Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Bloody Sunday

28 Weeks Later

Pig Hunt

Black Devil Doll

Zombie Creeping Flesh


Stacy: Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombies


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday Bloody Sunday

I Spit on Your Grave (2010)   

Dawn of the Dead ('04)


The Driller Killer

The Last House on the Left ('72)


Monday, February 14, 2011

Mindless Movie Monday: Altitude

So.....I had to resurrect this series just for this film.  I can't express how silly Altitude is, really.  You almost have to see it for yourself (though I wouldn't if I were you). It's a pretty lame excuse for a concept film.
When perusing reviews of it on various places such as Netflix and Amazon - as I generally do before I decide to commit myself to untested waters - I was fairly intrigued at first, thinking the idea of a plane in trouble - not only with a disaster-movie feel but with some kind of supernatural force ( Cthulhu?!?) at play - sounded like my cup of tea. I'm a total sucker for disaster flicks, and at best was hoping this was at least going to be a Twilight Zone knockoff in the vein of Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.  Though I will readily admit I couldn't fathom how they were going to pull that one off.

Guess what?  They didn't.  Sometimes, a movie in which the entire story is basically told in one place works well.  (See: Frozen, Buried, Devil, or any number of recent films that tried this gimmick and at least succeeded somewhat.)

Sure, they got a nice-looking cast together to bicker amongst themselves in true 'my girlfriend's hotter than yours' fashion, but damn if I couldn't have cared less.  The lone character that I found myself actually taking a liking to of course was offed first.

When we start out, we witness a family having a friendly skies adventure with a female pilot in a single engine touring plane.  The skies have darkened and it's obvious things have gone awry, with everyone gripping the sides of the plane in fear while the pilot tries to reassure everyone that all is well in the great blue yonder.  Of course that's a lie we quickly discover when another plane comes out of nowhere and they clip each other. Crash!  But it cuts away before we actually see a nasty impact.

The cast of 90210 takes a holiday....
Back to the future we go where we meet Sara (Jessica Lowndes), an undeniably sexy dark-haired girl with stunning green eyes who is about to take her three friends up up and away.  I think they mentioned going to a concert, but already I guess I wasn't paying close attention. Sara's three chums are utter stereotypes with absolutely no substance whatsoever.  We have Sal (Jake Weary), the annoying jack-ass jock, Mel (Julianna Guill), the dense cheerleader-type best friend, and Cory (Ryan Donowho), cousin of Sara who has an obvious crush on Mel.  
When at the tarmac, a fourth passenger arrives to everyone else's dismay except our pilot.  Seems Bruce (Lanson Liboiron) and Sara are a couple, but he is one nervous nelly and causes Sal in particular to poke a great deal of fun.  If I were Bruce, I'd have dug right back by mentioning the fact that Sal's name is SAL.  Do parents really still name their kids SAL?  Is he part of a mob family? 
I digress...  
They all board and off they go.

"We have clearance, Clarence...."
Here is where I complain that Sara seems to be all of maybe seventeen, and noticing that Sal is wearing a letterman's jacket can only further prove that they are intended to be high school friends.  Um, do they really let teenagers fly planes?  Really?  Because no matter how much I loved my friends from that era, there would be no way in heaven or hell that they would be flying me anywhere.  Also adding fuel to the fire is the fact that Sara's mom was a pilot who crashed and burned and took her chartered group with her.  Bit of anxiety for Sara I think. Lot of anxiety for her pals, who tend to rudely bring up the air disaster whenever a dig seems appropriate.

So in true 'Final Destination' form, we as the audience are privy to a bolt on the tail of the plane loosening.  Nothing like giving it away, you know?  But up they go, and at first all seems copacetic, with Sara mumbling a bunch of in-flight airplane jargon back and forth with the control tower.  Noticing Bruce is exceedingly nervous, she attempts to get him to take the controls and fly the plane himself - because someone scared to death is the perfect candidate - and he does a bit of freaking out which leads to loss of control and a whole lot of dipping and jerking around, knocking that loose bolt into a jamming position, which in turn causes the tail to malfunction.  Wow, what a startling turn of events.
The plane is now climbing relentlessly.  Sara has no real control and they go well above what is seemingly possible.  The sky grows dark and foreboding, and they lose radio communication.

