Friday, May 30, 2008

Rabid

Rabid (1977)

Written and Directed by: David Cronenberg
Starring: Marilyn Chambers, Frank Moore, Joe Silver, Howard Ryshpan, Patricia Gage, Susan Roman, Roger Periard

After a young woman is badly injured in a motorcycle accident, she undergoes experimental surgery which somehow causes her to grow a bloodsucking dick in her armpit... no, really. Then she goes around infecting people with some kinda disease, turning them into blood-crazed maniacs along the lines of The Infected in 28 Days Later (which is a much superior film).

So it's like a sexual, cancerous, parasitic mutation brought on by tampering with science and technology. Hey, it's a David Cronenberg movie!

This one is a kind of an interesting speculation on what would happen if there was an outbreak of zombies in Montreal, but the film doesn't ever really become that engaging much beyond 'wow, that would really suck if that happened'.

As far as apocalyptic 'what if' movies go, this one feels pretty realistic. It does have good atmosphere and a few good moments.

The characters just weren't interesting enough for me to care all that much what happened to them. I was marginally interested in where the film would end up, but from a strictly academic stance.

Part of this is due to Marilyn Chambers being not that great an actress. I'm told she was a porn star back in the day, and it's not really all that surprising that she never really went on to do anything terribly significant.

She's not bad per se, she just isn't very good. To be fair, she did have to play the armpit dick chick, which isn't really a great role, but still.

However, it being set in Montreal was pretty cool. New York is one thing, London another, but Montreal is closer to home. I mean, it's right friggin there, and I've been there and all that. Actually, New York is pretty near to where I am too, but it's south of the border so it doesn't seem that close.

END

Braindead

Braindead (1992)
AKA: Dead Alive

Directed by: Peter Jackson
Written by: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh & Stephen Sinclair
Starring: Timothy Balme, Diana Peñalver, Elizabeth Moody, Ian Watkin, Brenda Kendall, Stuart Devenie, Harry Sinclair

About a young man whose overprotective mother is bitten by a freaky monkey at the zoo (the monkey came from Skull Island. Hey!). The bite turns her into a pus-dripping, flesh-chomping and highly contagious 'zombie'. Her son must then try to keep her and her growing number of spawn under control. Hilarity and nauseating amounts of gore ensue.

This is hailed as being one of the goriest movies of all time. This may or may not be an actual fact, I'm not going to argue over it, but it's got to be on the top five.

I will say it succeeded in making me feel really sick - for the first part of the movie I was kind of going along with it, but by the end I was almost in total shock.

And I mean that as a good thing. I actually kind of like when a film is disgusting enough to make me feel physically nauseous (in a good way - other films make me nauseous in other ways. Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, for example, made me want to barf, but we'll get to that).

This movie also had a lot of fun doing it. Some parts are just stupid or obnoxious, but that all fits with the overall demented, tasteless charm of the film.

It was all gross, but it was silly gross (kind of like Evil Dead only more so). Limbs coming off and bits going in blenders and fists through heads... and the lawnmower...

It's all utterly bizarre. I mean, kung-fu priest? What the hell? But in a weird way it all works. And at the heart of it all, there's an adorable love story. Love conquering all obstacles. All right.

And it still wasn't quite enough to turn me off the genre. Granted, I am a little afraid to watch Bad Taste now but... ah well, it can't possibly scar me. As long as it's all in good fun.

It is a little hard to believe that Jackson went on to direct Lord of the Rings. Yeah, those are all super violent and gory and he did a brilliant job but still... who let him do that? Holy.

END

Little Shop of Horrors

The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Directed by: Roger Corman
Written by
: Charles B. Griffith
Starring: Jonathan Haze, Jackie Joseph, Mel Welles, Dick Miller, Myrtle Vail, Wallie Campo, Leola Wendorff, John Shaner, Lynn Storey, Jack Nicholson, Charles B. Griffith

The one about a guy who grows a giant man eating plant, remade as a musical with Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene. I've seen the musical many times, but I'd never actually seen this version.

The plot is pretty much the same as that of Bucket of Blood - loser working at flower shop finds the only way to keep his job/get the girl/stop being a loser involves killing people. Actually, the plot is almost exactly the same.

That doesn't really bother me. I find that kind of amusing. The movie was pretty funny, in a sick sort of way. It was unbelievably whacked out. I laughed til I stopped.

The film was allegedly shot in two days, though I gather some of the actors had to come back for reshoots. That's still pretty impressive. It looks pretty good.

There is a lot of stuff in there that doesn't really have anything to do with anything - the movie's only about seventy minutes long, so they couldn't exactly cut all that stuff. The Jack Nicholson scene, for example, doesn't really go anywhere, but it does add to the weird quirkiness of the film.

It sort of takes us way down to funky town (sorry, I really wanted to write that). The plant was pretty silly looking but shit, it's a giant man eating plant. It's supposed to be silly looking.

And then there's Dick Miller, as the plant eating man. That was really weird. I like him, though. He amuses me.

The whole movie did amuse me quite a lot. It tickled my soul, much like Bucket of Blood (I wouldn't want to watch those back to back, though - I think that would be a bad idea), and just goes to show why Roger Corman Captain Amazing. That and he's made, like, nine million movies.

That dude is an inspiration to us all.

END

Night Watch

Nochnoy Dozor (2004)

Directed by: Timur Bekmambetov
Written by: Timur Bekmambetov & Laeta Kalogridis based on the novel by Sergei Lukyanenko
Starring:
Konstantin Khabensky, Vladimir Menshov, Galina Tyunina, Dmitry Martynov, Mariya Poroshina, Viktor Verzhbitsky

I dunno what happened to that bee I was talking about in the last post. I guess it's gone.

