Sunday, August 24, 2008

Recently watched:

Recently, there have been pretty slim pickings on new releases of horror movies.
I am here to report that I have seen three recently released films.
All of them used up 90 minutes or so rather sufficiently.
NONE of them are anything to write home about.
So I'm writing here instead.
First on the slab:

Prom Night.

NO, silly fools, not the one with Jamie Lee Curtis.
The one from 2008 that starred a very annoyingly vapid Brittany Snow in the female lead.
This version pretty much shares name only with the original from 1980.

If I really must go into details, I'll make it quick...
1) Donna (Snow) has been waiting her whole life (!) for her senior prom!
2) A few years ago an obsessed teacher stalked her and killed her family trying to get to her.
3) Surprise! The teacher/maniacal killer has escaped from prison and is on his way to the prom to find Donna!
4) Many of Donna's friends meet an untimely demise.
That's pretty much it.

Nothing new here. There was no stellar acting or anything. No tricky plot twist.
It wasn't awful, but it'll do in a pinch - like if all you have in front of you is this movie or say... Borderline Cult... then I'd go with Prom Night.

Next is "Lost Boys: The Tribe"

Why on earth was this movie made?

The original was such a major 80's horror staple. Totally campy and fun, with a bit of horror thrown in and some pretty good actors in the leading roles. Almost believeable.

This is dreck. Although, the lead vampire is apparently played by Angus Sutherland - Kiefer's half brother. That doesn't mean he has the acting chops of big brother. I mean, I've never seen him in anything else and wonder if this is all just an homage to the older Lost Boys...

Same plot though. A brother and sister move to Santa Carla after their parents die in a car crash. They are going to live with their aunt, who in turn lets them rent (yes she makes them pay!) a tiny house she apparently owns. As if two kids (late teens if I'm not mistaken) could afford their own place... don't they go to school? I doubt working at the local Dairy Queen could pay the rent in coastal California.

Of course they almost immediately meet up with the vampires in town. The sister falls in love with the lead vamp (naturally!), and in turn the brother enlists the 'services' of Corey Feldman again to help extinguish the bloodsuckers. There is supposedly a cameo at the end of the movie, after the credits roll, with Corey Haim - but as bad as he now looks, I am half glad I ripped this out of the DVD player toot sweet.

Oh my. Anyway, I'd have to say it was more of a rip-off than a straight-forward sequel. And it wasn't even updated well.
The ending was really non-climactic and therefore rather boring.
Like Prom Night, it wasn't awful - and maybe it would scare some 12 year olds that snuck in to see it, but I thought it was a useless sequel (?) to say the least.

By the by, Tom Savini does have a short cameo role in the beginning of the film, but even it is way overblown and overacted - and not in a fun, campy way...
Shame on you Tom.

And lastly we have 'Awake'..

Now this is a movie that I thought had a very interesting premise.
A guy (Hayden Christensen) goes in for a heart transplant and once they load him up with anesthesia, the guy finds out that he can still hear the doctors talking, shuffling around getting things prepped for surgery, making some comments that he shouldn't be privy to, and then - in the most grim moment of the film - the scalpel is introduced to the flesh.

I was pretty psyched up to this point.
Then when Hayden started screaming (in his mind of course) when the cutting began, it was just too fake. He did not sound realistic. Wouldn't you be literally screaming bloody murder? "No, no, aarrrgghh!" isn't gonna cut it, boy! I could just totally imagine him in a sound booth, cutting his dialogue. He didn't convince me that he was "awake" - I mean, wouldn't you just pass out from the pain if that actually did occur? Especially when they started with the rib spreaders...

There is a central mystery aside from just the 'anesthetic awareness' situation, but it isn't really very strong. Great actors such as Lena Olin and Terrence Howard are wasted. Jessica Alba plays Hayden's too-sexy wife (she's great at looking gorgeous in all her films and that's about it) - she has a secret. Don't they all?

So all in all, not a great trio to pick from. I suppose I liked 'Awake' best due to it's somewhat original storyline, but it still didn't have any major selling points. It was also so SLOOOOW.

Hopefully there will be some good stuff coming out soon - we are rapidly approaching the spooky season, you know.
I'm looking forward to seeing these upcoming DVD releases:
'The Strangers'
'An American Crime'
'Mother of Tears'
'Rest Stop 2: Don't look back'
'Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead'

And in theaters: my Halloween-time regular at the theater - the latest in the Saw series: Saw V.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Crazies only, please.

