Monday, November 29, 2010

SPLIT SECOND


SPLIT SECOND (1992)
UK
Directed by Tony Maylam

CAST:
Rutger Hauer - Harley Stone
Kim Cattrall - Michelle
Alastair Duncan - Dick Durkin

PLOT:
     In a futuristic London, the rising sea levels mean that large areas are under feet of water. Hauer plays a cop who previously lost his partner to some strange creature. Now the creature is back.
 
REVIEW:
     There's something to be said about "B" movies. Most of the time they're throw away stories, thrown to beginning or toward the end of their career directors. Then there are some that love the stories and the absurdity of the story and run with and make the movie more than what it looked like. Some good "B" movies are Star Wars (original trilogy) and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Then there are bad "B" movies such as Ice Pirates and Krull, that even though they are bad, they still have a special place in peoples hearts. Thankfully Split Second is of the former category. Now I'm not saying that Split Second is going to win any awards. In fact it didn't, it just kind of came and went when it was released, not even making back it's estimated budget of $7 million. And it's a damn shame also. The movie isn't Shakespeare and it doesn't try to be, but it also doesn't try to be stupid either which helps the movie.


     I should go ahead and say that Rutger Hauer's Stone is a asshole straight out, and the movie doesn't try to hide that fact one bit. Stone though is a lovable asshole. Every person knows someone like this, where that person can just get on your nerves but has a certain charm to them. Stone is that. I'll give credit to Hauer for making his character this way due to the fact that he sells it completely and doesn't try to hide it and Stone is more of a believable character for that. Even when he get's freaked halfway through the movie after looking at a little girl, he doesn't oversell it like some actors would. Besides, you have to love a character that calls a dog a dickhead and talks to it like it's a suspect. Even during those times he doesn't go overboard by looking like he's nuts, just someone that has seen to much, and doesn't care what other people think of him. All of this is due to Hauer's restrained performance which, as usual, is amazing to watch. Alistair Duncan is also fun to watch in this film as Dick Durkin, but more toward the middle to the end than at the start of the film. At the beginning of the movie Durkin is a not quite a new recruit, uptight worried about reports, and frankly, just a bore. That changes halfway through thankfully when Durkin gets a look at the creature in the movie. Let's just say there are some pretty fun moments due to this and to me he also gets the best lines in the movie. Duncan just cuts loose with the character and you can tell he's having fun with it and the movie doesn't suffer for it either, in fact it makes the movie more fun.


     Now the look of the film isn't nothing to write home about, but it's believable and that helps the movie. London is supposed to be flooding due to rising water from global warming and smog is everywhere and the settings look it. Everything just feels run down and dirty yet nothing seems out of place. From the Stone's apartment to the sewers at the end of the movie, everything is believable in this world which in turn makes the whole world feel more realistic. Maylam doesn't try anything weird in the movie, he does what can be called on adequate job as there is nothing flashy or showy in his directing style. In fact during some of the action scenes some of the action gets lost due to this and confusing, such as the shootout in the apartment. I should note that Ian Sharp directed the final sequences in the movie though in the sewer when the action is a little more easy to keep track of thankfully. My one real gripe is that at the end of the movie you see water bubbling in the sewer and the shot stays on it just a tad too long. Same when Hauer is holding the heart in his hand. We get the picture, they studio was hoping to get a sequel out of this movie. The creature effects in the movie are decent as well, not amazing though, as it looks like a cross between an Alien and a Predator almost, but the director knows how to hide this by making sure the creature pretty much stays obscured or in the shadows most of the movie.


     Even though Split Second has it's flaws, it's still a fun and enjoyable movie that doesn't try to be more than what it is, it just tries to do it the best it can. It does this by the actors in the movie more than anything and a good story and script that doesn't try to explain everything and lets the audience decide what the creature is for their self, while also not being completely stupid and idiotic at the same time.  I'll go ahead and say that it's a shame that the movie didn't get more love when it came out as it's pure fun. Hell, even Kim Cattrall does a decent job in the movie. So if you can find a copy of this movie, or can borrow it from a friend, try to make some time to watch it. You'll have fun and even laugh a little also.

BEST DEATH:
     The creatures.

BEST LINE:
     Did you see him?
     That wasnae a him, that was a fucking it! We need to get bigger guns. BIG FUCKING GUNS!

FUN FACTS:
      Kim Cattrall still had her haircut from filming Star Trek VI while filming Split Second.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 1


HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 1 (2010)
U.S.
Directed by David Yates

 CAST:
Daniel Radcliffe - Harry Potter
Emma Watson - Hermione Granger
Rupert Grint - Ron Weasley

PLOT:
     As Harry races against time and evil to destroy the Horcruxes, he uncovers the existence of the three most powerful objects in the wizarding world: the Deathly Hallows.

