Monday, June 30, 2008

Coming Soon: Tobe Hooper's Eaten Alive

CINE AUTOPSIS continues its look at the cinema of Texas filmmaker Tobe Hooper with a review of the Dark Sky Films 2-disc DVD release-Eaten Alive! Image gallery to follow. Keep an eye on us later this week; we dine on the flesh of this underrated gem.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Review: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 2-disc Ultimate Edition by Dark Sky Films

Buy The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2-Disc Ultimate Edition)
[Blu-ray] The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Dark Sky Films markets their DVD of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as "The Ultimate Edition", and this reviewer agrees with the statement. This 2-disc set boasts the best image quality of any previous release. The original 16mm camera positive was used in a new high def transfer and the film has NEVER looked better!

TCM was filmed with gusto and all the lovely nuance of its green cinematographer (Daniel Pearl) in regular 16mm framed for 1.85:1. Anyone who understands film emulsions knows this greatly reduces exposure area which in turn gives the film a grainier, dirtier look when blown-up to 35mm for release prints. Pearl side stepped the issue somewhat by originating on a slow speed reversal stock by Kodak known as ECO. The ASA, or "light sensitivity", was an extremely low 25. This meant two things: 1) more light was needed to properly expose the film and, 2) the grain structure could be maintained for sharper images in the blow-up process. Knowing that Pearl had only one 10k and two 5k lamps for the night scenes just makes you appreciate the images all the more! Yes, you can tell it is 16mm. Yes, it is still "grainy" relative to today's stock. Yes, this adds immeasurably to the raw quality of this piece of American Folk Art. And ART this film is in every aspect of the word. Truly, uniquely, American Art.

The supplements (180 mins total!) are fantastic and further add to the appeal of this release. Included is two commentaries; the older Elite DVD Tobe Hooper-Daniel Pearl-Gunnar Hansen track and a track by the cast, including art director Bob Burns. Both are insightful and entertaining. Two documentaries over an hour each comprise most of disc 2; "The Shocking Truth" and "Flesh Wounds" rehash most of the "old stories" that hardcore fans are already privy to, but some new considerations are explored. Outtakes, bloopers, deleted scenes, stills gallery, TV & radio spots, and theatrical trailers fill out the extras. Digital 5.1 and 2.0 are added for sound quality but I prefer the original mono. The picture is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic enhanced for wide screen TVs.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a must have DVD not only for horror fans but any true cineaste. The Dark Sky Films release should be a valued treasure to any connoisseur. Retail is $29.98 but I purchased mine from for $16.49. Worth every copper token....

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Images: Death In 16mm-The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

The images appear as if renderings from the minds eye; memories trying to catch up with the will to remember. THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE opens with the literary power of "the subtle-creaking door". The viewer knows something is coming, but is given only fragments of what that is. However, unlike its prose counterpart, these images are far from conventional. Beauty in death. Disturbing, yes. Branded upon the retina of the physical and meta-physical....The flash bulbs ignite when cued by the closing of your eyes.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Coming Soon: Images from an American nightmare.

Later this week CINE AUTOPSIS looks at still images from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Also, a review of Dark Sky's 2-disc DVD set. Stay tuned!

Friday, June 20, 2008


Due to time constraints on my part I am posting the entire second half of VIDEODROME today. The film now takes on a different dimension as it fully realizes the future of Max Renn. Lets see where Barry Convex and his new-fangled technology takes us, shall we? Parts 6-10....





Wednesday, June 18, 2008


A gun, a lie, and a videotape. Three seemingly unrelated situations about to collide? Why did Nikki fib over her "trip" to Pittsburgh? Where exactly is Brian O'Blivion? And what's with the gun? Who, or what, does Max need protection from? His hallucinations, or is it something more? We have now fully entered Wonderland. Part 5...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


"Nikki Brand".....after part three we know what her full name means. Again, does she serve to soften Max up a bit? A starter course for would-be sadists? Yin and yang, Nikki the masochist and the emergence of Max as sadist. What will her "trip" to Pittsburgh yield. Does Masha lead Max in the direction of answers to Videodrome? And I know you must be thinking, "Cathode Ray Mission..? WTF!?" Now Part 4...

