Monday, November 16, 2009


So, turn out my little Halloween-prank earned me some bad karma, so I have found myself computer-less for a while following Halloween. The problem gets its fix, but before I know it, the exam season is upon me. Oh well. I was going to review Antichrist, but that's a freaking huge job, and I don't have all that much mental stamania left nowadays, so instead, I figured I could let y'all in on my most recent positive horror movie experience.

Lemme tell you about Lovecraft, or rather, I did earlier, but I might not have told you why there's few Lovecraft-inspired movies. The short version is, of course, that Lovecraft's forte is the unmentionable and unimaginable horrors that live in old and dark places of both the world and the universe. Needless to say, the unimaginable does not translate to the silver screen all that well. About at the time you break out the concept art, you look back on what you've created so far and realize it's not as much Lovecraft any more as just your average monster flick with, depending on how faithful you are to the source material, varying degrees of racism.

So, how does one make a good Lovecraft movies? Being parts insane, parts dedicated and 100% a fan does help. That's the guys at the HPL Historical Society for ya. The movie in question is a filmification of Lovecraft's most famous short story, Call of Cthulhu. The story about one trying to uncover just who this Cthulhu creature is, and the unfortunate consequences of seeking out his seabound home.

This movie is interesting for several reasons. For one, it's produced in 2005, and it's a silent film. How often do you see that? For the most part, it's a fairly good faux-retro effect, but the framerate is higher than one would expect from that era. Of course, without the higher framerate, one of my favorite effects would have less impact. You see, portraying good old Cthulhu is harder than it strictly speaking should be to show a giant, winged, squid-faced humanoid. It takes a little to make people really believe this guy will end the earth if given half a chance, and a little more to make people realize that anyone who looks at him directly gibberingly mad.

The people at HPLHS went a rather untraditional route in that respect, stop-motion animation. Sure, stop-motion looks uncanny, but I never attributed that special kind of lovecraft madness to it. It makes sense though, if one assumes that the Great Old Ones, like Cthulhu, has an otherworldly side to them that doesn't fit with the human idea of three (four really) dimensional reality. Like if a hypothetical two-dimensional creature saw a three-dimensional being move, would probably see it move as in 2D, because that was all it could fathom, and you can bet it'd look odd, so therefore, the stop-motion jerkyness fits ole' squidface like a glove.

If there's anything negative to say about this movie, it is that their attempts at mimicking the ocean is rather poor. Of course, a sparkly blanket and some fog works better than nothing, but it is noticeable. So, short post, check it out.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Something different

I figured this was a good a time as any to tell you a little tale of computer troubles. Don't worry, this is no off-topic rant post, I don't do those. No, you'll see a common theme with the other writings in my blog. It all started back in November last year. I was working on my contribution to the month-long novelist frenzy, the national novel writing month, the one thing I would do that would forever tell me that although writing screenplays might be my business, I would never as long as I live even think about writing a novel ever again.

During this time, some of my friends had an odd fascination with the strange and grotesque things one might find on the internet. Anyone who knew us at that time could tell you that the things that was unearthed from the damp restraint of the world wide web on nights during that time was ranging from slightly unnerving to flat out disgusting. So, when I recieved a mail from a friend with an attached link, one could say I wasn't feeling optimistic about the contents. The link itself told me nothing, it was to a video to some minor video-hosting service I'd never heard of. Let it not be known that I don't trust my friends judgement, because I did end up checking it out.

It was an odd sort of flick, amateur artsy horror of a kind, titled "Boys and Girls Come Out To Play." The first part was nothing I hadn't seen before, intercutting bizzare flashes of disturbing imagery with more surreal shots, every shot cutting away too quickly to get a good look at what was happening. It kinda reminded me of the "Le Fin Absolue du Monde"-sequences from John Carpenters Cigarette Burns. As the movie progressed, though, it became very freaky. I can't quite put words on why it freaked me out, it just pulled me in, slowly. It was then they appeared. Again, the exact descriptions eludes me, but they were grotesque sights to behold. They were human, or had been, the dead eyes that stared at me from beyond the LCD screen. There was feral strenght about them, even though they all had large chunks of meat missing from their bones, probably some cut tendons too.

The movie ended a bit abruptly after that, and I did my best to forget the cold unease the movie had given me. It was just another flick. Some ambitious director had hooked a makeup-person of some kind and decided to have a freakout. Luckily, I had a lot of other things to do at the time, what with the novel-writing and whatnot, so I managed to stop thinking about it. That is, untill my computer started acting up. Naturally, this being in the middle of a major writing job, computer problems did not go well with me, but these problems were plain unnerving. I had heard of similar computer problems, and with the popularity of screamers and other malicious trojans, written semingly solely for the lulz, I figured some asshole on a forum somewhere had a good laugh on my behalf. It started so subtly, quick flashes of images I could just manage to see was there. After a while, the flashes grew longer, and I recognized the creatures from the film.

Now, I'm not particularly computer-savvy, so I decided that if my antivirus-programs couldn't do the job, I'd do a clean install of the OS and let god sort 'em all out. The problem persisted, it shouldn't have, there's no way it could. If anything, the flashes became longer, and I couldn't Ctrl-alt-del my way out of them, neither was alt-f4 any help. I started to notice one prominent character amongst them, a blond girl with a rusty butcher knife, eyeing me. I'm not talking "looking at the camera" either, she didn't look at a camera, she looked straight at me. At this point, I was rightfully freaked out and decided that no ammount of computerwork was worth this. I started keeping the computer off, but it didn't seem to stick, even when it was closed and unplugged, I could hear it hum, and when I opened the lid, I saw them, closer to the screen this time.

Removing the battery and keeping it stored in a separate compartment from the computer helped, for a while. One night, I woke from the sound of my computer humming to life. I didn't want to look, but I knew from the soft, odd light that spread across the room that they were there. I tried to keep my cool after that, after all, I had heard of hardware-dependant viruses or malware before. So, I stuffed the computer away and got a new one. Not the best of fiscal desicions, but I had the money and valued my peace of mind higher than the money my new notebook PC cost me. For a while, this solved the problem. After all, there was no concievable reason for it to continue, and this pc running on Linux, I felt my defences were pretty impenetrable.

A short while later, I was working with a script project of mine in the dark. I find that inspiration takes more often in the night, and I seldom have anything else to do at that time of the day, so I do most of my writing at night. That's when it hit. I don't know if you've ever had the feeling something is behind you, crouching in your blind zone, where you can't look without twisting your upper body, and by the time you do that, it'll be too late. Let me tell you, it's not a comfortable feeling, but it was plesant in comparison to what happened.

The picture came back. I wish I could say it was a figment of my sleep-deprived imagination, but it was as real as any link of this story of the grotesque. They closed in on the screen, the knife-wielding blonde soon occupying the majority of my screen, dead black eyes penetrating screen as if it were a thin veil, and then, the screen went black. It just so happens that when the light is right and the screen is black, it works as a mirror, and you can see what's behind you. Even given its mirror-like qualities, my body took up most of the reflection, but behind me, I could see it, a sleek, pale and bloody hand grabbing my throath from behind and, even worse, a rusty knife comming into view from the other side.

Now, at this juncture, I believe it's time to confess. I've been lying to you, dear readers, there never was a movie called "Boys and Girls come out and play," or at least there isn't one as far as I know. No, I read a story, not quite unlike the one you are reading now. Sure, the wording was different, probably better too, but I'm fairly certain the effect will be the same.

Now, I'm no cruel person, so I won't be too mean about this. Things has to be done, of course, but I can promise I'll get it done a bit quicker. I can't promise the knife will be much less rusty or any sharper, but I'll try to concentrate on the arteries. Don't misunderstand, I don't want you to post this to five or ten or hundred unsuspecting victims or anything like that. First off, I hate it when people do that, and secondly, it won't help. Nothing will. Happy Halloween

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I've got no witty or insightful introduction today, so I'll just drop right to the review. Zombieland is, in one simple and catchy word, awesome. Sure, it contains runny zombies, but they feel proper zombie-esque, probably the "dead"-look that a good makeup artist can help you with. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a primarly slow zombies guy, believe me, I don't have to change my URL yet. All I'm saying is this kinda works, keeps the pace good n' strong.

In this post-apocalyptic tale of flesh eaters, we follow the nerdy zombie survivor "Columbus" who teams up with utterly badass zombicalypse cowboy "Tallahassee," and eventually ruthless swindler duo "Witchita" and "Little Rock." So yeah, they don't operate with their real names, if you couldn't tell. The characters are pretty interesting, which they have to be, considering they're the only four left, except for one, but I won't spoil it. The genre savvy Columbus does the narrating, and this does add a good bit of humor, especially given his nerdy deadpan. Said nerdy deadpan comes to shine in lines like:
Columbus: [Tallahassee] is in the asskicking business
[Cut to Tallahasse taking on zombies, chainsaws akimbo]
Tallahasse: And Business is good
I'm guessing that line is taken from somewhere else, but honestly, who can disagree to that when one is wielding dual chainsaws against the undead, the asskicking business is, indeed, good. Sure, Tallahassee has his other moments in the movie, most notably a Deliverance reference, complete with banjo, but in my mind, the moment described above was easily one of the most effective ways to establish a character as a (probably insane) badass, I have ever seen.