Oh well. Movie about supernatural beings, each with different powers. Some of them are on the side of Light (the Night Watch), others are on the side of Darkness (the Day Watch).

The main character is on the side of Light and has the power to see the future or something. He has to stop this woman from creating a vortex of doom, thus fulfilling some prophecy. Meanwhile, he has to save his kid from vampires.

I wasn't one hundred percent on top of what was going on while watching this movie, so permit me a few mistakes. However, unlike many other hyper active and confusing films which just make me frustrated and give me a headache, I kind of enjoyed this one.

I didn't think it was great by any means, but it was just weird enough to keep me interested and I almost want to watch it again or maybe read the novel.

It was cool and flashy, with lots of good special effects and vaguely bizarre stuff. I was kind of reminded of Underworld while watching it but this one seemed to go a little beyond those movies in terms of wackiness.

I can't really comment on the acting (the dub job was pretty good, though), but the characters sort of appealed to me for whatever reason.

I actually spent a lot of time thinking about it after the fact and how, as far as 'super'hero movies go, this one was pretty good (I don't really like superhero movies all that much, with the exception of a handful of Batman flicks and and those X-Men movies. This was kind of like X-Men only more badass).

And it was Russian. I don't know why that makes me so happy, but it really does. Well anyway, I enjoyed this movie as sort of semi-mindless fun (hey, there's that bee again!) and I'm kind of looking forward to watching the sequel.

END

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed

Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969)

Directed by:
Terence Fisher
Written by: Bert Batt
Starring: Peter Cushing, Simon Ward, Freddie Jones, Veronica Carlson, Thorley Walters, Maxine Audley, George Pravda

Fifth (I think) film in Hammer's Frankenstein series, which I have been watching in no particular order, basically whenever I can get my hands on one of them. I gather this one follows Frankenstein Created Woman (I beg to differ) and is followed by The Horror of Frankenstein.

In this one Frankenstein blackmails another doctor (as well as his coke-fiend girlfriend) into helping him transplant the brain of his now crazy colleague into a new body in the hopes of curing his insanity and learning his secrets or something. Naturally, things do not go entirely well, the new creation ends up escaping and bad stuff happens to everybody.

There isn't all that much 'monster' action in this one - the creature (so to speak) basically just looks like a guy with a scar on his head and seems kind of like a nice guy. The point (I assume) being that the Doctor himself has now become some kind of monster.

How very deep. I don't mean to sound sarcastic, I just write this way, I can't help it. It's really kind of a cool version of the story and after five movies, I guess they needed to do something new with it.

They did succeed with that. Anyway, we also get the high production values and sexy ladies and all that good stuff one expects from a Hammer picture. And, you know, having seen Werewolf vs. Vampire Lady...

There's a bee flying around in here. Sitting amongst the stack of paper by my printer. Poor guy. I was going to wait til she went on the window to trap her and set her free outside.

Sorry. Weird interlude. I just really like bees is all, specially bumble bees with their stripy bee sweaters.

Alright, where was I? Oh yeah. Werewolf vs..., which I will now refer to as WWvVW, seeing as I seem to mention it in almost every other post.

Yeah, this movie was better than that one. Quite a bit so.

END

Virus

Virus (1999)

Directed by: John Bruno
Written by: Dennis Feldman and Chuck Pfarrer, based on the comic by Chuck Pfarrer
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, William Baldwin, Donald Sutherland, Joanna Pacula, Marshall Bell, Sherman Augustus, Cliff Curtis, Julio Oscar Menchoso

Okay, watched this last week so I don't really remember all the little tiny details, not that they really matter all that much.

About a bunch of people (I think they were pirates or something) who come across an abandoned Russian vessel floating in the eye of a hurricane. They hop aboard with the intentions of turning it in for a salvage fee. Little do they know, the ship has been infiltrated by space robots who want to chop them up and use their bits to make mandroids (talk about human-cyborg relations! BWAHAHAHAHA!).

So it's basically Aliens but instead of flesh ripping space critters, it's flesh ripping space Terminators. Groovy. I guess the movie had some potential to be cool but... it failed. Kind of a lot.

The problem wasn't that the movie was stupid. That is easily forgiven. It was more that the movie was altogether too serious.

And it was unbelievably cheesy. Not good cheesy. Lame cheesy. Wouldn't it be cool if we did this cheesy. No, it wouldn't be cool. Wouldn't be cool at all.

The biggest irk of all is that Donald Sutherland was in it (yeah, so was Jamie Lee Curtis, but... Donald Sutherland. Come on). He looked like he really didn't want to be there at all.

I really like Donald Sutherland a lot. He's from Here, so when he got his head stuck on a robot and he was walking around with that stupid hat going, 'woo, I'm a killer robot', I was all like, 'town pride!'.

Yeah, that was almost enough to make me cry. The whole movie made me want to curl up under the deck and die. Actually, I'm exaggerating. It didn't really provoke that much in me except a mild feeling of disgust and pity.

I wasn't even rooting for the robots. They weren't that cool. They were kind of annoying. I was hoping some giant foot was going to come down and stomp everybody. Put them out of their misery. Poor buggers.

END COMMINICATION

Monday, May 26, 2008

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920)

Directed by: John S. Robertson
Written by: Clara S. Beranger, based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson
Starring: John Barrymore, Martha Mansfield, Brandon Hurst, Charles Lane, Cecil Clovelly, Nita Naldi, Louis Wolheim

About the sixth or seventh film adaptation of Mr. Stevenson's novel (which I vaguely remember reading, though I'm not entirely sure I have) about a man who drinks a magic potion and turns into an asshole. Alcoholic much?

Well, anyway, I'm actually not that big a fan of the Jekyll/Hyde story (the Incredible Hulk is my least favourite superhero), although I do dig fuzzy old silent pictures.

