A Rebel’s Lens: John Carpenter’s Escape From New York

Snake Plissken is one of the great American antiheroes.

Everything about Kurt Russel’s most memorable character screams iconic. From his pirate eye-patch and cowboy snarl to his sneering distrust of all things authoritarian. Snake—who would become the inspiration for the first truly cinematic video game in Metal Gear Solid—is an amalgamation of heroic archetypes, a caricature who appeals to our basest fantasies and who approaches his valiance with an outward unwilling that speaks to our cynicism for authority, while also questioning the very definition of heroism in a political context […]

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Burning Hearts and Iron Curtains: Rocky IV and Cold War Propaganda

The appeal of Rocky Balboa is his status as a flawed everyman.

Back in 1976, director John G. Avildsen gave us the perfect underdog story. Backed up by an Oscar-winning screenplay by Stallone, Rocky was about community and togetherness, shining a sympathetic light on the poor and downtrodden and reminding us that, given the right attitude and determination, anything is possible. It also spoke of family values and the importance of perspective. Stallone was a revelation as the movie’s titular hero, a reluctant thug-for-high whose friendship with an insular store clerk set him on the path to self-discovery […]

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The Night He Strayed from Home: The Misdirection of Halloween 5

Making a Halloween sequel is an tricky task indeed.

Back in 1978, John Carpenter gave birth to the low-budget slasher craze with his bare bones tale of an escaped mental patient beset on revisiting the scene of a childhood crime. So cash-strapped were Carpenter and his crew that they cut the eyes out of a William Shatner mask and sprayed it white, fortuitously giving birth to a horror icon […]

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Tradition Evolved: Near Dark and The Vampire Revolution

Prior to the 1980s—with the exception of alternative vampire outings such as George Romero’s Martin and David Cronenberg’s sort-of vampire horror Rabid—there was very little in the way of genre deviation when it came to representing Western vampires onscreen.

Throughout the 60s and 70s, depictions of vampires tended toward the traditional, with Hammer Horror at the forefront of perpetuating the traditionally hammy genre template that favoured aristocratic, middle-aged evildoers comfortably ensconced in the Gothic revivalist period […]

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Disseminating Evil: Apt Pupil and the Darker Side of Humanity

Apt Pupil is one of those delightful movies in which the hunter suddenly becomes the hunted.

Of course, this is Stephen King at his macabre and intimate best, and although the character’s in Bryan Singer’s engrossing, bare bones adaptation are as familiar to us as the next human being, they possess all of the secrets and desires that fundamentally keep us strangers. This is anything but your typical good opposing evil morality play, and in many ways the movie’s central characters are not opponents at all […]

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Winding Convention: The Clockwork Precision of Brian De Palma’s Body Double

Brian De Palma has been accused of a great many crimes during his rich and varied career.

The first and most futile of those accusations is that the legendary filmmaker aped much of his style from the works of Alfred Hitchcock. This is true for the most part, but Hitchcock practically wrote the book on suspense. Would it not be wise, then, to borrow from the master? Or would it be wiser to create anti-Hitchcock films and flounder at the feet of proven convention? […]

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The Heart of the Dragon: Way of the Dragon

So far, my Odyssey of Bruce Lee has toured The Big Boss, a flawed film saved solely by Lee’s presence, and Fist of Fury (aka Chinese Connection), a fittingly grand revenge tale with jaw dropping-action.

Even though Fist of Fury was a huge improvement on The Big Boss, I felt the director, Wei Lo, still didn’t understand exactly what he had in Lee. Of course, the only person capable of understanding Lee’s full potential was the man himself, so it was fitting that for his next movie, Way of the Dragon, Lee parted ways with Wei and took directing into his own lightning fast hands […]

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Seeing Red: Swords, Sorcery and Sexism in Red Sonja.

The eighties were awash with fantasy films.

Some were excellent (Conan The Barbarian, The Princess Bride), some were flawed but entertaining, (Krull, Willow), while others were just boring or just downright awful (Hawk The Slayer, Conan The Destroyer). It was a glorious time for swords and sorcery fans, and though the quality may have been wildly variable, as a budding Tolkien fan obsessed with anything with even a passing resemblance to the fantastical that featured weird creatures […]

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