Saturday, December 27, 2008
Bug is a 2006 horror movie directed by William Friedkin, director of The French Connection and The Exorcist. From the trailers and the ever-lying back of the cover, I got the impression this was your standard monster insect movie. I mean, guy and girl, running from abusive ex-boyfriend of said girl, barricade themselves against an army of bugs, sorta like Arachnophobia, I think, seeing as I haven't seen it due to my tendencies towards the titular phobia.
I had allready started pondering on if the bugs in this movie was a representation of repressed and/or twisted undesirable urges a la Birds, or just a vengeful avatar of Mother Earth and/or god. Turns out the answer was not going to be quite as simple as that, mostly because the question had been changed rather radically.
I have this pet theory that no matter how obvious, in-your-face screaming and drooling a horror movie monster is, some people will inevitably be convinced the that the monster is, in fact, not real, and either an halucination, projection of the protagonists desire to killmaimstabmurder, a comatose or dying dream or something along those lines, alternatively just a dream, if you feel unimaginative. The thing with bug is that the question does get rather in your face, because we, the audience are not really given any actual evidence for the monster, or rather, titular bug's existance.
Granted, the two main characters does see the bugs, but we don't, and this drives the uncertanity on further. Of course, about the time that the main characters start raving about the Bildenburg meeting and "The Man" implanting tracking bug eggs into his teeth, it becomes painfully obvious he's off his rocker, although I think the slow transformation from "white trash breeding ground" to "Room full of Crazy" might also be a good indication you're heading off the map in that respect.
The movie is somewhat underrated on IMDB, although I have long since stopped relying on that site as my sole provider of movie quality determiner. Not to seem snobby or anything, but I've more and more started to rely on my own impressions of a movie rather than the reviews. Sure, I might step into a few beartraps, but walking your own path certainly has its charms. More on that later though, the bottom line is that Bug is a worthwhile movie to check out, not so much if you're in the mood for a monster slasher, but definitely not without its eww-moments.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
First of, we have a zombie comic. The Walking Dead is... well about zombies, you know, those good ole' meat-eating thingies, aim for the head'n all. When it comes to classification, TWDs zombies are very Romero, which just happens to be my favorite type of zombies, also, the characters are fairly likeable, in the respect that you actually think "Aww, no" when they get munched, or chopped to bits by survivors who handeled the crisis less fortunately than the protagonist. While on the topic of the protagonist, Rick Grimes is somewhat unique in that there's not many heroes of stories such as these who actually has a complete set of close family that follows him on his journey. It's a welcome break from the lone survivor being forced into a leader role. Also, despite waking up from a coma 28 days later-style, Rick is not annoyingly genre blind with the whole zombie thing. Any story that skips the annoying "ohmygodwhat'shappeningherewhyisheattackingme?"-part in favor of the more interesting parts, namely postapocalyptic zombie-slaying nihilism, wins a large gold star in my book.
While on the topic of zombies, I can't say I liked Marvel Zombies all that much. Sure, they're zombies, rotting and all, but superpowered, talking, scheming zombies isn't quite the same fun. I read it up untill the point where the titular zombies killed and ate Galactus. It just doesn't do it for me when the zombies build an elaborate death ray and then eat said near-god-like entity to absorb his powers of space travel, or dimension travel, I can't remember, 'twas traveling anyway. Superhero fans may like this one, but I didn't, not even counting the Army of Darkness part, if anything it just made it feel like more of a crossover fanfic. Then again, I do like Kingdom Hearts.
Moving on to our friends on the web, I'm currently reading a new and promising series called Crow Scare, the series is about a crow, a big, big crow. May not seem scary, but when it's on the size of a school bus, has teeth in its huge mean-spirited maw and a meanstreak an English mile wide. Aye, fear the King Crow. The intro text tells us that if you kill the King Crow's life-mate, it'll come for you, and to survive, you have to face it mano a corvus to hope surviving. Hasn't gotten too far yet, but it does seem to be an "innocent man versus a merciless force of nature/horror"-thing.
That's all for today folks, merry Christmas, yuletime, or whatever else you might celebrate.
Friday, December 5, 2008
For those of you that haven't seen it, Cinema Paradiso is an italian film from 1988. It's about Salvatore 'Toto' Di Vida, a middle-aged film director who looks back on the memories of his childhood as a young'un in a Sicilian village. Here, he quickly befriends the local projectionist, Alfredo, who teaches him the art of running the cinema. When the cinema burns down and Alfredo is rendered blind, Toto takes up the mantle of the projectionist. As Toto nears the end of his teens, he falls in love with the bankers daughter Elena, but is forced to forfeit his love to pursue his goals.
This might sound a bit boring for the average horror movie fan, but if you, like me, are fascinated by the art of cinema, both in producing and projecting, this movie will pull you in. There's profound love towards the social setting that the old-fashioned cinemas used to be, with more than a hint of sadness over the demise of the old cinema. In Cinema Paradiso, and the days of ye olde, or at least so I'm lead to believe, cinemas weren't merely places to sit down, shut up and watch the goddamn movie, but a place to gather, to be together while maintaining a certain level of privacy, really letting yourself get pulled into the action, shouting, cheering or yelping in fright as the situation requires.
The father-son-esque relationship between Toto and Alfredo is also interesting. Having lost his father in the second world war, Toto seeks a fatherly figure, and Alfredo recognizes Toto as a scion, someone who can take over when he's unable to continue his work. Ironically, Alfredo also recognizes a great talent in the young Toto, a potential to create truly great art, and he does to a certain degree manipulate Toto to leave the little Sicilian village behind. In the directors cut, he even goes so far as to sabotage the relationship between Toto and Elena so that Toto could leave for the big city truly without intention to return or pine for it. To what degree this was the right thing to do to ensure Toto could make truly stellar art, certainly can be debated, but I'm not getting into that yet.
