Archive for category Movies
Quentin Dupieux ‘s Movie Rubber 2010 could be the first film to go down in history as both the best movie ever made and the worst movie ever made. Since the major plot of the movie involves watching a living Psychokinetic tire roll around on its own volition it’s pretty obvious to figure out why the latter may be true, but why I would consider it great… that’s a little more complicated. Aside from the major plot points which involves “Robert” the tire using his supernatural abilities to mutilate desert creatures and decapitate humans, the film also charmingly spits on the fourth wall and the audience behind it.
The film’s self-aware attitude comes right out of the gate with star Stephen Spinella ‘s (who deadpan delivery of black humor is nothing sort of brilliant) unleashing one of the greatest monologues in film history. The NO REASON Speech sets the tone of the film as a sort of an anti-apology to why there’s a movie about a living Psychokinetic tire. However, that is far from the last insult to the audience.
The second layer of Rubber is that the film has actually provided its own audience in the form of a group of obnoxious viewers camping out in the desert and watching the film through binoculars. We learn as the film rolls on that Spinella has hired an assassin to eliminate the audience so the reality of the movie can cease to exist, leaving him free to stop portraying his character, Lieutenant Chad. Unfortunately, and with hilarity, things never work out the way Spinella would want them to.
Shifting gears away from the meta-movie, we find Robert is still rolling through the desert pursuing a young girl with unclear motivations. Sometimes, he seems ready to kill her and other times Robert merely seems fascinated by her actions and wishes to emulate them in some whim to “try out humanity.” Most impressive in this process is Dupieux’s use of camera angles and music to attribute emotion to a tire during his quest for identity and blood, until he inevitably must meet Chad for the final showdown.
At the end of the day, the more I talk about this film the less I do it justice, as it can only be experienced. However to say it’s quite unique is a massive understatement. Its blend of black and dry humor, with parody of horror conventions, and absurdist theatre makes the film endlessly entertaining. If you have not caught this one, and you have an appreciation for dry wit or an affection for B Horror then you have to check it out.
Out of all the movies that, over the years, have managed to gain “cult” status, a good percentage of them are horror films. Why? In general, horror is a genre that constantly needs to push boundaries in order to remain fresh and popular. Horror directors are more likely to take risks with controversial themes, effects, and levels of violence. This has resulted in a great number of horror films over the years being disregarded or even condemned upon release, whilst afterwards horror fans have gradually managed to access these movies and build them up into popular cult classics. Here are two of the best, both available from www.lovefilm.com,where you can rent DVDs and Blu-Rays or even watch movies online.
Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead (1981) was one of the first films in the UK to be labelled a video nasty – films that were criticised for their violent content and often censored, or even banned. Made on a low budget, The Evil Dead features plenty of blood and gore, along with stop motion effects that may now seem outdated but were quite unique at the time. Although it received mixed reviews on release, the film has since gained a massive following, as have its sequels Evil Dead II (1987) and the humorous Army of Darkness (1993). There have also been many spin offs of the series such as video games, comic books, and even a musical. A remake of the original film is planned for 2013.
Made at a similar time to the first Evil Dead, John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) was already a remake of an existing science fiction movie, 1951’s The Thing From Another World. Carpenter, however, stuck closer to the source material, a novella called Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell Jr. Carpenter created a tense film strewn with paranoia, alongside revolutionary special effects. At the time of release, The Thing had to compete with a much more family friend alien flick – Stephen Spielberg’s ET. Understandably it failed to impress at the time, but like The Evil Dead has become increasingly popular ever since. The 2011 prequel, also titled The Thing, was decent but failed to capture the tension of John Carpenter’s cult classic.
Since its been few months since either of us have had the time or drive to type anything short of an Amazon search query, I thought I’d take a look back at what we’ve missed.
Prometheus…After a bunch of comic-booky garbage, popularly known as the AVP films, Alien’s orginal director Ridley Scott returns to the franchise with a new vision that ambiguously holds the title of prequel, in the sense of an origin story, to the once beloved Sigourney Weaver space opera. Scott, and others involved with the project, have provided conflicting reports as to how much Prometheus will actually tie into the franchise, but the inspiration seemed to be to tell the story of the “Space Jockey” and his derelict space vessel where the alien was initially encountered in the first film.
