Tuesday, September 30, 2008

On Bad-good and just plain bad

Alternative title: From Boll to Wood, when bad is good and when it's not.

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

Upcomming chills and thrills

So, time to check out what manner of horror flicks one might watch in the close future.

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

On Rec and remakes

As I mentioned earlier, I'm very fond of the Spanish horror movie Rec. Yes, I do admit it might seem a bit odd, considering how I feel about running zombies. Still, Rec manages to have galopping ghouls that manages to turn out to be a very effective scare. Partly, this is because of the first-person camera and numerous surprise zombie attacks, but Rec also manages to produce a really unnerving atmosphere. I've heard it described as "completely drained of hope and mercy," and that's a bullseye as far as descriptions go. The zombies are a constant, lethal threat, but what makes the threat so overwhelming is the containment, how the characters are kept prisoner by a faceless and unsympathetic authority.

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

Running zombies

Let's talk zombies, shall we?

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

What this blog is

After a rather long time of consideration, I finally decided to start up my own blog. Although I do not really expect too overwhelming feedback, or too many readers, but I figured that it was worth a shot just for the heck of it. As you might have gleaned from the title of this blog, it's mostly going to be about horror, horror movies to be more specific.

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.