Sunday, December 7, 2008

A few recent viewings

Seems I have been on hiatus from watching scary stuff these last few weeks. It's a busy time of the year for everyone, and seeing as how this is the silly season, I feel completely hurried and rushed all the time to get everything done for the holidays. This cuts into my horror habit and makes me cranky and unwilling to write.

I have, however, managed to watch a view films. (Besides seeing Twilight for the second time, that is...)

First, we have Immortality - a 1998 thriller (?) starring Jude Law.

With the Twilight book series coming to an end in August and the first book's movie adaptation, as well as HBO's vamp show, True Blood, it seems 2008 has been the year of the vampire.
I have forever been a fan of vampires, and so this strange obsession the world is having is old school to me. But it has brought a resurgence in my quest for new or unseen vamp action.

Immortality is a very different vampire film. Originally titled 'The Wisdom of Crocodiles' in its native Britian (there is a line in the movie that justifies this ridiculous title, but I can still see why they re-named it for American audiences), it tells the story of one Steven Grlscz (yep, no vowels, Vanna!).

Steven is, apparently, a vampire - but they never show his fangs, he walks around in the sunlight, he doesn't seem to have a problem with mirrors, etc. (Gee, kinda like Twilight now that I think about it). He does stalk women though, that much is true.

The beginning of the film establishes in no uncertain terms that any women that Steven gets close to seem to meet an untimely end. He does actually kill a woman onscreen - he violently bites her and 'apparently' drains her dead. This woman and he were in love, and that seems to be the real clincher for your damnation. You have to fall in love with Steven before he will kill you for your blood. He needs you to be IN LOVE with him so he can feed off that energy I guess. Like I said, a different take on the concept.

Steven then meets Anna, a strong willed and brilliant engineer, and cannot bring himself to end her life - he truly falls in love with her and feels that they are soul mates. But his internal hunger makes keeping her alive a real challenge for him.

All the while, Steven has a detective on his trail for the murder at the beginning of the film - in which he dumped the body out on a deserted watery causeway, which covers with the tide and makes hiding the body convienient. But Steven didn't cover his tracks as well as usual, and the detective and him form a rather strange bond throughout the investigation.

Jude Law is completely watchable in this brooding and eccentric movie. I find it difficult to call it horror - or classify it as a typical vampire film. There is little to no blood (save that one murder) and all the classic elements are non-existent. But there is a mysterious and psychological element that draws you in. I couldn't stop watching it and found it strangely intriguing.

Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead (2008) is a direct to DVD sequel to the highly entertaining original from 2001. Obviously there was no reason to make this movie other than to capitalize on the name.
Having said that, it wasn't the worst movie I've seen recently (that honor would go to the awful Paranoid Park, or maybe the Prom Night remake).

Joy Ride 2 is basically just your average 'death on the road' flick.

Melissa (Nicki Aycox) and her fiance Bobby (Nick Zano) are on their way to Vegas for a pre-wedding bash of some sort. Along for the ride is sister Kayla (Laura Jordan), who in turn meets up with her online crush, punker/goth wannabe Nik (Kyle Schmid) - who she is hoping to get to know better (and we all know how much better that will be)...

Along the way their car breaks down ( - get some new tricks, movie people!) - then they find an abandoned house (we're reaching stretching the boundaries of NEW here, eh?) and decide to break in (Hello?) and end up 'borrowing' the gorgeously restored '71 Chevelle in the garage (yeah, like that would happen).

While having a meal at a local diner, they get a phone call from the nefarious Rusty Nail (our truck-driving, gravelly voiced villian from the first film) who has Melissa's boyfriend (apparently abducted from the rest room) and he wants to make a deal.

The movie just plays out like a cat and mouse thriller with some blood and guts thrown in for good measure. But there was something about it I liked, I can't put my finger on it. I think the production was a bit higher in class than most Direct to DVD flicks. The acting was good, in my opinion - with horror veteran Aycox seemingly scraping near the bottom of the barrel for work lately.

All in all, not a bad 90 minutes, and worth a purchase out of the $5 bargain bin at WalMart perhaps.

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