However, recent interviews with Scott provided further confusion as he played down any connection with the Alien franchise saying that, “the keen fan will recognize strands of Alien‘s DNA,” but basically seems to suggest that it will have little to do with his signature acid blooded beasts. Despite all that noise, the marketing department seemed to not hesitate to use the classic slow forming ALIEN-style font in the trailer. Also, anyone who has 70 seconds to spare to watch the teaser might notice a few other familiar sights: people in Cryo-chambers, Giger style architecture, diseased crew members, and even the Space Jockey’s ship itself. I wonder if we’ll all be surprised if someone is secretly an android.
Even if it has as little to do with the sci-fi giant as Ridley seems to want everyone to believe, how can you go wrong with the guy that directed Alien, Blade Runner, and that oh so Witty 1984 Apple Macintosh Computer Superbowl ad.
Check out the trailer for yourself Here
Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 1… Yeah, I saw it. And as to be expected they dragged out a lot of the film’s teeny romantic aspects, especially the wedding and honeymoon, which droned on for a grueling while, but I must say that many aspects were done with a great deal more skill and grace than I would have expected. A perfectly controlled hyperbolic bloodbath dream sequence paved the way for a darker film waiting to emerge, and as the tone soured the illustration of Bella Swan’s “sickness” was executed with a convincing transformation to an emaciated body usually reserved for Holocaust victims. Unfortunately, one of the most painful exceptions to the rule was the presentation of the wolf-telepathy between Jacob and his pack which looked like a drunken argument between angry muppets after a long night of Kermit’s Green Jager shots.
Objectively, I would say the film was well done and probably a welcome entry for its fan base, albeit as hokey as usual.
Red State… I heard Jay and Silent Bob Fight God Nuts was the original title, but didn’t have quite the same ring. After seeing Smith’s fad-style of direction go out of favor and his originality wavier with it, I had been skeptical of Kevin’s Smith ability to direct anything well anymore let alone horror. However, Red State had some merit to it . The plot follows three exaggerations of high school boys that decide they should all go do the same chick that they met on the internet at once. (Cause we all knew lots of straight Teen boys that would be cool with a Pseudo-homosexual experience for no good reason in the confines of the most judgmental age bracket.) Regardless , and unfortunately for them, the whole setup happens to be a ploy by an extremist church to kidnap the three of them and execute them in their church for being sexually unwholesome, I guess.
Enter-Abin Cooper…an interesting mix of bible-literalist, radical extremist, and cliche all wrapped into one. While Smith does a good job of creating tension with one of the boys locked in cage, watching as Abin and his congregation mock and murder a homosexual man they’ve captured, every character in the room is pretty cookie cutter bible nut. In all fairness, though, the piece is hardly intended as a character study.
Shortly after things are looking bleak for the ill-fated teens, the film shifts POV to John Goodman’s character, Joseph Keenan, an ATF agent that’s prepped for the audience as a red blooded typical American from the second he rolls out of bed and onto the screen. His cigarette smoking and coffee drinking self receives a call from his high ranking government superior while his wife cooks him a hardy breakfast of eggs and processed ham. We soon learn that ATF has had their ever-watching eye on Abin’s cult for some time, and they want Goodman to perform a raid on their church. Despite Goodman’s warnings and concerns that ATF’s track record is a little tainted in such operations his superiors force him to mobilize a team to surround the church.
The rest of the movie carries out as you would expect: all hell breaks loose in a manner that heavy handedly criticizes events like the Waco assault. As the ATF starts killing Abin’s followers more brutally than this film attempts subtlety, the remaining hostages dwindle away and the movie works its way to a deus ex machina ending that’s sort of clever but sort of just pulled out of someone’s ass also. I guess Smith never heard of Chekhov’s gun or maybe it was just out of bullets.
Most offensive is the outro, where Goodman has to debrief with two high ranking government officials that make over the top “hot button issues” jokes about terrorism and how they can subvert due process because they’re the government. (PATRIOT ACT Blah Blah TERRIORISM Blah blah ENTER YOUR FAVORITE ANTI-USA BUZZWORD HERE.) Smith myswell have given them black handle bar mustaches to twirl while they bellow out deep laughs. However, Goodman shuts them up by rambling off childlike dog metaphors in a manner eerily similar to the one-speech-a-movie Silent Bob used to give. Curious.