Of course, the other characters get their moments too, Columbus, for example, faces down a zombie clown, a creature combining his fear of getting eaten and his fear of clowns. It's not quite the "holy shit, did you SEE that?"-level of awesome, but I'd still say he had his time to shine.

Zombieland is, all in all, not a movie that takes itself too seriously, and I think it does it good. Sure, I have nothing against the more heavy political statement-zombie films, although I have realized Romero, the champion of allegorical zombie-thingies, might be loosing his touch, what with Diary Of The Dead being about as subtle as an anvil, its major saving graces being a dynamite-throwing amish and a pretty cool professor. This action-filled zombie romp is a hoot to watch, it's not very scary, but it'll entertain you, and it can be considered a feelgood-movie for people who don't watch feelgood movies because those aren't manly enough.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

S. Darko + hidden bonus track

S. Darko
First and foremost, a little disclaimer. Like The Haunting in Connecticut, I tried watching this with an open mind. True, I loved the original, and I realize that it's a tough order to even match the movie in terms of originality, mindscrewage and sheer memorability. Still, I was prepared to give this movie a chance. After all, sequels to highly succesful and beloved classics made ten years later with only one cast member from the original occasionally works all right, right? Still, I'd be lying if I didn't say I had an odd feeling of approaching doom and disappointment when I put this DVD in the DVD player

I try not to let it go to my head to any mentionable degree, but some times, I am so right it is almost not funny. The biggest spoiler I can give to this movie is how completely balls-to-the-wall batshit insanely bad this is, and boy howdy, I will spoil the hell out of this in that regard. Sure, I might just also spoil the other plot points, the ones who are not blatantly ripped from the still miraculously fresh corpse of Donnie Darko, that is. Trust me, as I approach the climax, you will understand why I am willing to go to such degrees to convince you this movie is nothing to use either your time or your money on.

We follow Samantha Darko and her totally not one-note character BFF, Corey. Their car breaks down near a quiet little town, and they decide to stay there untill their car gets fixed. No, that was not the beginning to a slasher movie nor the vaugely connected sequel to The Wicker Man titeled The Wicker Man 2: Wicker Harder, that's how it begins. Anyway, this town has a problem or two, namely dissapearing children and a shellshocked Desert Storm vet. lovingly nicknamed Iraq Jack. So, said veteran gets saved from a comet from a time-traveling dead Sam... gee, that sure leaves one hell of a mystery as to what will happen with our intrepid heroine, aaand I think I'll stop recapping there. Why? Because from here on out, except a few cases of raging idiocity which, trust me, I will not let slip, this movie is Donnie Darko done with a less compelling cast, less skilled crew and an originality liposuction done by a black hole.

This movies only claim to fame is that it has TWO controlled dead and goes back in time twice. Why? Because quantity trumps quality, did you learn nothing from Saw II, you fool? As a result, our protagonist dies twice... Look, it was sad and interesting in Donnie Darko because you got some sympathy for the fellow, you actually understood the choice he took, despite all the things he had to give up. Granted, in the first of her deaths, they try to emulate a similar feeling, but in the second one... contrived and utterly uninteresting doesn't begin to cover it. Partially because the movie allready had gone completely insane, presumably by trying too hard to live up to the first film. I'd really rant more about the senselessly idiotic way she died, but really, considering what happens afterwards, it's hard to muster any kind of leftover rage.

You remember how it always was a little vauge how the world would end exactly in Donnie? Something to do with a stable time loop, or something. Have no fear though, because in S. Darko, it seems the universe is fed up with the movies noncoherent ramblings and decides to destroy the earth with.... tesseracts made out of fire? Which arrives from a suspiciously Dr. Who-esque portal? Baffeling enough, this seems to be happening only because a nerd got his hands on a space rock that, I'm guessing here, since the movie again explains fuck all, gives him increased confidence in trade for raging out hulk-lite style when he gets mad. Sorta like Venom from Spider Man, except there's no explanation, no reason for it to be there and it doesn't produce a badass multifanged murdermonster, as much as a person with slightly above average shoving power. I wish I could say this probably makes sense on some level, like I do with everything else I do not understand... but no, I'm not giving this movie the benefit of the doubt.

That about covers it as far as plot-related stupidity goes, except for a few minor, but still annoying things. Apparantly, there's a rule on two stuck-together pages in The Philosophy of Time Travel that each bout of time travel has to include the target burning down a building somehow associated with a pedophile. Luckily, to make this easier, S. Darko has a pretty much flat out clone of the motivational speaker guy from D.D, only this time he's a priest and leader of the youth group... make of that what you will, but it is implied he was the one who kidnapped and did Cthulhu knows what with little kids. He even has his own fanatical, prudish female sidekick... how cute, the movie seems to think that if they try hard enough, we'll forget that we are in fact NOT watching Donnie Darko.

Now, there's little to no chance of us doing that, mostly because, as I said, the crew is clearly not as tallented as the people responsible for Donnie Darko. In the original, the camerawork was fascinating to the point of being hypnotic, the lighting gave it a ional feel while still keeping things just a little closer to David Lynch-land than most flicks. S. Darko has none of that kind, the lighting and camerawork, saddly is closer to that of "Zombie Strippers," and although the acting is better, it's not all that much.

What furstrated me the most about this movie, though, was that it did not really expand upon the source material as much as threw it in a copy machine and hope no-one noticed. Sure, there's one scene that might imply that every time a teen dies from some absurd cause, he or she in reality saved the world. On the other hand, that could be just my imagination running wild, in fact, I hope it is, because that would go as far as make the first movie less, which, I must add, is worse than adding nothing.

So, in short, S. Darko gives you nothing you couldn't get from reading TimeCube untill you think you get it all while stopping every 15 minutes to catch up on some soaps and pluck out a hair somewhere on your body.

Bonus Track: Stan Helsing

Now, since this rant hasn't quite worn me out, I figure I can add another small raving, 'cause I'm worth it, as the comercials say.
You see, I love browsing in the DVD stores. Sure, the prices are better online, and the selection too. It's mostly the fact that whenever I go to a DVD store, it's like a little treasure hunt. Maybe I'll see a cover that seems interesting, and thus discover my new favorite movie. Sure, at the point of writing, I've found none of my absoulte favorite movies in a DVD store, but I've found some good ones. Of course, I've found some bad ones too, but nothing so bad I couldn't just put it down and go on with my life, forgetting the horrible film was ever made.

Not untill today, that is. I foolishly decided checking out the BluRay section, since I'm getting a BluRay-compatible computer soonish. And there I find it... the movie Stan Helsing... it's a pun on van Helsing... geddit? Now, if this was an actual parody of Van Helsing, as in the god-awful brainless actionfest where vampires, apparantly, lay eggs. It wouldn't even be so hard to parody. All you needed to add was a more or less sane guy that pointed out all the stupid, stupid things this movie wants us to go along with, add the other characters not really getting what he's going at and a chase scene with Yakkety Sax and you're done.

That's not going to what it is though. Instead, it's one in the long line of bad Scary Movie ripoffs. Our good friends Seltzer and Friedberg have decided to sit this one out, Azathoth be praised, instead the smash hit writer/director Bo Zenga takes us on a wild rollercoaster ride. Shine on you crazy diamond... yeah. The plot is centered around the titular character, who has to lift the curse on town that for some reasons makes six famous slasher villains... kill people, I guess? Oh, and the titular character has to do this because he's the descendant of Abraham Van Helsing, who, as we know was a trained slasher-killer. Yeah.

Now, I won't lie, the thought of a proper crossover fight/slashfest between Freddy, Jason, Leatherface, Chucky, Pinhead and Michael Myers does appeal to me... Freddy with a suspiciously Flava Flav-esque giant clock on his chest and a huge white glove he uses for "bitchslapping," Pinhead looking like someone used kabob skewers instead of nails and Jason actually using a hockey club, it took me multiple watchings of the trailer to realize the last one was supposed to be Chucky... jeez louise, the whole thing reeks of shallow parody.

I mean, take Pinhead. Most of the people who'd be remotely interested (and not offended) by this movie have no idea who the guy is, so his shtick seems to be that his costume loks wonky. I can hear the laffs allready. There's just so much else you can do with him that'll be... you know, actually funny, or more fun, that is. I mean, he's a supernatural sadist who comes when you fiddle with a box. There has to be something you can do with that. For a good laff, check the IMDB pages and behold the awesomely totally not copyrighted names, Fweddy, Pleatherface, I could find mirth in this all day, if you by mirth mean hopeless frustration.

If the trailer is to be any indication, the humor will be of a similar calibre. I mean, it's typical for these films to show their best (or most tolerable) jokes in the trailer, hoping to attract people to buy it like so, and judging by what the trailer for Stan Helsing gave us... there's no reason to fear dying of laughter. One of the jokes displayed in such a fashion is the titular character reciting porn titles. You know, the punny ones reffering to other movies or shows. Yeah, aren't those just hillarious? In case you didn't get why this bothered me... this joke was considered funny enough to be in the trailer. Just to add to the sheer trainwreck of it all, they also include a joke about how the che-che-che-ah-ah-ah sound means Jason is nearby... or at least I think it's a joke, the trailer seems to suggest it, but the humor is nowhere to be found.