And this one was alright. The acting was decent (as far as I could tell - I mean, they seemed like they were doing a good job), and Mr. Hyde looked uncannily like Richard the III. He was all hunchy and that. At least he didn't have fur though. God. The Jekyll/Hyde thing is a werewolf story, technically speaking, but that doesn't mean the guy should be furry.

Whatever. The really big problem I had with the movie - and the movie may have seemed much better were it not for this fact - was the music.

I gather that there is a version of this film with a real musical score, written for the film and all that, but this is not it. This had just a bunch of music that some jerk stuck in there without even watching it to make sure it matched up.

Okay, I'm not really mad at whatever poor sod who did this job. I'm sure they weren't getting paid nearly enough to care. But still, it's disrespectful.

The only reason I didn't turn the sound off was that some of it was really funny. There's a scene where buddy is killing this other guy, beating the shit out of him and biting him and stuff and they've got these happy bells playing over top.

I nearly exploded. It was about the funniest thing I've seen in my life (oh my God, that's really sad. Okay, I've seen way funnier stuff, but I was in a good mood that night).

Yeah. So. That was pretty funny. I kinda feel bad for the movie, though. I mean, my whole estimation of it comes from some ridiculously inappropriate music some dork put in 80 years after the fact.

Ah well. So it goes.

END COMMUNICATION

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Black Sunday

La Maschera del Demonio (1960)

Directed by: Mario Bava
Written by: Ennio De Concini & Mario Serandrei based on The Viy by Nikolai Gogol
Starring: Barbara Steele, John Richardson, Enrico Olivieri, Andrea Checchi, Ivo Garrani, Arturo Dominici

Famous horror pic about a noblewoman who is killed for practicing witchcraft and is resurrected two hundred years later to exact vengeance upon the descendants of those who killed her.

I was raised outside the church, so to speak (in other words, I don't believe in Satan), which tends to make Satan-oriented films a little less interesting. Inferior films such as The Omen and that space one with Sam Neill pretty much fail entirely.

However, this film actually has some other shit going on. It's not just 'woo, it's scary coz it's Satan'. There's vampirism and zombification and all sorts of other nasty things happening.

Such as a woman getting the Mask of Satan (hence the title (Maschera del Demonio, not Black Sunday)) nailed to her face. Fuck. That's still kinda weirding me out a bit.

Bits of the film do seem a little ridiculous to an atheist, but generally they make up for it with the spooky locations, beautiful black and white photography and Barbara Steele.

Holy shit, she's creepy though. She gets to play both the evil vampire witch woman (girl power!) and the innocent young love interest, both of which she does quite well.

She's almost like vampire lady role model. She owns.

Good for her. Since I watched this and Werewolf vs. Vampire Whatever back to back, my mind was drawn somewhat to the vague similarities (undead vampire witch coming back to life to do Satanic shit), and how vastly superior this film is.

Just thought I might mention it, seeing as I get so much satisfaction from ragging on Werewolf vs. Vampire Woman.

Anyway, nice classic-gothic-vampire-witch-Satan type horror movie, which, in my mind, would be groovy on a double bill with, say Dracula (preferably the '31, but any version would do, really).

END

Werewolf vs. Vampire Women

La Noche de Walpurgis (1971)

Directed by: León Klimovsky
Written by: Paul Naschy & Hans Munkel
Starring:
Paul Naschy, Gaby Fuchs, Bárbara Capell, Andrés Resino, Yelena Samarina, José Marco, Paty Sheperd

Bought this movie at the dollarstore (on a disc with The Screaming Skull) probably because of the title. Come on, Werewolf vs. Vampire Women? It sounds fantastic.

About two young women traveling through France looking for the tomb of this vampire countess (who, much like Erzebet Bathory, bathed in the blood of virgins or some damn thing). Along the way, they run into this dude who turns out to be a werewolf with a soul, along the same lines as The Wolf Man.

Apparently this is one of many many many (like, eleven) werewolf movies featuring Paul Naschy, AKA Jacinto Molina, though I'm not entirely sure where this one fits in. It's like number three or something.

Who the fuck cares. This film contains all the requisites for a trashy old horror pic (cheesy monster make-up, laughable acting, pointless female nudity, lesbian vampires and, like, decapitation) - which makes it bad, but strangely entertaining.

It's cute. I always found something really adorable about werewolf movies. Perhaps it has something to do with the dude running around in werewolf make-up, doing werewolf stuff, but looking really just like Jack Nicholson on a bad day (which is maybe why Jack Nicholson makes a really good werewolf?). It's sweet.

Anyway, Jacinto Molina does the whiny werewolf thing well enough - I mean, he's about as good an actor as Lon Chaney Jr., but at least he's a bit better looking. Actually, he's Captain Sexy compared to Lon Chaney Jr.

And hey, there are Satan-worshiping Undead Vampire Babes. This movie should have been called Captain Werewolf vs. the Satan Worshiping Vampire Babes... that makes it sound even more like a porn movie than Werewolf versus Vampire Woman or whatever the hell this movie was called.

I don't think I would actually recommend this to people, on the grounds that they probably wouldn't take me seriously, but I did find it strangely entertaining. Go figure.

END

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Destroy All Monsters

Kaijû sôshingeki (1968)

Directed by: Ishirô Honda
Written by: Ishirô Honda & Takeshi Kimura
Starring: Akira Kubo, Yukiko Kobayashi, Jun Tazaki, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Kyôko Ai, Andrew Hughes, Chotaro Togin, Yoshifumi Tajima, Kenji Sahara, Koji Uno

Pretty much the ultimate mutant monster movie, featuring Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, Spiga, Barugon, Angilas, that freaky baby Godzilla thing, something called Manda and many many more...

