CS Recommends: Michael Mann’s The Keep, 30 Days of Night & More!
Stuck inside? Don’t know what to watch/read/play/listen to? ComingSoon.net has got you covered. In this week’s CS Recommends our staff kicks off gives you solid tips on the best media to consume during your downtime, including The Keep and more! Check out our picks below!
MAX EVRY’S RECOMMEND: The Keep
My favorite film by Michael Mann is his least favorite, the one he has used his considerable pull in Hollywood to try to keep (pun intended) off of Blu-ray and streaming services: 1983’s The Keep. This gothic World War II horror tale concerns Nazis who occupy a Romanian castle that was already occupied by a centuries-old spectral being named Molasar. German soldiers start getting offed, and a brutal SS officer (Gabriel Byrne) is brought in to investigate. The sprawling story weaves in a Jewish scholar (Ian McKellan), a sympathetic non-Nazi German Army Captain (Jürgen Prochnow), and a supernatural warrior called Glaeken (Scott Glenn). To say this movie is bats**t insane is a towering understatement. It’s also famously a mess due to studio interference that rendered some dialogue unintelligible, and scenes edited to the point of incoherence (it was cut from 210 minutes to 96 minutes without Mann’s input). The special effects man also died during production, leaving Mann to scrap many of the big sequences he had planned. It’s a shame, because what remains is an atmospheric wonder, with powerful imagery and a truly memorable golem-like villain, not to mention an exquisite Tangerine Dream score.
I love the film so much I recently took the time to read F. Paul Wilson’s original novel, which is actually only the first part in a multi-book saga called “The Adversary Cycle.” The labyrinthine plot involves false vampirism and the looming threat of concentration camps sweeping through Europe. It deftly combines real-life historical horrors with mythic fantasy elements that lead to nothing less than a confrontation between the forces of light and darkness in the purest sense. It’s also interesting that the character Scott Glenn plays in the film goes by the name “Glen” in the book!
Amazon currently has a low-quality version of The Keep available for purchase, but be warned that the picture and sound quality are dreadful. Still, it’s enough to give you a sense of the vibe Mann was trying to create, and is as close as we’ll get to being able to experience the film until Mann and Paramount relent in releasing a restored version of the already-compromised final product. Having seen a print of the film in a rep theater, I can say it was meant to be experienced in all its horrific splendor! Give the film a go if you’ve never seen it and want to experience a truly wild visionary horror epic, and then if you want to make sense of the plot check out the novel!
KYLIE HEMMERT’S RECOMMEND: 30 Days of Night
David Slade’s 30 Days of Night debuted in 2007 and still, in my humble opinion, holds up as one of the best vampire horror thrillers to date. Produced by Sam Raimi, the movie is based on the comic book miniseries by Steve Niles, who co-wrote the screenplay, and Ben Templesmith and takes place in a small Alaskan town that enters a thirty-day-long polar night and is quickly overrun by a group of brutal and relentless vampires who take advantage of the prolonged darkness to openly kill and feed upon the townspeople. The adaptation is led by Josh Hartnett alongside Melissa George, Danny Huston, and Ben Foster, and is a genuinely terrifying, smart, and bloody tale about survival, sacrifice, and a seemingly unending nightmare.
GRANT HERMANNS’ RECOMMEND: The Wolf of Snow Hollow
The werewolf genre generally sees audiences treated to a generic hunt for the titular beast or a focus on the person suffering from the lycanthropic affliction, but Jim Cummings’s The Wolf of Snow Hollow has offered one of the freshest and most entertaining takes on the genre thus far. Acting as a whodunnit in a small snowy town that rarely sees homicides occur, the film presents a fairly intriguing mystery and guessing game as to who’s committing the murders and whether it’s an actual supernatural monster or a disturbed human while also focusing on the offbeat and hilarious officers of the Sheriff Department, especially Cummings’ anger-prone recovering alcoholic deputy. It’s beautifully shot, thrillingly crafted, hilariously written, and brilliantly performed by its whole cast, namely Cummings, Rikki Lindhome, and Robert Forster in his final feature film role, establishing itself as a Halloween must-watch for the ages.
MAGGIE DELA PAZ’S RECOMMEND: Tragedy Girls
Starring Brianna Hildebrand and Alexandra Shipp, the film centers around two high school seniors and childhood best friends named Sadie and McKayla, who are both obsessed with becoming social media famous through their titular true crime blog. However, it proves to be difficult for them when there is actually little to no action going on in their boring Mid-western town of Rosedale. That’s why they have no choice but to take matters into their own hands by committing and planning the murders themselves while also managing to keep a serial killer in captivity.
This 2016 slasher dark comedy film was truly a delight to watch. It features a fun and entertaining storyline that is topped off by the incredible and charming performances of Hildebrand and Shipp. Despite being a duo of psychopathic protagonists, it’s extremely hard not to root for their characters, especially when their brutal killing plans don’t always go as smoothly as they’ve wanted them to be. These types of leads are definitely hard to sell to the audience but due to Hildebrand and Shipp’s dynamic chemistry, the film was able to effectively deliver the story and message they intended to convey.
What I also like the most about Tragedy Girls is that it serves as a timely social commentary about the effects of fame and social media to today’s society: How some people nowadays would just post anything that would garner them the most likes, views, and followers without even trying to be thoughtful of its real message and consequences. So, if you’re looking for something to add on your Halloween movie list, I highly recommend you check out this gem!
JEFF AMES’ RECOMMEND: Trick ‘r Treat
Despite a substantial amount of slasher flicks and monster films at our disposal, there really is a lack of what one might call true Halloween films outside of, say, Hocus Pocus, John Carpenter’s Halloween, and a handful of others that exist in but don’t specifically focus on the holiday. That’s what makes Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat such an amazing, er, treat. The film does for Halloween what A Christmas Carol does for Christmas in that it provides a deeper lore to go along with the bags of candy and wacky, sometimes overly sensual costumes. By film’s end, you’ll not just understand Halloween, but feel compelled to take part in it lest you endure the wrath of the demonic pumpkin creature Sam.
Taking cues from the likes of Charlie Brown’s Halloween, classic slasher films, and monster flicks of yesteryear, Dougherty weaves a tapestry of wildly entertaining and sometimes hilarious stories that culminate with a morbid twist and a clear-cut message: respect Halloween or pay the price. You’ve been warned.
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