Also, the music is quite awesome, especiallt he main theme is tearjerking to the max. There's few songs that hold the nostalgic sadness to it that this one does, and combined with the idyllic visuals, there's quite a possibility that a tear or two will be shed over this movie. Also, in closing, I would recomend watching the Directors Cut version if you have the time, it's 55 minutes longer, but you'll get the whole story much better this way, and a longer trip to to the idyllic cinema days of olde' surely won't hurt. I know I don't mind, there's a scene in the movie where a man has chained himself to the cinema seat and flat out refuses to leave, so there he sits while reenacting the movie down to the lines. I can identify with that guy because Cinema Paradiso makes me want to watch it as many times as he evidently has watched the rolling movie.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
You can say what you want about the Japanese, but they do have their way with horror. Maybe it's because it's different from our own, and thus manages to scare the bejeezus out of people who allready have become cynical and chronically unscared by machete-wielding, chainsaw-juggling, ichor-drooling and generally hypen-overusing unstoppable murderers. It could also be that JHorror has an overload of creepy ghost girls that us western people found scary way before the latest japophile craze, and you could say that our friends in the east really have perfected the creepy ghost girl formula. Of course, horror from Japan isn't exclusively about symbols of innocence lost wanting to murder you because you preformed some seemingly innocent tasks like watching a videotape or moving in somewhere. Jhorror also excells in an isolated atmosphere, pushing and keeping you down while plucking an eery sonata on your nerves. For those wondering, I was thinking about Silent Hill when writing that sentance.
So, why am I telling you this? Well, because I intend to talk, or write if you nitpick, to write about my favorite horror manga/anime. I used to be big on manga and anime in general, but my interest faded a little after a while. Still, I do appriciate the comics that can scare me shitless, so why not cover the eastern chills today, and the other ones tomorrow, or later as it might well turn out.
First out, we have a couple that is not exactly the scariest horror, but has some horror elements after all. Hellsing is a vampire manga, easily one of the most enjoyable modern vampire stories I've read. It's so ridiculously over the top one can't but enjoy, I mean, we have the main character, who is Count Dracula himself but goes by the name of Alucard. This prime prince of darkness fights for the forces of good, in this case represented by a super-secret secret service in the UK, against a revived third reich of mad-with-power nazi officers, werewolves and a a crapload of zombies, or ghouls as it might be, also, he occasionally clashes with a catholic super-priest wielding supersized knives. Funnily enough, while doing so,the longcoat-wearing uber-badass bloodsucker does occasionally invoke methods that makes one wonder exactly who we are to be rooting for. Unless you have some sort of phobia for glasses, seeing as most major characters wear a pair of round spectacles for some reason. Might be a fetish, but considering the second main character is a rather... uh... well shaped sorta-vampire in a very minimal police uniform at some point wielding two massive anti-air cannons, against nazi zeppelins no less, I'm not making this up, one could speculate his quote is spent. One could also argue that said police officer calling earlier mentioned dark prince "master" is also adding to the quota, but I won't go there, except I just did.
Next up, we have a series I'm starting to rediscover. Death Note is even less directly horror-y than Hellsing, but there's enough Terrorium in it to warrant a mention here. Super-student Light Yagami finds a notebook that allows him to kill people by writing their name in it. With this supernatural implement in hand, he proceeds to murder criminals in the name of justice. The final goal of this is to "become the god of the new (crime free) world." Of course, murdering people, even if they may deserve it, is bound to attract massive negative attention, and not too long passes before the infamous master detective recluse L decides to put an end to this. Much of the series revolves around the massive battle of brains between the two, up to a certain point where it changes pace somewhat. You couldn't accuse Death Note of being too scary, although Light's arrogant zeal does jump at me as being... somewhat unnerving. Also, the idea of someone out there with the power to kill you without leaving a trace, is somewhat eerie.
Now, moving on to the few genuine horror series I've read or are still reading. When I write "horror manga" two examples instantly jump into my mind, both written by Junji Ito. First one is Uzumaki, a story about malevolent spirals infecting a middle-sized town. This wouldn't strike me as particularly eerie, hadn't it been for that the spirals pop up all over the place with maddening effect, Lovecraft-style. The first case is about a man who kills himself by throwing himself into a mega-tumbledryer, wrapping his body into a spiral. It pretty much gets freakier from there, except the scary takes a dive about midway, and it ended up motivating me to continue reading by pure curiousity alone. Still, it's pretty good to be able to bewitch a picky reader such as myself.
Next one, I could almost give a whole blog post in itself, despite it being the shortest of the series. The one-shot comic in question is Ito's The Enigma of the Amigara Fault Line. The story this time is about a series of perfectly human-shaped holes in a mountain, revealed by an earthquake. People flock to this odd landmark, feeling oddly drawn towards one hole they identify as "theirs," as it fits them perfectly, like a claustrophobic glove, if you will. Problem is, as they enter their holes, they dissapear into the mountains, and no-one is able to detect where they are going or what's happening with them. True to it's name, the short manga is an enigma. We are treated with a short dream sequence claiming that an ancient civilization made the holes for punishing particularly wicked criminals. The best mind-fuck is that this adds up somewhat, but it's still possible that it is just a dream rather than a conveniently exposition-producing vision. At any rate, claustrophobics need not apply, if enclosed spaces bother you The Enigma of the amigara Fault Line just might send you into an hysterical panick fit.
