The Night of the Hunter (1955, Charles Laughton)

October 9, 2014

Danny- Oh dear readers, what a way to start off the countdown!! Charles Laughton, golden age Hollywood actor, directed only one movie in his life and this was it. The Night of the Hunter is a film the Joe has been telling me to watch for years. I’m here to say that I was a fool for not listening to him. This film is one of the best pieces of art I have ever had the pleasure to view in my entire life. I know what you’re thinking, “wow, really selling that shit aren’t you?” Yeah, Yeah I am. Rarely have I seen a film that’s aesthetic value is as great as the story and the social commentary. Let’s start with the visual style. If you are a frequent reader of our blog or a personal friend, you’ll know that both Joe and I are huge fans of the German Expressionism art movement of the 1920’s. These silent films use visual distortion of reality to convey mood. Notable films in the movement include Metropolis, Nosferatu, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and M. These achieve a very surreal distortion of reality by employing a few different methods including; asymmetrical and geometrically distorted set pieces, high contrast dark and light visuals (chiaroscuro, for all you art geeks), low key lighting, and dynamic use of shadows. All of these things are played with to convey various moods. German Expressionism directly gave rise to the American Gothic Horror films, (Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolfman ect.) and Film Noir (Double Indemnity, The Big Sleep, The Maltese Falcon). I would always joke to Joe about making our own German Expressionism piece, and he would second the motion. We talked about giving new life to the art form and bringing it to the English Speaking world again (because we are that cool). I said all these things not knowing that Charles Loughton did that very thing in 1955. The Night of the Hunter was a box office flop and was not very well received by audiences or critics at the time. That’s all fine and good because it quite clear that this movie was either way ahead of its time or way behind. This film uses Expressionism to create what I can only describe as an American fairytale nightmare. It tells the story of a young boy whose father robbed and back and was hung for murdering two people in the process. While in prison he meets a mysterious man who claims himself to be a preacher. The Preacher finds out that only the man’s small children know the location of the stolen $10,000. When he is released from prison he sets out to reclaim the money. This film is really a scathing critic of American society, (which hasn’t changed as much as we like to think since the 1950’s in some respects) it challenges the roles of women, the way in which children are treated by society and also the way religion is used to control people in various ways.

I knew it was gonna be hard to not just write a paper on this movie instead of just a mini review and I was totally right. This is the best movie I have seen in a very long time. It speaks across the generations and delivers a message that is still relevant today. This is the only American art film from this particular area that I have seen that can stand toe to toe with it foreign contemporaries (Ingmar Bergman and the like). Not only does it have and amazing story and social commentary its visual style is downright breathtaking. During this film I said to Joe, “Every frame of this movie is like a painting that I would hang in my house.” Seriously see this fucking movie.

I am very proud to give this film a 10/10

Joe –

The Night of the Hunter is one of the most unique films I’ve ever seen. It defies classification, but if pressed I’d call it a gothic horror fairy tale which owes a huge debt to German Expressionism. I could write a paper on the cinematography alone. It expertly blends realism and surrealism. At times buildings appear too long and obtuse, while shadows appear stretched and out of proportion. At the same time the essence of Night of the Hunter is very real and American. The story addresses and comments on religion, power, and gender roles in society. These are all themes that are very American at heart. This film was released in 1955 and was truly ahead of it’s time. The story is told through the eyes of two children, whose father leaves them stolen cash, before he is imprisoned and hung. The Hunter (Robert Mitchum) then enters the film and woos the newly widowed mother of the two children. He does this to try and get close to the children in order to figure out where their father’s money is. The world that is portrayed in this film is dark and twisted. As one character says, “It’s a hard world for little things”. The children try to get away from the Hunter, but are again and again chased down and forced to run again. Robert Mitchum’s character becomes the embodiment of evil as he continuously haunts the children. There is no safety in Night of the Hunter. Only temporary respite, before another nightmarish encounter. This is what really brings the horror to the movie. We see the world through the eyes of these children and see how helpless they are. The adults around them are either blind to the evil following them or completely helpless to stop it. The Hunter is religious to a fault and believes a woman’s job in this world is to bear children and that’s it. However, there is a hypocrisy that lies underneath these surface values. We soon realize that the Hunter doesn’t believe what he’s saying. He’s simply saying what he has to in order to empower himself further. The Hunter is a monolithic giant that embodies traditional American values and power structures. He is an unstoppable giant that steamrolls past everyone and everything. However, at the end of the film a confrontation takes place in which someone finally stands up to the Hunter. It is a powerful commentary on the power of the individual. Change can happen, but not if the people are blind to what needs to be changed. This review has barely touched upon the surface of what The Night of the Hunter has to offer and I strongly urge you to check it out for yourself! Sadly, this movie was a flop in 1955 and Charles Laughton (the film’s director) never made another movie again and died seven years later. The Night of the Hunter endures though and it still holds up as a unique masterpiece that was decades ahead of it’s time.