REVIEW:
     If  you're a fan of movies, great movies at that, you'll love this movie. If you're going into this hoping for full out war in this movie though you're going to be disappointed. This movie is about the characters first and what they can do with spells second. To me, this is the best of the Potter movies hands down. The acting is amazing in it, from the quiet moments to when there's pure chaos, every actor is hitting on all cylinders. Radcliffe has always had a good handle on his character, but this time it's more his quiet pensive moments that are a pleasure to watch, and there are plenty here. Radcliffe has matured as an actor and that is shown in his acting. This is shown more toward the end of the movie when he has to deal with a death that happens when he's trying to escape the Malfoy mansion. Best way to put it is that elves are actually good in this movie and not annoying like they were when they first showed up. Emma Watson and Rupert Grint  have also both matured as actors, and both of them have moments when they shine and are brilliant on screen. Watson's moment hits very early on in the movie, when she has to give up her family and make sure they have no remembrance of her whatsoever and you actually feel the sadness she's going through when she does it. It's one of those quiet moments in movies that hit so well and carries weight. This moment hits her hard later on in the movie and she is amazing to watch when it does. Grint's moment isn't a quiet moment but instead is when he expresses his  frustration and anger not with yells and screams, but with reserved viciousness instead of the characters usual whining. Alan Rickman as Serverus Snape and Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy aren't in the movie a lot, but when they are, they absolutely shine in their scenes and each for the same reason because they understand the situation they're in and are scared of what is happening and how they're trapped in it and cannot break free or help someone even when they want to.

      As for the look and feel of the movie, it should be said it has both. Every scene seems to be downcast and gray which adds to the scenes and fits the movie perfectly. This movie is dark in both tone and look and doesn't try to hide it. Even the happy and fun moments in the movie, which are few, are somewhat downcast but make you smile and laugh. One scene that shows this well is when one of the Weasley twins comes in with a toothbrush sticking out of his missing ear. Priceless scene in a movie full of them. A lot of the darkness in the movie comes from whats going on around the characters. I'll go ahead and tell you that people start to die or are getting hurt quickly in the movie and this keeps on going throughout. One scene I was actually surprised  that was shown is actually the aftermath from a escape. I'm not going to say what it was, but you'll know it when it hits. Every scene though is shot with care. That's not to say Yates' last two Potter films weren't, it just seems like this one looks like every scene took a month to set up. Even when there is action and the camera gets jumpy during those times, it helps pull you in more than disrupt the flow of the movie. At one point in the movie, the film goes to animation, and is it a joy to behold. I was completely mesmerized by it. It's not a happy type of animation like a Disney film, but disturbing and dark. The whole sequence is done in sepia tone with heavy blacks throughout. It is amazing to watch and helps bring the viewer more into the story than ever before.

     The sounds and effects in the movie are well done as well. No one sound drowns out the other. Even in the opening fight the sound was used to help the action and not overpower it. The music is also fantastic in it as it helps pull the scenes together. I especially liked the dance scene in the middle of the movie between Radcliffe and Watson. The scene helps break the tension, but doesn't break the feel of the movie. Instead it helps the movie by showing the friendship of the characters and what they've gone through and will go through. The special effects were fun as well. From the opening aerial fight ( I was giddy during this) to the chase through the forest with the Snatchers, nothing looked out of place, except for one part. That part is during the opening battle when Harry and Hagrid are being chased through a tunnel and Harry gets thrown from his sidecar seat. The colors behind Harry are just a touch to much off. This is just a minor gripe that I noticed and doesn't take anything away from the movie though.

     If there was one movie I was truly looking forward to this year, it was this one more than any other. It didn't disappoint. In fact it went above what I was expecting and truly made the leap into a full mature movie and pulled the whole series with it. Even with all the quiet moments where nothing happens, it still holds the attention, and tension, throughout and never lets go. If there is going to be one complaint toward this movie, it will probably be that the movie just ends. I didn't mind how it ended because it just made me want to see Part 2 sooner and the wait will probably kill me. It should be mentioned that this movie really isn't for kids anymore. Just like how the books became more mature and adult, so does the movies, and this one is no exception. And thank the studio for not trying to dumb it down for idiots like they do with most PG -13 rated movies.

BEST DEATH:
     I'm not going to say who it is, but it will be felt.

BEST LINE:
     Look away. I'm hideous.

FUN FACTS:
      Originally to be released in 3-D, this decision was scrapped just weeks before release, due to the difficulty of converting the film into the format.

     Over 500 wands were created for the film. They were checked out and checked in before, during, and after the filming day was completed. Many came back broken.

      Having Bellatrix carve "MUDBLOOD" into Hermione's arm was not in the script. The idea came from both Emma Watson and Helena Bonham Carter.

     Alfonso Cuaron and Guillermo del Toro both expressed interest in directing Deathly Hallows.

     This is the first Harry Potter movie to not show Hogwarts as a major set piece.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

MATTHEW HOPKINS: WITCHFINDER GENERAL


MATTHEW HOPKINS: WITCHFINDER GENERAL (WITCHFINDER GENERAL; THE CONQUEROR WORM) (1968)
UK
Directed by Michael Reeves

CAST:
Vincent Price - Matthew Hopkins
Ian Ogilvy - Richard Marshall
Rupert Davies - John Lowes

PLOT:
     Matthew Hopkins  tours the lands of England, which is in civil strife, offering his services as a persecutor of witches. Aided by his sadistic accomplice John Stearne, he travels from city to city and wrenches confessions from "witches" in order to line his pockets and gain sexual favors.