The film is set in the future (I think it's like 1998 or something) and all the world's monsters are living in peace on Monster Island until these aliens from the planet Kilaak invade or something. I dunno. I was just waiting for the monsters to duke it out.

I actually had to wait kind of a long time for that. There's all this other stuff going on up on the moon or some crazy thing like that.

I wasn't entirely sure what the hell was going on while I was watching it and now, having forgotten many of the finer plot points, I'm not entirely sure what the movie was supposed to be about (to be fair, I wasn't really paying that much attention. I watched this one after Valley of Gwangi, Bloodfeast and Monsieur Verdoux so I wasn't really paying attention).

Anyway, the monsters seem to spend most of the movie either not doing anything at all (they sort of disappear for a long time) or roaming about the sea country side looking for planes, boats or trains to destroy.

They do make an occasional detour to trash Tokyo or another major city (Moscow and New York and possibly some other places get wasted in this movie), and we get amusing dialogue along the lines of "Godzilla's destroying Tokyo again!"

I sometimes have a kind of hard time watching these kinds of movie - I mean, the monsters go around smashing stuff, it's all a good time, and then there's some shot of Tokyo all blasted to shit and it's kind of depressing.

Well, never mind that. Eventually, the aliens summon Ghidrah and the earth monsters are all like, 'bring it on you three headed freak' and then Ghidrah gets schooled. Oh yeah.

Yes, that's my kind of movie. Lots of monsters, incomprehensible plot, pointless destruction. Probably a good introduction to those Toho monster movies, as it introduces many of the more famous monsters at the beginning of the movie.

And I'm just nerdy enough to find that really interesting. Yay!

END

Friday, May 23, 2008

Blood Feast

Blood Feast (1963)

Directed by: Herschell Gordon Lewis
Written by: A. Louise Downe
Starring: Mal Arnold, Thomas Wood, Connie Mason, Lyn Bolton, Scott H. Hall and others

I'd heard a lot about Herschell Gordon Lewis in the past (just looking down the list of titles on his IMDb page is amusing), but I hadn't actually seen one of his films until now...

About an Egyptian caterer who chops up scantily clad young women in order to revive this ancient goddess, Or something. The movie's not really heavy on plot - it's mostly just an excuse to pack in as much blood, guts and babes as possible.

The film is almost painful to watch. The acting (particularly from Mal Arnold, who looking like he was reading the script) is very nearly unbearable, not that the actors had all that much to go on.

It kind of reminded me a little bit of an Ed Wood film (although I've only actually seen one Ed Wood film in it's entirety, and I nearly fell asleep watching it), the difference being that the Ed Wood film goes from one really boring scene to some other really boring scene but Blood Feast at least cuts to some horrible sadistic violence.

Such as a partially naked woman chained to a wall being whipped for no apparent reason. Delightful.

Anyway, perhaps this films only merit is that it really piles on the gore. There's way more gore than is probably necessary and it looked really bad, but it sort of made up for everything else in the movie.

This one has a lot more in common with the modern slasher film than, say, Psycho - it's paced about the same way (ten minutes of dialogue followed by a really sexy lady getting killed in some really nasty way, then ten more minutes of dialogue and so on) and... well, the acting calibre is a little lower but not that much.

Actually, though it seems I am trashing this film, I really enjoyed it. It was probably one of the worst movies I've seen, moving along at an incredibly slow pace, occasionally interspersed with unpleasant things being done to women, but... well, it was kind of bad enough to be good.

There's just so much ridiculous, potential in joke material. The newspaper headline reading 'LEGS CUT OFF!' in big block letters tickled me to no end. Or the line "Have you ever had... an EGYPTIAN FEAST?!". So much more dramatic than it needs to be.

Ah, it just reminded me of what a person can do with $25,000, 15 pages of script and two weeks of spare time... next to nothing, but at least they made me laugh a little while.

END COMMUNICATION

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Valley of Gwangi

The Valley of Gwangi (1969)

Directed by: Jim O'Connolly
Written by: William Bast based on the story Valley of the Mist by Willis H. O'Brien
Starring: James Franciscus, Gila Golan, Richard Carlson, Laurence Naismith, Freda Jackson, Curtis Arden, Gustavo Rojo

This is the one about the cowboys who venture into the Forbidden Valley only to find that it is populated by living dinosaurs (as well as this eohippus, which I thought was pretty cool). Then it pretty much follows the pattern of King Kong with the cowboys capturing an Allosaurus and bringing it back to civilization with the intention of making a buck showing it off places.

All does not go as planned. Some people get eaten. Damned unscrupulous cowboys.

The highlight of the film is, perhaps, the stop motion magic of Ray Harryhausen, which actually looks a lot better than the CGI of today - even the dinosaurs in Jackson's Kong, though they looked alright by themselves, looked like crap as soon as you saw them anywhere near the real people.

Okay, for close-ups they used big rubber models, but most of the time the human-dinosaur interaction is shown from very far off.

The other highlight was probably making ribald jokes about Lope, the small Mexican boy the main guy hires to help him with stuff or whatever. Poor little Lope...

Well anyway, this movie was a pretty good version of the King Kong story, although, really, cowboys + dinosaurs. How can you go wrong? Actually, I'm sure it probably could go wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong.

Yeah, dinosaurs... um, probably really well suited to youngish children, actually, whilst in their dinosaur phase (I had a dinosaur phase myself. I wanted to be a paleontologist. Then I wanted to be a veterinarian. Now I want to be a firetruck). I mean, the allosaurus is kind of cute, in a scaly sort of way. It was more endearing than any of the scary ass dinosaurs out of Jurassic Park.

Granted, poor Gwangi does die screaming in horror and sudden death. That really upset my inner child. I was all like, 'they didn't have to kill him!', and then I wished death on James Franciscus. According to IMDb, he died in 1991. Now I feel bad.