Horrathon 2014: Horror International

October 7, 2014

I know what you’re thinking, it’s October already and Off The Edge hasn’t been posting for their annual Halloween Horror countdown. Well we’re totally still doing it, better later than never I guess. Our list this year is mostly films from around the world (countries that still make actual horror films) because The English speaking world seems to not be able make decent ones these days. A few of these are supposed to be really really disturbing so watch along at your own risk.

1. The Night of the Hunter (1955)

2. Maniac (2012)

3.Pandorum (2009)

4. Troll Hunter (2010

5. Frontier(s) (2007)

6. Macabre (Darah) (2009)

7. Calvaire (2004)

8. Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010)

9. The Collection (2012)

10. August Underground (2001)

11. Irreversible (2002)

12. Resolution (212)

13. Confessions (2010)

14. Man Bites Dog (1992)

15. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

16. Shivers (1975) “They Came From Within”

17. Visitor Q (2001)

18. They Eyes Without a Face (1960)

19. Sleep Tight (2011)

20. Extracted (2012)


The Stuff (1985. Larry Cohen)

October 11, 2012


The Stuff is a  B-Movie for the 1980’s that has since gained a cult following. This is one of those really outrageous horror comedies from the 80’s that I just love to watch. They may not have the best plot or acting, but they always have some cool old school gore effects and are just incredibly entertaining. Regardless if you find movies like this scary or not they are really fun to watch. My favorite of the gorefest horror comedies of the 80’s is probably Re-Animator, which I wrote a review for in a past movies for Halloween. Read it here if you feel so inclined.

The Stuff is about a mysterious white slime that oozes from the ground and is eventually marketed to the public as a new low calories dessert. The Stuff is marketed everywhere. It is almost like how you would see something like Coca Cola being advertised back in the day. The shit is everywhere. Throughout the movie you see tons of different advertisements. We see television ads, billboards, merchandise, radio ads. The public is just inundated with the Stuff. The problem with The Stuff is that not only do people who eat it become hopelessly addicted to it, but it eventually begins to control your mind. There is one really funny scene where a man states that he feeds The Stuff to his dog, a huge Rottweiler, and the dog turns on him because he’s addicted to The Stuff. The way The Stuff is marketed is obviously a parody for conspicuous consumption as part of American culture, which was  at an all time high in the 1980’s. The Stuff itself can be an allegory for many things. I for one kind of thought it may be an allegory for the spread of conservatism the took over the country under Reagan. There are also obvious parallels between The Stuff and drugs and tobacco. There is one scene where two of the main characters are talking about how they marketed a product to people even though they knew it was addictive. There is a huge ad for Camel Cigarettes in the background of the shot. Subtlety.