REVIEW:
      I must say that this was a pleasant departure from what I was expecting from a Vincent Price film. The whole tone of the film was serious through and through which gave it a certain feeling that most of the British horror films of the 60's didn't have. This, I would have to say, was thanks to director Michael Reeves. His shots were well placed throughout and his use of action, when there was action on screen, was well done and tense and not used for the purpose of shock that I could tell. The only thing that took away from this was some modern day object which can be seen in certain scenes (plastic drainage pipes and tv aerials), but that's just me nitpicking at stuff that breaks the look of the film. But this doesn't stop him from having some amazingly tense moments on the screen, one of which is the witch burning that stands out the most, with the crowd watching and cheering while the suspect burns then cuts to children playing in said witches remains which are now ashes. His directing in the torture scenes are also well done due to the fact that it's not there for just the thrill of the audience but to show that what was done was brutal and unwarranted. The style in which the movie was shot was beautiful to look at throughout the movie which depicts mostly the English countryside and it's vastness to the open feel of the towns that are shown and the rich color that is there for all to see.

     Vincent Price in this movie is amazing. In all the movies I've seen him in, this is his best role. He seems like a man possessed to make the world his and damn anyone that gets in his way. Usually in roles, Price hams it up, but in this one he just seems haunted while at the same time playing the character very unobtrusive which gave Hopkins a menace that can actually be felt. This can also be credited to Reeves who didn't want Price in the film and hated that he was cast. On the set the tension between the two was always visible specially when Reeves would call cut on a scene after Price just spoke one word, but this tension led to Price giving a powerful performance. Ian Ogilvy also did a fine job as Marshall. You can see the passion of him wanting to kill Hopkins and his assistant toward the end of the movie and how he is going to relish how it feels. The rest of the actors were quite well played as well, but the tend to fall in the shadow of Price no matter how well they do. This is mostly due to Reeves acknowledgment that he doesn't know nothing about acting and that's what the actors are for which worked quite well. I will admit though that I would have liked to hear the original lines as spoken by Robert Russell for John Stearne, due to the fact that his performance seems the weakest out of all the actors. This is probably due to Reeves having someone else dub the voice of Stearne because Reeves felt that Russell's voice was to high pitched.

      The sound is my one big gripe in this movie. It just seems like when someone is being tortured they lowered the sound on the actually talking parts and raised the volume of the screams to max. To me, this got a bit tiring. Thankfully those scenes were usually spaced out and not used much. The score on the other hand was well done and used amazingly in the right places. I must point out that the version I saw was the original orchestral score version and not the American replaced Moog score.

     The movie was well played and directed throughout. Tense where it needs to be and somewhat sadistic thanks to Russell's Stearne, though his voice seems off when talking. It was a brutal movie for it's time that watching now seems tame, but it still holds up well today, and even makes most movies of the torture-porn variety of recent years feel flat. I will admit that I love a good splatterfest that has no brains, but when a movie comes along such as this one and you can watch it, due yourself a favor and enjoy it even with it's flaws and dated feel. It's not a watch over and over again movie, but I will easily say it was a good movie.

BEST DEATH:
     Hands down the witch burning. 'Nuff said.

BEST LINE:
      I'm going to kill you Hopkins.

FUN FACTS:
     The first time Price met Reeves, he told Price "I didn't want you, and I still don't want you, but I'm stuck with you!"

    On the final day of shooting, Price showed up on the set visibly drunk, in which at that Reeves had Ogilvy “really lay into Vincent” with the stage axe in the final scene, in which Ogilvy complied with. Waddilove, one of the producers, fitted Price's costume with extra foam padding ahead of time, due to the fact that he heard what Reeves had planned.

     During a filming of a scene, Reeves made a suggestion on which Price replied, "I've made 87 [sic] films. What have you done?" And Reeves responded: "I've made three good ones."

     Also at one point during the filming of the movie, Vincent Price cooked for the entire cast and crew due to the catering truck broke down and wouldn't be there. Price went to a nearby town and bought everything himself for the meal to feed the crew. Michael Reeves was not present on the set that day.

     Price regarded his performance in the movie as the finest of his horror movie career.

Monday, November 22, 2010

BLACK DEATH


BLACK DEATH (2010)
UK
Directed by Christopher Smith

CAST:
Sean Bean - Ulric
Eddie Redmayne -  Osmund
Carice van Houten - Langiva

PLOT:
Set during the time of the first outbreak of bubonic plague in England, a young monk, Osmund, is tasked with learning the truth about reports of people being brought back to life in a small village.

REVIEW:
I'm just going to say this right away. This movie is dark. There is no happy feel to the movie whatsoever. It doesn't shy away from showing more than likely what really happened during the Dark Ages when there was only Christianity and every thing else was evil. There really aren't any undamaged characters in this film and I think that is what makes this movie so good. Every character is flawed to some extent. 

