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Over on the SomethingAwful forums, a poster named Ben Solo has unearthed a 16mm workprint of notorious shlock film Manos: The Hands of Fate (for those of you who don’t speak Spanish, that translates as “Hands: The Hands of Fate”). The film is most well-known at this point for its exposure on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and its perpetual placement towards the “top” of IMDb’s bottom 100 list, but some shots of individual frames of film taken by Ben reveal something that is surprisingly beautiful-looking after coming to know it through VHS and television broadcasts of exceedingly poor quality.

With that in mind, Ben has taken it upon himself to give the film a proper restoration, and to try his hand at releasing the film on blu-ray. Since it’s in the public domain, there are no legal roadblocks, and given its status as a cult classic, this could prove to be a surprise hit. Somebody should definitely get ahold of Joel Hodgson and Mike Nelson in the meantime, in order to get this the exposure it deserves.

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Having recently viewed both George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, and Zack Snyder’s 2004 remake, one of the most striking differences between the two (and there are many) was the divergent visual strategies employed by both Romero and Snyder. While Snyder’s film, which leans more heavily towards the thriller side of things than its predecessor, features hyperkinectic camerawork, busy environments, and sleek effects, Romero’s film is much more low-key. (Each is appropriate to the film’s tone, so don’t take this as criticism of Snyder’s work.) In fact, what’s most notable about the cinematography of the original film is how still everything is. Though there are a handful of sequences in Romero’s film that would qualify as action (and feature a quickened pace in the editing, as well as some handheld camerawork), the majority of the sequences within the mall’s interior are notable for their utter placidity.

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Paranormal Activity 2, as much or more than any sequel I can think of, seemed primed to be a quick cash-grab that simply rehashed the formula of the first with superficial changes to keep things from getting stale. And, well, it more or less is. But it’s entirely forgivable because it manages to be better than the first anyway (which I thought was solid enough, albeit encumbered with enough flaws to keep it from being something truly special).

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There’s an extensive thread on SomethingAwful.com’s movie forum, Cinema Discusso, about the Alien film series, one of my favorites. One poster mentioned that looking at the very brief sequence where John Hurt’s character is attacked by the alien egg frame-by-frame was very revealing, showing us a point-of-view look at the creature attaching itself to Hurt’s face. So, being bored and a complete whore for Alien in general, I diligently snapped each frame using my amateur software skills and hosted them online. Check it out, it’s pretty interesting (and gross):

http://imgur.com/a/7Etal/facehugger

With Halloween fast approaching, moviewatchers everywhere are in a horror-movie mood. I’m the furthest thing from a horror expert, but in the spirit of the season, my ten favorite horror films, in alphabetical order.

Edit: I kind of totally forgot to include The Silence of the Lambs, which is a huge oversight, so I’ll just mention it here. Whoops!

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I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything remotely like Hausu, the 1977 horror-comedy that’s been making the rounds in a new print from Janus films. It goes so far over the top, and operates with such utter conviction in its stylish absurdity that while the temptation is to laugh, it’s never at the film so much as with it. And its style is utterly inimitable.

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The Exorcist is so firmly entrenched as one of the scariest movies ever made that watching it these days it’s a surprise to see how restrained and low-key it is. Everybody remembers the profanity, the pea-green vomit, the head turning 180 degrees, and of course that bit of indecency with the crucifix, but The Exorcist is largely a religious drama, building its mood and tension through character and style, not shocks.

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The vampire genre has seen a resurrection lately, with the popularity of such films as the Twilight saga, Let the Right One In, the HBO show True Blood, and others. It’s unsurprising that vampires should be popular in this day and age; they’ve always been, in a way, the most overtly sexual of the classic monsters, with their relatively human appearance, immortality, but most importantly, their method of dispatching victims – a bite to the neck, to suck a human’s blood, has obvious erotic connotations (and not just on a kinky, S&M level).

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Repulsion is a film of almost unbearable tension and discomfort, a look into a fractured, broken woman’s mind that is at once intimate, sympathetic and terrifying. It features some of the most startling, immediate scares of any film I’ve seen, but lingers thereafter in your mind because of its ability to probe into disturbing psychological depths and create a vivid portrait of all-consuming fear and paranoia.

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Disclaimer: I have never seen a Sam Raimi horror film. Horror has never really been my thing, to be honest – it’s got possibly the largest garbage-to-quality ratio of any major film genre that doesn’t reside entirely on the outskirts of mainstream acceptability (so, no, hardcore porn doesn’t count), and with a handful of exceptions, such as The Shining, the first Alien movie, and Halloween just to name a few examples, I don’t have a great deal of use for it as a genre.

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