Note: Due to complications I've had to procure parts 4-10 from other sources and unfortunately a key visual sequence has been truncated in these recordings. The scene involves Max and a TV screen.... These are still images captured of said sequence that I believe bridge the gap from the end of Part 4 to the next scene in Part 5.

Monday, June 16, 2008


In Part 2 we are introduced to Nikki Brand, a radio talk host who thinks society is over stimulated, via a TV monitor....Max O'Blivion also makes his debut on TV, within the TV yet! Prof. O'Blivion states that in the future we will all have "TV names". While the internet is not TV it is a media source, and today I noticed that everyone had a "TV name" on the forum I was on. ("RadioAlcolyte" was my favorite.) Purposeful or not, Cronenberg seems to have made a Warhol-like prediction.... Max has become completely fascinated by the signals Harlan has been able to intercept. More torture. This time a "black guy" gets his scrotum electrocuted.....Max keeps trying to figure out the "angle" when Harlan tells him, "That's it. They just keep doing that for over an hour.." Nikki finds her way to Max's apartment where she solicits the viewing of a tape Max made of the transmissions after finding no pornography. She seems to like it and even asks Max to cut her....Nikki=nick=to cut? So it goes, and Max is introduced to S&M by means of piercing. Early stages of "over stimulation"? They make love and Max "finds" himself inside the transmissions torture room. Hallucination or sexual fantasy? We begin down the rabbit hole.....Now Part 3.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Ahh, the life of a sleazy cable TV president. We saw in Part 1 the goings-on of Max Renn: secret product meetings in dirty hotel rooms and clandestine operations seeking out coded video signals harbouring brutal images of torture and, well, God knows what else. Did you notice the first image is of a TV? Telling, perhaps...
Also, one can't shake the feeling even though Max is seemingly in the power position as the "hunter" during these early scenes of Videodrome that he is actually being solicited. A puppet on a string who is not aware of the fact? More questions than answers after the first ten Part 2.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Review: VIDEODROME Part 1

Buy Videodrome - Criterion Collection
[Blu-ray] Videodrome (Criterion Collection)
Max Renn, essayed by James Woods, is the president of a cable TV station who is always on the hunt for the "next thing"; new, edgy, hardcore images to serve the public's taste. His rejection of a soft-core porn show titled "Samurai Dreams", complete with dildo masturbation scene, is testament to his programming philosophy. It is this determination to discover the "new" that catalyzes the action within David Cronenberg's Videodrome and sets in motion a chain of events that lead to Max's ultimate transformation into "the New Flesh".

Prophetic, bizarre, brilliant. These are just a few words chosen by cineastes to describe Videodrome's end product. Viewing Videodrome sparks questions many people are not prepared to answer. It is complex not so much in story structure as in it's intellectual proclivity to induce it's audience to philosophical self-pondering that produces many answers for a single question. Therefore, a simple synopsis is incapable of doing justice to the piece as a whole. Understand Videodrome is not "weird" just for the sake of being so. Videodrome is a wholly original nightmare of contemporary proportions and very deserving of its cult status.

Since the effect of analysis is useless without having seen the film, CINE AUTOPSIS here offers the first in a series of posts segmenting the entirety of Videodrome. Of course, all rights are reserved by the creators and CINE AUTOPSIS in no way, shape, or form claim authorship, ownership, or privilege. It is to be understood that CINE AUTOPSIS offers Videodrome in the spirit of arts education with the intent to expose the artist's work to an otherwise extant audience seeking to cultivate and nourish their appreciation of alternative cinema. It is my philosophy that exposure itself is education and this display is a simple case of public service.

Now, the first in ten segments of David Cronenberg's VIDEODROME.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Coming Soon: VIDEODROME Review

David Cronenberg's masterpiece VIDEODROME, a classic in "fantastic fiction", is next on the specimen slab. Pics and short video segments will be included in this multi-part review/analysis to enhance the piece as well as to better facilitate the readers material comprehension. Included here is the trailer.