Whatever the Allegory in The Stuff may be it is still a good movie and a really fun watch. Its funny and there are a lot of cool old school effects to be seen. 7.5/10


The Stuff is a really fun, off the wall horror movie, that will have you checking the ingredients of whatever you eat for dinner next. We open with a shot of white goo oozing out of the earth in a snow filled valley. Several workers happen upon it and do what any sane person does when they are confronted by an unfamiliar object…they eat it. And of course, they love it. The film then jumps ahead and we get to the real meat, or Stuff, or the story. The film follows Michael Moriarty, (David ‘Mo’ Rutherford) who is a slick talking  former FBI agent, who gets hired by the failing ice cream industry to find and destroy The Stuff. And that’s about it. We follow Moriarty from the beginning to the end of his investigation and along the way we see some pretty messed up…stuff.

This movie is clearly an allegory for a consumer culture that will literally eat anything as long as it tastes and sounds good. The Stuff is advertised, as seen above, as having “no artificial ingredients”. However, that doesn’t mean it’s good for you as those who consume The Stuff become addicted to it and eventually rot from the inside out. I really like this movie because it walks a really fine line between horror and comedy. Some scenes are absolutely hilarious, while others feature some surprisingly well done practical effects  that show just how much damage The Stuff does to a person. Like Danny said, you can find numerous allegories for The Stuff in real life. This movie is also still very relevant as we still are a culture obsessed with consumption and cheap, good tasting food. The only problems I really had with the movie was that they introduce the origin of The Stuff too soon. I would have loved to go through the entire film never knowing what or where The Stuff came from until the end. Their is also a sub plot with a little boy who realizes The Stuff is bad for you that gets a little old after awhile. However…

The Stuff is funny, violent, and irreverent. It’s definitely worth a watch and is just a lot of fun. It’s message is also relevant and still great social commentary, even today.


Watch The Stuff here on Netflix instant play

Them (2006. David Moreau & Xavier Palud)

October 9, 2012

Joe-I normally am not a huge fan of PG-13 horror films. This is because the PG-13 rating is so constrictive and limiting. Language? Sex? Graphic violence? Not gonna happen. And lets be honest, those are the things that make horror films what they are, especially when the vast majority of horror films deal with teenagers or college students. The PG-13 rating also immediately lets you know what you will be seeing and what you will not be seeing as an audience member. You instantly think, “this movie is PG-13? Well we might hear one “F” word and maybe have a bit of nudity from the back. We also know that the violence is going to be mostly implied and not that graphic”. This takes away a lot of the horror because…horror films thrive on the unknown. They are at their best when the audience has no idea what they’re about to see and experience. The only real exception I’ve found to this rule is Drag Me to Hell by Sam Raimi, which I thought was hilarious, scary, tense, and brilliant. Anyways, the point of this is to say that Them (Ils) is a PG-13 French horror film that is the second exception to the PG-13 rule I’ve found.

Them opens with Clementine (Olivia Bonamy) driving back to her home out in the rural country where she lives with her boyfriend, Lucas (Michael Cohen), who is a writer. Things seem to be going perfectly fine for them and they seem to have a loving and good relationship. However, as soon as the lights go out things start to happen. Namely, their car is stolen and their house begins to come under assault by a group of figures wearing hoodies and making odd noises. Them is not a long movie, registering right around 77 minutes, but it feels like a long movie. It thrives by never revealing who is tormenting the couple until the end of the film and the horror comes from never knowing what’s around each corner. One scene in particular that takes place in the attic was so tense and thrilling that I was nearly holding my breath. The lead actors do a fantastic job, especially Olivia Bonamy, and really make you believe in what’s happening to them. It’s such a simple premise, but it’s something that could easily happen to anyone of us. One thing that made me love this movie is that it will separate the couple from one another and then only follow one of them. So all of a sudden you’ll be following Lucas around the house and the entire time you’re thinking, “ok, but what’s happening to Clementine”. It’s genius and makes things even more tense and nerve racking.

