Throwback Thursday: ‘Black Christmas’ (1974) was a great slasher flick before slasher flicks were cool (Movie review)

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alloween” (1978) is often cited as the first modern slasher movie, but it didn’t emerge out of nowhere, with no influences. One of its most notable progenitors, well regarded among horror fans but not given enough credit in the wider world of film criticism, is “Black Christmas” (1974). Written by Roy Moore and directed by Bob Clark (“A Christmas Story”), it does everything “Halloween” would later do, but better.

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James Gunn-produced ‘Brightburn’ turns ‘Superman’ into a gory parental nightmare (Movie review)

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he New Mutants” has been drawing buzz for a few years for being a superhero/horror mash-up, but as it’s becoming increasingly unlikely that movie will ever be released, “Brightburn” – from James Gunn’s (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) production team – steps in. In the “Superman” and “Roswell” sagas, the kids from other planets are benevolent and the humans are potential threats, but “Brightburn” asks “What if the roles were reversed?”

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‘Midsommar’ is another beautiful and creepy-as-hell masterpiece from Ari Aster (Movie review)

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y accident, I’m the target audience for the theatrical re-release of “Midsommar.” It was one of the summer movies I was most looking forward to, but it was in and out of theaters in a tiny window, so I missed it. But I didn’t want to wait till Oct. 8 for the home video release. Probably the real impetus for the re-release, which is a director’s cut nearly as long as “Avengers: Endgame,” is to give horror nerds a chance to further soak up the latest artistic, moody masterpiece from writer-director Ari Aster (“Hereditary”).

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Throwback Thursday: ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ (2014) stretches one funny joke (seemingly) as far as it can go (Movie review)

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hat We Do in the Shadows” (2014) opens with a close-up of an alarm clock going off, followed by a hand reaching out of a coffin to turn it off. The film’s comedy of contrast – which we follow in various permutations for the next 90 minutes – is illustrated right away: vampire lifestyle mixed with the daily grind. While I admit that writer-directors Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi find various angles into their premise, the movie gets a little long in the tooth, and I suspect it plays better as a sitcom (Season 1 recently wrapped on FX), which benefits from shorter bursts of story.

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A second opinion: ‘Us’ is a boring piece of beautiful arthouse horror (Movie review)

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riter-director Jordan Peele’s “Us” reminds me of Alex Garland’s “Annihilation” (2018). Both are followups to a breakthrough piece of chilling sci-fi/horror that I and everybody else loved – “Get Out” (2017) in Peele’s case and “Ex Machina” (2015) in Garland’s. And in both cases, in my opinion, these followup efforts fall flat. Why? Well, it’s impossible to get into a filmmaker’s head. I’m tempted to say the filmmaker is aware of the expectation that he craft high art, and he tries too hard. That’s probably a case of me conflating my expectations with Peele’s – who is simply telling the stories he wants to tell — but I can’t deny that I found “Us” to be unengaging, overlong and even boring.

(For Summer’s positive and spoiler-light review of “Us,” click here.)

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‘The Perfection’ isn’t what you think it is, but it’s still a clever little horror gem (Movie review)

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he Perfection” (Netflix) has one of those trailers that seems to give away the whole movie, so after making the mistake of watching the trailer, I let it fade from my mind a bit before watching the film. As it turns out, this horror thriller from director/co-writer Richard Shepard – who has a lot of credits but not many “wow” credits before this – is only partly like the trailer suggests. “The Perfection” so smoothly toys with and contradicts our narrative expectations that I wonder why more movies don’t use this tactic.

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