Even though I sound like I hated it, Smith does pull off suspense, drama, and discomfort at a level that I enjoyed, but subtlety is not his forte. While the film’s commentary is a bit BIT too TOO much, I agree with most of what he trying to say. The theme that any extreme leads to evil is a timeless and good subject, especially when these acts are perpetrated by those in power, its just when you approach it with the skillful tact and subtlety of Donkey Kong tossing a barrel the message loses a smidgen of power, But I guess in a movie where you’re expected to believe that anyone could shoot at John Goodman from an elevated position less than 100 yards away and miss, you need to suspend disbelief a little.
Final thoughts…honestly that’s really all I’ve had time to watch on the horror front these days…If you feel like you were cheated a Paranormal Activity 3 review then it probably would have went like this.
Matt: “It’s the best thing ever”
Chris: “It’s the worst movie ever “
Once in a brief while a movie comes along that is so ungodly terrible that it’s wonderful. How I could have missed such a classic my entire life is beyond me, but somehow The Godmonster of Indian Flats has slipped under the radar since its release in 1973. Operating on level of hokiness and lack of logic that Mystery Science Theater (shocking they never covered it) would have a wet dream about, the movie is supposed to follow the story of a mutated sheep that runs amuck in a midwest town that prides itself on its traditional appearance and tourist-trap mock old west setting. Not the case, the overgrown sheep monster has less than 10% of the actual narrative . So what fills up the rest? Nothing, but the most random bunch of events anyone has ever squeezed into a film.
The bulk of the narrative concerns itself with an African American named Barnstable that has been sent as an emissary from a billionaire employee to buy the town. While the mayor refuses Barnstable’s offers he still insists that he enjoy their hospitality, which involves taverns, a whore house, and an old-west parade complete with shooting range. However, the whole event turns out to be a giant charade to convince Barnstable that one of his stray bullets has killed the Sheriff’s German Shepard.
In order to further discredit Barnstable, the sheriff holds a black-tie church funeral for the dog, and the entire town turns out. While this is going on we have the “main plot” of a drifter named Eddie coming into town and falling in love with the local professor assistant, Mariposa, while her employer experiments with his imprisoned mutated lamb. Eddie and Mariposa perform typical youthful hi-jinx as the professor plays with bad sound effects, Tesla coils, and what ever equipment could be rented from the last Frankenstein set.
Meanwhile, Barnstable, has taken to trying to go to door to door to buy out the land leases from the locals, but is falling on hard times due to his unpopularity from the fallout of the fake slain dog, that we learn has just played dead and is doing fine in Carolina, where the sheriff shipped him off to. Since Barnstable refuses to leave and starts spending his time consorting with the whore’s house’s local madame, Alta, the mayor sends his evil henceman, Philip Mal Dove, that lures Barnstable back to his apartment with the promise of friendly drinks. When the two men settle in with cocktails, Maldove laments about his ignorance to big-city life, experimental bi-sexuality, and all other manner of things that Barnstable must have seen in his time in the big apple. Then Maldove assaults him, shoots himself with his own gun, and frames Barnstable for the crime. I guess most people like to break the ice with Bi-sexuality discussions before they try to frame you for attempted murder.
Back at the ranch, we have more crappy sound effects, more Telsa coils, and more footage of the gimpy, hunchbacked, mutant lamb. Barnstable’s, unfortunately, isn’t having any fun with science, as his false imprisonment is just another clever rouge to eliminate him The Sheriff sits idle with mouth fulls of steak and peas as the film cranks up the racial tension dial by marching a lynch mob into the jail to put Barnstable in the noose.
With some help from Alta, Barnstable is spared from execution, and the friendly neighborhood madame takes him to the nutty Professor for asylum. While Prof. Clemens initially offers his aid he folds like a house of cards the moment the tear gas brigade rolls in to claim their prisoner. Unfortunately, the commotion upsets the monster sheep who escapes containment.
Mariposa tries to lure the sheep back by doing a bizarre pixie dance across the screen for no good reason while Eddie chases after her screaming her name about a dozen times. However nothing works and the RAMPAGE of the GODMONSTER begins, which consists of him blowing up one gas stations where no one gets injured and scaring some school children away from their picnic. Then it goes down to lasso squad of drunken cowboys.
If you’re not confused yet, congratulations, but the ending should put you over the top. We cut back to the mayor who is riding in a limousine with Barnstable, who he has released, and informed that he has sold the land to his employer on his own terms. In short, I was going to do what you wanted but first we had to lynch you, beat you several times, throw you into a jail cell, and make you think you killed a dog. With that awkward conversation out of the way, we cut to gathering in the town square where the mayor has screwed over the Professor and has stolen the giant sheep to boost his tourism and then rants about how the railroad tracks will now be paved with gold and unveils the creature in a cage. What follows is beyond describe.
