Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cache (2005)

Fifteen minutes in I was sleeping like a baby. Obviously, a slow build with this one. I'll try to watch it tonight or tomorrow night. Anyone else seen this one yet? Does it pick up a little?

(Two days go by.)

Well, I just finished this proclaimed masterpiece, and I am left with nothing good to say. Perhaps this would've made a better book--the "visual" aspect of cinema was not utilized at all. Nothing happened save for constant dialogue, a few quick flashbacks, and an out-of-nowhere slicing (is this the "intense" moment alluded to by the comment below?).

It's hard to say this about a movie from Funny Games director Michael Haneke, but this is a severe disappointment not worth the time.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987)

And here I was thinking the calamity couldn't be any more tumultuous than The Evil Dead or Drag Me To Hell! In true Sam Raimi style, characters are tossed, slammed, whipped, thrown, jostled all over the screen and covered in all manner of liquids and juices. This is more similar to the Raimi we recently witnessed in Drag Me To Hell.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Devil's Rejects (2005)

Man. Where to start? First off, I do agree that this is much better than House of 1,000 Corpses. Zombie seemed to find a groove and carried it through with taut execution. That said, I also consider this a good flick without the juxtaposition of its predecessor. We got better production value, better gore, better acting, more of the humor I loved from the first installment. And on top of it all, I got to point out more than a few familiar faces from Zombie's Halloween remake, which I had seen prior to either of these movies. My only gripe would be the gratuitous posterior shots, but, hey, it's a cult horror movie. Great work!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

House of 1,000 Corpses (2002)

When I received The Devil's Rejects a few weeks ago from Netflix, it dawned on me that I hadn't seen the prequel, House of 1,000 Corpses. I was told that it didn't really matter whether I had seen the first installment or not, but I decided to be a loyal movie patron and watch them in order. And this, despite having read a hundred blog posts favoring the second installment over the first.

Two things dawned on me in the first 15 minutes: (1) making a batch of Buffalo chicken wings for the movie was a bad idea, and (2) I had already seen the movie. Now, I'm not one to forget what I've seen and what I haven't. I have friends who constantly get halfway through a movie only to then realize, Oh, I've seen this before! But, like I said, this has never happened to me before. How it happened now, I don't know; but after 15 minutes it all came back to me, and I remembered every bit of it.

I almost turned it off, but decided to watch it again to see how it measured up for me years later. It was about the same as I remember it being: sick, twisted, and somehow tame. It seemed like all of the "disturbing" parts were purposely shot with a distorted, grainy wash, which for me took away from the movie in the same way that the other visual editing effects did. With the exception of The Wall, I've never seen visual effects (e.g. hue, saturation, etc.) I liked. (Is The Wall even considered a movie?) The movie redeemed itself, however, by being thoroughly laced with humor.

Looking forward to The Devil's Rejects! I hope it has the same sense of humor and loses the distracting visual transitions.

BOOK: One Rainy Night

With the advent of grad school it's been a while since I last read a horror novel. I think the last horror novel I read was Jack Ketchum's re-release of Cover, but I didn't get around to reviewing it on this site. For months now it's been a survey of the English literary canon from 1300 to present day, excluding postmodern horror. That's not to say it hasn't been fun--it's been a blast!--but it was time for a good modern horror read from one of my favorites: King, Ketchum, Keene, Laymon.

One Rainy Night, like most Laymon novels, places vivid, likable characters along a simple, harrowing plot. A warm black rain suddenly falls upon the town of Bixby, and everyone the rain touches begins to crave flesh and blood. If you're familiar with Laymon, you're familiar with his ability to write frenetic splatterpunk novels. This is a showcase of said talent. The pacing keeps the pages smoking, while your fingers ache from gripping the book too tightly.

The best part about this one is that it isn't just a typical "zombie" plot. Laymon throws a few other twists in as he always does and keeps the story interesting for just over 400 pages. For me, this is impressive. Especially with modern splatterpunk horror, it is difficult to keep the juice turned up and the reader's eyes unblinking for more than roughly 200 pages. That is, unless the reader enjoys long, detailed stories, laden with tons of exposition. (I'm one of them, but I've found that this trait is atypical among the majority of readers.)