I mean... jeez, back in the days when I started getting into filmmaking (not so long ago, now that I think about it, but you didn't see shit like this five years ago,) humor of this caliber was reserved for self-made humorists, flinging their futile attempts at provoking laughter out on the internet, hoping for a spec of recognition and acceptance for their craft, despite low to no budget, crappy equipment and editing in Windows Movie Maker. In one way, I have no problem with that, there's a sort of youthfull innocence to it all, and if they slaughter your favorite horror villains, it's no biggie. After all, half the takes it doesn't seem like they can keep a straight face, and the standard Windows Movie Maker screen is awfull disarming. Stan Helsing, on the other hand got a BluRay release... a BluRay release. How did that even happen? The movie seems to be made with Bo's own independant production company, so how in the world this happened is beyond me. Even more puzzling, the movie isn't supposed to be released yet, according to IMDB, but I somehow can't seem to bother about pondering what on earth went down here.

On my way out of the BluRay section, actually turning away from the movie I've just ranted about, I saw a BluRay edition of Dragonball Evolution, and I was yet again reminded that the line between DVD and BluRay has no built-in quality controll, unfortunately.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Music and horror

As any horror fan will tell you, music is vital to most horror movies. Sure, there are movies that go for a raw, realistic style that abolishes the music all together, movies like [REC], and those can be quite terrifying, in fact, some times more so. Still, when the intrepid heroine climbs the stairs, still wearing her borderline scandalous nightwear, brandishing a flashlight against the certainly hostile things that go bump in the night, and the music intensifies, telling you "yes, there's something fanged and hungry out there, yes, it does not wish this poor girl well." Sure, it's a cheap form of thrill, but it works well, even if you know what's comming. I would actually say it gets more effective if you know what's next. To get to my point though, can music be scary all by its lonesome.

Short answer: Yes, very, very much so. Of course, the market for music that is primarily scary is a lot smaller than the horror movie-loving demographic, still, there's a lot of music out there that's just plain freaky. Spotify URL'd for your convenience.

First band highlight goes to the presumably anthropoid humanoids known as "Throbbing Gristle," a British industrial metal band. I haven't checked all of their stuff yet, mostly because of lacking courage. And considering the first song I heard was Hamburger Lady, a deeply disturbing song, partially because it's hard to hear exactly what the lyrics are. From what I can tell, it's about a severely burnt woman, and disturbing enough on its own, let alone if you only hear bits and pieces of it properly. The non-vocal music's pretty damn scary too.

Next up, our old friend Tom Waits, a man who according to some can sing "Happy Birthday To You" and make it sound like a death threat made by Satan himself. Needless to say, when Waits decides to make it scary, it becomes scary. The crowning song of scary will to my mind always be What's He Building In There?, a true exercise in paranoia. It's chillingly effective, a poster child for the slow-building horror so long forgotten in American horror. The most effective bit about this song is that pretty much no matter where you're from, there's a town recluse, someone who just doesn't get along with everyone else, someone who the rumors fly about, someone that just might have a deadly secret. Playing this song when you're new in the neighbourhood might make you notice the neighbours seem... odd, maybe? Even after you've watched it, the question remains, what IS he building in there?

Next band, move down, move down. Early synth-pop duo Suicide (unsurprisingly with a name like that) has one, Frankie Teardrop, honestly, this song freaks the hell out of me. It's not so much the lyrics, although they certainly aren't plesant, but the repetitive, merciless background beat is extremely unnerving. Also, it's the longest song in this entry yet, running 10'26''.

This is, however, not the longest scary song I've got. Sike on you, I guess. The avant-garde metal band Fantômas more than one-upped Suicide in that regard. The song/album Delirium Cordia is 74 minutes long, and is a concept album revolving around (to quote wikipedia) "the theme of surgery without anesthesia." Owch. It's a fairly good job done too. Had it not been for the unpredictability of having one long track, I'd definitely recomend this as mood-music for an horror-related RPG. It wasn't quite as focused on creepy hospital-related sounds as I thought, but it was still pretty damn creepy. The last 15-20 mins are especially tense, because there's almost no sound there at all, just the sound of a LP-player left on too long. Could just be me, but I was expecting one last mindfuck before the song was over. In one way, I got it, no spoilers though.

I guess a passing Marilyn Manson mention is in order. Sure, some of his stuff is kinda creepy, most notably his take on the poem from the tunnel scene of the Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. I feel the impact is somewhat lessened because one expects Marilyn Manson to be scary, while with Wonka... it just comes right outta nowhere, screaming like a bat outta hell. But enough about that.

Upcomming posts will be about the following: Me blasting S. Darko into oblivion, my take on Zombieland and finally, Slowzombie Vs. Antichrist.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Haunting, sure, riveting, not so much

I'll have you all know, I tried watching this movie with an open mind, tried to kick back and enjoy myself like I do with all horror, except those selected few films that are built around allowing no such respite, such as Man Bites Dog, Irreversible, anything Haneke makes, etc. I even watched it in the dark, something I seldom do. By comparison, keep in mind that I saw Drag Me To Hell, as mentioned in my previous post, during the daylight. Sure, I was sceptical in my preview, but I had been told the movie actually was crazy scary and, by extension, crazy awesome, so my expectations were pretty high.

Anyway, The Haunting in Conecticut is todays film, and let me just start of with a sincere plea to all the horror movie makers that probably isn't reading this particular blog, stop with the fucking «based on a true story» or «based on real events» taglines and whatnot. Seriously, the hype effect is getting old, real old. The Haunting in Conecticut does this particular schtick to death. Maybe understandable since it's based on an episode of a Discovery program about an alledged haunting case in the 80's, but still, this movie is claiming to be real to the point of obnoxiousness. For example, the movie begins with filming the filming of an interview with one of the main characters. This scene would maybe be more effective if they hadn't added mood music to this «unedited» footage, complete with clapper and all.

Oh, and one more thing, when the «interview» is by one character, following another character more tightly and showing things that might or might not be real that, one assumes, only he can see... the much important suspension of disbelief tends to take a hit or eleven, but you're more likely to forget the intros annoying «lookie how real this is»-angle, and thus rendering it somewhat pointless.

But I'm messing up my tried-and-true formula here, gotta recap the plot briefly before I start the actual fun. The Campbell family rents an old house «with a history,» one of the children, Matt, is suffering from cancer and, it turns out, also hounding by a ghost. The rest of the movie is mostly 50% touching family-and-cancer-drama and 50% not-really-original ghost horror

Seriously, this movie is one long itemized list of haunting clichés, things that once was an ingenious new way of portraying the presence of an evil ghost but now has been done to death by so many less-than-original hacks that it lost any and all impact it might have had. And yes, this list comes complete with instantly rotting food, scary things in mirrors that suddenly aren't there when you look again, an asshole dad who denies anything supernatural happening, flashbacks to the less than stellar life of the now deceased troublemaker, I could go on all day. Easily most obnoxious, though, is the huge numbers of jump scares. You know how it goes, almost painfully predictable timing, and then WHAM, scare chord, something's there, then gone. Most horror movies have these, but honestly, this one uses it way, way, waaaaaay to much, there's other ways to scare people, y'know.

Then again, if only the scares were stock and uninteresting, I could manage, I've watched a lot of slashers, after all. No, pretty much every story element was more or less just ripped off, in a genre where the surprise and uncertainty is the way to play, this is not good. I usually manage to sit through movies just fine, but this one had me look at the timer a couple of times too much, as a general rule, any movie under 2 hours that makes me go «isn't this over yet» more than once have done something wrong. I'm not neccesarily saying the movie was without positive qualities, I mean, the acting wasn't bad, and there was a scare or two which wasn't all that bad, but it's hardly enough to redeem the movie to anything more than «wouldn't burn»-status.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Much helldragging will be had

So, I finally got around to watching Drag Me To Hell, Sam Raimi's attempt at kicking (or slashing as it might be) it old school. The principal concept behind this movie seems to be to bring back the good old-fashioned scary movie, low on gore, high on tension, ghosts and evil spirits. A movie from the time before all flicks needed to have a gimmick to fill the seats. On second thought, strike that last one.

The plot is about the bank employee Christine Brown, who ends up on supernaturally deep water when she refuses to help an elderly gypsy avoid eviction. The old gypsy curses Christine to be tormented for three days by the dark spirit Lamia before the titular dragging to hell is to happen. Naturally, Christine tries to pretend it's all in her head for a while, but soon realizes she's got a He Who Walks Behind-gig going on, and tries to save her eternal soul from an overdose of good old Fire & Brimstone.