To put it simply, the crowd, without precedent, starts a riot–as signified by the same recycled shot of people running down a hill–and: random gunslingers show up and kill Philip Maldove, stuff blows up, the monster is disintegrated, and the mayor keeps screaming and laughing like a madman, “I beat you, Barnstable!” The end of a classic, for sure.
While I apologize for the lack of a spoiler alert, the real joy of this film is experiencing it and realizing that someone spent over 130,000 (of 1970s money) to make this abomination. And its not just that the acting is awful or the creature looks like a mix between Quasimodo and Sherry Lewis’s worst nightmare it’s the fact that there is absolutely no logic to the progression of images that litter the screen. At least if the movie had a little more to do with the monster than I could understand the title and maybe appreciate it as a hokey old creature feature, but it doesn’t.
The driving force of the narrative is the underlining racism and militantly conservative nature of those in power. While the aftermath of the riot results in a dead monster sheep the audience is shown smoking rising from his burning body that drifts on the wind to a flock of sheep who inhale it. Playing sinister music, and implications of more monsters means nothing. The monster had no effect on the events that destroyed the town,…perhaps it came to show us that we were the real monsters? Or it’s probably just crap.
Well, Romero’s latest project, Dead Time Stories Vol. 1 has recently hit the VOD market, and it doesn’t exactly have me dying for Vol.2. For the most part, Romero has has left the direction up to Savini, et al, but his MO kind wafts from each vignette, and perhaps its just the segmented short films format that reminds me of Creepshow, however parallels to Romeros other fiction keep surfacing like old zombie hands.
The initial “Really?”-moment that has the piece off and running like a three legged horse is Romero establishing himself as the Crypt Keeper-esque narrator, which ends up turning out like someone’s pedophile Uncle Chester trying to act like a friendly harmless adult. While most fans that know Romero will realize that George is just being George and isn’t really trying to act it’s still too hokey to watch. The segments themselves have an interesting off-beat style, but most of the stories and characters are pretty forgettable. While I don’t think I’ll ever forget Steven King’s portrayal of the newly “fertile” hick named Jordy Verill, the cockroach plagued Entomophobic Upson Pratt, or Adrian Barbeau’s Shrewish “Billy” I couldn’t name a single character in any of the “Deadtime” stories I just watched yesterday.
With that said, the three segments do all have some redeeming quality. The opener is about a determined woman trying to discover the fate of her husband in a jungle with hostile natives, which has an interesting twist on the fate of the narrator, but is peppered with too much cartoonish gore. Its follow-up has the creepiest portrayal of a mermaid since Daryl Hanna got cosmetic surgery, however the tone is a little too reminiscent of Creepshow’s “Something to Tide You Over” vignette. Then again, how many ways can vengeance from the sea be pulled off? The final piece is a vampire tale directed by Savini that reminded me of Romero’s old vampire tale Martin, but maintained its own unique dark direction and utilized it setting, a turn of the century peasantry naivety, to execute its narrative seamlessly.
Perhaps I’m doing Deadtime Stories Volume 1 an injustice by comparing it to Creepshow, which paired King and Romero both in the prime of their careers, but on its own merit it does have seem to be missing something. Still, the tales are enjoyable for what they are if you’re in the mood for this format. Or if you need a good laugh a you can just watch the transition segments when Romero does his best work as the over the top narrator. Either way, it’s not a terrible watch. Let’s call it a B- and hope for Vol 2 to wow us.
Here we go again, Let’s see what Horror and Horribles I’ve consumed this week.
Rule of Three: is Eric Shapiro‘s sad attempt at putting together a film Noir. Most of the action takes place in a hotel room and the scenes shift in time between the before, after, and during that results in the disappearance of a man’s daughter. In the “After” the father is combing the hotel room for some clue and receives a note that someone is going to meet him at three at the hotel to give him closure about his lost little girl. While in the “during,” his idiotic daughter has decided that she wants to have a three-some with his boyfriend and another girl, but wants the girl to be an intellectual equal, because you want the girl you’re having a ranchy ménage à trois in a seedy hotel to be able to quote Chaucer in correct middle English, I guess. Then we have the “before” where the previous renters of the room, a lowlife and a dealer, are arguing over the cost of Ruffies so the lowlife can rape one of his married female friends. If these vignettes melded together with the ease of a Four Rooms or Pulp Fiction I would look past the usual short comings of a low-budget project but the believability is lacking at every turn.
