Sunday, June 18, 2017

Random Article - Father/Son (and Daughter) Horror Directors, Part 1

Welcome back to another entry here, and once again we're going topical for today's special post. Due to Sunday's rather special significance, I've decided on doing today's write-up on father-and-sons who were horror directors.

So, you may have realized that I've titled this one as a part 1, and the answer there is quite obvious. There's actually quite a few out there that fall into this category of being involved in the family legacy, where the father and the son (or in some cases, daughters as that still counts) are both involved in the directors' chair. Now, I'm stretching this somewhat to include non-horror filmmakers if the situation calls for it so long as there's somewhat of a connection to the genre so at least one of the family must be involved in the genre and there has to be someone in the family following in their fathers' footsteps.

So, how are we going to be doing this first installment? First, we'll just pick a random assortment of directors from around the world, and for this initial offering, I've settled on ten people. There's literally dozens upon dozens that fall into this category, and were I to do this article detailing all of them I'd be here until the end of the year writing it up. A genre of candidates like that is good for me where I can make this an annual occurrence actually, so today we're going to just choose ten at random and do a little on them. Sure, some of them are going to be obvious omissions but remember, this is part 1 and we're doing this for awhile so don't get too upset for missing some of the what seem like no-brainers not mentioned. So, with that let's get into this.

First off:
Alejandre Aja and Alexandre Arcady
Now, this is a strange pairing, but taking into account the fact that his last name isn't "Aja" but a pseudonym formed from the initial letter of each of the three parts of his real name as he was born Alexandre Jouan-Arcady he certainly qualifies. Aja is certainly familiar to US audiences with the French hit High Tension but also for the series of remakes he directed once he arrived in America. With The Hills Have Eyes, Mirrors and Piranha 3D among his resume, he's known for plenty of splashy, overt gore and high-energy setpieces as was common in two distinct waves of films that he's a part of: the Splat-Pack and the New French Extremity Movement. Both are intertwined with each other at times, but it's certainly worth noting that he's a prominent name in the 2000s being incredibly active in the scene. Now, the elder Alexandre isn't at all connected with the genre, and the only thing that comes close is a producer credit on Tension, but he is quite an accomplished filmmaker in France and is certainly worthy of being highlighted in this manner.

Asia and Dario Argento
So, this is certainly a pairing that makes sense to be covered here and we're going to try and be as brief as we can here. The elder Dario is certainly no stranger to the genre, being the Godfather of the Giallo genre and whose legacy and influence has remained constant since his first film The Bird with the Crystal Plumage was released in 1970. Known for his other Giallo films The Cat O'Nine Tails, Four Flies on Grey Velvet and Deep Red which were all responsible for his international fame. However, none matches his unequivocal masterpiece Suspiria which truly exploded his name in the genre on an international scale. While his career has certainly had it's ups and downs since that point, he still rests comfortably as a legend in the genre due to his unquestionable series of classic and legendary films which overcome his flaws.

Now, admittedly some would argue that began once he started working with daughter Asia, but that's an argument for another time. However, the connection is still there in that her career broke out in the 80s alongside her father and his frequent collaborators with appearances in Demons 2 and The Church which set up her later career arc in her father's work from everything from Trauma and Stendhal Syndrome to The Card Player and Mother of Tears. However, not unlike the previous couple who have a tenuous horror connection between them, there's a strong connection here with Asia actually undertaking a few entries behind the camera much like her father starting with the anthology effort DeGenerazione in 1994. A series of shorts emerged shortly afterward, and her solo full-length debut Scarlet Diva arrived in 2000 for all it's ugly faults within. While a strict drama in this being loosely based on her own life, the fact that there are a few other shorts in her catalog alongside her acting credits makes this a celebratory pair to highlight.

Charles and Albert Band
This is another worthy pairing to chronicle and one that might really surprise some out there. Charles might not be one of the more popular names out there in the genre, but there's no denying the influence he himself had with two of the most successful companies in the 80s and 90s with his Empire Pictures and later Full Moon Entertainment. However, he actually got his start back in the 70s on low-budget softcore films and distributing other works which would become a major part of his later career under those two banners and later made his way into the horror/fantasy realm with the first Empire Pictures film Parasite, renown for being the feature-film debut of Demi Moore more than anything else. Once that signaled the start of his career proper, he turned to making fun, enjoyable campy B-movies the likes of Re-Animator and From Beyond to efforts like Creepozoids and Dolls, among countless others at Empire. Once it became Full Moon, Band turned in plenty of directorial efforts of his company's product, throwing out titles as diverse as Trancers II, Prehysteria and Head of the Family to HideousBlood Dolls and Doll Graveyard, these later two films being indicative of the films produced by the company as the reputation for offering killer dolls films or ludicrous low-budget cheese-fests like the Evil Bong franchise that have been churned out over the years. These efforts here certainly make him a worthwhile if not an essential director in the genre.