Black Death is a character movie, meaning this movie was carried by the actors through and through. Not one actor tried to outdo the other from what I could tell and that is a good thing, for if someone had actually tried to, it would have ruined the movie completely. Sean Bean was amazing in this movie as the driven witch hunter Ulric sent by the church to find out why a village hasn't had any deaths since the black plague hit. Even though Bean's character seems to be filled with complete rage barely held in check for what has happened to him and his complete disdain for anything ungodly, it is only to cover for his caring for those around him in this world full of death and his belief in the church. This is shown by his killing of a young woman accused of being a witch, which we find out later why he did it. While Bean's character can be seen as jaded,  Redmayne's Osmund can be seen as innocent. At least at the very beginning of the movie and that doesn't last long. If you can say anything about this movie I would say it's about the corruption of the innocent in this case Osmund. Redmayne's acting in this movie is quite well done and a lot of the degradation of his character can be seen from his eyes. From bright eyed at the start of the movie to lost and hollow at the end from what all he has gone through and seen and the guilt he suffers because of it. John Lynch should also be mentioned for his portrayal of compassionate and tired of seeing death Wolfstan who has no doubt on where he is going when he dies. If there was one character I wish was more in this movie it would be him.

The look of the film, from the cold monastery at the beginning, to the dead village halfway through, to the suspect village at the end shows how well something can be done without having to rely on CG in movies. The shots are crisp and clean even with a filter being used in post production over the final film. There are different shots used throughout the movie and each one is used to it's fullest effect. From the jarring camera work used when a person is crucified to the beautiful but chilling shot of repenting sinners walking down a stream to the brutal attack by thieves that is vicious and unrelenting and the aftermath of that attack. This movie keeps its feel of doom all the way through. Two shots that stick out the most in the movie to me are of a older Osmund toward the end of the movie slouched over on a bench listening to a innocent woman being tortured. You understand at that point just how far Osmund has falling from grace with no hope of salvation for the character. The second is of Ulric's turned head in the sand with a peaceful look on his face for the first time in the whole movie (you'll understand why when you watch it).

Sound should also be mentioned for this movie. The score for the movie is kept at a minimum which adds to the tension of most scenes, while the sound effects adds weight to each scene instead of music. Even though you cannot see something happening on screen, you still feel and hear it thanks to sound effects. From the ripping sounds of flesh to the breaking of toes in a torture scene, each one is made worse by what is not shown but heard thanks to the imagination of the viewer. The director knows this and uses it to his advantage.

Before I started writing this review, I watched the film a second time, just to make sure I wasn't misled by it the first time and still felt the same as I did before. I'm happy to say I wasn't misled, and actually, I liked even more the second time I watched it and actually paid attention more to the actors than the story. All in all the movie moved very fast but didn't feel  rushed and each character was played wonderfully by the actors. Even though the movie is depressing, hell the movie even made sure you knew that halfway through, it is still a great movie which doesn't lose it's impact even after repeat viewings. A definite watch if you haven't scene it already.

BEST DEATH:
It is without a doubt Sean Bean's Ulrich. I'm not going to say how he dies except for that it's painful and you hear it more than you see it, which makes it even worse.

BEST LINE:
There is nothing beautiful, or uplifting, in returning people to God. There is no place in heaven for those who kill. The pestilence claimed no higher purpose, and those who had survived our swords that day, soon fell foul of its sithe. They were not protected by the witch, they were simply remote - and once the pestilence crossed their marsh - it killed them too.

FUN FACTS:
The Character of Ivo is a homage to Don Lope de Aguirre played by Klaus Kinski

The movie was originally supposed to be directed by Geoffrey Sax

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

THE DEVIL RIDES OUT


THE DEVIL RIDES OUT (THE DEVI'S BRIDE) (1968)
UK
Directed by Terence Fisher

CAST:
Christopher Lee - Duc de Richleau
Charles Gray - Mocata
Leon Greene - Rex Van Ryn

PLOT:
Duc de Richleau and Rex find out that their friend's son Simon has been seduced by Mocata and the dark side of black magic and is about to become a full member of a black coven run be Mocata and rush to his aide. In doing so they also rescue Tanith who was also seduced. Now they have to endure the onslaught of Mocata's wrath and power while protecting those they care about.

REVIEW:
I must say this before I go any further with this review. I have always been mesmerized by the horror films from Hammer. They just have a certain style and look that was,and still is different from any other horror movie out there. They also seemed to have the best actors for their movies with the likes of  Cushing, Price, Pitt, and Lee just to name a few who truly believed in what they were making. Christopher Lee can be seen doing  just that in this movie. Even though his de Richleau gives off an aire of snobbishness  and nothing is good enough for him at the beginning of this movie it's just a facade. Within  minutes this fades and you can see he actually cares about everything and everyone. Lee gives the de Richleau  multiple layers in what could have been a bland character. Part of this has to do with this was Lee's true first time playing a hero instead of a villain and it shows. I will say this though, he does overact at certain times in the movie and his final lines in the movie just seems flat and out of place to me but that has more to do with the way Hammer made their movies. Charles Gray should also be noted for his acting as well as the main villain Mocata who he plays with zeal as well. A true horror movie is only as good as it's main antagonist and Gray does quite well doing this with a quiet menace. This is not to say that the other actors aren't very good in this movie, in fact quite the opposite, it's just that Lee and Gray outshine everyone in this movie.