Yes, the acting sub-par, but that’s not biggest problem. Yes, the logical progression of events barely connect or make sense, but THAT’s not the biggest problem. What really sinks this film is that Eric Shapiro apparently never heard of Chekhov’s gun, the idea that if you’re going to have a gun fire in the last act it has to been seen on the mantle in the first act. In short, pulling a twist out of your ass at the last second doesn’t work in well written drama, which is how Shapiro tries to end this train wreck. The audience is walloped in the final scene with this “da-Da-DA” moment, that is unveiled without any precedence. Hopefully, the next Shapiro wants to take a stab at Film Noir he’ll take Chekhov’s gun off the mantle…and then shoot himself with it.
Blood Creek: is a bizarre mix of Zombie Nazi horror and Demon Knight. An estranged brother that has been missing for two years pops back up with a Jesus beard and the scourging at the pillar wounds on his back to match. He convinces his brother to go and shotgun down the family of four that have held him hostage for the past two years. So, they tie up the women and mortally wound the men,but then “the real” villain is unveiled; A super-zombie Nazi that can make other dead tissue into a super zombies, but the only thing he can’t do is walk past red triangles that the families have painted on the house. Sooo, the captors turned hostages have to team up with the hostages turned captors to hole up in the house and find a way to defeat the creature.
From here, we have a standoff reminiscent of the aforementioned Billy Zane classic, but lacking the personality of Zane’s demon cowboy. Instead, we get a self righteous Nazi that tries to make political statements to the one brother because he was a Gulf War Vet and somehow that has something to do with the plot? I don’t know. On the brighter side, Zombie horses are in the mix. Awesome, but that’s about as good as its gets. The rest of the movie falls into the typical monster movie format: playing chess with the creature, discovering its strengths and weakness, establishing dumb-ass complex rules, and finding a way to use the rules and weakness to execute some overly elaborate plan to trick the creature into a scenario that will exact its oblivion, which they do.
It’s not a terrible movie, but just not a very good one either. Enjoying Emma Booth’s odd other-worldly beauty is probably the biggest highlight of Blood Creek. Then again, maybe you like Zombie Horses a whole lot more than me.
Undead or Alive: is a Zombie/Western/Comedy/Romance/Horror movie featuring Chris Kattan as an idiotic love sick cowboy that teams up with a deserter, and an Indian Princess to fight a growing horde of Undead that is sweeping across the west. This premise pretty much says it all, and the movie is exactly what you’d expect. While Chris Kattan is as unfunny as he was on SNL, the movie does have handfuls of dark humor hiding behind every cactus, including Kattan’s partner using his beloved dead horse’s leg as a powder tamp to load a cannon while trying to explain to him that “Frisky” would have wanted to help. Not to mention, an ending that has black humor at its best.
Really, though, this movie is not for Zombie fans as much as its for Kattan fans (I’m sure there’s a few of you sickos out there) as, with the exception of a few scenes, the zombies act more like rotting people than shambling corpses, but otherwise I think the key is not hating Chris Kattan if you want to like this one.
Isolation: is maybe one of the most bizarre and original horror films I’ve caught in some time. A bit slow at first, Isolation lingers awhile over the matter of a pregnant cow and introducing the four main characters: A farmer named Dan, a vet named Orla, and a couple of young squatters: Mary and Jamie. After a lot of bickering between the four, the baby cow is finally ready to be born in a scene that illustrates more about cattle birth than I’d ever want to see, but after THAT the film takes a turn down Creepy Street.
Dan, while examining the new calf, is bite by it, losing a chunk of his finger. When Orla returns to examine the calf she discovers its dental arcade is jagged and that the cow is deformed, which leads to a grotesquely awful botched euthanization scene that will have animal lovers calling the ASPCA. Once that bit of unpleasantness is out of the way, we cut to the autopsy scene where Orla makes a strange discovery that the calf was already pregnant at birth,and its embryos contain creatures with exoskeletons. When Dan demands to know what’s going on Orla explains that her employer was experimenting with the cattle to create more fertile offspring and another argument ensues, but as they move off-screen the audience remains with the embryos and one starts to twitch.
