Saturday, September 29, 2007

Beowulf & Grendel

Beowulf & Grendel (2005)

Directed by: Sturla Gunnarsson
Written by: Andrew Rai Berzins, based on the poem Beowulf
Starring: Gerard Butler, Ingvar E. Sigurdsson, Stellan Skarsgård, Sarah Polley, Ronan Vibert, Rory McCann, Tony Curran, Martin Delaney, Eddie Marsan, Gunnar Hansson, Steinunn Ólína Thorsteinsdóttir, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Elva Ósk Ólafsdóttir

Rightio. One of about five Beowulf movies made in the last ten years, this one being the Canada/UK/Iceland co-production. Yay.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Beowulf/Grendel myth, it's about this bloke (Beowulf) who kills a troll (Grendel). In this version, Grendel is almost a sympathetic character (rather than just this bad ass fuckin troll). Meanwhile, this Irish priest is converting everybody in the village, and Beowulf is lusting after this witch.

Anyway, I had a really hard time watching this movie - first of all, it was confusing as all hell. I wasn't exactly sure what was happening at all times. Shit was going on, but it seemed like it was out of order somehow, or like they omitted something important. And Sarah Polley was really frigging annoying. I don't have a problem with Sarah Polley. I mean, hey, she's Canadian (I gather she played Anne of Green Gables, though I know her only as the chick from Dawn of the Dead. I liked that movie), but her accent was so frigging irritating. She was generally annoying.

As opposed to Gerard Butler, who was actually using his real Scottish accent instead of whatever the hell he was doing in 300. So he sounds eerily like Sean Connery, and he was supposed to be... Danish? But who cares, he's hot.

The Icelandic scenery was absolutely gorgeous, though the way it was shot was a little bit Lord of the Ringsy, but what the hell isn't these days? I kinda want to go to Iceland... Montreal first, though. It's a hell of a lot closer and I don't need a passport. Yay!

Anyway, I kinda dug the guy what played Grendel, he was pretty good. And hey, Stellan Skarsgård had cool hair. Everybody should have hair that colour (I'm too lazy to go get a picture of Stellan, take a picture of myself and load them both on here (it's too fucking much work), but people who know me personally will get it)


Monday, September 10, 2007


Rinne (2005)

Directed by: Takashi Shimizu
Written by: Takashi Shimizu & Masaki Adachi
Starring: Yûka, Karina, Kippei Shiina, Tetta Sugimoto, Hiroto Itô, Marika Matsumoto, Mantarô Koichi, Shun Oguri, Atsushi Haruta, Miki Sanjô, Mao Sasaki

Okay, so weird, creepy J-Horror pic from the director of Ju-On, Ju-On 2, Ju-On: The Grudge, Ju-On: The Grudge 2, The Grudge, The Grudge 2 and Marebito.

This is about an actress who gets a role playing a victim in a film based on a series of murders which happened thirty years ago at an old hotel. She begins to see the ghost of the little girl she's supposed to be playing, and gradually begins to believe that she is the reincarnation of her character.

There's some other majorly weird-ass shit going on - like there's this woman who's been having dreams about the hotel since she was a kid, who also believes that she is the reincarnation of the little girl - but that's the easiest to explain without getting totally muddled.

It's a pretty weird movie, and it really didn't help that the translation was extremely bizarre. It seemed like with the popularity of movies like Ring and The Grudge, they were in a real hurry to get all these other ones translated.

Anyway, despite the fact that it didn't make any kind of sense to me, it was still pretty good (I can't help but wonder if the reason it doesn't make sense is because I'm not used to Asian cinema - I mean, there were a few plot twists I wouldn't have even started to think of, and when one thing was really obvious, it never happened that way. And there was stuff in it that was just cruel - like, because the person was the reincarnation of the murderer, they have to suffer forever. How unfair is that?). I mean, it had a decent budget (which isn't always important, but when the movie looks like it's shot on friggin digital, it really distracts the hell out of me), it was really atmospheric, and pretty creepy.

