Monthly Archives: December 2014


Green and Red: Christmas Cheer and Gremlins Fear (Part 2)

Despite whatever amazing gifts you may have received this Christmas, I’m sure what you’re really hoping for is another few hundred words about Joe Dante’s festively freaky Gremlins, and since I don’t want to be compared to the other green menace that takes joy in ruining Christmas—the Grinch—let’s get to it.

Last time we discussed the origins of Chris Columbus’s initial script for Gremlins, which contained a more pronounced horror element in its horror-comedy blend. Even after balancing out the two, however, Continue reading


Green and Red: Christmas Cheer and ‘Gremlins’ Fear

Tonight, children around the world will leave out milk and cookies for Santa Claus, and their parents just might steal a few in the middle of the night. Even Big Red himself would agree it’s better for parents to risk mild indigestion than to let mogwai, the cute and furry progenitors of the green and scaly gremlins, get their hands on the cookies. If they eat after midnight, any worries about acid reflux will take a backseat to flying circular saw blades and high velocity stair lifts-cum-catapults. The titular little green maniacs in Joe Dante’s Gremlins have a talent for lethal mischief, and the inability of the humans around them to follow the rules lets them loose on the picturesque town of Kingston Falls, U.S.A. Continue reading

Sinister (2012)

‘Sinister’ Secrets: Writer and Director Share Tricks of the Horror Trade

In our first article about the DVD commentary by director/co-writer Scott Derrickson and co-writer C. Robert Cargill on their 2012 horror movie Sinister, we shared their thoughts on writing a strong horror story and communicating their vision to actors.

Luckily for us, they also share some insightful technical tricks of the trade in this surprisingly rich commentary track, including their use of the one object that’s absolutely necessary to create a film: the camera.


Jump scares and using the camera

Derrickson openly discusses how he composes some of his shots to create a scare. Continue reading

Sinister (2012)

‘Sinister’ and Using Scary Movies to Make Scary Movies that Aren’t just Scary

Attached to helm Marvel’s upcoming Doctor Strange, director Scott Derrickson is soon to become a familiar name, if it isn’t already. The odds are you’ve heard of some of his films, but what you’ve heard about them probably varies. Personally, The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) and Sinister (2012), both of which Derrickson also co-wrote, deserve their status as recommended viewing. I can’t comment on the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) or Deliver Us from Evil (2014), only the latter of which he co-wrote, other than to say I haven’t heard any really positive reviews of them.

Continue reading

The Omen (1976)

What the Devil? Pecking Apart ‘The Omen’

In a film about the antichrist and the end of days, the real revelation is having Gregory Peck as the lead. Getting him on board, however, may have required a bit of devilry.

Peck brought real gravitas to his role as American diplomat Robert Thorn in Richard Donner’s The Omen. As Brian Helgeland says on the DVD commentary, “The thing that grounded the whole movie was that Gregory Peck was the star of it, because he’s such a respected kind of solid guy that when he believes that something’s going on, everyone’s gonna believe it” (00:01:27).

But Peck may have needed some convincing in the first place. Last time we shared the few interesting points about practical effects and source materials made by Richard Donner and Brian Helgeland in their otherwise dull commentary on The Omen. However, the interpretation of the film that Donner shared with Peck is also worth noting, if only because it’s so outrageous. Continue reading

The Omen (1976)

Devil-May-Care Commentary on ‘The Omen’


The Omen is the story of a father’s slow, reluctant realization that his son is not just a little devil in the way of all young boys, but in fact the antichrist himself. The film is a modern horror classic, but unfortunately the DVD commentary track offers little in the way of salvation.

The commentary features the film’s director, Richard Donner, and Brian Helgeland, a screenwriter and director who was about 15 when The Omen was first released, and listeners are never told how Helgeland fits into all this. Continue reading