If you're looking to burn a few hours with an exciting read, this is one for you. Although, I wouldn't recommend it for those who don't like explicit violence. If this is you, why are you on this blog?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

District 9 (2009)

Wow. Despite high expectations, this one took me by surprise. I expected the same old alien revolt format, but writer-director Neill Blomkamptook threw some great twists in with his debut masterpiece. The movie is mostly documentary style in the beginning, but don't worry (I'm tired of these documentary style movies), it transitions into a standard POV movie. Plus, you hardly pay attention to the hand held camera style anyway since the movie pulls you in from the start.

I don't want to give anything away, so suffice it to say it's a must-see, especially in the theater. I know ticket prices are out of control, but this movie is worth the extra money. And it's a great date movie--though I didn't take ma femme. There's something for everyone: impressive violence and cuddly alien kids that seem to capture the heart of theatergoers everywhere. Prior to seeing this I can't remember the last time I experienced a refreshingly unique cinematic masterpiece.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Last House on the Left (2009): Take 2

Just watched this again with a friend who hasn't seen the original. He thought it was a great movie until the end, which he thought was completely unnecessary/unbelievable and ruined a perfectly good film. I'd have to say I agree with him there. The first time I watched it, I just shook my head, turned the TV off, and went to bed.

The other thing he pointed out was the use of first names. I didn't catch this at all the first time I watched it, but after he pointed it out it became comical. It seemed like every character was addressed by their first name. Seriously, a first name is in almost every sentence, beginning at the "attempted shoplifting" scene!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Last House on the Left (2009)

Surprisingly, a decent remake of a genre classic. Two things I would have changed: (1) the overbearing musical score for the entire setup portion of the film, and (2) the choice of Riki Lindhome as Sadie. The musical score took away from the possibility of setting a mood in the beginning; it seemed not a second could go by without a blasting crescendo. And Lindhome's acting was far too rigid, causing her to come off like a middle school bully. But, whatever. I suppose they were going for an abrupt transition from the flowery setup into the grim conflict.

I loved the choices for the father and mother: Monica Potter and Tony Goldwyn nailed their parts. Goldwyn's Life-Saver/Tough-Guy character is what I wanted so badly in the father from Funny Games. But Funny Games is a completely different arrangement, as well as a better movie altogether. I was also thrilled with the gore and the suspense the movie was able to pull off. Despite the gore being comparatively mild, the movie still managed to depict some cringe-invoking violence.

I gave it 3/5 stars on Netflix. It's neither garbage nor great. American cinema has long way to go in the "serious horror" category.

(As a side note, it took a conscious effort to take Martha MacIsaac's character seriously after seeing Superbad. All I could picture was her as Becca, which caused me to laugh. Then, I started thinking about McLovin and really started laughing.)

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002)

One of Chan-wook Park's vengeance trilogy (also Lady Vengeance and Oldboy), Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance showcases Park's talent in a part social commentary, part thriller, part drama. If you enjoy brilliant camera angles, sharp dialogue, and a steadily building plot, this is one for you. Despite rolling my eyes at the two-hour runtime (I'm severely A.D.D. when it comes to movies), I never found myself wishing it would pick up; my attention remained fixed for the entire duration.

If I had to say one thing "bad" about the film, it would be that you begin to see a pattern toward the end, so there aren't any major twists. But, at the same time, this wasn't a flaw since this is what the movie was going for. So why am I saying anything "bad" at all? Well, one of my grad school professors just recently marked me down for only giving positive criticism to another group, so I'm making up for it here!