That should be all for now, trust me to blog at a later date if any other excellent horror manga should jump at me.
Monday, December 1, 2008
I won't make this into a Slowzombies review, partially because I feel that I, like the maddened reviewer of John Carpenters Cigarette Burns can not do the movie justice with a review, I don't even think it's the kind of a movie you review. Most movies, you either like or dislike, they're either poorly done, or well-made, or somewhere in between. As you might have guessed, Ascension is a flick that is somewhat heavy on the artsy side, and I found myself drawn towards this. If this is because of my dabbling in the obscure movie business or not, I can't say.
So, the story goes, God is dead. By some unnamed incredible force, Nietzche was made right, and as a result, everything goes to hell. After the death of the Big Beardy in the Sky, his powers are spread amongst humans, making them "Prophets and Dieties." Now, it turns out that humans handle near-omnipotence very poorly, and sensless divine violence does happen. To stop this, three women set out to destroy the being responsible for destroying god, and thus bringing about the absolute end of the world. Don't ask me how that works, but that's the plan at least.
The big problem here is that this... whatever it is, has made its home on the top floor of a really tall building, and due to its presence, or some other factor, the three women are unable to use their god powers in traveling. Because... y'know, that would be too easy. Battling desperation at each step up the seemingly endless flight of stairs, the three women occasionally muse about life, god and similar topics while walking ever so slowly towards the self-inflicted apocalypse.
It's an interesting story, although the most interesting parts happens before the thing itself starts up, so you're left pondering on the implications of the backstory way past the halfway mark, while the movie continues to creep under your skin and do its thing there uninterrupted. Still, it is a bit drab for the average joe, and if you don't like long-winded artsy movies, I'd stay clear.
At any rate, Ascension definitely doesn't deserve its 4.4 IMDB score, but I won't rant about my take on said (awesome) movie sites (not so much) user base.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Yeah, I wrote 50,000 words in one month, which needless to say did distract me a smidge from my blogging duties. With that said, I did also watch a zombie flick I felt obligated to share. The flick in question is Zombie Strippers, yup, you read it right y'all, Zombie Strippers. If my comments about zombies and our favorite milk-based breadblesser ever fit better than this, I'd be darned. Now, right of the bat, this might seem a bit odd. Rotting flesh and taking of ones clothes for money doesn't seem like a viable combination, now does it?
First impressions of the concept aside, I decided to watch this movie solely for the heck out of it, I was motivated by the same insanity that grips me every time I see the cover of an Uwe Boll movie, or Ed Wood, for that matter. It turns out, though, that the movie is a lot of fun, even if it Is stupider than a homeschooled chimpanzee.
The story goes like so: George W Bush has been re-elected for the umpteenth time and has banned public nudity and gone to war with most of the middle east, Canada and France. To provide troops for these neverending conflincts, W Labs has invented a virus that turns dead soliders into mindless supertroops, or Zombies to be more precise. Now, the virus breaks out and contaminates an underground strip club, things get really nasty really quick.
The funny thing about this... thing, is that the infected strippers doesn't become grotesque flesh-eating abominations, but rather... grotesquely sexy flesh-eating abominations. Y'see, the virus is less degenerating when infecting women, and the muscle memory of the strippers allows them to preform more violently sexy due to a complete lack of fear, shame or self-preservation instinct. Or something like that, bottom line is: Women get creepy and sexy when zombiefied while men just turns into zombies, like we all know and love 'em.
I'm debating with myself to what degree this actually is meant to be a witty commentary on society and sexual morale or an infantile attempt to allure our attention with tits and gore. I'd like to think it is the former, but the ammount of time the movie seems to divulge in the noble art of "showing as much nudity as they can get away with," really makes me doubt. Also, there's some rather blatant "why was that neccesary" moments, one of which involves, shall one say... alternative ways to propel pool balls at high speed. After specifying that we're talking about superpowered female monsterthingies, I'll leave the rest up to you to find out.
Also, Robert Englund is in this movie, which is a definitive selling point for me, even though it does seem like he's not doing the type of role he should be doing. The Germaphobic Ian seems more like comic relief, not that any is needed amidst the waves of "so bad it's good" dialouge and general cheesy sillyness. I can't help but notice a trend here, the two last movies I've seen him do, he's been a smidge too silly for his own good. Where did the freaky guy who played Freddy, or Doc Halloran for that matter, go?
Zombie Strippers isn't a movie for everyone, that's true, but if you like cheese with your whine, you should load this thing up.
Friday, November 14, 2008
First, we have unborn, which appears to be sort of a Rosemary's Baby thing, except that the invading force is not a horrible sin manifested in flesh, fathered by the prince of absence of light, but rather horrible sin manifested in flesh by the ghost of the main characters unborn twin. I honestly doubt it'll be just as freaky and absurdly awesome as the previously mentioned flick, but it might be interesting, looks like it got some visuals revved up nicely.
Next up, we have a movie I have no freaking idea of what to think about. My name is Bruce. This movie is starring B-movie awesomeness provider par exellance Bruce Cambell, as himself. Somewhat in the spirit of the earlier Cambell movie, Bubba Ho-Tep, Bruce finds himself persudated by a gothy horror movie nerd to save his town from a malevolent Chineese diety. Now, this sounds awesome and all, but from the trailer, it might look like Mr. Cambell have taken open yet another can of "not taking himself too serious," mayhaps a can too much. Don't get me wrong, I like his ability to do so, but playing himself as a complete goofball might be too much of the good. Still, I'm looking forwards to the copious ammounts of uncanny vally-style special effects.