Oh well.

END COMMUNICATION

Dog Soldiers

Dog Soldiers (2002)

Written and Directed by: Neil Marshall
Starring: Kevin McKidd, Sean Pertwee, Emma Cleasby, Liam Cunningham, Thomas Lockyer, Darren Morfitt, Chris Robsen, Leslie Simpson, Vilrikke's Acer

Always kind of wanted to see this movie, especially after I saw The Descent, which was pretty okay. Also werewolves are probably my favourite monster.

This is about a bunch of soldiers who believe they are on a routine training mission in the North of Scotland. Little do they know, they are actually bait for a family of werewolves living out in the woods which the army wants to capture and use for experiments or some damn thing.

The film takes a while to really get going, introducing the characters (who really weren't that interesting - I mean, I never really thought of them as any more than 'werewolf fodder' and did not lament at their passing) and I guess setting stuff up.

When it does get going, it turns into a fairly well done 'throat-ripping monsters in the woods' movie (the box cover says it's comparable to Predator which, though true, is not necessarily something you want to advertise).

I guess the film is supposed to have a slightly humourous tone, though I didn't really find it all that amusing (the newspaper headlines at the end of the movie did tickle me somewhat, although there's no way England would beat Germany 5-1).

I didn't find it particularly scary, though, either. The Descent suffers from many of the same problems as this one, although I sort of found those weird goblin things startling when first we saw them. The werewolves just looked kind of... stupid. This is often a problem with werewolf movies, as they haven't really seemed to come up with a way of doing that stuff yet.

Like I said, the characters weren't particularly compelling (they weren't really characters so much as stereotypes - 'the main character'; 'the tough girl'; 'the evil-for-no-reason Captain'; 'Mr. Trigger Happy'; 'the Goat' et cetera) and the plot was completely predictable.

There are lots of pop culture references which make those of us in the know feel very smug and then promptly kick ourselves for our smugness.

So I thought it was alright. Not really great by any means but I guess for what it was it was kind of okay.

END

Dementia 13

Dementia 13 (1963)

Written and Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Starring: William Campbell, Luana Anders, Bart Patton, Mary Mitchell, Patrick Magee, Ethne Dunne, Karl Schanzer, Peter Read, Barbara Dowling

One of Coppola's first films, made using the same cast, crew and sets as Roger Corman's The Young Racers.

It's essentially a Psycho rip-off about this guy who kills people with an axe, which apparently has something to do with a wax doll of his sister who he saw drown in the lake seven years before. It pretty much follows the same structure as Psycho as well, from the young woman hiding the body of her dead husband in the lake (which has about as much to do with the rest of the movie as Janet Leigh stealing the briefcase full of money from the bank), to the scene in which said young woman is brutally killed at the shores of the lake, to the 'reveal' scene in which we learn who the killer is and why he done it and all that crap.

However, while Psycho actually manages to hold my attention the whole way through (granted, there is a dip in my interest levels after Janet Leigh gets it - I always thought the movie kind of goes downhill from there, but it does still manage to maintain some suspense), I sort of tuned out for the second half of this one.

There are great stretches in the middle where nothing really happens, broken up by the occasional murder and Patrick Magee being really creepy (indeed, he freaked me out, probably more than he should have).

However, the film did look pretty good, it had nice atmosphere, some creepy locations and decent acting. All in all, it was pretty average, and a lot better than some other Corman-related stuff (on the other hand, Mr. Corman has been responsible for some pretty good movies and I both respect and admire him. Go Roger go!).

Anyway, it was kind of interesting to see this film if only because Mr. Coppola went on to become, like, super famous and make everyone's favourite movie. It kind of tickles me a little bit. Yeah, pretty much average movie. Not great, but not terrible.

END

Sunday, May 18, 2008

White Zombie

White Zombie (1932)

Directed by: Victor Halperin
Written by: Garnett Weston
Starring: Bela Lugosi, Madge Bellamy, Robert Frazer, John Harron, Joseph Cawthorn, Brandon Hurst, Frederick Peters

Known as 'the first zombie film', although I'd venture to suggest that The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari is sort of a 'zombie' film, to use the term very generally. Not that it really matters.

Structurally very similar to Dracula - a young woman is bewitched and turned into a zombie by a creepy older man. Her finacé must then rescue her with the help of the Van Helsing character.

Lugosi does the same kind of stuff too - staring at the camera and generally acting creepy and menacing.

The print I watched was pretty crappy (I think there may have been a 'restored' version of this film, but this isn't it - mind you, it only cost about three bucks), and the sound and picture kept jumping, however, the movie was actually pretty good.

Some of the scenes were, admittedly, kind of boring. One shot of the actors standing around talking lasted for about ten minutes, but other bits were really well done - there's one scene at the mill where a zombie falls into this grinding machine, freaked me out; another scene where a bunch of people just walk off a cliff.

There are a couple of long scenes with no dialogue whatsoever which sort of reminded me that the use of sound in a movie was still a relatively new idea at the time and most filmmakers were used the silent format.

The cinematography was really good, all full of black and white goodness. The pace was a little slow, although it didn't really bother me that much. A lot of the acting wasn't great either, but again, I was okay with it.

And a few of the actors playing zombies were really awesome, really freaky looking. There's this one dude, Chauvin. Woah. Towards the end of the movie, he gets shot and keeps on coming, but they actually show the bullet hole in his chest which struck Mr. Blue and I as really unusual for the time.

Anyway, I thought it was really well done and they could probably do a really nifty remake some day. Maybe. Actually, you know what, fuck remakes. Leave shit alone.