There were a few shots of just weird shit, like trees full of dead faces, which freaked me out pretty good. Overall, though, it wasn't as disturbing as some of those other ones. I guess when you watch enough Asian ghost movies, contorted women with long black hair stop being all that frightening. Maybe. This one was actually pretty funny. I kept laughing at shit.

And there's the fact that the ghosts really don't do anything. They just stand there. At least the ones in The Grudge walk all over you, creaking.

Plus there's the whole Shining thing going on. (Woman goes to hotel where man brutally killed his wife and children (a theme which shows up in the Grudge movies, actually). She starts seeing ghosts and stuff and eventually recreates the murders. Sort of) It's like The Shining but with zombies.

I'm not entirely sure why there are zombies, there just are. Zombies, and this scary fuckin doll thing, with it's eyes really far apart. It was really disgusting looking, actually. Although, it kind of looks like a girl I know...

But anyway, mildly spooky, if run-of-the-mill, Japanese horror movie, recommended to fans of the genre (I hate it when people say shit like that in reviews - "Recommended to fans of the genre - others stay away". I mean, what the hell do they think we are? Oh well).


Thursday, September 6, 2007


Halloween (2007)

Written and Directed by: Rob Zombie, based on the film written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill

Starring: Scout Taylor-Compton, Malcolm McDowell, Tyler Mane, Danielle Harris, Brad Dourif, Skyler Gisondo, Jenny Gregg Stewart, Kristina Klebe, Dee Wallace, Pat Skipper, Daeg Faerch, Danny Trejo, Lew Temple, Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon Zombie, William Forsythe, Sybil Danning, Sid Haig, Udo Kier, Clint Howard, Hanna Hall

Okay. The weather was, indeed, permitting. I've been feeling a little sick lately, I actually shat myself for the first time in many years the other day (ah, details, details) but I'm feeling quite a bit better now, I must say.

Remake of the 1978 flick concentrates a lot more on Michael Myers' younger days. The first part of the movie involves the conditions which lead to him murdering his family (turns out he had a dysfunctional family - mom was a stripper, step-dad was a drunken asshole, sister was a slut - it's always the dysfunctional family with these people). It then skims over his fifteen years in the asylum before the violent breakout.

From then on, it's basically the same as the original movie, with Mike hacking and slashing his way through piles of partially naked teenagers to get to his younger sister, Laurie, whom he seems to love very much.

My overall thoughts were that Rob Zombie should really stick to redneck horror (I was somewhat surprised at the number of rednecks living in Illinois in this movie). The movie was not bad by any means - it was well made for the most part, and vaguely interesting.

However, it lacked the sense of DOOM (which Carpenter does so well) and creepiness that the original had. It seems to me that Mr. Zombie is much better at directing gruesome violence than anything really scary, and indeed the first little bit where Mike butchers his family is pretty nauseating.

From that point on, however, the quality of the movie gradually slips until by the end it's a dark, murky blob. I couldn't actually see anything for the last part. Shit was going on, I could tell by the sound and the occasional gray mass which moved across the screen, but what that shit was? Perhaps I'll never know.

Anyway. Like the other Rob Zombie movies I've seen, it was very stylish, with good music (he obviously directed music videos before working his way up to feature length movies) and that weird sense of humour I love so. They used the Halloween theme, as well as a bunch of other little references to the original - the kids are watching The Thing from Another World on TV (although it would have been amusing had they been watching the Carpenter remake... not really a kiddie friendly movie, though), that sandman song. I didn't spot any cameos from any actors in the original film, although Danielle Harris, who played Jamie in parts four and five, plays Annie in this movie (she's eerily convincing as a 17 year old, despite the fact that she's, like, 30). Apparently there was an Adrienne Barbeau cameo which got cut from the film.

The cast was pretty good. I liked Malcolm McDowell as Loomis, and the kid who played Michael at the beginning, Daeg Faerch (who I have the weirdest feeling I've seen in something before), was good. I didn't like Scout Taylor-Compton all that much - she didn't have that thing Jamie Lee Curtis has. She kind of annoyed me, actually, I wanted her to get killed.