    As for how the movie was shot and looks, it's just how I said previously. Every Hammer film has a distinct look which also gives it it's feel and this holds true here. Fisher knows how to set a scene and use it to his advantage through most of the film. While some scenes feel less full as in the wide view of the Pagan ceremony halfway through the film, other scenes such as the observatory scenes and the defense room scene look nice and tight. The car chase as well was amazingly done and had a early James Bond feel to it which added to the fun of the movie. The lighting in most scenes are also well done as used to full effect with nothing being obscured from view that is important.

The one true drawback of the movie to me though is the special effects. From the giant spider roaming the defense room to the Hell's minion is the observatory which is almost laughable. Ok, I take that back, it is laughable, but it doesn't detract or distract from the movie and adds to its charmt. The one that does take away from the movie is the Grim Reaper when he appears. From the image of the horse he rides on being forwarded then rewound multiple times to the actual unmasking of the Reaper, it felt forced and not well visualized beforehand. I will give them filmmakers kudos for their visualization of Satan though when he is summoned. Now that creature is just creepy looking even by my jaded mind. I applaud the people who made that one up.

After I finished watching the film I must say I came away feeling like I haven't been cheated like I do with most modern horror movies. From the premise to the execution The Devil Rides Out has stood the test of time fairly well with the only true drawbacks being some shoddy special effects and a semi preachy type ending but these hardly matter when the main part of the movie, the story is decent and the actors believe in what they are doing. The movie had a charm that doesn't really exist in horror films today.  While not a amazing movie, it's far from being terrible.
.
BEST DEATh:
Even though it is more implied than shown it is that of some of the pagans being ran over by de Richleau.

BEST LINE:
Tonight! Something will come for Simon and the girl.

FUN FACTS:
The films production was held up for four years due to British stance on Satanism in movies. Production began in 1967 once the rules loosened.

The title of the movie was changed to "The Devil's Bride" in the U.S. because its original title made it sound much too much like a Western.

Christopher Lee has called The Devil Rides Out his favorite Hammer film.

Richard Matheson adapted the screenplay from Dennis Wheatley's novel.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

HOUSE


HOUSE (Hausu) (1977)
Japan
Directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi

CAST:
Kimiko Ikegami - Gorgeous/ Gorgeous' mother
Miki Jinbo - Kung Fu
Yoko Minamida - Auntie

PLOT:
Gorgeous' plans for the summer to spend time with her father are ruined when he returns home with a new bride. So she invites 6 of her friends to join her at her Aunt's house for the summer. When they arrive the girls start disappearing one by one as the remaining girls find out the truth about the house.

REVIEW:
I must say I was completely impressed by this movie. No, scratch that. I love this movie!

It's as if a child's fantasy came to life and met Sam Raimi during his Evil Dead days but actually predates it. The colors are striking as is the use of the camera as not one shot feels wasted and when it does it's for a reason. There was so many different types of style used in this movie from stop motion, animation, and even musical, but not one bit of it seems out of place. The use of backgrounds are truly different as well, as what seems like a background is actually only panel on a wall or a bus stop. Even when the director shoots the scene through a  multi panel glass door it just adds to the scene and the feel of it. A good example of this is right before Gorgeous' father tells her that she's about to get a new mother, you can tell her heart will be in pieces just from the shot. Another shot in the movie that stands out is when the director uses what I guess is a time lapse during one scene. The best way to describe it is you got up to quickly and the blood drains from your head or how you feel when you are really sick. I've watched directors try to pull this off in different movies but none has done it as well as it is done here.

As for the script, it should be said that sometimes simpler is sometimes better for some movies but it doesn't have to be dumb as the same time. The characters' names are based on what they're good at or their personality or quirks (Prof, Melody, Kung Fu.....you'll get the point after they are all introduced).  The whole story has a playful attitude throughout even the ending has a happy feeling despite what has happened and will happen. There is always something going on in the script even if it is minor, it still plays into the whole story.

The sounds and music are also well used and placed in the movie. From simple piano notes being played to a girl laughing then screaming within a couple of seconds of each other (by Melody, but I'll get to that later). I will say that the only drawback to the sound was the use of basically what is 60's stoner music throughout by Godiago. This was my only true annoyance with this movie, but thankfully it didn't take anything away from the whole experience of it. 

The special effects in the movie were quick, fun and playful throughout as there were plenty and I would say almost every scene has one of some type or another. From a giant Gorgeous head coming through a door to a clock running on blood. It's quite easy to see where Sam Raimi  and to some extent Peter Jackson got some of their influence from in their earlier works. A good example of this is when the house starts filling up with gushing blood (even though it's just red lights in the water, it is used to great effect). you can even see the beginnings of modern Japanese ghost movies in a bath tub scene which was well done.

I must say I would recommend this movie to anyone, especially anybody that likes horror or fantasy. The best way I can really describe it is that it's as if a fever dream has come to life through a child's eyes that just watched a Raimi movie then a classic Bugs Bunny cartoon while being sick.  

BEST DEATH:
This has to be be when Melody is eaten by the piano she was playing and then afterward her body parts start moving again at different times and places in and around the piano.

BEST LINE:
The girls will wake up........when they're hungry.

FUN FACTS:
No directors at Toho were interested in directing the film as they felt it would end their career.