END

Frogs

Frogs (1972)

Directed by: George McCowan
Written by: Robert Blees and Robert Hutchinson
Starring: Sam Elliott, Ray Milland, Joan Van Ark, Adam Roarke, Judy Pace, Lynn Borden, Mae Mercer, David Gilliam, Nicholas Cortland, George Skaff, Holly Irving, Lance Taylor Sr., Dale Willingham, Hal Hodges

One of those 'environmental rage against mankind' pics from the '70s, along the same lines as Night of the Lepus. This time, nature's revenge comes in the form of killer frogs. Not giant frogs, unfortunately (as the groovy poster would have us believe). Not even frogs, really. I'm pretty sure most of them were toads, but I guess they were supposed to be frogs.

Yeah, the frogs/toads get pissed off and attack a bunch of assholes celebrating the Fourth of July, but not without help from their swamp dwelling comrades. Snakes! Spiders! Lizards! Turtles! Moss... swear to God, killer moss.

I'm not entirely sure what to say about this movie. It really left me kind of speechless. Everything from the thought of some PA dropping frogs on Ray Milland (a lot of the time the frogs look like they're falling from the sky, onto the cake or the record player or whatever. Biblical) to the writers trying to come up with some way for a gecko to kill a person. While we were watching it, Mr. Green said 'the only way a gecko could kill you is if you choked on it'. Quite so.

I mean, at least a giant killer rabbit sort of works. If a giant rabbit bit you, it'd probably kill you. I dunno about a frog. They don't even have teeth.

The movie seemed pretty cheap, too (American International Pictures!). Yes, they had to hire some snakes, geckos, a sea turtle and about seven hundred toads (actual, there were probably, like, five), but they used the same shots over and over again.

Still, watching a bunch of creatures killing a bunch of jerks was strangely satisfying. I've always felt a connection with reptiles and amphibians and arachnids so I was really rooting for those little guys.

And Sam Elliott, I guess. I always thought he seemed really trustworthy, so I was hoping the frogs didn't get him.

Anyway, yeah, Frogs. Hours of pure entertainment.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Alien vs. Predator 2

Alien VS. Predator: Requiem (2007)

Directed by: Colin and Greg Strause
Written by: Shane Salerno
Starring: Steven Pasquale, Reiko Aylesworth, Johnny Lewis, John Ortiz, Kristin Hager, Ariel Gade, Tom Woodruff Jr., Ian Whyte, Robert Joy

Okay, I'm a little annoyed because a few moments ago, as I was getting up to go fetch a refreshing beverage, I knocked my Van Helsing snowglobe over and broke it, so a bit of my irritation about that is going to be directed towards this movie. Dammit, that thing was cool. It had Wolfman and Hellbeast on it and little bats floating around in the snowglobe juice.

In this flick, a bunch of really annoying people get killed in (possibly) gory ways by the Alien, I guess. Everything was so dark I couldn't really tell what was going on. And I think one of the Aliens had a Predator head. Maybe. I think they called it Predalien.

This movie was actually really disappointing - first of all, the box said 'more blood, more guts, more gore' or something. More than what? Like I said, nothing was really visible. Most of the movie was pitch black with the occasional glimmer of shiny stuff. The rest was dim.

And Alien vs. Predator has very little to do with it. I was kind of looking forward to those dudes duking it out again, but they don't really get all that much time. The time that they do get is really fucking dark. It was a teen slasher movie with little scrappets of Alien and or Predator thrown in for no apparent reason.

It actually made Predator look kind of good. At least that had some macho man action. Shit, it made the first AVP look like a masterpiece. Alien still looks like Alien - I refuse to actually acknowledge these movies as sequels to Alien. If it don't got Ripley, it don't count.

This one had a woman who looked kind of like Ripley, though. It was the same character, actually (only much less interesting) - the muscular army type lady defending her daughter or whatever.

And the ending was just totally out of nowhere. Actually, Robert Joy's character didn't really seem to have any purpose other than 'it was shot in B.C., therefore we must cast this guy'. I guess the end probably had something to do with something, but no doubt just made the writers and Alien die hards feel smug.

That bothers me even more than the broken snow globe.

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Texas Chainsaw Massacre 4

The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1994)
AKA: Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation

Written and Directed by:
Kim Henkel
Starring: Renée Zellweger, Matthew McConaughey, Tonie Perenski, Joe Stevens, Robert Jacks, Lisa Newmyer, John Harrison, James Gale, Vince Brock, Marilyn Burns

Oh boy. I guess this concludes the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre series, for me, anyway. I kind of feel like Hank Snow. I'm kind of inclined to not trash this movie, instead praising its merits, such as they are...

In this particular foray into the back roads of Texas, a group of teenagers get in a car accident and, seeking help, run into a bunch of maniacs. From there on, it's pretty much exactly like the first movie only less interesting and with Renée Zellweger instead of Marilyn Burns.

It almost seemed like, because it's almost identical to the original film, they felt it wasn't necessary to fill everything in, leaving big gaps which suggest incompetent filmmaking.

I think this one was supposed to be funny although it didn't do a very good job with that. It wasn't frightening either. It just fails on all levels.

And then there's that dude that just showed up at the end there and did his little boogie woogie. What the hell was that? I guess it does pertain to something, but not really. "You need to show them the true meaning of horror" or whatever - Mr. Red suggested perhaps he was the director trying to get Mr. McConaughey to scare the audience.

Matthew McConaughey. Lord. Okay, it's kind of sad that Renée Zellweger was in this movie and totally understandable if she feels a little embarrassed by it (sorry for watching, Renée). She wasn't great in it, but at least she went on to do other, better things and have some good performances.

However, watching this film made me wonder how Matthew McConaughey ever got work. I've never really liked him all that much, he's not a great actor, but he was really terrible in this. His overacting knew no bounds. Seriously. No bounds. And then I was all like, 'nice leg, Matt'. Why is it all the chainsaw people are, like, disabled? It doesn't make me scared. It makes me feel bad for him. 'Aw jeez, that poor guy with the wonky eyeball'.