And with that, we turn to his father Albert Band. Himself the son of a famous French painter and born in France, he got his start as a director in the late 50s although his first horror effort was the low-budget I Bury the Living about a man running a local cemetery finds that he's able to mark people for death by mistaking the code for occupied graves with unoccupied graves and the associated trauma that comes with the discovery. More like an extended episode of the Twilight Zone tv show, nevertheless, it starts him up with a notable effort to start this off with. Moving to Italy and undertaking a few efforts in the fading peplum genre, he actually comes back in the 70s with Zoltan: Hound of Dracula/Dracula's Dog, about a family vacationing in the countryside discovering that their newly-adopted dog is the faithful servant of Count Dracula and is trying to recruit the neighboring animals into a cult of like-minded individuals to help his master. A few other titles for Charles' companies in Ghoulies II as well as the first two Prehysteria films round out his career so certainly not as prolific as his son in the directors' chair but certainly, his many producer credits on the vast majority of work in Charles' two companies make this a family legacy worth mentioning.

Lamberto and Mario Bava
Now, I'm fairly certain that the vast majority of you reading this are going to be here for this piece, and I'll try to keep it brief. Now, Mario is certainly one of the more celebrated names in the genre by being at the forefront of so many movements and genres, none more than the Giallo which he started in 1963 with The Girl Who Knew Too Much and in 64 with Blood and Black Lace, two celebrated titles that paved the way for the works of Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, Sergio Martino and countless others out there who undertook the genre later in the 1970s. Bava was still working heavily in the genre at that time with his efforts Five Dolls for an August Moon, Hatchet for a Honeymoon and A Bay of Blood which I mentioned [NOTE=LINK]earlier[LINK] about being a potential choice for the first true slasher film ever made. However, alongside his gialli Bava was equally adept at home in another popular Italian genre with Gothic Horror, cementing the country's burgeoning take on the style with his celebrated feature-length debut Black Sunday which is still one of the most stylish and chilling entries in the style. His later efforts Black Sunday, The Whip and the Body and Kill, Baby, Kill are just as enjoyable and chilling while his 70s efforts Blood Baron and Lisa and the Devil still employ the style and substance found in the first efforts he directed. For these reasons, he is still among the most hallowed names in the Eurohorror field.

As for his son, Lamberto, he's certainly one of the more intriguing figures to be found here. Starting off working as an assistant director on some of his father's films, including some mentioned above, he is instead mostly known for the work he did under the tutelage of Argento with A Blade in the Dark, Demons and Demons 2 which are all a part of the mid-80s style of commercialized splatter horror that featured plenty of stylized action, over-the-top bloodshed and booming heavy metal soundtracks designed to appeal to the American audience. After moving on from the genre following his late-80s giallo Delirium: Photos of Gioia, he spent a vast majority of his time in Italian television producing and directing dramas although he would occasionally touch back on the genre with Body Puzzle and Ghost Son so he does still keep his fingers in the waters. Together, the two cover a wide range of the styles found in Italian cinema and still remain two of the most popular figures in the realm of Eurohorror.

The Cardonas
So, this is actually the pairing I wanted to get to the most as this here really wanted to highlight this particular family being the biggest reasoning to support this particular holiday. They are one of only two three-generation examples of a singular family working in the genre for all three managed to leave their mark on Mexican cinema, ironically both of which are actually Mexican horror families.

Regarding René Cardona Sr., he is known as being among the initiators of the Luchador style of horror film that's one of the most widely associated styles within the Mexican horror movement. Although he wasn't responsible for the first films in the style as that honor belongs to journeyman director Chano Ureta, he started working in the genre with efforts like Doctor of Doom, Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Mummy and The Batwoman which all sought to merge a masked luchador-style wrestler into a typical horror film and is a style which I'll cover in-depth in a future installment here on the blog. However, easily his greatest success came from the films he did featuring the immortal luchador Santo, the most popular of the masked wrestlers in Mexico and one of the most prolific actors in the style appearing in nearly every genre imaginable in his homeland. His horror efforts with Cardona include Santo vs. el estranulador/Santo vs. the Strangler, Espectrol del estrangulador/Ghost of the Strangler and Santo en la venganze de la momia/Santo and the Vengence of the Mummy which pit the popular hero against a number of human and supernatural enemies. While the team would wind up making a number of great films together, the most infamous film in Cardona's career, Night of the Bloody Apes, was another effort in this style about a female wrestler accidentally killing a competitor in the ring which causes a mad scientist to use her brain as the perfect  finishing piece to restore his disfigured son only to realize that the gorilla heart he previously transplanted into his body has mutated his son and causes him to go on a rampage that forces her to stop the creature. Featuring actual open-heart surgery footage and being one of the first Mexican films to showcase nudity on-screen, it was quite controversial in it's original release and was one of the original films on the Video Nasties list, later becoming an 'official' addition to the list and is indicative of the kind of work he produced over his career.