The last thing I want to mention is the clever whit of the characters. Whether it was the actual dialogue or corporeal mannerisms, the humor was mixed perfectly into this otherwise grim tale to make a cocktail only Park can serve.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Cinderella (2006)

This isn't a particularly bad movie so much as its structure causes it to be plain boring. After about thirty minutes of classic K-horror monotony, the crux of the story is revealed (in unconventional detail for K-horror), and then the movie delivers another thirty minutes of repetitive visual stimulation. I think it had some pretty neat twists and turns along the way, but I was too bored to tell.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wolf Creek (2005)

A couple days ago I found the Netflix Queue Randomizer, shuffled my movies around a few times, and closed the page. The deal I struck with myself was to stay away from my Netflix queue now that it was randomized. This way I could finally be surprised with each shipment notification--I was getting tired of knowing exactly what was next up. Thankfully the randomizer placed Wolf Creek near the top. This is a movie I vaguely remember hearing inklings about somewhere, but never really looked into. I have never read a single review, synopsis, or seen any trailers. At the time of pressing PLAY last night, all I knew was that it was critically acclaimed at Sundance and made in Australia.

Cat out of the bag: I loved this movie! The cinematography, and thus atmosphere and mood, was outstanding. At some points I lost interest in the storyline in favor of eeewww-ing and aaahhh-ing at some of the shots. On top of superb visuals, add solid acting and an extremely creepy antagonist--seriously, this guy kept me nervous and on edge the whole time!

I still haven't read any other reviews, but I have a feeling this is one of those movies you either hate or love. Sure, it didn't give anything new to the "breakdown" or "survival" genres, but its atmosphere set a new standard. And sure, the movie takes a long time to get past its setup, but I thoroughly enjoyed the realistic feel that gave the movie. Quite a feat given how ADD I am.

I'm curious to see what others are saying, so I'm off now to search the Web! If you haven't seen Wolf Creek, it's well worth it.

Black Christmas (2006)

Worse than my already low expectations. The same thing happened with Dark Floors: I knew it was going to be corny, lame, cheesy, whatever; but it was far worse, and I didn't have a good time.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dark Floors (2008)

So, I'm sitting here on my birthday, watching Dark Floors and bored out of my mind. In fact, it's still playing right now. But I'm so bored by this crap that I figured I'd write this up while it's playing.

The movie is prefaced with a claim to its original idea, but so far the only "original idea" seems to be that the monsters are the Finnish metal band Lordi. Everything else is taken from the Horror Movie 101 textbook, and the dialogue/acting is atrocious!

Why can't someone give this girl a red crayon? It fell on the floor earlier, and despite the fact that the father had handed it to her minutes before, he doesn't seem too concerned that it's no longer in her hand. Maybe it's because she keeps magically possessing purple crayons, black crayons, and so on.

I just skipped a couple of chapters; nothing new. A few more...nothing new. Boring, boring, boring. This is what I hate: a cheesy horror movie that tries so desperately hard to be serious and frightening. The only thing that could redeem this movie at this point is if the monsters/ghosts put on a musical performance.

(10 minutes or so elapse.)

Oh, wow! So, apparently you can't shoot the ghosts, but you can deliver electric shock to them. Did I miss something? Is this due to some energy ghosts are susceptible to? I admit that I'm not well versed in knowledge of ghosts. Oh, wait--I did miss something. The ghosts are able to be stabbed now, too.

On the last chapter now. Protagonist is driving full speed at one of the members of Lordi. A brilliant light appears. His now ethereal daughter speaks enlightenment to him. He turns to dust. The monsters are pleased. She understands them despite the fact that every sound is the same growl. A few shots of the deserted hospital...and...oh my God, really?! This has to be seen to be believed.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Midnight Movie (2008)

This is actually a decent movie, entertaining and quick. I was expecting something like Cigarette Burns, but Midnight Movie had its own feel.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Calvaire (2005)

Finally, a disappointing French horror movie. Sure, it was shocking at times, but it seemed more interested in creating atmosphere than the brutal, bloody thriller it claimed to be. On the other hand it did have a couple of moments that left me scratching my head and wondering if I was totally missing something or not (e.g. the Piano-And-Penguin-Dancing scene). It's comforting to know that even the French are capable of making mundane, hillbilly horror.