This, being a Sam Raimi production without latex-clad superheroes, also contains a good bit o' slapstick. Maybe not surprising, considering the man gave us The Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness. What was surprisng though, was the way he mixed scary and funny. Notable examples include a fight between the old gypsy and Christine, which at times felt like it was from a slightly more serious discarded draft from a Scary Movie-sequel, the facts that a stapler was used or that the killing blow was dealt with a ruler did little to make it all seem more serious. The crowning example of sillyness though, is when the ghost-spirit thing of the old lady attacks Christine and she defends herself by dropping an anvil on it. I'll repeat that, she drops an anvil, on a ghost. Sure, the ghost seems to be solid at the time, but still, an anvil.

Well, when I've talked about the humor, I guess the natural order of things after describing the jollies of humor, would be to go straight to the antipode and talk about the nail-biting horror. Surprisingly, this movie does its job well. It uses quite a bit of standard ghost tropes, but it does it well. Sure, some of the scares were rather predictable, but they were still done with such an intensity that after a while, I was inclined to watch the movie through the gap between my fingers. Not that I did, though, I'm a jaded cynic, remember? Heh. Still, there's a certain level of Lovecraft-esque desperation to the terror of Drag Me, a slight uncertainty if the main character is actually haunted by the murdering spirit, or if she's just slowly going mad. Truth is, the matter isn''t resolved, and the evidence against it being an actual ghost case is there.

For example, the spirit is called Lamia, which is the name of a greek fable creature which does not the slightest resemble the faux-satan-esque evil we see haunting Christine. Secondly, the few times the ghost actually comes for Christine when she's not alone, no-one else seems to notice the banging on doors and other unplesantness that apparantly comes with ghost attack. Still, this could indicate that the ghost targets her mind rather than physically, it is as Harry Dresden of the Dresden Files say: «just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face.» Still, she certainly acts a little crazy. I dunno, I guess I can think about this more or get on with the post.

As far as I'm concerned, Drag me to Hell is the 2009 movie that's closest to the ideal Halloween-movie, the horror works quite well and the humor is pretty well done, such a shame it didn't release too close to Halloween. However, it would seem the DVD is released much closer to this season of horror, surely not a dumb move.

In closing, a few words on what'll be covered here next. First, I intend to submit my take on The Haunting in Connecticut, and after that, I plan to tell y'all a little something about horror in music.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Miike strikes again

I consider myself a rather hard-boiled horror fan. True, there are times when its dark and I find myself in a situation a slight bit too similar to a slasher flick I've seen. Regardless, I consider myself fairly hard to scare, a jaded cynic, if you will. Of course, I wasn't always like this, but I'll save that flashback for another day. Luckily there's still movies that can reduce me to a twitching, whimpering heap, in hindsight I'm not sure how lucky that is, especially with films like this.

Enter Audition, by Takashi Miike, yup, that's right. Good old Mr. Miike, the man who gave us Imprint and Koroshiya 1. I'm guessing you can guess where this goes from here, but let's do the formalities anyway. Audition is the story of a middle-aged widower who together with a friend arranges fake movie auditions to find a woman fit to mary, and although he does, she's not quite what she appears to be.

By itself, this doesn't sound like much of a horror concept. Romantic comedy or drama, maybe, or even wacky American Pie-ripoff comedy with a few changes. The low horror-concentration stays low for quite a large bit of the movie too, mostly focusing on the characters and their loneliness, said loneliness seeming to be a rather central theme, backed up by the statement that "In Japan, everyone is lonely" (translated and probably paraphrased.)

Then, well, I'll let the poster speak for itself as to why this movie freaked me out to the point where I mumbled incoherently about needles and llamas. Anyone afraid of needles need not apply, so why I watched it is beyond me. It's not like Miike's tendency to have prolonged needle-jabbing torture scenes in his movies came to a complete surprise, seeing as Imprint and Ichi the Killer have had much of the same. Audition, however, is easily the most disturbing instances of needle-torture I've seen, much thanks to the torturist, the seemingly meek and kind Asami.

I don't know if y'all have heard the expression "Yandere," but it's basically a seemingly nice girl who's obsessed to the point of violence (or torture,) the word comes from Japanese (no surprise there,) and in Japan, it's sort of a twisted extreme version of the ideal woman, what you'd get if you unleashed the wishmaster djinn upon a japanese dating site. A yandere is the ex from hell, she might have a good reason for being as she is, but she's still scary, very scary. Maybe most unnervingly of all, when the full extent of Asami's madness becomes clear, she still remains the same sweet, calm person she's always been, except now certain signs (see DVD cover above) she's plotting your murder, or worse. It'd be far less scary if she just erupted into a lovecraftian horror or something like that, but no, she just keeps the same serene smile while doing inventive but horrible things with needles and piano wire.

I have kind of a hard time getting over exactly how frightening Asami is. Sure, you can kinda see how she got there, what with pedophile sadist ballet teacher, various abusive guardians, the injury, possibly inflicted by one of the above, that prevented her from doing ballet, the one thing that made her feel good, and did I mention the ballet teacher, anyway, all this does little to make her more sympatic. If anything, she's got a slight "tragic monster"-vibe to her, but it's not exactly the pathos of her character that sticks. That would be the needles, no pun intended, or Asami's... catchphrase "Kiri kiri kiri," or that horrible squish/squelch-noise that Miike uses to tell us "yes, she stuck a needle in him, and it hurt." I'm actually kind of curious what sound that is, being an aspiring horror maker myself. Then again, that just might be one of those things I'm not meant to know.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Down by the lake

The UK might not strike anyone as the typical producer of horror flicks, a long history of dark dungeons and crazy for cocoa puffs nobility or bleak, uninhibited moors where no-one will hear you scream nonwithstanding. However, you will find that the Brits have managed to produce some quite snappy horror in their time, all the way from Ramsey Campbell, taking Lovecraftian ideas and transplanting them to England, leaving the islands with quite a few flailing tentacles to show for it, to modern horror flicks describing such diverse elements and settings as: Werewolves in major cities, Zombies (and not zombies) in major cities, crazy women under the earth, werewolves in the wild, and now, killer chavs
Yup, enter Eden Lake. In this tale of terror, we follow Steve and Jenny as they go to the secluded titular lake to enjoy some time together. Of course, anyone who's seen any kind of horror flick other than the summer camp teenie slashers knows that much bloodshed is yet to follow. Comparisons to The Strangers do come to mind, but I digress. So, our two lovebirds are harrassed by some local punks. Tension is on the rise between the main character and said group, and things does not get better when the chavs steal the couples car. In most stories you can set a cut-off point, where the heroes could still escape and be no worse off, hadn't it been for some character flaw. This holds doubly true in horror movies. In Eden Lake, this is the moment when they find the car keys, and thus are able to go home but Steve insists on trying to retrieve his cellphone from the chavs as well. Might not be too unreasonable, but if he had been the least bit of genre savvy, he'd be outta there, plust of course, there's the "death by materialism"-rule that seems to exist in a lot of films, horror and otherwise.

I won't spoil too much past this point, but it must be mentioned, the ending is just brutal. In much of horror, the ending is either a twist ending to leave your head spinning, a gentle denounment to lull you back into your sense of probably false security, or a half-assed sequel hook that's thrown in last minute about as subtly as a derailed train. In Eden Lake, the ending is cruel, brutal, and downright upsetting. You get used to a lot of cruel and unjust endings when you're into horror movies, despite the prevailing notion that there's some kind of twisted conservative justice operating behind the scenes, but the ending to Eden Lake, I wouldn't say it was entirely unexpected, it was kind of set up as a possibility, but predictability did nothing to soften the impact of this sledgehammer to the pathos.

Eden Lake is kind of walking a tightrope on the line of horror and thriller, again much like The Strangers, but due to its usage of fairly standard horror conventions, I choose to call it more of a horror movie. That's not to say there's any supernatural or almost-supernatural elements in play here, no, the gritty realism is kind of what makes it so intense.

Just to sum it up, Eden Lake isn't what I'd show to my friends to have a good time with many scares and adrenalin for all, unless my friends were as weird as me, which only some of them are. But yeah. Eden Lake, intense.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hack, Slash

You know how there tends to be one girl left standing at the end of a slasher movie, usually surviving thanks to the virtue of being virginal and somehow capable of besting the slasher at his own game, often with his own weapon. Yeah, that's a survivor girl, aka. a final girl. What, however, happens with a survivor girl when the movie is finished, the killer is dead (temporary as it might be,) and the credits have rolled?

Most cases, the best thing a survivor girl can hope for is laying low and praying that the killer isn't of the vindictive kind, in which case things look grim for you. Heaven forbid actually involving yourself in anything vaugely related to the ordeal you survived. Of course you could do that...

Or, you could do as Cassie Hack, the protagonist of the Devil's Due publishing title, Hack/Slash, and take a slightly more, shall one say, offence-based stance to the whole "supernatural killer"-thing. Cassie didn't have the best of childhoods, as the occupation of killer of serial killers might suggest. Her father abandoned her and her mother, and her mother took upon herself to protect Cassie against the evils of the world, mainly from isolating her from said world and killing everyone who picked on Cassie and serve them as "mystery meat" in the school cantina. When discovered by the authorities thanks to a tip from Cassie, mrs Hack takes the easiest way out and commits suicide by sticking her head in a pot of boiling gravy... yeah.