I mean, I would understand if Matthew McConaughey was at least really hot. It would be annoying, but then I would know why he's done so well for himself (he's not really an A-list star so I shouldn't be so irritated). I'm sure someone thinks he's really good looking. I dunno. It's a matter of taste, I guess. Still.

Yep. Bottom of the barrel as far as Chainsaw movies go. Part 3, though crappy, was at least mildly entertaining.

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One Missed Call

One Missed Call (2008)

Directed by: Eric Valette
Written by: Andrew Klavan, based on the film Chakushin Ari written by Miwako Daira, based on the novel by Yasushi Akimoto
Starring: Shannyn Sossamon, Edward Burns, Ana Claudia Talancón, Ray Wise, Johnny Lewis, Azura Skye, Rhoda Griffis, Ariel Winter, Meagan Good, Raegan Lamb

Another Americanized version of a Japanese ghost movie such as The Ring, The Grudge, The Pulse. I haven't seen the original version of this movie - it's probably better than this...

People begin receiving strange voice messages on their cell phones, in which they hear their final moments. As is to be expected, they die a few days later in the often nasty ways the cell phone message predicted. The main character must solve the mystery of some dead girl before she becomes the next victim or something like that.

Alright. I get it. Cell phones are evil. They attract evil ghosts and give you brain cancer. I don't have a cell phone. However, I do use the internet, so I'm probably not safe. Some MeTube ghost is probably gonna get me... (I'm just paranoid enough to believe this will happen. I'm going to stop watching MeTube now).

This is the kind of movie that makes me think way more than is probably necessary, about things like 'if you don't listen to the voicemail, can the ghost still get you? And if so, that isn't fair at all'. Or, 'if these people heard their last moments, wouldn't they somehow use that tot their advantage?' example: if you knew you were going to say 'hey Dave, lets go for pizza' and then die horribly, wouldn't you stop yourself from saying that and run for cover?

And 'is the ghost really killing these people or just letting them know they're going to die?'. I shouldn't question these things, but they really bug me, particularly with these American remakes of Asian horror pics. At least with the original versions everything's sort of weird and dreamlike, all slightly off, so the ghostly happenings fit in almost. The remakes are just so... American. And we Americans demand everything make sense all the time.

And it wasn't really scary. I don't know, maybe it would have scared me a couple years ago. I just feel like I've been completely desensitized or something. The first time I saw one of these Asian style ghost pics it freaked me out only because it seemed to defy the traditions of the American ghost movie (the first one I saw happened to be The Grudge which kind of sucked, but there you go). Now I'm used to the formula and it seems only the really strange and arty ones spook me.

Well, anyway. Shannyn Sossamon was really awful. That was one of the biggest problems. If she had been at least convincing, my little picky problems might have been soothed. Actually the only actor who was remotely believable was, like, Ray Wise. Oh well.

I just didn't find it terribly exciting.

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Deja Vu

Deja Vu (2006)

Directed by: Tony Scott
Written by: Bill Marsilii & Terry Rossio
Starring: Denzel Washington, Paula Patton, Val Kilmer, Jim Caviezel, Adam Goldberg, Elden Henson, Matt Craven, Donna Scott, Elle Fanning

Okay, trying to get less lazy about blogging, although I would much rather sit here listening to Lacuna Coil and eating fudge (I got this White Russian flavoured fudge at the Pharmasave when I went to get stamps. So sweet). Instead, I'm going to listen to Lacuna Coil, eat fudge and blog. Wow.

In this movie, an ATF guy gets brought in to investigate the explosion of a ferry in New Orleans. The investigation involves this machine that can see three days in the past (why the hell they invented that machine, God only knows. For watching women take showers in the past, I guess. They should have invented something that could see into the future. That would have been much more useful). He ends up falling in love with one of the victims and going back in time to save her.

Which really seems like a bad idea to begin with - manipulating the past isn't exactly safe, and often leads to all kinds of problems. In fact, time travel should probably not be attempted without the supervision of a Time Lord, or at least the Terminator.

Making time travel movies probably shouldn't be attempted without some kind of supervision. There are a lot of really big logic problems with this movie - if the girl didn't get killed, Denzel wouldn't have known about her and wouldn't have gone back in time to stop her from being killed.

Mr. Green told me this movie was kind of bad, but I ignored him. I was thinking, 'hey, I sometimes like Tony Scott movies and Man on Fire was okay'. Stupid me.

Okay, I'm being a little harsh, only because I like to trash stuff. The movie wasn't that bad. I mean, it looked nice, it was a Denzel vehicle/long music video but it looked nice, it just... wasn't planned very well I guess. Somebody wasn't paying attention. Or didn't care. I dunno.

And then there's Denzel Washington looking really worried and driving recklessly in both the past and the present. That was a pretty weird car chase, although it didn't really work. I mean, Past Guy wouldn't have known that Future Guy was chasing him. Would he?

Urg. It bugged me. I watched it, like, ten days ago, so I'm not quite so annoyed now as I was then. Oh yeah, Val Kilmer. I almost forgot to mention Val Kilmer. Val Kilmer eats puppies. Rather a lot of them, apparently. Jesus. I don't like Val Kilmer. Just thought I should mention that before I finish up.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Ratatouille

Ratatouille (2007)

Directed by: Brad Bird & Jan Pinkava
Written by: Brad Bird & Jim Capobianco
Voiced by: Patton Oswalt, Lou Romano, Janeane Garofalo, Ian Holm, Brian Dennehy, Peter Sohn, Peter O'Toole, Brad Garrett, Will Arnett

Watched some other movies which I didn't really feel like reviewing, so I decided to skip right to this one. I don't know why.