His son, René Cardona Jr., is equally fascinating although he's nowhere near as prolific in the genre as his father. Working in films since the early 60s alongside his father, he initially specialized in slapstick comedies and dramas throughout the early part of his career while tackling a James Bond-style imitation every now and then. Once he moved into the 70s and found the loosened censorship morals to his liking as he was one of the first prolific exploitation helmers in the country starting with the stellar vehicle The Night of a Thousand Cats, about a millionaire playboy who flies around a small city picking up women and flying them back to his private castle where he beds them and then feeds them to his flesh-hungry cats. Though repetitive with numerous shots of him buzzing around the apartments of his intended targets, the fact that this is filled with nudity, graphic scenes of animal abuse and a stirring finale in the middle of a grandiose Gothic castle which really sets the stage for the type of offerings he would put out later in the 70s. With titles like Guyana, Cult of the Damned, Cyclone and The Bermuda Triangle to his credit, he found a particular niche of offering classy, stylized exploitation films which would be on peak display at the zenith of his career, Tintorera: Tiger Shark. Featuring more of a softcore-porn plotline for the first half before turning into a strong, somewhat shocking finale as the film features on-screen animal violence with scenes of the sharks being killed in fishing nets with other types of fish. Featuring plenty of graphic shark attacks and a generally sleazy atmosphere to it, it works like most of the other films in his catalog and serves as his most popular effort which did signal the end of his heyday. Despite still offering efforts like Beaks: The Movie and El hombre de blanco/The Man in White later in the 80s and 90s, he finished out his career the way he started with comedies and dramas up until his death.

The third part of the legacy, René Cardona III, came onto the scene in the late 80s following his father's and grandfathers' footsteps in the directors' chair with his start coming with more comedies and musicals like his father. Once he turned to horror, he found a calling producing the type of efforts that were becoming popular in the country's cinema at the door which was cheesy rip-offs of American films. His first effort, Vacations of Terror, tells of a family arriving at a summer home located near the site of a witch burning and find the curse she laid out coming back to befell them in form of a possessed doll the youngest child finds in the area, comes off as a complete mixture of both Poltergeist and The Amityville Horror while tossing in elements of Black Sunday and the devil doll formula to add a local flavor to the film. Although loaded with cheese and filled with cliches from other films, nonetheless there's plenty of fun to be had here as it comes across with plenty of charm and an easy watchability factor that translates into his other genre films. Unfortunately, none of them have made it to America in any format all so efforts like El descuartizador/The Cutter, Alarido del terror/Scream of Terror and Colmillos, el hombre lobo/Fangs of the Wolfman have had no kind of exposure here. However, what has emerged about these films is pretty much similar to other films at the time, being cheesy low-budget rips of other forms of popular US horror movies be they creature feature or slasher just with a Mexican bent to them. Now, he's turned into a prolific filmmaker of children's films which has been his primary source of output in recent years and completes the cycle brought forth by his forefathers.

The Galindos
The other royal family in Mexican horror cinema, the Galindo family were actually a bit more prolific than their countrymates in the Cardona family but yet they aren't as fondly remembered due to the fact that they're not responsible for actual movements within the country's cinema. Rather, they're more just producers of quality content and are in fact part of the most enjoyable outcropping of genre efforts in the country's history.

Patriarch Pedro Galindo isn't actually a genre director, getting credited as director on only one film in La muerte del chacal/Hunting a Jackel which he actually shared co-director credits with grandson Pedro Galindo III in the 1980s. However, he was more involved in the production end of the business working on plenty of dramas and romantic comedies in the 50s and 60s and even dabbled in the music scene composing soundtracks for a vast number of those particular productions. In fact, he managed to get a bit of posthumous love with some of his soundtracks being sampled in Kill Bill, Vol. 2, Once Upon a Time in Mexico and even appearing on an episode of Sex and the City of all places so his horror output is severely limited. However, it's his progeny that would prove to have more impact on the genre, each one with exponentially more involvement.

