Horror Icon Mini-Marathon: MARY LAMBERT
Though women are the primary on-screen stars of both the music video and horror film industries, it is a much different story behind the camera. Female directors are a much smaller percentage than should be represented by population or by talent. One woman filmmaker who was able to carve out a successful career in both was director Mary Lambert.
Lambert began her career as a music video director, shooting videos for talent as well-known as Madonna, the Eurythmics, and Sting. Her first film, “Siesta,” a thriller starring Cabriel Byrne and Ellen Barkin, came and went fairly quickly, but she followed that up with a successful Stephen King film adaptation, “Pet Sematary.” One of the few filmmakers of successful horror films asked back for subsequent films, she also directed the sequel.
On television, she worked on the beloved anthology series “Tales From the Crypt,” as well as directing one of Showtime’s Rebel Highway series, “Dragstrip Girl”; the series, which took old road exploitation titles and gave low-budget filmmakers like Robert Rodriguez and Joe Dante carte blanche to do whatever they wanted, yielded mixed results, but Lambert’s is a fun and knowing nod to films of the era starring Mark Dacascos and future “Breaking Bad’ nutcase Raymond Cruz.
Recent years have seen her dabbling in children’s films (“Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge”), and entry in the “Urban Legends” franchise, and even a classic trashy masterpiece from the Syfy original workhouse (“Mega Python vs. Gatoroid,” which features a fight between 1980’s pop stars Debbie Gibson and Tiffany).
She is still working in the genre (she is attached to direct the upcoming “Hell House”), and she has broken the glass ceiling in the horror industry and made at least one classic 1980’s horror film.
Based on the successful Stephen King novel (at a time when Stephen King properties were at an all-time high and networks and studios went into a fever pitch whenever something new was released), “Pet Sematary” is a seemingly simple story of a pet cemetery that brings back the pets buried there. One family finds out the true dangers involved when they bury a human out there in hopes of having them return. Great performances from your Miko Hughes (who would pop up later as the Freddy Krueger-channeling son in “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare”) and Fred Gwynne (Herman Munster himself) and strong direction from Lambert make this a worthwhile revisit.
A surprisingly fun and campy film which was released at the end of the mid-90’s self-referential horror boom and therefore lost in the shuffle of “Urban Legend” and “Gossip,” “The In Crowd” follows a mentally unstable girl who falls in with a group of popular kids, only to find out that not everything is as beautiful and sweet as the surface would portray. Matthew Settle, better known for “Band of Brothers” and “Gossip Girl,” is excellent, and the film is fun enough to watch again… even if you keep it a secret from everyone else.
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A supernatural thriller written by Tom Malloy (who followed this film up with the less than stellar “The Alphabet Killer”), “The Attic” is a fun and spooky little indie with a fun cast that boasts “Mad Men” alumnus Elisabeth Moss, Catherine Mary Stewart (from “Night of the Comet”), and Alexandra Daddario (from the recent “Texas Chainsaw” remake and the current HBO series “True Detective”). Though the ending is a bit confusing, the film holds up as a solid watch that doesn’t outstay its welcome.
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