But anyway, there were lots of other good people, like Brad Dourif and Danny Trejo and Udo Kier and them, so it wasn't, you know, boring. Me and my friend had great fun trying to spot Sid Haig (fun's not exactly the right word...). Of course, Sheri Moon was in it. She's really awful, y'know? Oh she's very pretty, but she's a terrible actress (it also brings up the eternal question - what kind of perve casts his wife as a stripper? Mind you, she probably is a stripper).

Still, I can't help but wonder, what's Rob going to do now (not that I want to give away the ending or nuthin', but I don't think he'll be doing a sequel)? He's done Texas Chainsaw Massacre, twice, now he's done Halloween. Is he going to come up with something on his own or pick another '70s movie to rehash (he seems to dig the '70s in a major way). Maybe he should do something older. He obviously loves stuff from the '30s & '40s - he could remake White Zombie, with the soundtrack completely by White Zombie. Wouldn't that be cool? Like it's any of my business. Heh.


Monday, September 3, 2007

The Prestige

The Prestige (2006)

Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by: Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan based non the novel by Christopher Priest
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Cane, Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie, Andy Serkis, Rebecca Hall, Piper Perabo, Samantha Mahurin, Roger Rees, Jamie Harris

Another movie about magicians, sort of like The Illusionist only much better. This is a lot more complicated, and the illusions are actually real illusions, and they explain how they do them.

It's about two magicians who worked together until one accidentally killed the other's wife in a botched magic trick. From then on they are arch nemeses, constantly one-upping each other and fucking up the other's tricks. It's not particularly linear - well, it sort of is, there are three different parts of the same story going on at the same time, although they're all set at different stages about different characters... um...

Well, anyway, in an attempt to recreate Christian Bale's 'Returning Man' trick (guy steps into one box and comes out another on the other side of the room) without using a double, Hugh Jackman goes and finds Nikola Tesla who he thinks made the device Christian Bale uses...

Turns out guy actually does use a double, his twin brother, so Hugh ends up with this machine that makes copies of whatever goes in it and a whole warehouse full of dead Hugh Jackmans...

Spoilers, I guess. The movie is all twists and only really begins to make sense at the end, but it's still quite good - it looks beautiful (kind of like it's set in some dark, alternate world or something - y'know how Batman Begins isn't quite set in this reality?) and it has a good cast, and I actually learned some stuff about magic tricks that I didn't know before. Like that they're usually comprised of three acts, The Pledge, The Turn and The Prestige... I assume that's true.

There was some really messed up stuff in there. Okay, every now and then it gets a little irritating, but it's generally rewarding.

And man is Hugh Jackman pretty. God. I'm always amazed when he's not playing a scruffy looking nerf herder, like Van Helsing or Wolf Man or whatever that guy with the claws was called. He has a nice chest, too, but that's always the case. Christian Bale, on the other hand, creeps me out. I like him a lot, but he's creepy as hell.

Anyway... I thought it was just great. So much better than The Illusionist. Don't watch The Illusionist. I know, it's got Paul Giamatti in it, but look, this has Michael Caine. And David fucking Bowie. For fuck sake.


Halloween 8

Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

Directed by: Rick Rosenthal
Written by: Larry Brand & Sean Hood
Starring: Bianca Kajlich, Ryan Merriman, Busta Rhymes (w00t!), Sean Patrick Thomas, Brad Loree, Katee Sackhoff, Luke Kirby, Daisy McCrackin, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Tyra Banks, Jamie Lee Curtis

Okay, this is the last one. I'm probably going to see the remake on Wednesday, weather permitting. Um... this is the sixth (part 3 doesn't count) and final sequel to the original Halloween. I actually feel like I've accomplished something in watching all the sequels. People will ask me what I did this summer (people always ask me that for some reason) and I can hold my head high and tell them I watched all the Halloween movies. And they'll probably think I'm fucking retarded, but chances are they thought that to begin with, so there's no harm done.

In this movie, it turns out that Michael Myers was not, in fact, decapitated at the end of H20. He stuck his mask on another guy and fooled Laurie Strode, and now he's back for her. And he finally beats her, stabbing her in the back and throwing her off the roof of the asylum where she is kept.