From here on, the film carries an uncomfortable creepiness and tension that keeps it from descending into the realm of the typical SyFy Monster Movie, hence: no hokey footage of the beast, no over the top formula of how to vanquish it; and, somehow, Isolation succeeds as being a fresh new horror film. Worth a watch, by far.
Fragile: “Ally Mcbeal”, all 80 pounds of her, takes a job as a night nurse in an old hospital and a very cliched ghost story ensues. Not much more to say here. The ghost is seldom creepy. The twist is fairly simple. The quality has made-for-TV written all over it, and the acting is what you expect for a movie whose lead is Calista Flockhart. Nothing special, but at least watchable, which is more than I can say for some of the high budget horror that hits the silver screen these days.
Whenever I get behind on my writing I like to do this segment just to pretend I haen’t been just being lazy so here we go…
Zombie Farm (2009): is probably one of the most awkwardly paced zombie films (and I use the words loosely), so don’t hit play on your Netflix page if you’re looking for the usually nuts and bolts, chewing the fat zombie apocalypse. This flick is a long drawn out voodoo-type-zombie mystery that doesn’t bow to the usual intestine sucking conventions until the last five-ten. Everything before that follows the misadventures of a border-lands Mexican spiritual leader whose involvement with an abused wife leads him into the den of a slave zombie making witch. While some likable characters make this potential yawner watchable, its pacing and quality are TV movie style and its cover and title clearly try to cash in on a genre it barely belongs in.
Brain Dead (2007): is your typical zombie gore fest with heads popping like pimples and buckets of blood. The narrative in between is the basic Night of the Creeps style alien slug that crawls into people’s bodies to make them undead. While the first half of the movie wastes its time on T&A and introducing the stereotypical characters of a hick town: the perverted minster, the small time ex-con, the chick sheriff, the fish out of water lesbian; the second half settles into a typical Evil Dead style-holed up in the cabin show down. Amusing gore aside, this film really wastes a lot of time on sex jokes and pointless character building for a movie just looking to be funny, show some skin, and pour some blood. While I hate complaining like a first year film student, Brain Dead uses very sophomoric cutting to continuity practices about a dozen times to the point where its distracting and annoying: a biting zombie shifts to someone eating a sandwich, a map turns into the real landscape, a girl diving in a lake cuts to a tire going through a puddle. All micromanaging aside, its a pretty average film with only a handful of funny moments.
Doghouse: Pure fun in the vein of Shaun of the Dead meets Dead Alive. Six thirty-somethings pop on down the road from London, in an attempt to escape from their women, to an out-of-the-way village only to find the town abandoned. Of course, the usual trappings:bloody hand prints, signs of struggles, and abandoned military vehicles lead up to the typical “first-zombie” moment, but the film’s Ace Card is that only the town’s females have turned into the walking dead with each one maintaining an amusing but deadly form of their previous selves. The Wicca shop owner wields her sword. The stylist brandishes one of her shears in each hand. The housewife has her pots, pans, and electric knife. While it may not sound extraordinary, each character and their humor is done to a T and their group dynamics should ring true to any guy who ever had a close knit group of buddies. Doghouse is the perfect blueprint for how to make a brainless zombie flick and make it excellent. The best zombie film I’ve scene since Zombieland.
Bloody Reunion: A group of students reunite with an old teacher that has fallen ill and is confined to a wheel chair. People start dying by a masked figure and a lot of mystery ensues. While the plot thickens and the list of suspects dwindle, a few horrible deaths ensue: A girl stapled to death through the eyes, a boy feed razor blades etc. Some of the twists are interesting, but follows a very formulaic plot. Take it or leave it.
Seventh Moon: Eduardo Sánchez, writer director of Blair Witch, brings forth this tale about a couple honeymooning in China only to end up stuck in a village’s sacrificial ritual and hunted by strange creatures. People online have been panning this film as if it was the worst thing since The Garbage-Pail Kids Movie, but it has a great deal of merit. Instead of the “implied” threat of Blair Witch, Seventh Moon relies on a horde of white ghouls whose direction are executed with perfect creepiness throughout the film. While some film’s creatures lose creepiness the more they are on screen, Seventh Moon seems to find a way to preserve their horrifying quality. Ignore bad reviews from haters, this one is worth a watch, much more so than Blair Witch.