Them also benefits from the choice to shoot using very little artificial light and to make use of grain on the film. It creates this disturbing, gritty, and realistic portrayal of the events. Which, by the way, are based on a true story. My only problem with the film is that at times the characters do really dumb things, along with a couple of moments where really bad horror cliches come out. However, this does not derail the film by any means. Them is a great little horror film that should definitely be seen.


Danny- So again it has come to this,  a French film. I have a strange relationship with French cinema. It is polarized as shit every French language film I have ever seen I either love or hate. Also I have never seen a French horror film that I did not despise. I am pleased to report that this is the first one I did not despise and continuing my trend with French films I really liked it.

Though this is a French film it takes place in Romania. Romania is, for those of you that don’t know, is the Mordor of the real world. The crazy ass stories that come out of there are some of the basis horror in the western world like the vampire and werewolves. Interestingly enough the events that occur in the film are based on a true story. (totally cancelled the Off the Edge company vacation to Bucharest.) The plot of this film is really simple and with a runtime of 1 hour and 16 minutes it is short and sweet.

This is the story of a French couple that recently moved to Bucharest. The wife works as a French teacher at a French immersion school while the husband works at home as a writer. They have a huge old house out in the woods outside Bucharest that is unfinished in some parts. One night as they sleep they heard strange noises outside and thus begins the battle between the young couple and what are apparently Romania’s finest home invasion and murder team.

This relies heavily on atmosphere to creat an environment to fear and it works quite well. It makes good use of Point of View handheld camera as well as extremely low lit scenes.I really loved how the film uses restricted narration as we follow each member of the couple, as Joe mentioned earlier. Sound is also masterfully used to create terror.  This film is what other “home invasion” type horror films should be a horrible example that comes to mind is The Strangers. I definitely recommend this film especially for those that aren’t into the super graphic horror films. It definitely delivers enough scares with very minimal gore. It actually has a PG 13 rating which as Joe mentioned earlier is a pretty good indicator that a horror film usually sucks but this one is the exception. It also is only fair to mention that like most of the films we have discussed so far this year, this movie sports an extremely attractive female protagonist. She is sexy in a way that only European actresses can be. Honestly even if you think this movie sucks you will be happy you got to see this girl run around for an hour, provided you are into girls.

Also for those of you that detest foreign films because you hate reading, fear not. There is not a ton of dialogue in this film. For the most part you will forget that you are watching a foreign language film. Minimal reading required.

I’m going to start doing a rating system as well. I agree with Joe on    8/10

Watch Them right now on Netflix Instant Play.

I was gonna post a trailer on here but it gives away a lot of the good scares so d’fuck is the point.

Initiation: An Artsy Gangster Film

March 21, 2012

This past week Off the Edge shot it’s first real film. A Bolex camera, that was at least 50 years old, and 200 feet of 16MM film were our tools. It sucked. To say we’ve been spoiled by digital cameras and equipment would be an understatement. Shooting on 16MM involves several steps to ensure you get the correct exposure for the film. It namely involves taking measurements of the scene to get the focus correct and taking light readings to determine how to set the aperture, or f-stop, of the camera. The worst part of it all is that there is really no way to know what the footage is gonna look like until a lab has processed it and sent it back to you. For all I know a lab technician is developing our footage right now, smirking, as he sees all the mistakes we missed. The human eye is much more forgiving than a camera lens. Anyways, the film we shot is called Initiation and it’s a movie about a gang initiation. Clever title aside, the film follows a young man as he tries to prove his worth to the gang by being locked in a room and fighting other people, of the gang’s choosing, to the death. Ideally it’s a meditative statement about violence and the dehumanization caused and created by our need to fight and kill one another. More likely it’s a C+. Maybe a B-. Either way it was a really fun process and I definitely have more respect for those filmmakers of years gone by who created feature films with equipment like this. Hopefully it’ll be up on youtube in the next few months, amazing everyone (or making them laugh). Either way, check out some production photos of the shoot, and enjoy


-Joe Vaske

“Initiation” Production Stills

March 21, 2012

These are some production stills from a shoot we did last week. Its was a pretty special shoot because not only did we have our good friends the lighting kits back, we also shot on film. It was definately a huge learning experice for all of us. The differences in shooting on video and shooting on 16mm were staggering. This shoot had to be extrememly well orgainized and it only took 13 hours to shoot. Hopefully well actually be able to see it someday, speaking of which if anyone knows where we could get a hold of a 16mm projector that would help a ton.