Nobuhiko recalled that his producer told him that Toho was tired of losing money on comprehensible films and were ready to let Nobuhiko direct the House script which they felt was incomprehensible.

The giant dismembered, lipsticked mouth is a direct reference to The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

SKYLINE


SKYLINE (2010
U.S.
Directed by Colin and Greg Strause (as The Brothers Strause)

CAST:
Eric Balfour - Jarrod
Scottie Thompson - Elaine
Donald Faison - Terry

PLOT:
Jarrod and Elaine are invited to Los Angeles by Terry in hopes that Jarrod will help with a movie he's working on. During a party you find out that Elaine is pregnant and doesn't want to move and Jarrod is having cheating on his girlfriend. That same night after the party is over strange lights descend on the city. The light makes people entranced by it as if it's a light to a moth. Jarrod becomes entranced by it, and it seems as if his blood vessels are burning on the inside and his eyes turn full gray with no pupils. Jarrod almost goes into the light until Terry tackles him and his trance is broken. The next morning Jarrod and Terry go to find out what is going on and they see ships descend from the sky and start sucking up people. Elaine is entranced by the light at this point as well as Jarrod again, but Jarrod is somehow able to withstand the attraction to the light this time.

At this point everyone decides to try to make it to a yacht because they think that the aliens dislike water. It is during this time that Terry is eaten by one of the aliens and we see that the aliens can use human brains to repair their selves if they are hurt. The rest of the survivors decide it's better to stay indoors. The military  starts to attack the aliens with no luck including using a nuke on the biggest alien craft which has no luck as the ship is seen starting to repair itself almost right away and even more aliens are seen coming out of the craft.

Jarrod decides to try and make it to make it to a safer location one last time with Elaine and we find out that his strength has increased and that when angered he reverts to the way he looks when entranced by the aliens light.  As they get on the roof of Terry's penthouse suite a smaller alien starts chasing them and the people that stayed behind in Terr's apartment are killed by a bigger alien. Due to this Jarrod and Elaine decide to give up and accept their fate and go into the aliens light.

REVIEW:
Where to begin. I guess the best way to start is to say that the acting script was just kinda bland all the way around and the only character development takes place in the first 15 or so minutes of the movie. After that the characters don't evolve really and the story is only really kind to Balfour's Jarrod. Which isn't saying much considering that Jarrod is shown evolving physically but not mentally and even then it isn't explained why he's changing. But I will say that Balfour tries to make the best of his role as well as Thompson. It should be said that the writing after the alien lights start up is almost groan worthy in places. This is especially true for when David Zayas' Oliver shows up. Zayas' character has some of the worst lines in the movie and sometimes you can even guess what he's about to say before he says it sometimes.

The special effects on the other hand are quite good and work well in the movie. The aliens look like they have mass and depth to them and move quite well considering the budget the film had to spend on it. The alien design is almost has a mythos style look to them considering that they tower over everything, including the smaller aliens. Make no mistake though, the effects aren't nearly as good as Iron Man or District 9, but they are miles above what Sy Fy channels shows. The true wow of the movie comes toward the end when the action takes place on the roof tops and in the penthouse suite and "things blow up really good" literally as half the building is destroyed to stop a bigger alien as a smaller alien is chasing Jarrod and Elaine over the rooftop while an air skirmish is taking place. The sound design is also done quite well as this helps lend a hand to the size and scope of the aliens and also as buildings are run into or attacked by the bigger aliens. The only draw back to this is that the camera seems to either stay in one place for two long or moves at odd times just to move right back to where it was a second before.

I must say one thing about this movie though. The end of the movie actually made me happy. It's not often you see the antagonists win in a movie. Even though this goes with out saying, if a different life form comes from a distant planet, they without a doubt has the means to wipe out Earth. And no, a computer virus wouldn't be enough to stop an invasion on a mass scale from E.T. and his friends. We would be fucked even if we did use nukes to try and stop them. Better tech would equal a quicker win. Another thing toward the end that got me giddy, is that we actually get to see inside the alien craft. I won't go past saying that except that's pretty awsome. But once the aliens eat a certain brain inside the ship it just goes downhill from there again. Way to ruin a ending that was looking like it would have been the best part of the movie.

I would say that you shouldn't hurry to watch this movie. It's basically ID 4, just with a lot more head popping and brain eating. This movie is a pure fireworks show that has little plot and when there is, there's just to many unanswered questions and bad writing for me to truly like this move, even though it looks good and sounds good. Just where is the brain in it.

BEST DEATH:
This would have to be when the first brain is taken because you're not expecting it and you hear a kinda pop when the persons head is removed.

BEST LINE:
I can't really say there is one....sorry!

FUN FACTS:
The Brothers Strause have said that this movie is only part of a story and they're planning to use their own money to make the next one.

Most of the movie was shot in Greg Strause's condo.

Sony is contemplating legal action against the Strause brothers due to the fact that they are also working on the effects for BATTLE: LOS ANGELES. Sony Pictures didn't know they were working on SKYLINE at the same which comes out 4 months ealier.

