If I’m being honest, my theme for Octoberween is a tinge pretentious; I like to think that I’m approaching it non-pretentiously, but the basic idea is that I’m reviewing the strangest horror movies from around the world,* mostly ones that are quite a bit older. Thus, it’s appropriate that my last Octoberween ’14 review focuses on one of the prime examples of pretense (more so on the part of viewers, perhaps, than the film itself) in horror, Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Vampyr (1932)—which Second Breakfast‘s Chris Melville took a wonderful jab at in his list of Octoberween recommendations. This quote particularly struck me after seeing the movie for the first time:
Watch it and then desperately pretend that you had any idea at all what was going on so that you can impress all your other Pretentious Film Student friends who are also desperately pretending that they had any idea what was going on.
Now, the reason that surprised me so much is because Vampyr, for all of its famous imagery, is an incredibly straight forward movie—at least, in terms of the story. A dude goes spooky-searching. He finds a weird town with weird stuff. Turns out that a weird dude he meets has two daughters who are in a town haunted by a vampire, and one of them is in danger of becoming a vampire. At one point, he donates blood and becomes lightheaded, thus having a vision/hallucination where he walks around and sees some weird stuff. Continue reading →
Well. It had to happen eventually. The last couple movies I’d reviewed had all been decent, it was time once again to descend into madness and review yet another god-awful Uwe Boll film.
More like Uwe-Bola, am I right?
So, Alone in the Dark is in theory another videogame movie, much like the last Boll film I reviewed, The House of the Dead. And again, like the last Uwe Boll flick I saw, the connections are tenuous and really name-only. Anyway, if we’re going into hell like this, might as well be both feet first:
Halloween is less than a week away! It’s about damn time. I hope you’re all prepared. I expect costumes, candy, and a mounting atmosphere of terror and gloom. That said, Halloween should really be a fun time. Let’s get scary, but try to avoid permanently scarring ourselves, okay? You know who’s great for fun horror? I’ll give you a hint: four of my last five articles were written about him. Yeah, spoiler alert: it’s Vincent Price.
The Comedy of Terrors (1963)
American International Pictures
The Plot: Having taken over the family mortuary business from his senile father-in-law (Boris Karloff), Waldo Trumbell (Vincent Price) and his darling gnome-like assistant Felix Gillie (Peter Lorre) have hit hard times. Let’s say you’re running a funeral parlor and you’re having trouble drumming up business. Well, you make business. In this case, that means you murder people. Obviously. Discovering murder to not be entirely cost-effective, Trumbell is still faced with financial turmoil. When his landlord Mr. John F. Black (Basil Rathbone) threatens him with eviction, he discovers a simple solution to both problems, and begins to develop a plan to murder Black. Continue reading →
Baddie – I mean, I guess vampires. Colin Farrell’s handsome face.
Lesson – Vampirism is still not the best way to go through puberty.
More vampires in the way Fright Night. I have not seen the original 80’s movie, and while I’d normally watch the original movie first, I made a compulsive decision to watch the remake because uh, David Tennant, Colin Farrell and Anton Yelchin. Sorry not sorry.
I am happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised by Fright Night. I have a vague recollection of it coming out, and the trailers seemed to imply it would be much funnier/campier than it actually was – Fright Night has some genuine moments of tension and some pretty legit jumps.
I’m always a happy camper when I pick a movie based on its cast and then the cast does a great job. Colin Farrell is a great vampire, because he channels such a classic Greaser look, and because he is apparently great at playing ‘disconcerting’. You can’t quite put a finger on why he’s bad, but you know that he definitely is. Anton Yelchin is delightful as always, I have yet to see a movie where he wasn’t adorable with a matured boyish charm. If that sounds like a contradiction, watch Odd Thomas. David Tennant did an admirable job, but the part was a bit too contrived. They don’t really nail the juxtaposition of Criss Angel-esque magician with the nerdiness of Tennant (and Peter Vincent’s non-stage persona), although it was adorable to see him waddle around in leather pants and get into lovers’ quarrels with his stage assistant, I’ll admit. A pleasant surprise, Dave Franco as the high school jock/bully and Christopher Mintz-Plasse as the rejected nerd friend. Continue reading →
Judging by my lasttwo reviews, my Octoberween theme is apparently concerned with the “treat” side of this while “trick or treat” concept. Originally, I was going to do a 180 from my previous reviews and look at a Criterion horror movie like The Innocents, but then when I realized it wasn’t available on Hulu Plus yet, I decided to commit to my theme and watch the horror legend and perennial contender for the coveted prize of Worst Movie Ever: Troll 2.
Metro Goldwyn Meyer
The plot: The Waits family is leaving their busy suburban life to vacation in the rural village of Nilbog, with the intention of, as father Michael (George Hardy, now a dentist) puts it “living like peasants” because this family apparently doesn’t understand vacations are supposed to be fun. While most of the family is excited to do some grueling peasant-livin’, youngest child Joshua (Michael Stephenson) is less enthused, mainly because his deceased grandfather Seth (Robert Ormsby) has warned him that the town is run by shape shifting Goblins. Goblins, being vegetarians, lure human prey by assuming human shape and feeding their targets poisoned food that turns them into vegetable matter before the Goblins can eat them. Sure enough, there’s more to the town of Nilbog (spell it backwards) than meets the eye. It’s up to Joshua and the ghost-that’s-occasionally-alive-again of his grandfather to prevent his disbelieving family from the clutches of the goblins and their evil leader Creedence Leonore Gielgud. But will Joshua be able to save his family? And more importantly, will Elliot (Jason Wright), the boyfriend of Joshua’s sister Holly (Connie McFarland) finally stop hanging out with his friends long enough to give them some alone time, despite the fact that they followed the family up to town in an RV?
This month I am looking at the strangest horror movies I can find from around the world, and this week brought me into unfortunate territory. I cannot purport to know much about horror in Japanese film history, but this first foray is very troubling because, while the horror is at times potent, the very basis is emblematic of horror of a different sort—that of a director not understanding the very principles of his own story. Warning: this article focuses on some graphic material and discusses some heavy topics, namely in the realm of sexual assault. The content, although having no naked or violent images, definitely covers NSFW territory, and deals with topics such as sexual assault and abuse in some detail.
Argos Films, Oshima Productions, & Toho-Towa
First of all, Empire of Passion (1979) has a horrifically misleading title. Its Japanese name is Ai no borei, or “Love’s Phantom,” which isn’t much better. Every article and webpage about the movie does not seem to pick up on the incongruity between the name and the actual story, with Wikipedia, IMDB, Criterion, and the New York Times using words like “lover,” “affair,” “seduction,” and “romance” to describe what is in truth a story about rape, abuse, and sexual violence. Even the director, Nagisa Ôshima, does not seem to be aware of this, though, which only adds to the problem. Continue reading →
This weekend, I went to go see the new Brad Pitt movie Fury, or as I’ll call it:
TANK PORN: THE MOVIE
Fury follows the crew of the titular M4 Sherman tank during the waning years of WWII. After losing their assistant driver, an untrained rookie named Norman (played by Logan Lerman) joins their ranks and is thrust into the brutality of war. The crew, who have been together for three long years since the North Africa Campaign, is initially reluctant to accept Norman, but eventually they all become one big happy family scalping Nazis.
Aldo Raine jokes aside, Fury is a visceral and raw war film punctuated by intense action and surprisingly astounding performances. Please note: From here on out there will be spoilers. I will do them TV Tropes style, so in order to view them, you’ll have to highlight them.