Horns (and five of the best films about The Devil)
Ever had a really, really bad hangover? Unless you're teetotal, the answer is probably yes, but have you ever gotten so drunk that you woke up with a pair of horns?
Arriving on DVD & Blu-Ray next week (March 16th) is the latest film from Alexandre Aja, the man who brought us The Hills Have Eyes and Piranha 3D. Billed as a fantasy thriller, Horns features Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe as Ignacious 'Ig' Perrin, a young man who finds himself the prime suspect in the murder of his own girlfriend. Ig protests his innocence, but almost everyone in his home town is convinced he is guilty and he finds himself the pariah of his community, with his best friend Lee (Max Minghella) seemingly the only person who believes he is innocent.
After a heavy night of drowning his sorrows he wakes the following morning to discover he has a very bad hangover and a pair of horns protruding from his head. His initial reaction is to freak out and head to the doctor to try and have them removed, but then he discovers that the horns have given him some supernatural abilities. One of these is that people feel compelled to tell him their darkest secrets and Ig soon figures out that this could be the key to proving his innocence and finding his girlfriend's real killer.
Alongside Radcliffe and Minghella is a cast the features Juno Temple (as Ig's girlfriend Merrin), Heather Graham, Joe Anderson and Kelli Garner. Radcliffe is particularly impressive as Ig and this role will do the young actor no harm whatsoever in shedding his Harry Potter legacy. Aja also continues to grow as a director and if you're into films with esoteric subject matter this might be right up your street.
You can find the trailer below and you'll be able to pick up the film in-store next week, but in the meantime we've picked five other films about the one they call Lucifer...
The Devil's Advocate
Taylor Hackford's 1997 film stars Keanu Reeves as Kevin Lomax, a promising Florida-based lawyer who finds himself headhunted by John Milton (Al Pacino), the owner of a large and prestigious law firm based in New York City. Relocating to New York with his wife Mary Ann (Charlize Theron), Lomax begins his new career working for the charismatic but sinister Milton, but Mary Ann begins to suspect something isn't quite right with her husband's new employer.
Theron deserves praise for her performance as Lomax's wife, who experiences hallucinations and panic attacks as she struggles to adjust to her new surroundings, but Al Pacino delivers one of his most engaging performances in recent times and, even if he is hamming it up a bit, his monologue about God is just fantastic.
The Devil and Daniel Webster
The oldest film on our list by some distance, William Dieterle's 1941 screen adaptation of Stephen Vincent Benét's short story revolves around a struggling farmer who is visited by a mysterious being known as Mr. Scratch, who offers to provide seven years of good fortune to the farmer and his family, but at the price of his soul. It's a familiar tale that's been visited many times since, but the film is notable for its pioneering soundtrack which, along with Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, is one of the first to be composed by longtime Alfred Hitchcock collaborator Bernard Hermann.
Hermann's tough brief for the scene in which Mr. Scratch whips a crowd into frenzy with his unearthly violin playing skills was to create a score for violin which 'no one human could possibly play.' Hermann's solution was to write four intertwining parts recorded separately and overlay them on top of one another, resulting in one of the first known examples of overdubbing and multi-track recording.
Of all the films to feature the Devil in its subject matter, Richard Donner's 1976 masterpiece The Omen has to rank as one of the finest. Donner's classic horror stars Gregory Peck as Robert Thorn, a rising politician who discovers that the child he is raising as his own may not in fact be his, the result of a hospital mix-up occurring at the child's birth. Worse than that, his young boy Damien might well be the Antichrist.
Visited by an Irish priest who tries to warn him of the child's unearthly origins, Thorn dismisses his assertions as the ramblings of a drunk until the priest winds up being killed in a bizarre accident and a series of other mysterious deaths begin to make him wonder if the priest was telling the truth.
The subject of a shot-for-shot remake in 2006, Donner's 1976 original, underpinned by Jerry Goldsmith's iconic score, is still the best.
The Ninth Gate
Roman Polanski's 1999 film stars Johnny Depp as rare book dealer Dean Corso, who is tasked by collector Boris Balkan (Frank Langella) to confirm the authenticity of a book that he has recently purchased called The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows, authored by a man named Aristide Torchia. According to legend, Torchia co-wrote the book with Lucifer himself in 1666 and when he was subsequently burned at the stake, so were most of the copies of the book. Only three are known to be in existence and two of these are rumoured to be forgeries, so Corso is employed to visit the owners of the other two copies in order to determine which one is genuine.
Along the way he journeys to France and Portugal and uncovers a shadowy cabal of Devil-worshippers who believe that the nine engravings in the genuine copy of the book provide instructions on how to summon Lucifer on earth. Despite some slightly cheesy acting, particularly from Langella in the closing scenes, The Ninth Gate is an enjoyable and strangely compelling film that's well worth a look.
Prince of Darkness
John Carpenter needs little introduction as a master of horror films and while it's not as famous as some his other films such as Halloween, 1987's Prince of Darkness is just as spooky. The second instalment in the director's 'Apocalypse Trilogy' along with The Thing and In the Mouth of Madness, Prince of Darkness stars Donald Pleasance as a priest charged with investigating a mysterious cylinder filled with liquid that has been discovered in a church.
At the same time, something weird begins happening to the town's homeless people, who become possessed by some other-worldly influence. The priest discovers that the liquid contains the essence of Satan himself and, if released, has the potential to awaken Satan's father, the source of all evil and the ultimate anti-God.
Featuring a cast that also includes Victor Wong and Lisa Blount, Prince of Darkness is, like many of Carpenter's films, both wonderfully cheesy and oddly disturbing, but even for a film with such sinister subject matter this is really great fun to watch.