Moving on toward some good 'ole metahumor, we have Midnight Movie. This is, according to the synopsis about a group of people who finds themselves trapped in a deadly chase when the horror movie villain in the movie they're watching shatters the fourth wall completely and comes after the intrepid moviewatchers. So, horror in a cinema at nighttime? Sign me up. Granted, by the looks of it, the killer didn't seem that awesome, memorability-wise, but the concept is undeniably interesting.
Closing off, we have The Haunting In Connecticut, which is a movie which general plotline is so obvious it could only have been more so if they called it something like... say, Snakes on a Plane. Family moves into house "with some history," freaky shit starts to happen, a priest comes in, more freaky shit, problem survived, but probably not entirely solved. All along the way, we'll most likely also see most of the ghost house clichés, including the "suddenly extremely moldy/rotten food" and "people in the mirror, wtf, no one there?" These two are confirmed from the trailer, I'm willing to bet my copy of House of the Dead there'll be more of the same in the rest of it.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I must say I feel slightly bad about missing my planned halloween-update, since it, in my opinion, is the very axis that the horror movie year revolves around. Aye, halloween is the time when ghouls and goblins of the night doth arise, and even mother nature and father seasons seem to be at eachothers throats, catching us in the middle of this rather unfortunate lovers spat. Anyway, I digress. Point is, them zombie movies are on the run again.
What we have on the Slowzombies agenda today is nothing short of an unique piece. We're talking a Norwegian Zombie movie, Dead Snow. To be more precise, it's a Norwegian action/adventure horror snowboarding nazi zomibe movie. I'm guessing the nazi zombies aren't snowboarding, bu to be honest, either result would only be marginally more wtf-worthy than the other. I saw some clips from the movie today, the whole thing won't be out untill the 9th of january, and that's on the silver screens of the northbound Vikings up here.
The clips were mostly zombie fatality-related, amongst others, there was a zombie-slaying scene which did nothing short of blow me away. A hammer, a sickle and a chainsaw was involved, no further comments should be neccesary.
Buuuut that won't prevent me from providing a few more anyway. It's quite an unique experience, for once I'm actually excited about a Norwegian movie. Sure, jogging zombiess does kinda rub me the wrong way, as described in great detail earlier, but since they are zombies that are also nazis, I do suppose they are excused, somehow. Also, the gore seems good, surprisingly so considering how Norwegian films have little to no tradition with gore whatseover.
In closing, I'm optimistic about this, and I certainly hope Dead Snow become the first of many successful Norwegian zedhead gorefests.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
That's one thing I love about zombies, they're like cheese. And by that, I do not mean that their quality increases over time, nor that they're what sweet dreams are made of (think about it.) What I mean is that you can add zombies to damn near everything. Of course, it might be silly, but in some cases, it might be good, or possibly even awesome to the point of awesomeness.
In closing: Zombies are like cheese.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
When discussing the topic at hand, it does strike me with great impact that there's a lot of people that know far more about the topic than me. Of course, this happens increasingly often, proportionally increasing with my increased internet usage, as the sheer weight of people that know stuff out here is quite crushing. Anyway, I digress.
There's something very alluring with the fright on the silver screen. The combination of overall unsympathetic characters getting sliced away to Valhalla in gory but ultimately satisfying ways, without having to worry about getting red on you, or indeed be in any danger at all. Truly, thanks to a solid fourth wall , there are few things so safe and snug as a horror movie watcher. That is, after you're finished being hysterically afraid for this solid concrete wall #IV suddenly breaking apart, leaivng them at me mercy of chainsaw-wielding maniac cheerleader zombie vampires, who may or may not be the local inbred nutjob, who in turn may or may not be dead and secretly someones father.
With that said, movies that smash through the fourth wall can also be all kinds of awesome and fun, despite scaring the ever-loving crap out of yours truly. Despite how cozy your average screen slasher may be, there's something very revitalizing with these flicks. Not only do they manage to be scary long after the usual horror fanatic has been hardened to the point where most horror movies couldn't scare them unless it leapt out of a nearby shadow in real life, riding on a velociraptor together with Miley Cyrus. To get there in the first place, movies such as these have to reimagine itself without becomming predictably unpredictable.
Why this more primal thrill is fun, well, that's more a simple question about feeling alive. Sure, I may not be the bravest in the bunch after watching a fourth-wall fracturing fearorama, but Cthulhu damn it, the adrenaline shock is a real rush. There's just something about the highly audible heartbeat I identify as my own, the heightened awareness that my forefathers used to not be munched on by the more feral parts of the fauna back in the day. I can't say I long back to the day where art was LSD trips being drawn crudely on rock walls, and romance was a fancy word for "find mate, fuck mate, repeat," but there's undeniably a part of me that, when I'm properly scared, goes "fuck yes, I'm feeling like sabertooth steak tonight."
When chasing for new horror movies, I'm always on the lookout for movies from the latter category, although I'm, in most cases, forced to make do with the former. It is, however, not without its merits. To my observations, watching a horror movie is a very special social setting, not only because there's usually a large crowd that just won't watch horror movies, but also because it's a rather intimate thing to give in to ones primal fears in the presence of others. Especially as this is a side of yourself you hardly come in contact with otherwise. Of course, the occasional panicked grab for something, or someone, to hang on to through the dread, does only enhanche this atmosphere.
In addition, one could muse over the paradox of shielding yourself from the horrors of the real world by drowning yourself in fictional horrors, to which one can shrug and say "meh, it's only a movie after all." I won't go so far that to say that this is the major reason why people watch horror movies, but it certainly doesn't hurt.