By the way a few of these photos are some of my favorite I have ever taken.


Check out this discription of the project by Joe Vaske

“One Big Shitty Joke”: A Review of Near Dark (1987)

September 16, 2011

This movie down right makes me angry. It has a 90% score on, the critics love it, and its seen by many as one of the best horror films of the 80’s. I remember the first and only time I watched this film was last spring with a handful of friends. We were all excited to see it because we had all heard nothing but good things from critics and other people. Kathryn Bigelow had just won the Oscar for the Hurtlocker so we were pretty excited. After watching the movie I was convinced it was all one big fucking joke. This movies sucks! Its sucks so incredibly hard it’s not even funny. I was astounded by how shitty it was and I wasnt the only one. My friends and I wondered if we had perhaps rented a different movie with the same title. My friend Aaron was downright upset about how inane and nonsensical the plot of the film was. He could often be seen throwing up his hands in disgust or just asking the simple question, “really?” Near Dark is not only the worst Vampire movie I have ever seen, it is also one of the worst movies I have ever seen.  This film is basically Twilight from the late 80’s. It’s a story of cowboy western meets vampires meets romance. Which sounds like it could be good but it’s not, It’s just not. Basically boy meets girl, girl is vampire, girl turns boy into vampire and takes him in with her coven of shitty psychopathic vampires that apparently run amok in the American southwest unchecked just tearing shit up. I’m all for re-engineering the vampire legend and doing different versions of it but this one doesn’t even follow its own rules. Vampires can’t go out in daylight, unless they have a blanket over their head. (yeah seriously). They can also drive around in their shitty van during daylight. In one of the more outrageous scenes the newest member of the coven runs out into daylight during a gunfight under a blanket to get to their shitty van. The blanket starts on fire and soon becomes completely engulfed in flames but magically extinguishes when he gets into the shitty van and shuts the door. (apparently there is no oxygen present in the van.) Another theme that runs throughout the film that I found a little creepy was the child vampire trying to get the newest vampire’s sister to become a vampire so she can “be with” him. Its super creepy because earlier on we learn that the child vampire is really old he just doesn’t age, so it’s basically pedophilia in my book. The ending of this film also has probably the biggest Deus Ex Machina I have ever seen. I don’t really wanna ruin the ending but fuck it, im going to because its shitty anyway. The family of the young boy that was taken in by the shitty psychopath vampires has been tracking him the whole time that he has been gone. When they finally apprehend him in the end they turn to look in the back of their truck and there is a bunch of blood transfusion equipment. It very possible that I missed this somewhere along the line but im pretty sure there is no reference ever to the blood transfusion equipment. It’s just there when they need it, Deus Ex Machina. Whats even more outrageous is that apparently a blood transfusion is the cure for vampirism. The give him the transfusion and he lives happily ever after as a human.

In conclusion I wouldnt recommend this film to anyone unless you like shitty vampires, shitty cowboys, and shitty plots that take place in a shitty part of the country. What I find most hilarious about this movie is that they recently rereleased it on DVD with a cover that looks ridiculously similar to the movie posters of equally if not more shitty vampire movie twilight.

please if anyone reading this actually likes this film could you please let me know why. I’m not even joking I would seriously like to know where you are coming from on this. I can’t seem to wrap my head around it. It all seems to be one big shitty joke.

Look at all familiar?