Well. Whatevs. About a little rat who dreams of one day being a chef in a fancy restaurant. However, as he is a rat, it looks like he's headed for a life of raiding garbage dumps. Somehow, he ends up sitting on the head of a bumbling dishwasher or something, controlling his arms.

I didn't know people had arm control nerves on their heads. I also didn't know that the Eiffel Tower is visible from everywhere in Paris. Or that all the rats in France were American, although I suppose this stands to reason. Maybe it's cos rats were actually brought to France on American trading ships.

Um, yeah, the film wasn't exceptional - the animation was reasonably good. At least, the backgrounds were phenomenal. The movie was still a cartoon, so the characters were cartoony (I was a little worried about the rats' giant noses. They probably honked if you squeezed them). The backgrounds looked real, though.

There was some amusing stuff in there too, and I was moderately engaged throughout. Although, there was all that stuff about the rat's amazing sense of smell. I kept expecting it to turn into that Perfume movie. He was start covering people in animal fat or something.

Man, that movie freaked me out. Thankfully, nothing really horrible happened in this one.

The most profound effect this film had on me was it kind of made me want to cook. I don't cook at all (I could probably manage Kraft Dinner, although a microwave is kind of beyond my skill level), but sometimes I have ideas...

Although most of my ideas involve gratuitous amounts of cheese, melted chocolate and bacon all deep fried. If I had the know how to execute these ideas, I'd probably be obese. It's probably best I can't manage anything more complicated than toast. I love toast. Toast is great.

Okay, somewhat off topic. Ratatouille, yeah. I want to open up a sandwich shop.

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Water Horse

Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (2007)

Directed by:
Jay Russell
Written by:
Robert Nelson Jacobs, based on The Water Horse by Dick King Smith
Starring: Alex Etel, Emily Watson, Ben Chaplin, Priyanka Xi, David Morrissey, Brian Cox

Ordinarily, I don't go for 'family films', but the Scottish factor tempted me with this one. I did watch The Last King of Scotland the night before and that was still freaking me out, but I thought something with Legend of the Deep in the title was probably pretty safe. Unless it's Idi Amin: Legend of the Deep...

Anyway, enough about that. This movie is about a little boy who finds a mysterious egg on the shores of Loch Ness. He takes it home and it hatches into the monster itself. Meanwhile, there's some World War Two stuff going on to keep the boys interested. Something to do with submarines I guess.

The Creature was all CGI as far as I could tell, but for the most part the animation looked pretty good. The thing was kind of freaky lookin. They had to add all kinds of generic 'cute' noises to make it more appealing, cos really it was slimy and horrible. That really bugged me.

I sort of wondered why they had to bother. I mean, Alex Etel is pretty cute, they don't need to cute up the monster. It's a monster. Frig. Alex Etel's a pretty good actor, too. I thought he looked kind of familiar and just now remembered he was in Millions. Yeah. In British movies they can hire kids that are both adorable and good actors.

Moving on, this film wasn't especially amazing, but it was alright. It was sort of cute. Although, it was a little frenetic. Every ten minutes there was some huge crisis which has to be averted. It's like they think the kids can't pay attention to a film unless it's fifty percent action. Kids don't like dialogue or something.

I dunno, maybe they don't. I wouldn't know. I try to avoid children as much as possible. With a few exceptions. Some kids are just so cute that they melt even my cynical heart.

Well, whatever.

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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Ben X

Ben X (2007)

Written and Directed by: Nic Balthazar
Starring: Greg Timmermans, Laura Verlinden, Marijke Pinoy, Pol Goossen, Titus De Voogdt, Maarten Claeyssens, Tania Van der Sanden, Cesar De Sutter

Saw this at the Viewfinders Film Festival a couple weeks ago. It's a Belgian film (is 'Belgian' the right word or are you supposed to say 'Flemish' or something?) about a teenager with Asperger's Syndrome who is mercilessly bullied at school and basically lives his favourite online fantasy RP.

The movie mixes the 'real' world with the game world very effectively, allowing for some cool visuals and art direction (it kind of made me miss the days when I used to game all the time - mind you, I played Runescape and that was a bit lower calibre than what dude was playing in this. It was free, though).

The scenes of bullying were horrific, but still very well done - I was homeschooled, so we didn't really have any of that and it kind of freaked me out. Also, the lead actor, Timmermans, was really good as far as I could tell. I mean, I'm not sure how accurately Asperger's was portrayed, although I do know this guy whose brother they think might have it, and parts of this movie kind of reminded me of him.

And there's that foreign language thing (I find that when watching a foreign language film I'm too busy reading the subtitles to judge the actors abilities). Although it was in Dutch which sounds eerily like English and I usually don't have too much trouble understanding.

All the acting seemed to be pretty solid, actually.

The first problem I had with the film was that it really messed with me. It kept trying to make me think stuff (i.e., the guy was dead, the girl was real (spoilers)), just so that the filmmakers could come off as being really clever at the end of the movie. I felt as though I was being manipulated, and it bugged the hell out of me.

I saw right through their plans anyway, I knew basically what was going to happen, so all the screwing around just pissed me off.

Second problem was that it was all morals. It seems that they can't make a film for youth (I hate the word 'youth' when used in that context, it's so PC - I much prefer 'little punks') that doesn't have some kind of message. And they have to bash the little punks over the heads with it.

It's irritating. I guess if you have to put a message in the film 'don't be mean to autistic people' is probably a good one, but it shouldn't be necessary. Anybody who thinks it's fun to do that shit to other people is not going to be swayed by a movie. It's just preaching to the converted, so to speak.

I dunno. The movie really bugged me. But it was kind of worth it for the cool graphics and the acting. And it gave me something to think about other than how annoying The Mist was.

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