In closing, I'd like to stress that I'm in no way an expert. A combination of some guessing, a little movie theory and mountains upon mountains of personal experience and musings hopefully manages to produce something at least faintly
Saturday, October 18, 2008
It's my experience that the various horror-themed series aren't as effective as they could be, but then again, such is the case with many, many horror movies. Some series that work hard to break through the fourth-wall barrier and roar into our faces include:
Supernatural. Although most Supernatural-episodes aren't very scary, some are even downright funny like Mystery Spot, it still has its share of old-fashioned horror, with freaky children, shapechangers, or ghosts 'a plenty. The classical rock soundtrack certainly help for those, such as yours truly, who appriciates some music.
Dexter deserves a honorable mention, when the title music and intro is scary enough to give chills, it doesn't really matter how un-scary, although undoubtably exciting, the rest of the show is.
While on the topic of winsome intros, we also have Masters of Horror, as I discussed earlier. Any horror fan should check these out, as they're a great way to open up your mind to new and exciting directors and their different directing styles. Needless to say, horror nerds that are also movie nerds will have a ball.
Lastly, we have Doctor Who, ask anyone who grew up with this, it has some scary stuff. I've saddly just experienced the last few seasons of this granddaddy of scifi, but there has been plenty of genuinely scary moments. For example, Blink is just pure scary, featuring statues that come to life and kills you (technically though, just send you back in time and let you live yourself to death, the point remains,) if you should take your eyes away from them, or The impossible planet/The satan pit, where the main characters stumble accross a planet keeping the most ancient of evils trapped within. Doctor Who succeeds in being scary as hell because of untraditional monsters, good writing and editing, and it's definitely worth a look if you're on the lookout for something slightly different.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Expectation is indeed a strange brew, it does odd things to your brain wether it's positive or negative. I had quite a bit of expectations around this particular flick. The concept of a plumber with anger issues fighting monsters Ashley J. Williams-style undoubtably was interesting. On the other hand, there was quite a lot that could go wrong with this movie. If it wasn't funny enough or failed to provide the apropriate level of tounge-in-cheek sillyness, the movie would leave a bad taste in ones mouth, to the point where a Uwe Boll movie would be a breath of fresh air in comparison.
The story is, as mentioned, not horribly complicated. The titular plumber comes to clash with a demon who is possessing his science teacher, turning the latter into a tentacled animatronic fiend. The choice of having the majority of the movie to be set in a highschool, despite the main characters being a good couple of years to old to be in one, is interesting, as it allows the movie to discretely poke fun at teen horror stereotypes. Otherwise, the pliot is nice and properly predictable, with some foreshadowing so blatant it borders on humor in itself, at least to the genre-savvy watcher.
When it comes to acting, I can't really say anyone stands out as particularly bad or good.One can argue that the talents of Robert Englund is misused slightly, most of his major scenes on-screen are highly slapstick/sillyness-driven, and doesn't really tap into Englunds potential to freak out and flat out scare. One must be wary, however, of judging this like one would judge a movie that takes itself seriously. Therefore, I'll settle on the neccesarity of the sillyness portrayed by the man who gave the sleaze slasher a name and a, properly charred, face.
When it comes to the special effects, we're talking proper oldschool. Any notion of modern CGI effects are discarded in favor of animatronics, giving the monsters beasts and ghouls a nice trip through uncanny valley. It's obvious the filmmakers did know a good deal about the limitations of these special effects, because they seem to do well with these scenes, avoiding the many possible pitfalls of machine monster mayhems.
Overall, I'm content with my purchase of Jack Brooks: Monster slayer, it certainly isn't the most thrilling horror movie you will find, but when it comes to humor and just plain fun, it has it in spades. Perfect for weak-hearted, or -stomached moviegoers who wants some nice and easy halloween fun, or the slightly more hardened horror veteran provided you've got a sense of humor. Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer is highly recomended.
Final Rating: 5 of 6 Headshots
In closing, I would like to state that I'm actually hoping for more Jack Brooks sequels. Sure, the movies won't be less silly as the series progress, but the tounge-in-cheek style hopefully will ride the wave more stylishly as the more serious movie series.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
If you've seen any other of Miikes works, you might know that he's not one to pull the punches. Imprint is a flat out torturefest, complete with needles, nails 'n lips and cojoined semi-demonic twins. Yup, you heard me. Of course, the torture scenes are the most insanely uncomfortable ones, but the scenes leading up to said scenes is almost more uncomfortable. The haunting atmosphere of a seriously messed up brothel does really manage to creep under your skin, before the sound of needles pushing through flesh takes the hold and rips said skin straight off.
As a traditional horror film, Imprint might not be as effective as it could be. Sure, it has gorn a-plenty, but that's not what I'd call scary, except that someone actually thought up and went through with the idea. Miike does that to you. At any rate, Imprint does have some scary scenes, the first narration scene, prior to the torture, is very creepy with slightly odd camera angles and vauge shapes in the background that are never identified. Actually, it bothers me how nobody seems to know or care what those things were.
When it comes to Masters of Horror, my favorite episode is Cigaret Burns. To me, a film student, this movie provides both a lot of nods to the classics in the genre and a few interesting observations around the power of the moviemaker, especially the director. I can't say I believe there's a movie so gruesomely cruel it can make people murderously insane, my watching of The Sinful Dwarf notwithstanding, but it's a cool idea, and the search for the maddest of mad geniuses is exciting. The other Masters episodes are definitely not without merit. Mentionable ones include Incidents on and off a mountain road, with one of the better twist endings I've seen and The Fair-haired child, with good ole' nightmare fuel a'plenty.