Dude.  Get a life.  But not with me...
Meanwhile, because they don't all have enough to worry about, the quintet begins fighting amongst themselves.  Sal realizes Cory's feelings for Mel, Sara discovers Bruce has lied to her and has intentions of following her when she moves away in the next month (stalker!), and everyone making fun of Bruce's comic book obsession.  Why do people always have to make fun of the nerds?  And let's not forget Bruce's anxiety attacks in which he seems like he's in a trance. And not a very convincing one at that.

Anyway...  as if this isn't enough fun, they discover the remedy to the situation at hand is for one of them to go outside the plane and unjam the elevator (on the tail).   Um, okay - seriously?  I am the only one who cannot fathom this in the slightest?  I thought there was this whole altitude decompression thing - was I imagining that?  You know, the higher you get and all that?  Oh hell, whatever.  Cory decides he is the hero and Mel sends him outside to his probable death with a kiss.  Yeah, that makes it all worth it. 

"This is going to be awesome on You Tube!!"
Miraculously, after tying him to the inside of the plane with a rope (!) they open the door (and somehow none of them fly out, even though they are supposedly above 24,000 feet and still climbing) and off Cory goes.  But not before Sal sees something...odd.  We see it too, but not enough to really make out what it is supposed to be.  At least not until after Cory manages to fix the tail and is being hauled back into the plane.  Then we get a good glimpse of something that looks rather like the Kraken from Pirates of the Caribbean.  Scaring the piss right out of Sal, he cuts Cory loose and sends him off to his death.

So we've morphed from a disaster of the week film to a 'what the hell was that on the wing of the plane' movie.  Sounds relatively familiar, and it is.  The fact that the monster is supposed to be akin to a Lovecraftian nightmare doesn't really add anything whatsoever, and in fact pissed me off more.  This is not Cthulhu, my friends.  Matter of fact, it's not the Kraken either.  It's not even the giant squid from The Beast.  But how would I really know this fact?  We only see it for a total of maybe five minutes out of the hour and a half running time.  My favorite way to describe this film is something I read on Amazon I believe.  "While watching a disaster film, a monster floated by..."  A damn near perfect description I wish I'd thought of myself.

So if you're wondering what happens next, I won't spoil it by telling you.  Though I should, to spare anyone else the pain of sitting through this.

I suppose you could make it a fun drinking game though - just take a drink every time the camera shows a close-up of Jessica Lowndes - you'd be heaving in your toilet before the second act.  You might anyway, without the booze.

There is an intention of a twist at the end, but by the time they arrived at it, not only had I already figured it out well beforehand, but I could have absolutely cared less. 
Sure, I've seen worse. But I've never seen a more ridiculous 'space monster attacking a handicapped charter plane filled with irritating teenagers' film.  Hot damn.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday Bloody Sunday

My Bloody Valentine

Let Me In

Terror Circus

Blood Feast

Chain Letter

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Dorian Gray (2009) : Vanity Will Get You Nowhere...

I'm thinking maybe I'm not supposed to like this film as much as I do, and maybe I should consider it a guilty pleasure... but I'm rather in love with 2009's Dorian Gray. 

Much of it probably stems from my admiration and adoration of Oscar Wilde's 1891 source novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray.
It has always been one of my favorites, showcasing the shameless vanity of a young man who can't quite come to terms with growing old and hence sells his soul to the devil to remain beautiful. 
Yeah, I'd do that too.

This particular adaptation of the classic story stars Ben Barnes (yeah, the guy that plays Prince Caspian in those Narnia films) - a beautiful man indeed, and quite good in the role.

At first Dorian is a naive young man arriving in Victorian England after apparently being away from his childhood home for some time.  He quickly meets Lord Henry Wotton (Colin Firth), a man eager to show Dorian the more sordid activities of the town.   Still unsure of himself, particularly around those of the opposite sex, Dorian isn't much for Henry's philandering. 

When he meets one of Henry's artist friends, Basil (Ben Chaplin), he is quick to agree to a sitting which turns out to be a striking likeness of Dorian and a wonderful piece of art that is well received in social circles.  Dorian becomes infatuated with the painting - unable to take his eyes off it - and almost teasingly mentions that he'd give his soul to the devil himself to remain as young as that portrait forever.