It's somewhat satisfying seeing Michael get his ultimate revenge on his little sister. It gives me a weird feeling of closure...

Well, anyway, that takes about ten minutes (they probably shot Jamie Lee's scenes in one day) and the rest of the movie is something dumb about this live cam internet reality show in which a group of college students who have sex and do drugs are asked to search the Myers house (last inhabited by the Strodes in part 6, it would seem) for clues as to why Michael was such a fuck up.

It feels a lot like The Blair Witch Project what with the cameras strapped to the characters heads, however it keeps cutting back to the third person (like Blair Witch 2, which sucked). I can understand why they did it that way - I mean, it's hard to show ridiculously graphic murders when the camera is that jerky, which is what made Blair Witch interesting. It didn't show jack. It left everything to the imagination... woo.

In this, the first person, pseudo documentary format is just irritating, and the cutting back and forth between first and third person gives it a sort of uneven feel. It could have been really quite good had it stuck with one style.

The other bothersome element was the main characters e-boyfriend (or whatever you would call that) watching the reality show live on the website and texting her about the whereabouts of the killer. It removes any feeling of suspense. And I mean, she knows where the killer is, so what the fuck's her problem? Michael's strength is in his silent creeping - he comes up behind you when you least expect it.

The best death in this (apart from Jamie Lee's, which wasn't creative in any way, just immensely satisfying) was the guy getting impaled by the tri-pod. Yep, that was cool.

Anyway, this movie (directed by the same bloke what did part 2, also a piece o' crap) is dumb, and I'm going to disregard all of it save maybe the Jamie Lee part. I'll pretend that he kills her and then goes off and lives out the rest of his life in peace or something... (he's got the same problem as like, the Terminator. What the hell does he do when he's done?)


Halloween 7

H20: Halloween, 20 Years Later (1998)

Directed by: Steve Miner

Written by: Robert Zappia, Matt Greenberg

Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Josh Hartnett, Adam Arkin, Michelle Williams, LL Cool J, Jodi Lyn O'Keefe, Adam Hann-Byrd, Janet Leigh, Nancy Stephens, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Chris Durand

I figured I might as well finish off the original Halloween series before going to see the remake - subject myself to seemingly endless sequels. It's a religious thing.

Anyway, this one, from the director of Friday the 13th Parts 2 & 3 isn't too bad - better than a lot of the other sequels, actually. In it, we find out that Laurie Strode was not killed in a car accident, she faked her death and moved from Haddonfield to a nearly identical town in California (smart one) where she now lives under the implausible name 'Keri Tate' or something. She is the headmistress of a prestigious private school and has a seventeen year old son (apparently she doesn't really care that her daughter was stalked and eventually murdered in parts 4 through 6). She thinks that she is safe. And then, when she least expects it, Michael Myers shows up to kill her son, and her son's friends, and his friends' friends, and his friends' friends' dogs, and the dogs' friends and so on. Apparently, though he seems to have supernatural locating power evident in part 6 (I am such a fucking nerd...), he couldn't find his sister until Jamie Lee agreed to do another sequel...

Moving on. The novel part of this movie is seeing Jamie Lee Curtis back again. Donald Pleasence was dead by this point, so they could hardly bring him back for another round. It would have been kind of cruel anyway.

And of course, Janet Leigh (Jamie Lee Curtis' real-life mommy and Marion from Psycho, just in case you're not familiar with her) and the many in-jokes that go with that.

Unfortunately, nothing happens for the first half of the movie (tension, sigh of relief, false alarm - sigh of relief is when the killer's supposed to getcha). Okay, a few random people get bumped off at the beginning (Joseph Gordon-Levitt gets an ice skate in his head, which was pretty good), but even then it takes them a while.

There are a few mildly spooky moments when Jamie Lee thinks Michael's coming after her, but it usually turns out to be her boyfriend (it's usually a bad sign when you start seeing a psycho killer every time you look at your boyfriend).

But generally not too bad. It's kind of satisfying to see Jamie Lee get her ultimate revenge, chopping Michael's head off with an axe (let's see him grow that back). It gives me a weird sense of closure. Although, there's a Part 8, so not that much closure...