Halloween countdown: 18 days
Thursday, October 9, 2008
This movie is what you'd call Dwarfsploitation, a genre I honestly can't blame you if you do not have a too close relationship with. The core ingredients are sex, drugs, women in distress and, as the name does imply, dwarves. Like most exploitation movies, the whole thing is done with the tastefulness and tact of your average porno. The comparison, incidentally, is quite accurate, with acting so poor in places that one really can nothing but whince. While on the topic of uncomfortable viewings, I've as of yet seen sex being portrayed so... lacking a better word... unappetizing, its a genre thing I s'pose.
The Sinful Dwarf clearly not a movie for the average watcher of flicks, in fact, I don't think I can recomend it at all, but it's an interesting experience if you want to know exactly how bad it can get.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
We've seen it before, horror gorefests, where any attempt at a story is discarded in favor of showing another few bucketworths of the red stuff, where the human body apparantly does contain 43 gallons of blood under pretty high pressure. Especially sequels seem to suffer from this.
Don't get me wrong, I love gore, if done properly. Few things are as satisfying as a good silver-screen machete fatality, complete with apropriate splatting and gushing, and when there's a pool of it anywhere, you can bet your ass there'll be more, probably also lots of it. Good usage of blood keeps the viewers at least slightly unnerved. After all, humans are more or less preprogrammed to react when the red stuff is on the outside.
Same goes for torture, except that very rarely makes for awesome watching, even when done properly. The first Saw movie was pretty damn sweet in my opinion, but that's more or less the honest exception. The sequels, and seemingly neverending slew of imitators, however, did not fare quite as well. Let's face it guys, your fevered sadistic nightmares have fed you a couple new ways to kill people slowly, fair enough, but the real problem does arise when you come to the realization you really don't have a good story. Actually, more often than not, no story at all is present. So, how does one remedy such an ailing? By sitting down and actually trying to craft a good, coherent story?
Hehe, I wish. My experience with scriptwriters/directors in this situation is that they go with the everpopular "make a vauge story and with so much graphic gore people hopefully forget about this pesky story thing"-solution. Worst thing? People get away with it. All the time.
Oh well. Halloween countdown: 24 days.
Also, in other horror flick-related news, I've got my hands on a canadian 'un called Ascension. For once, I truly have no idea about how this one will turn out. The story, at first sight, appears to be sort of Immortel (ad vitam)-esque, and the visuals looks unsettling in a kind of awesome way. Time will tell if my predictions are right or not.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
As previously mentioned World War Z is awesome. Although it's not what I'd call directly scary, it's definitely providing the aprorpriate bleak zombie apocalypse feel that makes the book pretty difficult to put down. On the less typical horror side, you can find The Raw Shark texts. The book is essentially about a man fleeing from a mind-shark that eat conscience, also involved later is a villain who has achieved immortality by copying his own conscience over to an increasingly large number of new hosts. It's a fun book that really uses the potential of the media. Many, many books I've read have in reality wished to be movies, but this one ain't one of them.
While on the topic of movies and books, the book How to survive a horror movie is also highly recomended, it's a true must for the genre-savvy slasher flick survivor. If you ever wonder how to deal with the various typical horror killers or outsmarting the increasingly sadistic scriptwriters, this certainly is a book worth picking up. And yes, I said sadistic scriptwriters, as the book employs a large degree of meta-thinking to provide the "skills to dodge the kills."
Continuing to one of the oldies but goldies, one of the granddaddies of dread-inspiring fiction, none other than Howard Philips Lovecraft. I went ahead and bought a collection of his short stories (the "Necronomicon" one) this summer, and boy, was that money well spent. Some of his works are truly terrifying, although there are some a bit below average. The Horror at Red Hook didn't particularly tickle my fancy, for example. Overall, though, Lovecraft really mastered an art that many creators of horror fiction in all media still struggle with to this day. Lovecraft was a master of understatement, providing just enough scares to keep our feeble human minds guessing on the exact nature of the otherworldly horrors. While on the topic of horrors, the greatest monstrosities, those who transcend all kind of human logic and comprehension, really is what makes Lovecrafts stories shine. The mere cosmic pessimism of the notion that there exists creatures that regard the workings and morals of humans about as high as a human would regard a colony of ants.
Also, the fact that he makes a norwegian ram the great old one cthulhu in the face with a steamboat and thus saving earth temporarily, didn't exactly hurt.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
World War Z is written by Max Brooks, the man who wrote The zombie survival guide, and as the title and previous works implies, it's about our favorite shambling piles of reanimated flesh. World War Z is somewhat unique in that it tells the typical zombie story from the point of view of the people who survived it.
The one thing that worries me, except for a slight chance for running zombies, is that the book is narrated in such a way that making it into a traditional hollywood flick would be nothing short of a lovecraftian nightmare. One hopes that the film is made, like the book, heavily flashback-based. Now that I think about it, there's actually several things that can go wrong, for example shifting the unique focus of the book, that being how the Zombie crisis wrecked all of the world, rather than, like most zombie movies, just focusing on how the Americans, or in some cases the Brits, are faring.
There's not really all that much more I know, hope or fear about this movie, except that I know it'll be about zombies, I hope it'll be awesome and I fear it will be full of fail. While waiting for more details to be released, feel free to check out this script preview and/or wait in eager expectation.
At any rate, I would like to see these two genres combine, mingle, produce viable offspring, if you will. There are a few faintly horror-themed musicals, like Canibal! and, to a degree, Sweeney Todd, but the horror ends up either fading out entirely or taking the backseat to the musical and accompanying drama. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is mostly horror only in name, as it's named after the mute brute Rocky Horror. Of course, it references multiple horror movies of the good old fashioned sort, but it's not quite the same.