As most already know, that is the beginning of the end for our hapless heart breaker.  Soon, Dorian meets a beautiful aspiring actress, Sibyl (Rachel Hurd-Wood), with whom he falls in love with almost immediately.
Rushing into an engagement, he is chided by Henry when Sibyl mentions the fact that she'd like to have children right away.  Dorian, seeing the aversion in Henry's eyes at the thought of having kids so soon, agrees to go to a house of ill-repute with Henry, where he ends up getting high off the crack pipe (okay, so it was no doubt opium) and spending the night with one of the 'employees".  When Sibyl becomes suspicious of his whereabouts, Dorian breaks off the betrothal to save face. 

Here is where Dorian begins his lecherous descent into debauchery and mindless indulgences.  He sleeps with pretty much everything that walks, spends money like it's going out of style, and acts like he's the greatest thing since sliced bread.  At one point he even sleeps with a fresh-faced young debutante at her coming out party (she must have been all of 15) and then, sinking even lower into depravity, beds her mother when she comes seeking the girl out.  It is only afterward that we find out the youngster was hiding under the bed the entire time Mom was squealing Dorian's name in the throes of passion.  Yikes.

And here's where you ask - what the hell is this, The Tudors?  The Libertine?  Where is the horror? 
Ah, I was getting to that.  With each ridiculously perverted and lewd act, Dorian's picture becomes just a little more decayed.  Dorian doesn't find this out however, until his beloved Sibyl is pulled from the river after drowning herself in sorrow, taking their unborn child with her.  This only causes Dorian to become more lascivious than ever. When Basil confronts him, trying to find out just what has gotten into his friend, it is inferred that Basil may quite possibly have feelings for Dorian.  Taking advantage of this apparent attraction, Dorian even goes as far as to seduce Basil. (This did not happen in the book, but it did work to the film's benefit, so I won't argue the facts.)

The morality of the storyline both here and in the book is a marvel.  Vanity is an ugly curse, never more than within this tale.  When Dorian finally admits to Basil the truth behind his painting - because he has hidden it in the attic now due to the deterioration of his picture with every sinful moment - he ends up killing Basil to keep his secret safe and to be able to keep his hedonistic lifestyle afloat.  

Henry too, wonders what has happened to his friend.  When Dorian decides to travel abroad, he leaves for what ends up being several years.  Upon his return, family and friends are absolutely bowled over to discover Dorian doesn't seem to have aged one iota.  At a party held in his honor, Dorian shocks the guests by showing up looking precisely as he did the day he left.  The party goers include many of Dorian's sexual conquests, all aged at least twenty five years more since they've seen him. Henry is positively aghast at Dorian's looks - and becomes even more concerned when his ageless friend takes a liking to his grown daughter, Emily (Rebecca Hall).  After being privy to Dorian's adventurous lifestyle for countless years, any dad worth his salt would certainly attempt to keep his only child away from the corrupt enigma. 

But against Henry's wishes, the two become involved.  Meanwhile, Dorian hides the horrifying painting of himself in his attic under lock and key, trying to keep the secret of his youthful appearance under wraps and continue his supposed redemption. But the painting takes on a life of its own, quite literally, making it nearly impossible for Dorian to lead a normal life.

My only real gripe with the film is the CGI used for the changing portrait of Dorian shoved in the attic.  I think it could have been avoided altogether, with practical effects being quite sufficient to show the decay and wasting away of the picture.  Instead, they chose to add maggots and snarling (in that order) to which I say Bah. 

But the acting is really quite good, in particular Colin Firth.  But that should come as no shock to anyone, as pretty much everything he touches is gold.   He makes a fabulous Henry, utterly believable as Dorian's corrupt yet fascinating mentor.

Ben Barnes himself is none too shabby either, truth be told.  Adding a hefty dose of sexy to an already dreamy look he has had going for some years now, Barnes as Dorian is as convincing as he is alluring, none more so than when he is gathering women up to bed as well as if not better than the modern day substitute, Charlie Sheen.

The atmosphere of the film is striking as well, but then again I've always had a thing for Victorian England.  It is as dark and mysterious as you'll get in the bleak alleyways of London, and the scenes of lustful pleasure and endless parties are bright and resplendent in contrast.  It's just a nice-looking film.

But even in the end, though it seems like Dorian truly wants to make amends and intends to change his ways for Emily - a man who has made a deal with the devil rarely has the last laugh.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunday Bloody Sunday

An American Werewolf in Paris

Dorian Gray

The Grudge 3

The Stepfather

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer