Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Viewings: April 2024

So this is what being a filthy casual feels like. Missed both the Mastermind final and The Grand National.

Hardly got to watch any films in April, but on the positive tip, none of the handful of titles I watched annoyed me; that's a win, in my book. The Cairnes Brothers' Late Night with the Devil was the best film this month. Looking forward to revisiting their film again later this year.



Run and Kill (Billy Tang, 1993)*

Late Night with the Devil (Cameron Cairnes & Colin Cairnes, 2023/2024)*

Immaculate (Michael Mohan, 2024)*

Snack Shack (Adam Rehmeier, 2024)*



Doctor Who - 'Spearhead from Space' (Sydney Newman, 1963 - 2024)


* First time viewings. 

Dada Debaser Notes:

  • Convinced Simon Yam's psychotic villain in Run and Kill is based on Sean Bean's character from Patriot Games (1992) taken to the extreme. Run and Kill has one of the most shocking kills I've watched in a while. Completely deserves its Cat. III status.
  • Adam Rehmeier's ode to the early nineties, with his coming of age comedy, Snack Shack, isn't really in the same league as his prior film, Dinner in America (2021). However, it's way better than last year's celebrated films like Bottoms (2023) and No Hard Feelings (2023).
  • Despite the cheap jump scares, Immaculate turned out to be an unexpectedly fun religious horror. That ending was absolutely crazy. 

Not by choice, but I watched some awful Greek television. Imagine my surprise hearing the one tune that's just as fondly remembered as Goblin's score from Dawn of the Dead (1978) being on some braindead sitcom.

Herbert Chappell - The Gonk
Seeing and Doing, 196(?)

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

TV Hell

Late Night with the Devil (Cameron Cairnes & Colin Cairnes, 2023/2024)

Turns out the Cairnes Brothers' Late Night with the Devil (2023/2024) was worth the wait after my post regarding it.

Set on Halloween night in 1977, Late Night with the Devil kicks off with an introduction (narrated by the awesome Michael Ironside) to the seventies cultural zeitgeist, along with the background of its protagonist, chat show host Jack Delroy (David Dastmalchian). 'Night Owls' is an ailing late night chat show struggling with its ratings. Thus, a spooky Halloween gimmick is utilised to attract more viewers. This scenario results in a gradual descent into supernatural horror. If the set-up sounds a lot like the fantastic Ghostwatch (1992), that's because it takes obvious insipration from it; including a spin on Mr. Pipes.

Late Night with the Devil is a fun and wild ride throughout its lean ninety or so minutes run time (take note, editors!). Watching how events spiral from oddly uncomfortable to abject horror from start to finish, is what makes this such an entertaining work. It's fun watching Dastmalchian's performace switch infront of the camera and during the black and white behind footage; a novel format that I wasn't sure about at first, but quickly won me over. 

It's entertaining watching Dastmalchian's protagonist react to the oddball guests on the show; ranging from the hammy psychic, the paranormal debunker, and the parapsychologist with her patient - a demonically possessed teenage girl! Also really dug the host's sidekick, Gus McConnell (Rhys Auteri). Watching him grow increasingly disturbed to out right sticken with fear during various scenes was hilarious.

The technical use of various screen formats to seperate the live broadcast, behind the scenes footage, and the cinematic scenes, was an intelligent way for the viewer to consume these details. Along with the retro style set and vintage wardrode, the various television idents that appear, were also a nice aesthetic touch reflecting its period setting. These elements lend some real authenticity to its setting and makes it stand out from various other horror films set in the past which have failed to capture a nostalgic era from the past. Those films, like the V/H/S franchise for instance, come across as very amateurish and film schooly in comparison to Late Night with the Devil's meticulous attention to detail and execution.

Another attractive component to the film is Jack Delroy's intriguing backstory: His rise to celebrity fame is offset with the tragic death of his beloved wife. These two factors are interlinked with his involvment with a shadowy cabal consisting of powerful figures, worshipping a carving of an owl out in a secluded forest; reminscent of Bohemian Grove. Not a tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorist, but I absolutely love Faustian pact tales and secret societies in my movies, therefore, I feel me and Alex Jones might have the same love for Late Night with the Devil.