DIEner: oh boy, this one is not an instant classic to say the least, and I wish I could come up with something redeeming to say but it’s really that bad. The plot was just annoying and dragging. Some serial killer is holding a couple hostage at a Diner, where for no good reason all of his victim are returning as zombies to pay him his come-upins. Unfortunately, it’s not even funny bad. Just plain bad. You want horror at a diner? Find a greasey one and order a rare burger.
The Dead Hate the Living: A film crew making a zombie movie come upon a real corpse and decide to use it in their film with some crazy machinery they’ve find in the basement of the site. Of course, the body and strange machine have a demonic back story and open some trans-dimensional portal and all zombie-stomp hell breaks loose. The film plays with some beloved conventions for the sake of homage and humor, but it ends up looking pretty hokey. Not to mention, the “head zombie” looks like Rob Zombie’s retarded cousin. Ok, not bad for a rainy day horror flick but not much else.
Since Blair Witch there’s been this attitude floating around amongst genre critics that as long as a movie accomplishes ‘something’ on a nothing budget then it should be placed high on a golden pedestal where no criticism should be allowed to touch it. Part of me feels that King Lear had it right when he said “Nothing comes from Nothing, speak again,” but I understand the charm of rooting for the underdog. After all, before Kevin Smith made about half a dozen terrible movies he made CLERKS on what was considered a shoe string budget of $30k. However, in the case of Colin we’re not talking about anything ‘K’. Instead, we’re discussing Writer/Director Marc Price putting this show on for $70 dollars: the cost of a crowbar, some tapes, and tea. However, is this new “zombie perspective” of an apocalypse movie, Collin, receiving a free pass based on nothing but the lowest of low price tags?
Well Colin is, if nothing else, exaggerated in its originality and genius. Every critic is nearly jumping out of windows from shock that the film is shot from the perspective of the zombie! News Flash: several movies had done this already. Zombies Anonymous (2006), Zombie Honeymoon (2002), Wasting Away (2007) and even an episode of Fear Itself (2008) entitled “News Year Day,” which has some nearly identical conventions, has already covered the zombie POV. So, enough with the reviews about how Colin has turned the industry upside down. It’s been done. Do your research, people.
Price, however, does rattle the coffin a bit in a industry with some pretty overused conventions. After we see Colin attacked and watch him turn overnight into one of the creatures, the zombified protagonist stumbles through several scenarios eventually following a girl into a house where a psychopath has been kidnapping women, killing them, and sowing their eyes shut. The scene unfolds through Colin’s eyes as this girl is tossed into a basement with groping creatures that can only feel for their squirming victim and the execution of the cinematography is the film’s most admirable moments: creepy, raw, and perfect.
Other honorable mentions goes to scene involving Colin’s family’s attempts to recapture and communicate with him only to have his sister become turned also. The audience watches through Colin’s emotionless eyes as his family boards him and sisters up in their old house, covering the windows with newspaper, and abandoning them there. Unfortunately, the entire film doesn’t function at this level emotion.
While every scene “makes good sense” many are poorly executed, been overused by the genre already, or just plainly too goofy (the film has more dopey falls then an episode of Americas Funniest Home Videos). A scene that examines an attempted zombie reality show gone wrong only showcases the aftermath of a house filled with a hundred zombies while a handful of humans try to fight them off. However, the struggles often make Looney Toons brutality looks like Gone With The Wind’s rail road scene as one human that has been enveloped by ghouls about five times fights off dozens of zombies with household weapons, and the scene just drags on like this until you realize that one of the victims must have been this film’s editor.
Of course, Price tries to pull off the usual brutality of the traveling human death squad,where we see an awful mob of the living and their inhumanity is supposed to make us question who the real monsters are, which at this point even Romero is starting to parody himself on this front. Not to mention, the cinematography of this vignette, much like the aforementioned scene, is not exactly Scorsese.
At the end of the day, what you have is a new film maker that went and did something about his dreams, and for that, Price should be applauded. The film has a handful shinning moments that would be worth applaud even if the film cost seventy-million, but just because it cost about $69,999,930 less doesn’t mean the entire world has to stop and forget how to objectively view a film. As an accomplishment, in the context of Price, Collin is awesome, as a horror film it has more than a few problems. Still, after it was over, I realized I had enjoyed watching it, and appreciated some of its artistic value. With that said, I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon and call it influential, revolutionary, or genre changing, because it’s not. It’s all been done before, just not by a guy who did it with 40 some British Pounds.