Friday, November 12, 2010

JIGOKU


JIGOKU
(HELL, a.k.a THE SINNERS TO HELL)

1960
In Japanese with English subtitles

Directed by: Nobouo Nakagawa
Written by: Nobuo Nakagawa, Ichiro Miyagawa

CAST:
Shigeru Amachi - Shiro Shimizu
Yoichi Numata - Tamura
Utako Mitsuya - Yukiko/Sachiko

PLOT:

The story tells of a student whose friend is pure evil. After getting permission to marry his professor's daughter his friend commits a hit and run that kills a man. Following the events his conscience is burdened by the guilt of this and more deaths that happen around him, his own as well, where he goes to hell and the guilt comes to bare.

REVIEW:

     The movie can be placed into three acts: loss of innocence, the fall, and Hell. That is the best way to break up this review due to each acts of the movie are different from each other and have their own feel and flow.

FIRST ACT:
      Considering the very first image you see once the movie starts is of the main character, Shiro, in Hell. You know he's going to die. If this ruins the movie for you or spoils it, then stop reading this and go and watch Twilight where you don't have to think.

     Still here? Good. Let's continue.....

     This is the story of Shiro and his loss of innocence and his fall from grace. You find this out very quickly as his friend, or even evil doppelganger, Tamura, tells him in a class about Hell no less, that the man they hit and left on the side of the road has died. This sends Shiro into depression and about what to do. He decides to tell his fiancee, Yukiko, and together they agree to go to the police together. While on the way there the taxi they were riding in crashes and Yukiko is killed along with his unborn baby. Due to all this Shiro spirals deeper into despair. It is during this time that he meets the lover of the man who died who is looking to kill him and Tamura for what happened, but before she can get revenge he is called away to see his sick mother.

   The reason why I'm going into detail about the movie is due to the fact that the first two acts are dense with plot, which is not a bad thing at all. You get to see the toll the first two deaths have on Shiro fully and how he deals with it, which isn't very well. He becomes tortured and withdrawn first due to the fact that his friend Tamura blames him for the first death cause he told him to go a certain way while he was driving, and then for his  decision to take a taxi instead of walking like Yukiko wanted to do. You can actually almost feel the pain Shiro is suffering due to the acting of  Amachi.  Yoichi Numata's Tamura is a well played during the first two acts as well. One of the things I love about his character is that you can't tell if he's just pure evil and likes to play on people's emotions or if he's the devil himself due to the fact that he seems to know everyone's dark secret and likes to torture people with what he knows and use it to his advantage.

     The first act is shot mostly with dark drab colors for the most part, except for when the character Yukiko is on screen which she is usually wearing white or has a pink umbrella which also sticks out. The use of  blacks gives the first act, which all takes place in Tokyo, gives the city a sinister and limitless pit feel which is well played during the hit and run scene. This is the one scene in the first act which sticks out due to the fact the way the scene is shot you would believe the man is bleeding intensely when actually just the part where he falls is wet with water but it gives it a more grotesque feel.

SECOND ACT:

     The story now moves to the country where Shiro's parents are. Shiro's dad runs a boarding house for the elderly which he keeps in squaller while he sleeps next to his lover while his dying wife is right now door to hear them. It is here that he meets Sachiko who is the splitting image of Yukiko and he starts to feel alive again and free from the burden of his guilt. It is then that Tamura comes and visits along with Yukiko's parents and the mother and lover of the hit and run victim. Events quickly spiral out of control from here with deaths happening all around Shiro which he again blames himself for more and more. Add to the fact that his father feeds the elderly rotten fish from which they all die, a doctor who doesn't care about his patients. The one true innocent is Sachiko. By the time the second act is done everyone is dead, including Shiro.

     The second act breaks from the first with more color and a feeling at the beginning of hope returning and the introduction Sachiko. This feeling doesn't  last long as Shiro's father is more lacks y daisy about his son's return and his wife's illness as well as his lover coming onto Shiro. You find out that the people running the boarding house have no moral compass and will use what ever tactic it takes to get what they want. They feeling of hope disappears completely once Tamura shows up which is also when the color from the world starts to fade just a touch. which is a nice touch to show that the world is going to turn upside down again for Shiro.   It's during this act that it's slightly implied that Numata's character is the devil and you fully believe it. While the first act was wonderfully played by Amachi, the second act belongs to Numata and his portrayal of evil and his zest in playing it from slight to maniacal.

     The camera work takes on a whole new level during this part of the film especially during the bridge scenes where the world is turned upside down, literally for Shiro. The walk onto the bridge is amazing in that as I said before the world turns upside down as the camera follows Shiro out on to the bridge from fixed position which is above him. It is at this point that you know that Shiro's fall is coming and quickly. I'm not going to say how it happens but to say that it's sad when it does cause you know he damned himself and no one did it to him.

THIRD ACT:

     Every character is judge no matter how small a role they played. Shiro is forced to confront what he has done and saw and we find out about the other characters sins as well as their punishment. Shiro during this act decides to try  and do something right and good by trying to save his dead baby's soul which we find out is his own personal Hell.