Long live the New Flesh!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Review: Going To Pieces-The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film, 1978-1986

At a price point of $40 McFarland is keeping up appearances as a publisher of fine quality hardbound books, but can you judge a book by its cover? Well, in this case, I say 'yes'.

Mcfarland has been releasing genre fare for a few years now to split reviews, mostly due to price versus content, or lack thereof. The quality of the tangible book is never in question when regarding McFarland, their books will last generations! Sturdy is the word. And in the case of "Going To Pieces", the content is as sturdy as the spine.

As the title suggests, GTP is a study of the "slasher" film from 1978-1986, which, if you ask most fans, comprises the first two cycles and is considered the genres golden age. At only 214 pages to cover eight years, that's about 26 pages per year, if you take into account the index and such. Plenty of room to roam! Smartly enough, Adam Rockoff begins his study with a thesis that poses a question: "What is a slasher film?". Ah, you know you are in for more than just reviews and simple synopsis. This is a scholarly work. And that is why GTP is a success. Rockoff approaches the genre in an honest light all the while maintaining what very few authors of books on this subject do; respect for the genre. Asking this question of himself not only prepares you the reader for an understanding of the text from the authors point of view but, more importantly, involves you in the intellectual process of appreciation without 'taking sides'. This was a brilliant bit by Rockoff because the reader is forced to reinvest into what they thought they already held, which is a personal understanding, a philosophy really, of the genre. To put it another way, we are forced to question ourselves along with Rockoff.

Having set the table with an outline and understanding of the conventions of the slasher, Rockoff begins to explore the shadowy recesses of the stalk-n-kill film, the ancestors of the genre. Grand Guignol of the Victorian age through to Psycho and Peeping Tom, on past The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Black Christmas, ending on a often overlooked contributor, the beloved and internationally influential Giallo! To people new to the slasher this foundation which Rockoff sets his work will prove not only exciting but invaluable for your own private viewing research.

The book really starts to spin its wheels in the third chapter: Halloween, The Night He Came Home. Halloween might not be the grandaddy of the slasher, that honor would go to Psycho, but it is probably more responsible for the birth of the slash-film into its own genre than any other film. The book continues on through the '80s spotlighting trends and phenomena of the genre such as the "last girl", special effects, the sequel as an institution, the subjective point of view, and the "holiday" platform.

GTP ends with a chapter on the resurgence of the slasher, notably the international box office juggernaut Scream, its sequels, and the hip-talking-teen slasher. This gives the reader pause. What I took away from GTP is that the slasher is a cyclical genre that most prominently appears in times of political strife. Just like Michael Myers it never dies, only suffers minor setbacks to which it hibernates, grows strong, and reappears with a vengeance.

This a must have book for any fan of "The Slasher". The price is worth the read (Amazon has it at $30) as I find myself going back every once and again for a little factual research. Here's hoping Adam Rockoff writes on the subject again.

*Of note is a documentary inspired by this book of the same name.
Buy Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film
Buy Going to Pieces DVD

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Update: I'm back!

Okay. I've been very busy. School is in order and my life is making a bit more sense now that my compass is set in a permanent direction. I will be posting on a regular basis as of today, so keep me in your bookmarks and check back every once and again. Reviews of films and genre publications are on the way. Also, I'll be reviewing more DVDs....

All this brings me to an explanation of the "header sub-title" change. As I've been thinking about this blog for the past half-year, it's come to my attention that "Retracting the Dura Mater of the Terror Film" is a bit too finite for what will inevitably find its way on to these pages. So, I am widening the digital cervix a bit to allow a more broad approach, hence, "Retracting the Dura Mater of the Moving Image". Not a big deal, if a little pretentious, but, hey, it's my blog and I need to keep up the faux gravitas by name at the very least....!

Vidi well, oh, brothers! Cine Autopsis has such sites to show you....till then, good day.