Any film that can produce uncomfortable brutality in a genre saturated by the cartoonish garbage that hacks like Eli Roth, and the misguide blokes responsible for a dozen Saw movies create, needs to receive an honorable mention. While I know I call out After Dark Films often and always for padding their festivals with crap, cliched tripe, and low budget dribble, one film they got right is a French film that never saw the light of day in any of the 8 Films to Die For outings, but this film, Frontiers (2007), should be caught on its VOD tour.
Frontiers rolls out the usual: thieves are on the run, the group finds an out of the way place, creepy big guys hang around while loose women make themselves available, and we even have an awkward dinner scene ala Texas Chainsaw. Seems like a typical build up into the usual environment of the cliched torture porn, but instead the film twists down a winding road introducing layers of creepy mystery and a back story the viewer will actually want to know the details of. Reminiscent of Martyrs, details shouldn’t be revealed as much as experienced.
The plot points themselves are not mind-blowingly original, operating mostly within the standard formula of any Texas Chainsaw clone, the messed-up family of killers dynamic, but Frontiers transcends its own trappings. Maybe, it’s the well controlled gore that never has a humorous edge to it. Perhaps, it’s the characters that are believable despite their over-the-top circumstances. Somehow, the film just portrays its brutality in a manner that’s painful, to put it simply.
Even as the film winds down into the typical “final girl” chase sequence, and the heroine moves like Laurie Strode while looking like Carrie White, the unfolding event never feels contrived or tired. The gritty, dismal beauty of this film never fades no matter how familiar the situations feel, and while people toss around the term “Je ne sais quoi,” a bit too often this film definitely has it.
Or you can just wait for Hostel III like the rest the clowns that could care less.
So, I finally got around to watching Paranormal Activity 2, and I went in to watching it with a simple thought, “It can’t be worse than the original.” The bar that it had to surmount was set low enough, just create a film where something happens…anything. With the demon, terrorizing a family of 4: husband, wife, teen girl, baby boy, and even dog; I figured there has to be something new and different that the demon can do. Right? Wrong. PA2 was so terrible that it actually made me appreciate the first one.
I’m not kidding. While Paranormal Activity is still about the worst attempt at acting on record, paired with a lot of hype for one punch line I can not deny its ability to create tension with one shot. That uniform close shot of the blue bedroom made the viewer dread Micha and Katie’s bedroom as much as the actors supposedly did. PA2 takes that ONE strength and tosses it out the window by trying to apply it to the entire house in the form of five cameras that are installed by the family after a supposed break-in, and the scares are stretched far too thin.
The five cameras record the same old garbage that we saw in the first one, the demon does mundane pranks for a while: making pans fall, slamming doors, opening cabinets, and ,worst of all, removing their automatic pool skimmer. There will be dead bugs a-plenty in the water in the morning HA HA HA. What an EVIL creature! Even scenes that are supposed to be scary, like the demon lifting the baby out the crib, feel like watching a bad magician perform a trick after he’s already shown you where he hides his strings. We’ve seen it all before.
As for the plot, the film is almost useless on its own and just really serves as a frame for part one. The teenager, after using Google, discovers that demons often will trade wealth for the first born male and she realized that her half-brother is the first born male since the 1930′s, and thus speculates that some far off great-ancestor made a deal with a demon that’s been waiting since. Of course, the plot follows from her to explain how the demons ends up over at Katie and Micha’s place, but for as many plot holes that the movies fills up, it opens up about fifty of its own. For one, if the demon has waited for the better part of a century for payment why doesn’t the demon just take the damn kid on the first night, or kill Micha and take over Katie on the first night? A creature motivated by evil that takes weeks to get anything accomplished is a government employee not a supernatural demon.
Most offensive is the climax which involves the husband chasing his possessed wife into the basement with a camera with night-vision for one of those claustrophobic scenes under that off green filter. What were the creators of PA watching, Quarantine or REC one night and decided, “hey, we can rip that off and put it in our horrible series. Our fans don’t really seem intelligent enough to notice.” Really? If nothing else, Paranormal Activity was definitely original but I guess we threw that out the window too.
And, of course, the movie ends with the same open ended “their whereabouts are unknown” as the original, all ready for PA3 that is apparently in the works. Why? The novelty is worn off, and somebody needs to stop them before they become another Saw, the last novel idea that was milked until it reached self parody.