     To me this was the weakest part of the whole movie but also the most wonderfully shot due to the color usage and camera work. Black is used to full effect here as colors stand out due to this. From simple gray fog on water to the green leaf on which Shiro's dead baby lays on. The use of dept and space is amazing as well as close ups against the black of backgrounds. This is also the most goriest part of the movie and even I was amazed at how well it was done as the use of the color red against the blacks gives it that much more power. Forced perspectives are used freely during act which also help the use of blacks to show a sense of emptiness and hopelessness. The sound design for this part of the film is at it's best also with songs that play in the background giving it a more richer atmosphere. It is also this act when Numata's acting becomes forced and over the top which takes away from his portrayal of Tamura to just about silliness.

    To me this movie was a wonderful experience for the most part until the last act when the story gives way to the special effects and set designs. Now this didn't ruin the movie for me it just gave the last act a completely different feel than the first two acts as well as the acting slips during the third act which also takes away from the whole movie.

     Jigoku was a nice classic film which has held up quite well today. It can be a little preachy at times but it doesn't  completely overdo it. I can easily recommend this film to people who appreciate films for what they are and try to be no matter when they were made or where.

BEST DEATH:

    Even though this happens after she dies, it has to be when Shiro's dad's lover is beheaded and her body is dragged away while her head stays and keeps moving. For a film made in 1960 this was quite well done and brutal.

BEST LINE:

     Hear me! You who in life piled up sin upon sin will be trapped in Hell forever. Suffer! Suffer! This vortex of torment will whirl for all eternity.

FUN FACTS:

      Director Nakagawa has worked on over 90 films during his career.
      Jigoku was the last Shintoho production, from which some blame the movie for the closure of the                production company.
     To help save money on the film, the actors helped dig their own holes in the Hell sets.
     Actor Yoichi Numata died shortly after giving an interview about the film for Criterion

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

DOGHOUSE



DOGHOUSE (2009)
UK
Directed By Jake West

CAST:
Stephen Graham - Vince
Danny Dyer - Neil
Noel Clarke - Mikey

PLOT:

Vince is handling his divorce badly. He's depressed. Gone to pieces. But his mates aren't giving up on him. Struggling with their own women troubles, they drag him off for an ultimate lads drinking weekend in the country  to the village of Moodley where the women outnumber the men 3:1. To bad they're all zombies!

REVIEW:

Well I must say I wasn't expecting anything amazing out of the movie and that pretty much held true all the way through. That's not the say the movie was bad, just, above average. While the acting wasn't terrible it wasn't the best either. Danny Dyer's Neil was the best character in the movie and you could tell he had fun with his role as a womanizer who has no respect for women except for when he was about to be eaten by them. The same can be said for Noel Clarke's Mikey. The rest of the actors just didn't have the same grasp of the characters....or you can also say they weren't written as well. Which is more than likely is what happened.  I think why had a problem with this movie more than anything else were the giant plot holes and plots that were introduced that went nowhere. Like why was the Mayor helping the military and where was she hiding at? What exactly was in the woods that was so bad? And why were the "Zombirds" piling up all the dead male corpses underground and for what purpose?

Now the reason why I said the above is because this is a zombie comedy. While there are scenes in the movie that stand out more than others, most are just there. It was shot nicely which is much more than I expected, but it still just wasn't enough to pull the movie out of your average horror movie zone into something like Shaun Of The Dead funny. There were scenes where I laughed out loud, but most of the time I was just waiting for something to die. Which is pretty much few and far between.

The one bright spot except Dyer in this movie were the special effect. It was almost all practical in camera effects (which goes along way in movies to me). The "Zombirds" all looked different and unique, but were made from cookie cutter classes. The nerd, the granny, the butcher. You get the idea. But the gore effects where there were some was spot on and didn't let me down.

If you're looking for something non-involving where you can watch it and laugh a couple times (you might laugh more than I did) it's good for a quick watch and to forget about it after. It might even be better while drinking. So if you want to watch this movie, watch it with a group of friends and enjoy the company cause it will probably make the movie better.

BEST DEATH:

Machete to the Colonel's head. I must say I laughed at this part.

BEST LINES:

Now you decide to shoot something, you fucking monkey's arse ring!
I had one bullet left. I was saving it for when I really needed it.
...you're still a twat!

The whole village has gone to the Dark Side!

FUN FACTS:

Dan Schaffer created the comic book DOGWITCH.

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Coming Attractions

Fitting title I would say for what this is going to be (hopefully).

Awhile back I had the hair-brained idea to do a website where I post my thoughts on movies. About what I thought of them, liked or disliked in it and such. Well the website never happened as everyone can tell.

Well recently I've been looking over the DVDs I have (I don't even want to count them so I'll just say over 700, but it's probably more than that) and a good portion of them I haven't even watched yet.

Which is why I'm making this blog. To get my ass in gear and start going through them and watching them.

So what movies am I going to be writing about? Basically anything having to deal with horror, anime, thillers, foreign, weird, or any movie that I feel like.....

But mostly horror.

So hows it going to be set up? hopefully with the movie poster at the top of the page, then the plot synopsis, my thoughts of the movie. Then the fun stuff ( I think so at least). Best line in the movie (to me), best kill (whenever possible), and if I can find it, either the trailer or a clip from the movie.

Well now that you know what's going to happen here hopefully people will come back and check it out weekly or maybe sometimes more than that.

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This was the best part of that whole damn movie......awesome song also!!!!

And it starts!!!!!

Jason