloween freebies available at DriveThruRPG. Click around the site for hidden pumpkins and find a random treat (or trick!). Plenty of horror-themed goodies among the list of found items so far.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Different cover art for Destroy All Monsters

Why does Mothra get top billing?
An interesting story about the cover art for Media Blasters' DVD and Blu-ray re-issue of Destroy All Monsters can be found at Sci-Fi Japan. The cover that was released for distributors -- and is still in use on Amazon -- is a temp cover. The actual cover is the original 1968 Japanese poster art. Good news! For comparison, the US poster from AIP is at the left.

The original soundtrack CD is out November 8th.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Brainstorming a list of game management ideas

The following are the total contents of a Word file titled "General Game Ideas" from my RPG folder. The file is dated New Year's Eve, 2006. I think I just started free-typing and this was the result: 
  • Get agreement from the group (vote?) concerning character danger/death
  • Character background as ~3 Hooks
  • Request for “what the player considers a good role-playing experience”
  •  Request for “what the player wants for his/her character”
  • Request for “what sorts of events and encounters the player wants in the game”.
  • Request for “what sorts of events the player doesn't want to see.”
  • Have two or three scenarios prepared before each session.  Tell players that they can go anywhere, but if they go too far on a tangent, then ask for time to prepare.
  • Create 10-20 cool set pieces or locations that come immediately to mind in the campaign world.
  • For the beginning of the game:
    • Have the players point to a spot on a map to begin.
    • Have the players decide how they want to begin.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Film critic David Edelstein subbing this week on Turner Classic Movies

On my short list of dream jobs, one near the top is introducing the movies on TCM (or perhaps writing the introductions). Read David Edelstein's short blog post about substituting for Robert Osborne this week -- a week that includes four horror movies that shaped his life -- here.

Monday, October 17, 2011

It's official: Criterion Godzilla

The Criterion Collection made their official January title announcements on Friday, and among all the great films listed is the 1954 original Gojira, also known as Godzilla, King of the Monsters. It appears that it will be a hi-def digital restoration from one of Toho's interpositive prints.  Long rumored for years, and often times thought to be wishful fan thinking, this DVD and Blu-ray release is the more important of two recent kaiju events, the other being the possibility of getting the AIP audio track for Destroy All Monsters.

Check out the product page for more detail on the specs. The U.S. version is confirmed as an extra. Criterion is creating a new hi-def transfer of Godzilla from a 35mm fine-grain print in the hands of a collector, and it should look like an entirely different film compared to the poor-quality video transfer that has been used for years. More information about that is on August Ragone's blog.

It's great to see Ishiro Honda take his place among other great Japanese directors like Kurosawa, Ozu, Oshima and Suzuki in the Collection.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

More upcoming British horror films on DVD

Peter Sasdy was born in Budapest, but made his career as a film and TV director in England -- notably with three films for Hammer: Taste the Blood of Dracula, Hands of the Ripper, and Countess Dracula with Ingrid Pitt. After these, he hit his stride as a director of thrillers, including Nothing but the Night in 1973.

Going into the 1970s, it was clear that the glory days of Hammer were past, and several members of that community were looking for new opportunities. Christopher Lee formed his own production company, Charlemagne Productions, with producer Anthony Nelson-Keys, in the hopes of creating interesting science-fiction and horror films with intelligent scripts. Charlemagne's first -- and only -- film, Nothing but the Night, teams Lee with his long-time friend Peter Cushing and Diana Dors in a thriller about possessed children on a remote island. It's finally out on DVD next week from Scorpion Releasing. Extras include a trailer and liner notes by Cushing biographer Christopher Gullo.

Countess Dracula has previously been available on an MGM Midnite Movies double-feature disc with the other Ingrid Pitt vampire film, The Vampire Lovers. Synapse Films is currently in the middle of releasing several Hammer films as Blu-ray/DVD combo packs, and plans to offer Countess Dracula next year after finishing Twins of Evil and Hands of the Ripper.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Upcoming Godzilla DVDs (and Blu-ray)

Now that October is here, the season of monsters, I thought I better post some DVD release news that I've been sitting on for weeks, before it's no longer news. I've mentioned these before, and now it's official with pre-orders and release dates.

Destroy All Monsters is getting a DVD re-release and its first Blu-ray release on October 25th from Media Blasters. This is great news, as MB has done terrific work on a host of Toho kaiju and sci-fi flicks in their Tokyo Shock line, including The Mysterians, Matango, Latitude Zero and many others. It was previously released on DVD by the now defunct anime label ADV Films. I have read elsewhere that the cover art MB chose was used on a Japanese DVD of Ghidorah The Three-Headed Monster.

A commentary track by kaiju experts Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski appears to be just the starting point for the extra supplements on this disc. Some cryptic posts on Media Blaster's Facebook page has lead many to believe that one of the two English dubs on the disc will be the superior American International Pictures audio track done by Titra Studios. An official release with the AIP track has been a Holy Grail for kaiju fans.

The real surprise is the Media Blasters' release of Godzilla vs. Megalon on DVD and Blu on November 22nd. This was a staple of discount store tape bins in the VHS era, and it seemed unlikely that a company would want to license it for an official release. The terrible public domain prints released on tape damaged Megalon's reputation over the years. It's not a Destroy All Monsters; however, there are some neat things happening in this underrated movie, especially the robot Jet Jaguar. I'm excited about finally seeing the original Japanese version of this childhood classic.