What I want to see is a genuinely creepy horror film that is also a musical. I am not quite sure you can actually make a movie like that, but I'm still hoping. The first possibility that springs to mind is a slasher musical. Imagine the scene, one of the early victims walk down a dark corridor to investigate a noise, open a door, and out bounces a confuddled cat (or possibly a ferret, since it's always a cat.) The soon-to-be slasher victim picks up the pet and returns to whatever she was doing, singing about how freaking scary everything is. As the song ends, she is predictably, but of course throughoutly gruesomely, murdered. The whole movie would probably end in some claustrophobic labyrinth setting where the survivor girl and the movies monstrous madman chase eachother, singing a duet (or more like a two-way monolouge while singing, think "My Friends" from Sweeney Todd.)
As I said earlier, I'm not really sure if anyone could, or would, try to make a project like this work, but I guess there's always the faint hope. Additionally, yours truly, being a wannabe filmmaker, would probably have a gander at the possibilities of making Stab: The musical if the occasion should ever arise.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Occasionally while watching a movie, you might find yourself thinking something along the lines of: "this is bad, this is really bad, this is really really...good." This sudden change of mind isn't as much because the quality of the movie increasing suddenly, quite frankly the direct oposite. The movie has reached that notorious bottom of the barrel, and is now vigorously drilling its way through said bottom, through some truly mind-blowing space/time thingmajig emerging near the top, it's so bad it's good. It can be compared to wearing clothes so soaked they can't possibly get wetter.
It's actually kind of a fine line, and I suspect it depends on the watcher, but speaking from my own experience, there's some movies that just ooze pure bad-yet-goodness. Plan 9 from outter space is my personal favorite example. That film has so much insanely bad craftmanship, I swear to the gods of celluloid and dark cinemas it has to be intentional to a degree very few others have followed, before or after. The director, Ed Wood, can be described as a director completely and utterly robbed of the concept of compromising. The actors of Plan 9 several times tried to make Wood go for another take by acting completely back-breakingly awful, mais non. You can say what you want about the crossdressing director antigenius, but when he said "one take will do," he really meant it.
The second category of bad movies is the less plesant one. Movies that are so bad they are just bad. Examples of these are to numerous to name, and quite frankly it's hard to find a king of the failflicks. Still, pretty much anything I've seen by Uwe Boll comes pretty high (low?) on the list by default. I don't know quite what irks me so much about Boll. Yes, his movies makes me, as an aspiring maker of movies, angry and sad to my very core, but it should be no problem to just ignore him, right? Yes, but at the same time no. It's amazing how many movies the guy have made, and equally amazing how he manages to fund it all, seeing as the rest of the world likes Bolls movies just as much (little) as I do.
I seem to have derailed from my original topic, movies that are just bad. I think it's something about the attitude one assumes while making the movie. If what drives the movie forwards is the love for the medium, genre and/or audience, the flicks tend to dip towards the bad-good side of the scale, but when the movie is made with condescending arrogance or halfheartedness, it tips the other way. I won't be so bold to assume that people who make horribly bad movies hate the audience, but it might seem like that some times.
Anyway, to wrap this up, here's a 'lill list of my 7 favorite bad-good movies, in no particular order
Monday, September 29, 2008
First up on my fear forecast, we have a flick called House. No, I'm not talking about House or House, but a new 'un. From what I can read about it, it's a thriller about a maniac keeping a group of people trapped, forcing them to play a sick game of redemption. So, essentially, it's like Saw, with a hint of seven. On the positive side, what I could glean of said madman in the trailer looked kinda cool, although I'm not 100% sure how he(?) will fit into the whole "The wage of sin is death"-thing. Also, there better be a damn good reason for using a pentagram, it's kind of a cheap way of saying "religious horror, boo."
While on the topic of potentially tacky religious horror, we have a movie called The Devil's Chair, which is about some guy and his girl going to an abandoned asylum (uh-oh) to do drugs (double uh-oh.) In said asylum, they find the titular hellraiser-esque chair, and then hell, more or less litteraly, breaks loose. Despite how horribly cheesy this can turn out to be, I also think it could be interesting, who knows. At least the chair looks pretty wicked.
And now for a movie I'm actually quite excited about. Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer. To quote the Bloody Disgusting synopsis:
Jack Brooks is an angry, young plumber who has repressed the memory of witnessing his family’s brutal murder. Only when he unknowingly awakens an ancient evil, is Jack forced to confront his past, deal with the monstrous reality of the present and discover the true purpose of his inner rage.On one hand, it sounds a bit like a video game of some sort, kind of Silent Hill-esque, maybe with traces of Condemned, and we all know how movies with videogame plots turn out. On the other hand, I'm kind of hoping for a new The Evil Dead, with lots of gore and disposable quasi-dead mooks. Oh, and Robert Englund will be in it.
Next, we have a movie using a particular type of hypemachine I frankly thought had died out years ago. The movie in question is My bloody valentine 3D. That's right, 3D, just when you thought it was safe (for your eyes) to go to the movies again. The plot in MBV3D is about a guy in a miner's outfint killing people, so I don't think the question is "is the movie good," as much as "will the 3D be good?"
Also, something so relatively rare as a horror from Denmark. The film is Room 205, and is some kind of variation on the hunted house horrors. My stance is 'cautious pessimism,' as the whole thing is set in a college dormitory, and scandinavic horror have failed to impress me so far. Still, it didn't look all that bad, judge for yourselves.