Of course, this being based on a horror movie, the traumatizing childhood couldn't end there. Y'see, Mrs, Hack didn't settle for being dead, and came back from the grave as a badly charred undead slasher and resumed killing. This time, Cassie had to put down her mother by herself. Now with a backstory like that, how could anyone not be a wholesome all-american girl? Well, trudging down the path to she who fights monsters-land Cassie travels The States, killing the killers who just won't stay down.

On her travels, Cassie encounters and befriends the masked giant Vlad, who despite his imposing appearance, conspiciously similar a slasher design, what with the meat cleavers and all, is a kind and somewhat naive soul. Together, these oddballs fight such meanances as reanimated pets, malicious dream masters, and even a short brush with an unspeakable god-beast and its high priest Elvis (no, really,) all the while overcomming other, more mundae problems like the fiscal challenges of traveling all over the place while not having a job, and the odd nervous breakdown or other angst associated with the not-really-a-job of killing killers.

As you might have been able to glean from the rather long concept synopsis, this is a series I've been following, and if I'm to follow anything, I have to like it, at least a good bit. Quality-wise, H/S had some rather spastic art changes at first, making reading the first volume of the omnibus somewhat less enjoyable than it could be with a stable art style, but considering it was a series of one-shots, I do realize why it's like so. As far as the story and characters goes, H/S does fairly well. I mean, Alan Moore it ain't, but the character manages to invoke a good bit of sympathy. I find it a good thing when horror can keep you interested when there's not a drooling maniac swinging an axe around. Sure, Cassie has a few "WTH, hero?"-moments, but I'm guessing that's intentional, what with her anti-hero vibe.

Now, some of the vilians in this series is just coolsauce. For example, we have the aforementioned evil god(s), or the bible-thumping religious strawman, Father Wrath, who is mentionable alone for the fact that he's one of few slashers who use a blunt weapon rather than the standard sharp thingies. Oh, and not to forget her memorable run-in with Herbert West, the Reanimator of HP. Lovecraft/several B-movies-fame.

Well, that's it on hack/slash, it's a fun read for us horror movie nerds. Beware, though, the fanservice is rather heavy at times.

'till next time

Monday, August 3, 2009


Back during my trip to London a couple of months back, I got to see the first reel of a thriller named Hush. Aside from the mere concept of reels tickeling my cineastic side, this was a very interesting experience for an aspiring horror screenwriter Mark Tonderai also did a Q&A session afterwards. From a movie-watchers perspective, I was also intrigued. Despite some rather glaring similarities with Duel, the plot seemed interesting, the combination of the tension between the main characters and the threat of the anonymous, unspecificially foreign truck driver subscribing to the Texas Chain Saw Massacre school of recreation, made for an interesting hook to draw you into the film.

Due to the bothersome fact that I had to go home before the film premiered, I didn't get to see the whole thing at that point. Also, due to the local cinemas being less than satisfying what with low profile/unusual horror/thrillers, on that note I'm still waiting (in vain) for Lars Von Triers Antichrist to hit the silver screen here, I didn't get to see it until it hit the DVD market.

Now, I must say, that is a pretty sweet poster there. It's exciting and kind of draws you in, wondering how on earth this happened and how it will end, also, it creates a fine sense of isolation, with the only iluminated area being under attack by the towering trailer. One problem, at least in this version, is the text.

This is a rather common problem on advertising and, in some cases, DVD covers, and it annoys me to no end. This happens a lot when there's large parts of black on the cover, for example my copy of Oldboy, which throws in some review highlights and a quote about how much Tarantino loves it. The problem is that marketing people seem to think large amounts of black, or white, is a clean slate for them to smear whatever praise they can gather all over it, which ruins what could be some rather epic designs. It must be said that there's a poster-version without the text, and I'm considering to buy that, but the layout on this cropped version is better in my opinion.

But enough about the poster, on to the actual movie, which I recieved by mail courtesy of my friends over at, just the other day, and the watching commenced. Luckily, I was not dissapointed. Don't get me wrong, Hush is not great, eyeball-melting art on the same level as some of my other favorites, but it delivers a pretty good twisted tale, and it's definitely worth a watch.

As mentioned, the movie focuses on our protagonist, the uninspired writer, Zakes and his girlfriend Beth as they travel North England at night, going from petrol station to petrol station to put up posters, and secondarily, argue over a crumbling relationship. However, this comes to an end when Zakes sees a naked woman caged up in a passing truck. What follows is a short argument about if they should do anything past phone the police which gets cut short when the truck driver figures that Beth would make a nice addition to his collection and kidnaps her. Zakes must then save his girlfriend/not really girlfriend any more from a fate most certainly worse than death.

As far as tension goes, this film does it pretty damn good, the ever-present threat of the anonymous truck driver coupled with the trouble with the law that Zakes manages to accumulate through a series of unfortunate circumstances, leaves a supressive atmosphere, although I feel they didn't make the most out of the threat of the truck driver. It could be that it's because the matchup of Pedestrian VS Truck tends to be short and gory, but the truck driver seems to cause the most peril in large parts of the movie through independant agents of his will, which makes him seem like something entirely different from what you'd expect. Of course, during the films climax, he's back and swinging, but it's my opinion they did not make the most of the whole truck thing.

Also, of other nuisances is a scene and a couple of characters that feels like entirely pointless padding, untill the end, when you realize it was also the set-up to a rather annoying sequel hook. To add to the annoyance, it also serves to prove one of the horror genres most persistent trueisms. I kind of understand the padding, considering the film would run kind of short (not that there's anything wrong with that) without expanding it a little, and it also adds a little to the desperate feeling that the only one who actually wants to help our hero out gets rewarded with an eye scream end.

Despite these two problems, I think Hush was a worthwhile effort, even more so because it was the directors first flick. It's exciting and got a nice visual style, also surprisingly good gore, at least for my expectations. Sure, Duel it ain't, Duel was a lot more conservative about it's characters, and that makes it a bit tenser, but you have to give Hush credit for its rather unexpected finale. I won't spoil anything, but this was a Chekov's Gun that I did not see comming, and I still haven't decided if it was crazy awesome or just crazy.

'til next time.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Higurashi no... holy shit

Ah, Japan, when not serving us wacky fun games about male cheerleaders saving the world through... well, cheerleading, or about the prince of all cosmos gathering up stuff with... what I can only assume is a sticky ball of some sort, you do a damn fine job at scaring the heck out of us. Avid readers might, if one assumes they exist, remember me praising Japanese horror's tendency towards the slow buildup and excellent atmosphere.

Now, why bring this up again? Well, because I've found myself a new Japanese animated series that quite frankly is freaking me out. The title is Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, translating to "When the cicades cry," and it follows the young man Maebara Keiichi and his small posse of friends/potential love interests/most certainly psychotic murderers (more on that later) in the sleepy little village of Hinamizawa. Unsurprisingly, the town has a dark secret or two, and his friends doubly so.

Initially we're lead to believe only one of them are crazy, if this is Keiichi or someone else is always up for debate, untill, of course, things goes from bad to paranoid to worst to the nth degree. Let me tell you, I never thought anyone under the age of 20 could nearly as scary as these young ladies, they're not really creepy, like many underaged threats, ghosts or whatnot, they're actually threatening, downright scary I'd say. Also, the series excells in that it makes the daily grind of a young student seem like a cage, keeping the main character trapped in an ever downward spiral of paranoia and fear.

Another thing is, this series really keep a tight grip on the answers, while the torrent of questions keep piling up. I've been told the first season, the one I'm watching at the moment, is called the "Question-arch," and trust me, this description is an accurate one if I ever saw one. It's like someone named certain episodes from the middle of season 2 of twin peaks "The pointless roadtrip-arch," but I digress. Currently, I'm 8 episodes into season one, and I'm freaked out to the point where I fear what sort of madness the series might throw at me. It's almost like FLCL, but with fear instead of bewildered laughter. These 8 episodes have also showed me a particularly nasty form of torture. Let me just say it puts a dark spin on the expression hammertime, and leave it at that.

Oh, and on another note, the shows opening theme song is good. It's a kind of creepy techno-esque thing that kind of reminds me of a slightly less German version of E Nomine with some JPop thrown in for good measure. It sets up the mood for the series just spiffily. In closing notes, I've heard the manga's actually better yet, I plan to find out if that's true at some point.

Well, enough on that, time to see if I can glean some meaning from the rest of the episodes.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Damn, that sucked

So, I watched Van Helsing again here the other day, don't ask me why, you'll receive only muffled excuses about it being late and my hilariously bad sense of judgment at the short hours of the night telling me that it couldn't possibly be as bad as I remember it to be. Sadly, and of course utterly predictably, I was wrong, very very wrong.

Well, to understand my declining respect for the film, I believe a short recap is in order. First time I saw Van Helsing, I found it quite enjoyable. Of course, I was young, inexperienced, stupid and high as a kite on sugar, so that might have explained it. It was only after I read Dracula and started understanding what the horror movie genre had to offer, that I saw why Van Helsing fell flat on its face. So, a couple of years pass, and I look back and rant about how bad that film is... and then, the happening above came to pass.