Pedro's son, Rubén Galindo, started out in the 60s like much of the others in the scene, doing comedies and dramas for Mexican cinema before working his way over to the horror genre. Working in the luchador style, he directed a pair of entries with Santo, Santo contra los asesinos de otros mundos/Santo against the Outer Space Killers and the spectacular late-career highlight Santo vs. las lobas/Santo vs. The She-Wolves which he shared a co-director credit with Jaime Jiménez Pons. In between these two efforts, he also offered a horror/western Pistolero del diablo/The Devil's Pistol which unfortunately has never been given a true US release so details about this one are really hard to come by although all surviving promo materials list him as director. So, a figure with a bit more involvement than his father but still not overall that impressive, and clearly shows that the best is being saved for last.

That best is indeed saved for his two sons, Rubén Galindo Jr. and Pedro Galindo III, who are all incidentally counterparts of the other third-generation worker in the industry with the aforementioned Rene Cardona III. That means these two are pretty much all even in their exploits of cheesy knock-offs of US horror films, and none is more evident than Pedro's handling of Vacations of Terror 2 after Cardona III did part 1. Still, with efforts like Trampa Infernal/Hell's Trap, Pánico en la montaña/Panic in the Mountains and El teatro del horror/Theater of Horror appearing throughout the early 90s he still shows that style of cliches and situations found in the US-helmed killer-in-the-woods slasher style mixed with low-budget splatter effects for a cheesy time here. Managing to pump more films than his father did, he manages to be quite a prolific provider in the family.

Still, in terms of quality, his brother Rubén is the clear winner in the family. He is responsible for the two clear-cut winners of whole cheesy rip-offs of 80s Mexican horror cinema with his films Cemetery of Terror and Ladrondes de tumbas/Grave Robbers which still stand among the best films in the countries genre output overall. Cemetery features a satanic serial killer getting resurrected and going on a spree against a group of vacationing at a nearby cottage, only to end up killing them off and using their blood to resurrect a horde of zombies from the cemetery he resided in and directs them to target the local village. Indeed, it's two films in one as the first half is a straightforward, brutal slasher filled with great kills and suspenseful stalking, but then he manages to dispatch the crew completely and then brings about a zombie film in the final half where he raises a whole cemetery and has the zombies terrorizing another group of kids in the area. This double-switch is incredibly effective and manages to throw in everything in these styles while also managing to be coherent, fun and highly entertaining much like Robbers which is just a simple, straightforward slasher through and through. Other efforts, from Don't Panic which is a Nightmare on Elm Street rip-off to the killer rodent film Mutantes del año 2000/Demon Rat showcase plenty of influences from others and are far more enjoyable than they should be. Now, both manage to stop their filmographies right around 1995 so they haven't had much to do in recent years but provide plenty to like about the second golden age of Mexican horror cinema.

Anthony, James D.R. and Douglas Hickox
Another big family with an involvement in the genre, only one that doesn't stretch as far back as the Mexican legacies or contains as much as they did. Rather, this family tends to be quite restrained and reserved much like their British origins. Father Douglas initially developed a reputation for action scenes inside crime/thrillers in the 60s, and eventually brought him to his only genre effort, the Vincent Price tour-de-force Theatre of Blood in the 70s. His two sons, though, would have a much bigger impact thought.

First off, older brother Anthony appeared first by offering up the Waxwork entries in the late 80s, the first one appearing in '88 and the sequel in '92. They started to showcase a tactic he would utilize throughout his career where he uses a dual-focus technique in which one person's face would take up most the screen in profile, with another person shown on the other half of the screen in the background. That's put to great use in other efforts like Warlock: Armageddon, Hellraiser 3 and the stellar made-for-TV werewolf film Full Eclipse in the early 90s which signaled him as a potential force to be reckoned with in the genre. However, just as he was starting up he shifted to action films with a slew of titles in the late 90s and 00s which somewhat stalled his genre output. With all the recent love for his two franchises, a comeback might not be out of the question but at the moment it's stalled where it is.

The third member of the family, his younger brother James, isn't quite as prolific but also managed to churn out a few titles. With the help of his brother, he got his first film out with the third entry in the Children of the Corn franchise which started him off with a few titles. Offering the cheesy creature features Blood Surf and Sabretooth, these are both among the responsible titles for ushering the wave of original creature feature films on the SyFy Channel that started shortly after these two were released. Although mostly responsible for thrillers now, he did provide one more genre effort with Detention several years ago and remains the last effort released by the family.