Next up, a zombie flick Dance of the Dead. If the thought of a bunch of nerds slaying the living dead to save their schoolmates does not appeal to you, I just don't know what to say. Also, the zombies seem at least mostly slow-moving, and that's a plus. Will it be better than Shaun of the Dead, though? Time will tell.
Following the trend of movies whose general idea makes me all tingly with expectation, we have Repo: The Genetic Opera. This isn't as much horror as musical comedy/action with plenty o' gore in a dystopian society, kind of like Canibal: The Musical crossed with We will rock you. It's about a company that sells organs, and when someone fails to pay, they send a hitman to reposess the organ, oh and it's a musical, or to be more precise, a rock opera. As stated, this concept makes me all tingly inside, since both dystopic settings and musicals happens to be awesome, and actually can work well together. On the other hand, Paris Hilton's going to be in it, but it doesn't look like a major role, so there's no need to panick, yet.
Pretty long list, and that pretty much just covered the movies due for release around october/november that I had something witty to say about. Halloween season, I guess, makes horror pop up like toadstools.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
So, in short, I love Rec, and when I heard an American remake was in the works, I can't exactly say I was overjoyed. As so many times before, I asked myself why this remake was neccesary. Yes, it might expose a larger audience to the story of the original, which isn't a bad thing. It seems that foreign language films, no matter how good, will not reach the largest masses of English-speaking audiences. I don't like it, but that's how it is. However, it's my experience that the story gets somewhat dumbed down in the process. The most common way this happens is by overexplaining, taking out the mystery and replacing it with rather banal exposition. This is exactly what will flat out murder the Rec spirit. In Rec, you are left smack in the middle of the end, no denouement, no definite answer to all the questions raised. Don't get me wrong, most of the things you could find out just fine, but the movie didn't exactly rub the answers in your face. This would be a downright unwise move considering how much emphasis the movie puts on the uncertainty and confusion.
While on the topic of remakes, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is scheduled for one, and my initial reaction was "damn, another one bites the dust," but I've been thinking. It could actually be that this remake would provide something fresh and new to the RHPS universe? Exploring new interpritation of the various oddball characters, or maybe even challenge modern morals, especial sexual morale, and society in general, could a Rocky Horror Remake show really be a refreshing jump to the left? Honestly, I'm sceptical, especially since MnotreallymusicTV is going to be involved. There's multiple things that can go wrong, poor casting or directing can screw up the Remake Show beyond all recognition, but the worst possible thing anyone can do to a RHPS remake, except possibly to hire Uwe Boll for directing, is to cower before the rating systems. In a story that is driven by, and contains quite a bit of, sex, trying to get a low rating is pretty much the movie equivalent of saying "Hungry, Dr. Lecter?"
Then again, it could be good, right?
Saturday, September 27, 2008
I'm a zombie fan, there's no denying it. Romero, Russo or even Resident Evil, doesn't matter, if it used to be dead, but isn't quite so any more, it's fun. It must be said that I prefer Romero zombies, but as previously mentioned, it's all fun. Actually, not everything, there's a snake in zombie paradise. I am talking about a trend in recent zombie movies that doesn't fit at all well with what made older zombie movies so awesome. I am talking about running zombies.
Why is this a problem? A slow-moving foe can't possibly be all that much of a threat, and no threat equals no scares, right? I get that line of reasoning a lot, but I can't say I'm convinced. Yes, one slow zombie is not even close to a threat, but that's kind of the point. One zombie isn't a problem, one zombie is a joke. To quote Seth Grahame-Smith, author of "how to survive a horror movie"
A human being killed by a zombie is the equivalent of a F-16 being shot down by a nerf dart.This, to me, sums up the entire charm behind zombies. One zombie, no problem. Two zombies, you beat up one with the other. Three zombies, clobber away. A parking lot full of them, now it's getting dangerous. Zombies all over the place, you're screwed. Zombies don't feel fear or pain, so if there's enough of them, they will drown any opposing force in a sea of decaying flesh. Doesn't matter how much ammo you've got, it won't be enough, and all it takes is one bite and it's all over.
Modern zombie movies want to be 28 days later, which in itself isn't a bad thing. 28 days was an interesting entry in the horror genre, and showed the world that the UK still was capable of scaring the living daylights out of the rest of the world. The sequel, not so much, but I'll get more into that at a later date. 28 days, however, was not a zombie film. Although some aspects of it, the contagious killing disease, turning men against men and generally just FUBARing the world up, certainly was borrowed from the zombie genre, the rage infectees were still technically alive.
Apart from moving away from the general philosophy of zombies, these 28 days later-wannabees annoys me for a different reason, namely that it cheapens the scares a lot. An example, Dawn of the Dead (Remake.) This flick is filled to the brim with jogging corpses, and quite frankly it's not very scary, at all. Dawn of the Dead has little to offer in the land of scares, and the little it has is mostly based on the whole "OMG, dead people running, gonna catch meh"-thing, ending up with a fairly infantile attempt at spooking the audience.
Despite my harsh words against sprinting undead, it can't be denied that my all-time favorite zombie movie, Rec, features zombies that are quite good runners, but I'll get into that tomorrow
I plan to fill the pages of this digital grimorie with my personal take on horror flick news and some more general musings about horror, what makes it tick, or not tick for that matter. I can't say I'm an horror movie expert, but I figure that since I watch, and try to analyze, a lot of horror, I might have one or two smart things to say on the subject. Or not, I'll let you, the reader, be the judge of that.
Lastly, I'd like to appologize for all and any spelling or grammar errors that might slip past my guard while blogging.