Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) - dir. Tim Burton
Nightmare Before Christmas continues Tim Burton's exploration
of the outsider who thinks that he wants to be part of the world
of the "normals" but then discovers through traumatic
interaction that his nature is not compatible with theirs. Jack
Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown, stumbles upon
the world allocated to Christmas, and decides to understand it
by doing it better. So he kidnaps "Sandy Claws" and
makes the various monstrous denizens of his holiday world turn
their talents toward Christmas production, with amusingly disastrous
results. This animated film is amazingly rendered in technologically
updated techniques mastered by George Pal in his puppetoons. There
is a European sensibility of Caligarian angles and Cray-like characters
that is nothing sort of stunning. Danny Elfman has wrought a deft
score with delightful songs (he quite wonderfully sings Jack's
role himself). Particularly fun is the "Making Christmas"
song with Dies Irae melodic refrain. This should certainly prove
to be a new classic that will make an appearance every Halloween.
[- Peter H. Gilmore]
Ninth Gate (1999) - dir. Roman Polanski
tagline to this occult thriller is "The only thing more terrifying
than searching for the Devil... is finding him." Sounds tried
and true and easy enough, but as with Polanski's Satanic romp
on "Rosemary's Baby," the Devil may not be quite what
Based on the novel "The Club Dumas," the film follows
the tale of shady and downright vile book-dealer Dean Corso (Johnny
Depp). Corso is hired by millionaire book collector and occultist
Boris Balkan (Frank Langella) to track down an ancient text called
"The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows" which is
supposed to be able to summon the Devil himself.
The first thing you'll notice about the film is its highly-stylized
look. The aesthetic sense of the movie is pure gothic beauty.
Filmed mostly in France, the sets are a sight to behold, especially
the many dusty libraries and castles. The score by Wojciech Kilar
is excellent. Kilar is the master hand behind the haunting soundtrack
to "Bram Stoker's Dracula" and, for fans of his work,
its worth noting that the DVD gives the option to listen to a
music-only version of the film.
As Corso digs deeper into the history and whereabouts of the fabled
book, the movie begins to unlock in true puzzle-box style, leading
to murder, sex, "satanic" rituals and eventually...
well... that'd be telling.
Not being of the generation to see "Rosemary's Baby"
on the Big Screen, coming out of The Ninth Gate
was one of the best experiences I've had in movie-going history.
Watching the confused, unnerved and, in one or two rare cases,
ecstatic faces after seeing the ending of the film was worth the
price of time and admission.
As always, Polanski is a master of the trapezoidal laws of film.
As Depp mentioned in an interview for the film "...within
the first three minutes of a Polanski film, you feel some kind
of uneasiness..." That uneasiness carries throughout the
film as the story takes its time in drawing out the pieces and
keeping the viewer enthralled, whether he wants to be or not.
[- Warlock West]
Live In Osaka (2003) - Caciocavallo
making its way around the video bootleg circuit over the past
10+ years, we now have this infamous concert on DVD (and don’t
have to worry any longer about our old VHS copies wearing down).
This seven-track live performance from NON (whose incarnation
on this disc is comprised of Boyd Rice, Rose McDowall, Tony Wakeford,
Douglas Pearce, and Michael Moynihan) took place on the 3rd of
July 1989 in Osaka, Japan, and truly captures NON’s frequent
visit into martial and “occult fascist” territory,
with favorites such as Total War, Might Is Right, and others.
If you weren’t old enough -- or simply not in Japan at the
time -- this performance is a must-see for those wishing to get
a taste of Satanism (for once) represented proudly and productively
on a music stage. Also included in this package are extras such
as Rice’s two film shorts (Invocation, and Black Sun), as
well as two photo galleries, and a print copy of his European
“tour diary.” And, of course, one of the real treats
here is the audio commentary by Rice as an option while you view
the performance, with some great insider information on much that
transpired. DVD is Region 0 as well, so many of you outside Region
1 can enjoy it as well. For more info, visit www.boydrice.com
and click on the “Filmography” link.
[- Matt G. Paradise]
The Vampire (1922) - dir. F. W. Murnau
[on CoS Video List]
A name that conjures mixed images of fear, lust and dread throughout
the world. The character, created by Bram Stoker in 1897 and based
on the historical figure of Vlad Tepes (or Vlad the Impaler) has
survived the ravages of time as only the lord of vampires can
and this first film vision of the tale has survived despite the
odds against it. Rather than recount the tale as any Satanist
worth his salt already knows the story, I'll give a brief history
of the film and a few tidbits on the story from Murnau's vision.
When F.W. Murnau first got the idea to make a film adaptation
of Dracula, Stoker's widow refused him the rights. Whether this
was because she wanted to milk more money from Murnau or because
she didn't want the film to be made is unclear. Undeterred, Murnau
changed the names of the characters, made a few plot changes and
went ahead with the movie anyway. Obvious to all but the most
obtuse viewer, Nosferatu is the Dracula story,
and Mrs. Stoker wasn't amused. She sued and had an order issued
that all copies of the film were to be destroyed. Obviously, since
I'm writing this review, copies have survived.
Murnau's telling of the tale centers around one of the most interesting
takes on Dracula ever to hit film. Count Orlock, played with perfection
by Max Shreck, is a deformed, bald creature with two protruding
rat-like teeth, long pointed ears and claws on his hands. Yet,
despite his frightening appearance, Orlock still seduces the helpless
Mina using his powers. It makes for a more eerie visual than the
dapper versions of the Count that modern filmgoers are used to.
The image of Orlock's hideous shadow creeping up the stairwell
will forever be what I think of when I think of a vampire.
Murnau made some wonderful changes to the tale, some of which
changed the vampire mythos to this day. An interesting change
which should be immediately noticeable to modern viewers of the
oft-told tale is Murnau's decision to remove all Christian symbolism
from the movie. You'll not see the Vampire fleeing from the crosses
of Dr. Van Helsing (Bulwer in this version). In fact, Murnau has
turned Van Helsing, who was a major player in Stoker's story,
into a footnote in Nosferatu. And, Orlock meets
his doom, not at the end of a stake, but because he feeds too
long and is struck down by the dawn's first light. I might also
be nice to point out that this is the first time in history that
this now-canon way of destroying a vampire was ever used. Stoker's
Dracula, while weakened by sunlight, was able to travel by day
In the end, this movie stands the test of time, whether you're
a fan of the silent era or not. There are countless DVD versions
available for the interested collector. One note I'll make for
those seeking to enjoy this film for the first time is for you
to find a version that's in its original color, rather than black
and white. Murnau used a blue tint for night and a sepia tone
for day. Otherwise, it seems as if Orlock is parading around in
full daylight in parts of the movie and the ending may not seem
as clear. And get one with a musical score than you enjoy. Some
of the more modern versions use a gothic sound, but the purist
in me prefers the obviously scratchy recordings as a backdrop.
Whatever your preference, grab this movie, turn down the lights
and prepare to be chilled.
[- Warlock West]