Insanitarium is a 2008 film starring the 'gardener' from Desperate Housewives, Jesse Metcalfe - who looks equally at home in a mental institution. (Equally as good-looking, too - even while heavily medicated and/or running from cannibals.)

It tells the story of Jack (Metcalfe) , whose sister Lily (Kiele Sanchez) has been institutionalized in an asylum that does not allow visitors. Apparently their parents are dead (and the mother had a history of psychosis as well) and Lily is all Jack has.

Jack unwisely decides to fake being nutso so as to get himself committed so he can see his sister and make sure she is alright. You know, just pop in, act a little crazy, get said sister, get out.
At first, things go alright - he is gaining knowledge about the place, meeting people who may be able to help him on his quest, etc. Then things all go downhill - the doctor in charge there (played by the always over-the-top Peter Stormare) is doing some kind of freaky tests on the patients using an experimental drug he designed - and the drug changes them into cannibalistic blood-lusting crazies. Lovely.
Jack does manage to find his sister, as well as a fellow friendly and not-quite-crazy patient, and a helpful nurse - and together they attempt to escape the institution just as the experiments go a little south and they convieniently have full-on psychos running amuck.

It's very much like an analogy I read: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest vs. 28 Days Later...
Once 'infected', these patients are just no-holds-barred whacko. There is bone ripping and chewing and blood and guts galore in the second half of this movie. Everyone seems to be covered head to toe in buckets of blood. In particular the human-eating freaks.

Good thing is, though, the freaks can die. They are not zombies, do not reanimate or come back to life, and once you sink a knife in them they are done.

But there are alot of them.

Not the brightest crayon in the box, this movie lacks an entirely cohesive plot, but it does make up for it in gruesome violence and loads of gore. Definately a B-grade schlocky film, but worth a look.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Ok, I have heard an unbelieveble amount of hype (good and bad) about this film so I thought it was high time I finally check it out. Glad I watched it alone cause I cannot imagine watching this with anyone else - not even someone I have been married with for over 18 years. It is best to experience this by yourself. Watch it and you will understand what I mean.

Irréversible is a movie that is written, directed, filmed and edited by the director Gaspar Noe.
I have no idea what gave him the idea to do this movie, and frankly, I don't think I really want to know.
It is a disturbing piece of work on soooo many levels.
It has actually won many critical awards. This is somewhat unnerving as well.

I will say this. It is different than anything I have ever seen.

I cannot really say I enjoyed it, as how does one truly enjoy watching a near-ten minute long nasty (and I mean NASTY) rape scene. Seriously!
I understand, on some level, the fame the movie has received, and I can imagine there are many people (in particular, horny guys) who see this film just for the stunningly pretty Monica Bellucci.

That aside, this is one screwed up mess of a movie. It has subtitles, which ordinarily do not bother me. However, it also has totally delusional, vomit-inducing camera work. The camera spins and turns and basically shows dim lit alleys, guy-on-guy sex, and creepy clubs spinning by. That, combined with the subtitles, makes for quite a dizzying experience.
I imagine the director is aiming to make a point of some kind. The entire movie is told in reverse chronological order, with the rape somewhere in the middle - even though it is the theme the whole movie is riding on. It actually works, though.

In the beginning (end?) of the film, Pierre (Albert Dupontel) and Marcus (Bellucci's real-life husband, Vincent Cassel) are frantically running through the streets of some French city, assumingly Paris, seeking out a low-life nick-named 'Tenia' (or in some cases, le tenia - literally meaning 'the tapeworm') because (as you eventually find out) he has (violently) anal-raped Marcus's girlfriend Alex (Bellucci) and beat her to a pulp so cruelly so that she is in a coma. Pierre is Alex's ex-boyfriend, so he & Marcus both have a vengence against this Tenia dude like you've never seen. They finally seem to track him down in a gay club with a choice name - RECTUM.
Oy vey.

That is pretty much the movie in a nutshell, and to say more would ruin this interestingly different movie that even with the grim subject matter and seriously annoying musical (?) score, I couldn't stop watching.
There is a scene involving a fire extinguisher that has been hyped a great deal, and it really does deliver a powerful punch. As does the rape. If you do not cringe, fidget in your seat, and feel dirty afterward - you are not human.
There is a bit of a surprise and devastating ending (or should I say beginning?) that many won't see coming.

In any event, I think this film is worth a look, if for nothing other than the intriguing way the director has put this thing together. I will say again, I've never seen anything like it.

That doesn't mean I ever want to see it again, though.