I won't go to lenghts describing what I find problematic about this movie, although the acting sucks, the fact that vampires apparantly lays eggs and the rough manhandling of every damn horror aspect of the horror icons they mangled. However, I do feel it raises a very interesting question in my head, maybe I should rewatch some old films I've panned in the past and see if it's worse or better. Of course, it's most likely to be worse, and I could spend my time... say, writing a script.

So, yeah, that's a rather pointless line of thought, but worth noting.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sam Raimi rides again

So, Drag me to hell has hit theaters here in Cheese-country, or rather, in the major cities and any places where the cinema isn't shit. Well, seeing as the DVD release is further away still, I'm left with mumbling about my expectations in my own little corner of the internet, a.k.a the Slow zombie movie blog.

Well, Sam Raimi, what to say about Sam Raimi, except he has changed a lot. I mean, his Evil Dead movies were insane. Maybe not art, but made with the indie filmmakers insane determination and the horror fans morbid insanity, fun times, maybe except a certain dendrophilic scene in the first one, further explanation is unneccesary, and probably unwanted.

Now, as far as Raimis career after Evil Dead, there hasn't' been all that much to talk about except for his recent bout with the Spider-Man movies. The first two were decent, not fantastic, but good super hero fun. As for the third, well, I haven't seen it, but the little I have seen... well, I'll pass it off as Raimi taking a hit of coffee too much... or several too few. Anyway, he's comming back to horror with Drag Me To Hell, and that could be a good thing. Emphasis on could.

The plot seems kinda generic, although slightly b-movie-esque, which can be a good thing if Raimi remember what he used to do before choreographing emo-spidey. I really don't know what to expect, although the reviews so far seem to be good. I remain cautiously optimistic.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I've been pumping up my courage to see this film for quite some time. David Lynchs work has fascinated and freaked me out since I got really into movies, and Eraserhead struck me, solely by the plot synopses I had read, as a movie more surreal and frightening than, for example Mullholland Drive, or the final Twin Peaks episode.

In short, I was right, oh was I ever right. I won't faff about with a plot synopsis, mostly seeing as anyones guess is as good as mine when it comes to what this movie is about. What I will however tell you, is that I got a whole new perspective on the philosophy behind H.P Lovecrafts stories, the whole business with knowledge of what's actually going on driving you insane.

Y'see, there are some pieces of fiction I wish I could fully understand all of it. Every twist, turn and complicated metaphor. Eraserhead is not one of these movies, in fact, I keep catching myself contemplating to what degree I'd be a happier person never thinking of it again. Of course, this isn't going to happen, but I digress. Although I doubt full understanding of Eraserhead will drive me completely and uncurably insane, but you never know.

I don't know if I liked the movie Eraserhead per se, I mean, sure, it's a very good movie, but I can't say I felt any better after watching it, and odds are I'll just watch it once. I think I'll settle with it being good but uncomfortable to the max.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Lars Von Triers Antichrist

It's preview time y'all. This time, I've got no long list of upcomming horror movies, although I probably could make one. No, I pretty much only have one movie to talk about, and boy, I must say I am pretty psyched about this 'un.

The movie in question is Lars Von Trier's latest project, Antichrist. When it comes to the title, it's a bit of a turnoff, since the title conjures Omen-ripoff imagery in my cliche-addled brain. Luckily, my pessimism was yet again proven wrong. Antichrist is the story of two people going to a cabin in the woods to try to patch up their relationship, and then things start going bad for them. Exactly how is a bit vague from the trailer and released material, but that's good. After all, nothing is more annoying than a movie that is more or less entirely given away in the trailer.

Well, for my take on Antichrist, one thing that struck me was that on the films imdb page, there's only credited two actors. That is, I must say, even more extreme than the character-conservative The Strangers, an underrated gem in my opinion, which is rather impressive. Well, I enjoyed the extreme focus on a pair of people, so that's a good start. As far as the religious horror elements go, well, I don't really think there's Fire-And-Brimstone Satan involved. Sure, some Old Scratch-like evil presence is probably out there, it might even be some sort of "old druidic evil"-thing, I dunno. I won't speculate too much, Von Trier has surprised me before, and probably will again.


So, since my fingers are still a bit twitchy, I'll just gush a bit about the director. Lars Von Trier is, in short, awesome, easily the biggest filmmaking artist in Scandinavia. The first I saw of him was bits and pieces of Dogville, but it wasn't untill I saw Riget. For the uninitiated, Riget is like a mix between E.R. and Twin Peaks, and it incidentally has one of the best theme songs out there. There even is a nice little dance to it. The show is kind of short, but then again, so was Doctor Horrible's Sing Along Blog, and it does not overstay its welcome. In fact, it kinda leaves you wanting more, which is a good thing for a show, agonizing as it might be for fans, such as yours truly.

Another thing that defines Von Trier is that he has balls of steel. Or rather, courage and determination by the buckets, as I am completely in the dark about his actual testicles. Weird asides aside, Von Trier does things most other filmmakers wouldn't even think of. Make a movie with only a black stage with white house outlines? He did it. Challenge another filmmaker to make his most famous short film again five times under different conditions? Sure. Make a 11 million dollar movie with a grand total of two credited actors? Check. I mean, the guy practically oozes breaths of fresh air.

Well, that's pretty much it. The Too Long, Didn't Read version: I'm excited for Antichrist and Lars Von Trier in general.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Movie horror: The internet strikes back

My my, these entries are growing rather rare, I'd hate to disapoint my loyal fans, hehe. Anyway, I recently found out that the internet is a very scary place. Surprisingly enough, this is not a result of visiting various for now unnamed message boards, but rather an honest-to-Bob attempt to scare and/or freak internet users out.

As an introduction, fans of H.P. Lovecraft have many times encountered unnamable abomination and reality-wrapping madness, however, most film mediums have so far failed to portray these abominations of existance, until now. Without further ado, welcome to the Mindfuck:

This Earthbound/McDonalds-mashup is nightmarish to say the very least, much thanks to very basic appliance of basic video manipulation tricks, seriously, I've used webcams that can do much of that job automatically. Still, it's very effective, mostly because it, like most clowns and clown-related things, make little to no sense and seem to not be bothered by it. In fact, the good Sir McDonald makes it appear that he quite enjoys it.

The nightmarish mindfuck that is the video kinda feels like an alternate battle background for the final boss in Earthbound, which is apropriate given the actual music being used for parts of the fight and on the account that it's hard to grasp the nature of McDonalds moves, if you pardon the reference.

The complete breakdown of any kind of established logic isn't nearly as common in horror as it should be. Sure, standard interpretation of the basic elements of reality ain't half bad, but if you really want to mess people up, going all Un Chien Andalou isn't half bad a choice.

Alternatively, fire up another jump scare, people probably aren't tired of those yet.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Body horror

There's multiple ways to scare people. Jump scares, atmosphere, extreme blood and gore, 's all good as long as it robs you of a few hours of sleep. Or rather, if that is good or not depends on your tastes, but I digress. What I intended to yap about today is the discipline of horror known as Body Horror. Hoh yes, we're talking things growing out of or into someones body, bringing surprisingly little of the "glad it's not me"-feeling and surprisingly much unnerving squick.

I guess some thing are still kind of sacred to most people, like for example their bodies and the bodies tendency to not sprout extra parts or be infected with foreign elements, including, but not limited to alien eggs ready to hatch or cyberpunk-esque contraptions with tubes going everywhere.

Highlights of the genre includes John Carpenters The Thing, which despite its utterly horrible misuse of the Norwegian language actually manages to be quite chilling. The special effects here are truly impressive, although some of them seems a tad cheesy around the edges. We also have David Cronenberg's Videodrome, which in addition to some rather unnerving body horror also has mindfucks a'plenty.

Other mediums are not alien to body horror, of course. Pretty much everything Junji Ito has made, like Gyo or Uzumaki, pulsates with blood and other unidentifiable liquids . We also have litterature a'plenty, most memorably H.P. Lovecraft, who tends to describe horrible, horrible things that happen to people who experience all the things man was not meant to know up close and personal.

Now... don't you feel a slight itch? Under your skin, maybe.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Shrooms, ramblomatic.

Ah, Ireland, home of Guinness, folk music and leprechauns and, according to Shrooms, the highest percentage of serial killers per square mile in the world, except not really, I'm getting to that. The plot in Shrooms is quite standard, five american students, a jock, a stoner, their respective girlfriends and a blonde, innocent motherly type go to Ireland to get high on mushrooms together with their guide and final girl-bait du jour. So, to find the legendary shrooms, they head out to the mostly untouched wilderness in close proximity to an old orphanage. Needless to say, this being a horror movie and all, things go bad and people start dying.

Since the movie is centered around the LSD-like high of hallucinogenic mushrooms, the visuals occasionally flick from standard slasher fare to semi-trippy. Not so much as one could wish though, it's almost so that I wish that a more skilled cinematographer would seize this concept by the hair and make us feel a part of the trip, sort of like in Natural Born Killers or Crank, or something along those lines. Unsurprisingly, bold use of visuals have never been medium-budgeted horror movie makers' forte, but I digress, it doesn't exactly harm the movie all that much, it'd just be cooler with it.