Charlotte, Lily Hayes, Lisbeth and Lloyd Kauffman
Now, this might be a somewhat odd choice here, but the fact that one of the individuals involved is one of the more underappreciated figures in the genre is certainly more than enough to make him worthy of being covered. Lloyd is certainly quite the legend in the independent horror genre with his company Troma Studios being, for better or worse, one of the most recognizable names in the market and with Lloyd at the forefront of many of the films emerging from the studio. These were primarily low-to-no budget efforts that offered up plenty of bad taste, outrageous exploits and tons of creative ideas packed into a film that really shouldn't have been that jam-packed with these efforts. Starting in the late 70s and working up through the early 2000s, he oversaw efforts like the Toxic Avenger franchise, Class of Nuke'Em HighTromeo and Juliet and Terror Firmer among other titles for the studio that he also produced or acquired for release. Also providing directorial efforts for Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead and Return to Class of Nuke'Em High Vol. 1, Lloyd is for the most part giving back to the community he helped foster by appearing in underground and indie horror films to help ensure that the genre doesn't disappear into the void.

Now, Lloyd does have three daughters in the movie business with Charlotte, Lily Hayes and Lisbeth, and even though none are really true directors they do deserve a mention. Both Charlotte and Lily Hayes are actually individually responsible for many of the documentaries and bonus features for the studio's releases, and Charlotte, in particular, directed many episodes of the series Kabukiman's Cocktail Corner about one of the studios most popular figures, Sgt. Kabukiman. Lisbeth doesn't have any directorial credits, but like her sisters she also acted in many of these late-80s/early 90s efforts for the studio and doesn't take as much interest in the studios' work like them but still hangs around enough to be worthy of mention for how Lloyd does keep it in the family for the studio.

Christopher and Fred Olen Ray
A family that's certainly worth highlighting, as much like the previous outing it's quite appropriate to select these types of individuals who need a spotlight to show their mettle. Fred, in particular, is one of the more undervalued genre auteurs, working on numerous low-budget exploitation-style efforts in the 80s and 90s working on such efforts like Scalps, The Tomb, Evil Spawn and Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers which all showcase a fondness for exploitation goodness with plenty of sleazy thrills, gratuitous nudity and a dark sense of humor that really belies their low-budget origins. Later efforts like Haunting Fear, Spirits and Witch Academy sought to offer more straightforward genre thrills, yet he still offered efforts like Inner Sanctum, Dinosaur Island and Possessed by the Night which still carried plenty of his renown sleaze and cheese. Working on any number of genre efforts from children's films, action films or softcore porn for late-night cable TV offset with the odd genre film or two, he's certainly never lost his footing in the genre even with plenty of odd titles amongst is filmography and continues working to this day.

Certainly spreading his wealth around, his son Christopher Douglas followed his dad's footsteps by doing low-budget style creature features much in the same manner. After doing numerous behind-the-scenes jobs for his dads' works in the 90s and 2000s, Christopher started off with The Asylum studio productions Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus and a follow-up entry in the series Mega Shark vs. Kolossus, 2-Headed Shark Attack and it's sequel 3 Headed Shark Attack as well as Shark Week. All of these are pretty much what can be expected from an Asylum mockbuster style of movies, being loaded with cheesy scenarios, ludicrous action scenes and wholly awful CGI rushed out to capitalize on other more mainstream productions in the genre. Not nearly as prolific or as wide-ranging in terms of genres he undertakes as his dad, he still provides another source of entertainment in the genre as he continues to move beyond his association with the company.

Cameron and George A. Romero
Certainly one of the more hallowed names in the genre today, George is someone who really doesn't need much introduction. Packing a wallop with his monumental and influential debut Night of the Living Dead in 1968 which spawned a franchise with titles Dawn, Day, Land, Diary and Survival of the Dead respectively, he has become one of the most beloved directors of the genre and cited as the inspiration for the modern zombie movement with his series. Not content to just pump out zombie efforts, he also provided efforts like Martin, Creepshow and The Dark Half which were all met with a variety of critical and commercial success yet nevertheless helped make for a rather strong and impactful genre-heavy resume in the scene. The impact of his main 'Dead' series can't be underestimated and routinely rank as some of the more revered and influential films in the genre.

While a legacy like that might be detrimental for some, his son Cameron has attempted to spread his wings with a few titles to his credit. Starting in the late 2000s with his first feature The Screening and followed up with Staunton Hill, he really hasn't provided the kind of impact that his dad has but can clearly work his way around a gore scene which is a potential avenue for his output in the future should he continue. While he's still quite new in his career and mentioning his work at this time might not seem fair to some more prominent father/son combinations, his father's legacy is more than enough reason to bring up this duo.

And with that, we find ourselves at the end of this list for now. Join us again next year for another celebration of these duos as we honor Father's Day with this special series of articles. To those out there reading this, have a happy Father's Day and we'll see you all next time.