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 Exterminator (1980)

The Exterminator is the very definition of Exploitation Cinema.

Landing somewhere between Rambo and Death Wish, it possesses the justifications of neither, adopting the latter’s quasi-fascist vigilante theme and basking in the thrill of the torture. As far as writer/director James Glickenhaus is concerned, poverty breeds paper-thin monsters who would serve well as target practice in an arcade shooter, and becoming a mindless serial killer is the only way to save humanity from stereotype-led damnation […]

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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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System Spotlight – Atari 7800

There aren’t many consoles I’ve ignored like the Atari 7800 ProSystem.

I’ve owned Atari’s 3rd foray into home console gaming for many years, but since my initial purchase along with a handful of games in the early 2000’s, I’ve rarely played it. This is largely due to a lack of nostalgia or any viable memories on my part. Officially released nationwide in 1986, the Atari 7800 had been in development since 1983. Atari wanted to quickly release a successor to the poorly received Atari 5200, correcting two of that console’s biggest mistakes […]

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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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The Best of Times the Worst of Times: Ranking the Original Friday the 13th Series

Love him or you loathe him, he can’t be denied. The indomitable Jason Voorhees: a cynical Halloween cash-in who Paramount would take a punt on time and time again, and they wouldn’t regret it. For more than a decade the scourge of Camp Crystal Lake was one of horror’s most profitable creations, and although he would later return for a Fred Kruger crossover and a couple of modern reboots, he will always be remembered for his original run, a 21-year period in which he racked up an incredible 129 kills […]

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