Now, on the kills, the movie departs a bit from usual slasher fare. Although the build-up is as one might expect, people go off alone, people ask “is any one there,” people hear a twig snap, the pay-off isn't nearly as bloody as it often is, in fact, the very definite moment of snuffing the poor blokes and lasses out is omitted, as to make their final fate just a smidge ambiguous until their corpses pops up in someone's tea. I wouldn't say this hampers the movie all that much, seeing as gory fatalities seldom manage to impress any more anyway.

Acting-wise there isn't all that much to say. People carry the idiot ball with remarkable pride and try their best to sound genuinely scared shitless in take after take. The movies final girl might be a bit of a weak spot, seeing as her emotional capacity seems to hover around the twilight zone of acting that I will refer to as the “Kenau Reeves-valley.” Of course, it kinda works, 'tis a slasher after all.

Now, on to what seems to be a mandatory element in modern slashers, the twist. In Shrooms, the twist actually works kind of well, mostly because it doesn't feel like something hyperactive writers added in the last minute to make their movie actually stand out from the sea of Friday 13th wannabees that has flooded the horror genre since Mrs. Voorees shortened the average life span for camp counsellors, I'm looking at YOU, All The Boys Love Mandy Lane. Sure, it does come into play in the very last bit of the movie, but it makes sense, and although it isn't hinted all that strongly to, you can look back and not run headfirst into a wall of sudden, unjustified logic or character changes,

All in all, I suppose Shrooms is a pretty decent slasher, and the twist is certainly not the worst. It won't change your life or make you afraid of the dark, but it can be nice, trippy fun.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I had heard about "Man Bites Dog" before, and I couldn't help but notice it was eerily similar to one of my favorite horror movies, "Behind the Mask: Rise of Leslie Vernon," except it was older, so it was more the other way around. Anyway, I finally got around to watching it, and I have one thing to say.


Seriously, ow, this movie does the experience equivalent of kneeing you in the solar plexus before kicking you in the face. It's not hard to watch because of merciless camera or editing work, it's not hard to watch because of shaky camera or uncomortable lighting. No, Man Bites Dog is just plain merciless.

The story follows Ben, a serial killer, as he is followed by a camera crew documenting his murderous exploits. The gang get involved with rival serial killer and various other murders that the camera crew takes part in or otherwise assists.

Unsurprisingly, murders is a rather big part of the movie, but the way they're played makes them way more disturbing than any Hollywood kill I've ever seen. Somewhat more surprisingly, the thing that's the most disturbing about it all is that so little time is actually spent on showing the murders. Most of the time, Ben is chatting idly about this and that, before a brief kill or two is shown, and this makes it increasingly unbearable to watch. Why doesn't this dude talk more about what he does? Is he, and the film crew, assuming we understand? Is he uninterested in being understood? Is there even something to understand?

Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of graphic violence too. Cracking of necks, brutal beatings, strangulation, more gunshots than you can shake a colt at, each and every one of these has certain elements of unplesantness to them, but the really disturbing part usually comes from the reaction to the violence. For example, in a late scene, there is a party. Everything goes typically partylike before wham, Ben kills one of his guests, and the rest of the guests continue as if nothing happened. Also, there's a rape scene, and if I ever wondered if Ben's companions were just as despicable as he was, I did not doubt after that.

While talking about despicable characters, Ben pretty much takes the cake. No joke, this sexist, racist murdering madman is about as hard to feel sympathy for as one can get. There's only weak hints of humor in his speech, and he doesn't reflect on any other level that the purely practical over the murderous acts he commits. In one way, you can kind of admire that, and when reading some of his quotes after watching the movie, he appears both eloquent and somewhat humorous, but in the moment, there's no mistaking it, he is a monster. A true, pure monster.

I've pondered on what exactly moved me about this movie. Could be the way numerous deaths are bagatellized to the point where it's but a footnote, or possibly the logic operating behind the insane minds who decided to follow Ben. Also, the fact that I actually have to remind myself even now, that it was, indeed, just a movie.

I'm on kind of an non-hollywood roll here. I've planned to watch both the original Funny Games and Irreversible, and we'll see how I'm handling that.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

On Rec and Remakes 2: The Showdown

The day has finally come. After much doubt, much waiting and much pessimism, it was at last time to watch the remake of my absolute favorite horror movie thus far. Quarantine was remade from the Spanish flick Rec a good half year after the original came out. I'll be perfectly honest, I am biased, considering how Rec is, as mentioned, one of my favorite horror movies. Also, I am going to compare Quarantine to the original, because it's more of what people in the games industry like to call an updated re-release than an actual remake. Also, finally, there will be discussion of specific scenes, so spoilers ahoy.

Large parts of the movie is pretty much Rec in American, moved to LA for your convenience, but there are some changes. For a brief moment, I thought that the movie actually closed a plot-hole from the original, namely how the disease got from patient zero (the dog) to patient one (the old lady.) However, the movie quickly dismisses that, and leaves us, like the original, with a great big "it just happened, K?"

While speaking of the disease, Quarantine doesn't seem to want to decide if it's going the usual Hollywood-exposition route, or just leave us in the dark. For one, the disease is quickly identified as a superrabies of some sort, thus removing the zombie-aspect. Fair enough. It's not what I'd call a good idea, in fact, I find it quite silly. However, a rather large chunk of exposition was removed from the original in favor of hysterics from the main characters side.

For a while, I wasn't going to let myself be bothered by this movie, you see. I had more or less decided to go with the "It's essentially Rec light"-approach, but that was before the last part of the movie. In Rec, Angela Vidal is a strong woman who actually behaves like a TV reporter, probably because she was played by one, and is a mostly functional survivor even when she finally panics. In Quarantine, Angela Vidal is whiny, hysterical lady who doesn't as much feel like a reporter as an actor playing a Reporter. No joke, for the last half hour or so of Quarantine, Angela's shrill panicking shrieks makes the movie very, very annoying. Doesn't exactly help that 75% of the men in the movie are always Action Hero-Calm (tm), always capable of a soothing, calming pep-talk with the increasingly unbearable Angela. Implications? We don't need no stinkin' implications.

Now, fortunately, Angela isn't the only character who has been hit with the Nerfbat. Part of what I like about Rec is that it has the very real-feeling shaky camerawork, without sacrificing picture quality. Pablo from Rec actually kept the camera fairly steady even when the shit hit the fan, while Scott on the other hand mans the camera like an hyperactive 14-year old. I'm no expert, but one are not supposed to zoom in and out or change angles in the middle of an interview. Night-time TV or not, one simply doesn't do that. Also, Scott methodically chooses bad angles and crops the images weirdly, even before the whole zombie-situation arises, this does put rather huge dents in the all-important immersion. It doesn't feel like a two-man TV crew doing their business before turning horribly wrong, and in that respect it does at replicating Rec.

Also, while on the topic of the camera, there's one scene in Quarantine where Scott beats a zombie (rabid woman, I dunno) with his camera. I'm certain that was meant to be awesome, but as far as I see it, it was more breaking the already strained immersion while being kinda ridiculous. Also, the fact that the camera works perfectly afterward just doesn't fit quite with my idea that cameras are made of plastic and fragile technology rather than iron, steel or kickassium.

When it comes to miscellaneous other annoyances, there's plenty. For one, the characters in this movie seem stupider than in the original, in itself a feat. I mean... chaining a woman infected with a disease that will turn her into a killer... thing to the middle of the stairs rather than somewhere... y'know, she can be a zombie without blocking of a possible escape path. Near the beginning, where the second firefighter falls down without any warning, the makers of Quarantine were so kind to add a scream, presumably to scare us more, although it did take most of the surprise out of that scene. Also the firemen seem a whole less professional, but that's merely nitpicking, almost not worth the mention, hadn't it been for that Manu from Rec is awesome and Jake from Quarantine is... not so much.

But as I mentioned earlier, apart from these annoyances, Quarantine still has some of the things that made Rec great. The atmosphere is pretty good and some of the scares are still very well-timed and such. However, it'd be best just to stick with the original

Saturday, February 21, 2009

30 days of night: ramblings

Ah, 30 days of night, a horror movie built upon an extreme version of the Norwegian situation. At some point, when the sun goes down, it's not going back up again for a good while, now, what doesn't happen in Norway, at least to my knowledge is fanged, clawed creatures of the Night, enjoying the restriction free gore-filled superhappyfuntime for 30 consecutive days.

I didn't have all that high expectations to this movie, I figured it'd be good vampire hacky-slashy fun, ye' oldee Evil Dead style, except with vampires instead of demons. Still, I can't help but feel a little dissapointed. Maybe it is that it doesn't quite feel like 30 days of night as much as “30 days of 'nightlit' hollywood filmstudio.” Yeah, for a movie that's all about the darkest of the dwellers of darkness, 30 days sure is bright. Sure, I couldn't quite expect The Hills Have Eyes-style darkness, but it'd be nice if it looked a little less like an overcast day where I'm from.

