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Entries in Oscar Horrors (49)

Monday
Oct312016

Oscar Horrors: Patty McCormack is "The Bad Seed"

Boo! It's the "Oscar Horrors" finale with abstew

With her blonde pigtails, pinafore dress, spotless Mary Janes, and armed with an elegant curtsy, little 8-year-old Rhoda Penmark is hardly the most intimidating figure. But beneath that childish visage lies the heart of a cold-blooded killer! One that shocked audiences in the 1950s. The Bad Seed preyed on the idea that evil wasn't some devil or mythical monster, but that it lived next door in the most unassuming of places. And worst of all, that evil was a hereditary trait that could be passed on, with no control over your assigned nature. The evil child has now become a staple of the horror genre, from the towheaded Children of the Corn to the twins from The Shining, but one of the first to make her mark (literally - watch out for those deadly shoes!) was bad seed, Rhoda Penmark, brought to life by Best Supporting Actress nominee, Patty McCormack.

I was about Rhoda's age when I first saw The Bad Seed at my friend Vicky's house...

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Monday
Oct312016

The Furniture: Feasts of Flesh in Pan's Labyrinth

"The Furniture" our weekly series on Production Design. Here's Daniel Walber

Pan’s Labyrinth, like most of Guillermo del Toro’s films, is busy with visual imagination. There are monsters and fairies, though it’s not always certain which is which. There are dramatic colors and haunted shadows, which push even the more terrestrial sequences toward the fantastical. And there are little flourishes, not all of them thanks to the digital effects team.

 

In fact, physicality is among the film’s greatest strengths. Sets were built for both Ofelia’s dream world and the all-too-real Spanish Civil War narrative that frames them. Del Toro doesn’t rely on either digital backgrounds or pre-existing locations. Instead, he leans on the uncanny power of tangible design, like these Harryhausen-like models that stand in for an underground kingdom.

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Saturday
Oct292016

Oscar Horrors: The Makeup of "Bram Stoker's Dracula" (1992)

Boo! It's "Oscar Horrors". Each evening we look back on a horror-connected nomination until Halloween. Here's Chris Feil on Bram Stoker's Dracula's makeup...

Bram Stoker's Dracula is as drenched in blood as it is in design excess. Nearly 25 years on, the film is surely one of Francis Ford Coppola's strangest in his filmography. Opulent while utilizing practical effects, the film is smartly-made eye candy that flashes both its brain and budget. Imagine a lavish and gruesome horror film for adults being dropped on today's audiences during the holiday/awards months - stranger yet, imagine it being a hit and nabbing some Oscars too, including for it's makeup design.

Part of the film's goal is establishing a vision somewhat closer to that gothic romance of Bram Stoker's original novel, including that of the titular monster...

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Friday
Oct282016

Oscar Horrors: The Uninvited

Boo! It's "Oscar Horrors". Each evening we look back on a horror-connected nomination until Halloween. Here's Tim Brayton on a '40s ghost story...

The Uninvited (1944)  is a rarity among 1940s horror films twice over. For one thing, it's one of the vanishingly tiny number of genre films from that decade to receive Oscar attention, nabbing a Best Cinematography nomination – which is why we're here now, of course. For the other, it's one of the almost-as-tiny number of American horror films of its generation that actually commits to the paranormal. For years, stretching back into the 1930s, almost any time you saw a Hollywood film set in a haunted house, it was an easy bet that by the end of the last reel, you'd find out it was just an elaborate ruse by jewel thieves or some other damn thing. Not so for The Uninvited! Its ghost is real, and presents a genuine danger.

The film's readiness to tell an old-fashioned ghost story without apology or restraint is undoubtedly connected to the recognition given to Charles Lang's deeply shadow-soaked cinematography. 

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Thursday
Oct272016

Oscar Horrors: Japan's Ghost Story "Kwaidan"

Boo! It's "Oscar Horrors". Each evening we'll look back on a horror-connected nomination until Halloween. Here's Dancin' Dan on a spooky Japanese beauty...

Have any of you ever seen Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan? I wouldn't be surprised if you hadn't. Even among Japanese films, it's not much talked about today, though it deserves to be. Kwaidan is a rarity in so many ways - an omnibus film made by one director, a truly artful horror film, a groundbreaking work of art. It was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film in 1965 (losing to the heartrending The Shop on Main Street from Czechoslovakia), and it's a bit hard to imagine it getting that far today, even with its arthouse bona fides like a Special Jury Prize at Cannes...

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