The charm of the film is it how it initiates this awkward atmosphere of a live television show going wrong and escalating into a sense of dread and eventual insane horror. It's amusing hearing the house band performing while being obviously rattled events going. The awkward laughs and applauses from the audience is another example. It's the kind of stuff I want to witness from a live television show going completely off the rails and Late Night with the Devil achieves that with a chef's kiss.

Overall, this is completely my kind of zone when it comes to horror. The lack of actual recognisable television presenters, like in Ghostwatch, might hinder it in terms of verisimilitude, but it's a notable effort in terms of striving for a sense of authenticity, nonetheless. Such a shame the film is a spring release instead of around the time of October, as its conceptual theme is perfect for the autumnal Halloween festivities. In this regard Late Night with the Devil is the best Halloween themed film since Deadstream (2022), and would make for a superb double-bill with it.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Servizio Fanatico

Sydney Sweeney may very well be the hottest name in Hollywood right now, but Michael Mohan, director of Immaculate (2024), appeared in the recent Severin cellar video and talked a good one about various other films; hence he's the real reason I gave this nun themed horror a look in.

Don't have the time to delve into the film with a full review, other than to say I liked it, despite the tediously excessive jump scares and a plot that needed a little more refining. Nowhere near as great as Benedetta (2021), but way better than the horrid The Nun II (2023), which was amongst the worst films I watched last year.

As a fan of giallo cinema and Italian horror, it warmed the cockles of my heart hearing Bruno Nicolai's Servizio Fotografico, originally taken from The Red Queen Kills Seven Times (1972) soundtrack, in a montage scene from Immaculate where it fitted incredibly well. A film nerd moment which isn't cringeworthy doesn't happen too often, so it earned some props from me. It's also a nice change hearing it in an Italian style horror again after Arctic Monkeys horribly hijacked it.

Bruno Nicolai - Servizio Fotografico
The Red Queen Kills Seven Times OST (1972)

Friday, April 19, 2024

Scream! And Scream! Again

The pantheon of British comics which really struck the right notes of interest for your host were 2000AD, Eagle and the very shortlived Scream! Regrettably, the latter only lasted for fifteen issues because of a printers strike. Thankfully, a couple of the stories lived on by continuing in Eagle later on.

Scream! was a contemporary British take on the infamous EC Comics stories which achieved notoriety in the 1950s thanks to Dr. Frederick Wortham's scaremongering book, The Seduction of the Innocent. As a young 'un, Scream! was a great accompaniment to all the Hammer and Amicus films I would stay up late for with stories like The Dracula File, Monster and best of all The Thirteenth Floor.

Would love to grab the new collected hardback celebrating the comic's fortieth anniversary, but the price keeps yo-yoing up and down, putting me off. This time around, I hope it stays in print long enough to cop it.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Taking All That Jazz

David Shire - The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (Main Theme)
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three OST, 1974)

Theoretically, David Shire's bombastic score for Joseph Sargent's classic heist thriller The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) possesses a bunch of weird elements that would never click for me on their own: the roucous big brass band soundling like the New York Philhamornic Orchestra was dumped in a rough part of the city; the dizzying and off key electronic keyboard evoking some form of distress; and of course those ominous drums being perfectly suited for a grand entrance theme for any boxer walking to the ring. Yet all these bizarre elements work fantastically well as the soundscape to the dirty urban decay and ugliness of its denizens living in the Rotten Apple. Perfection.

Other Great Tunes Produced for NYC Set Movies:

Isaac Hayes - Theme from Shaft (1971)

Curtis Mayfield - Freddie's Dead (1972)

Bobby Womack - Across 110th Street (1972)

James Brown - Down and Out in New York City (1973)

Bernard Herrmann - Theme from Taxi Driver (1976)

Barry De Vorzon - Theme from The Warriors (1979)

Joe Delia & Artie Kaplan - Ms .45 Dance Party (1981)

John Carpenter & Alan Howarth - The Duke Arrives/Barricade (1981)

Roberto Donati - NYC Main Title (1981)

Francesco De Masi - New York One More Day (1982)

Jay Chattaway - Vigilante Main Theme (1983)

Grandmaster Caz - South Bronx Subway Rap (1983)

Public Enemy - Fight the Power (1989)

Eric B. & Rakim - Juice (Know the Ledge) (1991)

Crooklyn Dodgers - Crooklyn (1994)