Also, the vampires annoyed me a little, mainly since they seemed to suck quite a bit at a job they've had centuries to perfect. To stop beating around ye oldee bush, they don't drink blood all that well. Sure, you can't expect all vampires to be aristocrats a la Anne Rice-bloodsuckers, but these people seem more preoccupied with making a bloody mess rather than eating. It could be their tendency to slash their victims needlessly with their claws, or their general eating habits in general. I mean, if they captured people and drained them properly rather than run up to them on the street, take a few slurps of redrum and then make sure the lest pumped all over the surrounding snow. Don't get me wrong, snow covered with blood is awesome, but one would think the vampires had learned self-control and planning, especially considering how much work went into the whole op. Also, I can understand them gorging themselves a little when their plan finally bear fruits, but if they have 153 people to eat during 30 days, you don't eat or kill 148 in less than ten and then try to sniff out the remaining ones later. That's just bad planning.

While on the topic of bad planning, let's have a look at the idiot ball, our old friend and business associate. The main character, Elbert seems to be juggling a couple of these and a hero ball. His almost lemming-like desire to sacrifice himself to save someone, quite frankly anyone, quickly gets old, almost to the point where he finally succeed worthy of a laugh track. Y'see, emotionally involving, this movie ain't , although I realize there could have been some more dexterous plucking of our heartstrings, had the pacing allowed it. Still, it leaves the mushy, pinkest part of my heart somewhat unsatisfied. In itself not unusual in the genre I like to call my favorite.

Finally, the movies climax is somewhat lacking. Again, I feel I might be requiring a bit much from my movies here, but the duel between two vampires should not look like a drunk tavern brawl with the power turned up to eleven. Sure, we can't all fight elegantly, and the ridiculously overcompensating guns of Hellsing are nowhere to be found, so I s'pose the superpowered rednecks would have to do, still, it ain't greatlike.

All in all, you can do worse than "30 Days of Night," but it's not the best horror movie you'll see.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

All The Boys Love Mandy Lane

It's not every day horror movies provoke me. Sure, horror movies may suck, or be unnecessarily disgusting, heck, their directors might even be enormous assholes that with their all-encompassing ignorance and arrogance, but still, it's forgivable, it can still be nice, gory fun.

The movie that has the doubtful privilege of actually making me roar with rage this week is All The Boys Love Mandy Lane. It appears to be rather standard slasher fare. Mandy Lane, virgin survivor girl du jour and her cast of largely forgettable horny, pot-smoking, walking targets, go out to a ranch to get drunk and, to prove their utter and undeniably manhood, or absolute subtle female charm, get in Ms. Lanes pants. It's the circus we all like to see people go to have sex, people die, dispatched in rather clever and inventive ways.

Actually, the entertainment one manages to wringe out of the movie is actually quite adequate. Low on horror, a good chunk of gore, the killer seems a notch above the rest of them due to his morbidly black humor and imaginative ingrate icings, people are dangerously stupid, but it keeps it all together.

Then, along comes the ending.

I've seen my share of poor slasher film endings, the annoying, the obvious remake hook, even those who makes everything in the movie so far completely pointless, I'm looking at you The Reeker, but luckily, few movies fully explode in on themselves and create a black hole, absorbing all previously attained fun, replacing it with some cold hunger for entertainment.

I have a policy to not spoil, but you know what I wrote a paragraph or two above? That one about the murderer being somewhat interesting? Well, I hope you didn't get to attached to that part of the film, 'cause that's murdered brutally towards the end, leaving us with a plot twist that just doesn't make sense.

Ok, that's probably a bit unfair, it's actually pretty clever, and I hadn't seen it comming. You know why I didn't see it comming though? Because it comes out of fucking nowhere. We're talking Giant Space Flea Outta Nowhere-level outta nowhere. I consider myself pretty savvy, but I didn't see a single clue for this. NOT. ONE. CLUE. Not a single camera angle, not one line of dialouge. Heck, I had more belief in the epleptic tree "Mandy Lane is a man," than this.

You know, one might argue that a good plot twist shouldn't be seen comming, but there are limits. A good plot twist will have you look back on the movie and go "ah, yes, so THAT'S why." not glare dumbfoundedly back and say "wow, that really came outta nowhere." And if it only that was the only example. The fact is, the movie runs around between various semi-twists like a lobotomized golden retriver after a bacon strip, seemingly not caring to stick to an actuall plotline aside from the uber-basic "Horny teens, psycho kill they ass."

The above mentioned whimsical screenwriting only serves to reinforce the mental image of a pack of amateur scriptwriters off their ritalin writing random parts of the script, unable to agree on even the most basic plot elements except there are, sadly, no aliens or song/dance numbers.

I've heard this movie is supposed to be a new, fresh take on the teen slasher genre. It's not. Both the director of this movie and a certain mr. Shyamalan seems to think that all there is to innovation is to pull a random plot twist up in the last moment, a plot twist that rather often destroys what the movie has built up thus far. Behind the mask: Rise of Leslie Vernon is a fresh take on the slasher genre through deconstruction and toying with the rules, The Strangers is toying with our expectations to really tug our nerves, that's how you do it, with wit, inventive screenwriting and flat-out nervewrecking atmosphere, not by last-minute asspulls.

Hmph, that's pretty much all I have to say about that for now.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

How Strange

There's a reason I love horror movies. Not so much my overwhelming desire to walk around and be scared out of my wits in my daily life, but rather the intense one-night stand with Lady Adrenaline that the really good ones bring about. Well, not to muse too much about that, it's discussed in greater detail in the not quite great libraries of activity that is my blog. Anyway, finding a good horror movie is always fun, and The Strangers, in that respect, gave me more fun than a barrel of zombie monkeys, that and a deep sense of dread.

Kristen and James retreats from a friends wedding to James' fathers summer home, they're both low in spirits because of a marriage proposal turned down, of course, being a horror movie, that won't be their chief concern. When James leaves to get cigarettes and Kristen is left alone in the dark, isolated house, you know things are going to get bad, and get bad quick.

It's this expectation that drives us through the beginning of the movie. In good slasher tradition, this girl should be slayed, bisected and wrapped up neatly in ten-fifteen minutes, all tension leaving the movie like it just remembered it left the kettle on the stove. Now, The Strangers could do this, but it doesn't. We observe Kristen acting like an actual sensible human by locking the door instead of going out to investigate those odd noises. Of course, we know it won't end there, and this only furthers the creepy atmosphere. The heroine of the story is no ditz, no fool, and thus, neither the villain or the scriptwriter can be one.

The movie really only becomes more creepy after that, we realize, maybe slightly earlier than Kristen, that there's someone in the house. The someone in this case is three mask-wearing psychos, but they hardly have any screen time at all. However, we are always fully aware they are around, lurking just outside the poor protagonists field of view. The fact that they can still seem like genuine threats without killing anyone for so long in the movie is impressive, to say the least.

The ending is also quite chilling, and thusly impressive, seeing as a denouement easily can rob a movie like this of its intensely scary atmosphere, but no, it's chills ever on.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

They started this op'ra shit

Amazon's oversea shipping nothing short of amazed me here the other day. To get my hands on Repo! The genetic opera, I ordered it form Amazons American site, and about a week later, the DVD arrived. Now, the movie is rather unique, not only because of its large soundtrack or the fact that it's actually an opera, with all the markings of the genre, except the tendency to be in Italian, but I digress.

Repo! has a style of its own, the dystopian future doesn't just feel dystopian, it feels profoundly fucked up, and yet, somewhat inviting. Don't get me wrong, it's not Harry Potter-style starry-eyed daydreaming this movie inspires, no, it's more a sort of hypnotic pull. In all its wretchedness, the crapsack world we're presented with seems alluring, could just be the awesome soundtrack, with all its awe-inspiring vocal greatness, but there's definitely an atmosphere to speak of.

Repo is indeed a movie to check out if you can.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dead Snow

I watched Dead Snow at its premiere, but various distractions prevented me from writing on it untill now. Also, I'm lazy, but that's nothing new. Let me just start off by saying that Dead Snow is several various kinds of awesome, although not every kind of imaginable awesome, there's still a few unclaimed veins of awesome that just *might* be refined.

Anyway, the zombies did more than jog, in fact they were quite agile, although they sadly were suffering from the henchman duel syndrome, or if you will, a strong dislike to actually swarm ye' olde intrepid adventurers and murder and/or eat them, like any sane strenght-in-numbers group actually would. Of course, it makes for better fatalities when they're so polite to run up to our heroes one by one to get slaughtered, but it feels a bit odd when some poor sod's time is up and the zombies overcome their stormtrooper syndrome and multistab said poor sod.

And yes, the zombies do stab people, and blow people up with grenades, and such. Of course, it's a fantastic opportunity for the people behind the camera to show off their mad period weapons knowledge, but it somewhat defies the whole "savage beast vs. inteligent and scared man"-thing. Still, said grenade usage is used to end one of the most unnerving zombie munchage scenes I can remember to have seen. In a comedy horror flick this may seem strange, but I've never seen first-person Death by Zombie, so it was particularly jarring.

At any rate, Dead Snow is a definite recomendation, provided you can get your mits on an eventual DVD release. Of course, for Norwegians, it's simpler. In fact, in that case, why are you reading this? Shoo, go watch Dead Snow.