July 7, 2017
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AV Club: Larry Fessenden’s post-horror movies

As luck would have it, I was settling in for a Larry Fessenden double feature the same night that Twitter—or, at least, the small corner of the platform occupied by film writers and cinephiles—was working itself into a tizzy about an article in The Guardian postulating a new subgenre of “post-horror.” The basic thrust of the Guardian article is that recent films like It Comes At Night and A Ghost Story are changing the horror paradigm by adding talky drama elements to genre narratives, which is exactly what Larry Fessenden was doing in the ‘90s. His 1991 debut feature No Telling combines a Cassavetes-esque relationship drama about a marriage in decline with the bare-bones structure of the Frankenstein myth, as an obsessive medical researcher turns to neighborhood pets after he finds himself unable to procure the animals he’s convinced he needs to complete his research. The result is rather like a naturalistic take on Re-Animator cut together with scenes from A Woman Under The Influence, as strange as that may sound.

That particular film also touches on themes of animal rights and environmentalism, displaying a social consciousness that was developed more fully in Fessenden’s follow-up film, 1995’s Habit. Like this year’s Colossal, Habit uses an alcoholic protagonist as a metaphor to tie in with the film’s fantastic elements; in this case, it’s Lower East Side resident Sam (Fessenden), who’s been a complete drunken mess ever since his girlfriend broke up with him and his father died within a few months of each other. Meeting the enigmatic Anna (Meredith Snaider) at a Halloween party ignites an obsessive affair unlike anything Sam has ever experienced in his life, but as their nightly rendezvous grow more intense, Sam starts feeling, well, ill. Blending classical vampire imagery—Anna is allergic to garlic, and can’t come in to Sam’s apartment without an invitation—with the pervasive fear of AIDS that hung over every sexually active person in the ‘90s, Habit is not only a metaphorically rich horror-drama hybrid, but a time capsule of the last gasp of bohemia in downtown Manhattan.

Both of these films are available in Shout! Factory’s Larry Fessenden Collection boxed set, and No Telling is also currently streaming on Shudder.

Read the full article…

October 21, 2015
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AV Club Dives Into THE LARRY FESSENDEN COLLECTION

Noel Murray of A.V. Club took a detailed look at THE LARRY FESSENDEN COLLECTION, out now on Blu-Ray from Shout! Factory.

Fessenden

From the A.V. Club Piece:

Digital media has its advantages—portability and durability chief among them—but there’s still no substitute for a good, extras-packed DVD or Blu-ray box set when it comes to putting important work into a larger context. The Scream! Factory/IFC Midnight/Glass Eye Pix co-production The Larry Fessenden Collection contains nice-looking transfers of four feature films by the New York art-horror impresario: 1991’s anti-vivisectionist Frankenstein riff No Telling; 1995’s vampire/addiction drama Habit; 2001’s man-vs.-nature monster movie Wendigo; and 2006’s global-warming eco-thriller The Last Winter. But just as important are the collection’s commentary tracks, interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and samples of Fessenden short films and documentaries dating back to the late 1970s. There’s no easy way for a download or streaming video—or even a repertory retrospective—to replicate the archival quality of The Larry Fessenden Collection. It’s the ephemera gathered in this set that makes such a strong case for a filmmaker who’s often overlooked.

Read on for the full run-down.