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Showing posts from July, 2014

Lovely Molly

On paper - the details of Lovely Molly are wonderfully horrific: a newlywed couple moves into the wife's childhood home. Immediately she becomes haunted by "ghosts from her past". Her deterioration is rapid: she's raped by a ghost (a la The Entity), she begins stalking and secretly filming her neighbors, she begins talking to a dead deer she's keeping in her basement, she seduces and murders the local priest before going on to kill her neighbor's child and her own boyfriend. This situation leaves her fairly distraught so she slits her throat.

Typically, this is the type of movie I would absolutely blast with my cynicism but, there's something not entirely detestable about Lovely Molly.

A perfect example: found footage.
Normally I'd just write off a movie that jumped on this fad bandwagon and used this cheap, cop-out, cover up our shitty writing skills crutch of a technique but, the director, Eduardo Sanchez, is the father of our recent obsession with…

Overlooked & Under Appreciated: Jaume Balagueró

Once upon a time, there was a Mexican director with a passion for mythology and a knack for writing a very particular type of emotionally charged, supernatural horror that burrows into your brain and chews its way into your subconscious.

If someone had mentioned his name to you in the early 90's, you'd have turned to them, blank-faced, and asked, "Who?"

Now, a decade later, you'd say, "Oh! Guillermo del Toro, he directed Hellboy! I love him."

Jump across the ocean to Spain and you'll hear a nearly identical tale - one that ends with, "Oh! Jaume Balaguero, he directed the [REC] series! I love him."

Granted, if we're being honest here, the [REC] movies may be popular but, they aren't even close to being on the same globally successful (or globally known) level as any of del Toro's movies. Which is a shame because Balaguero can be as good a writer and a director as del Toro.
Here's my $.25 on the handful of his movies I'v…

Funny Games

The beauty of a genre is the many, many branches it can fracture into. At its highest level, Funny Games may have elements that make it a horror movie. When you begin drilling down and looking more granularly at the movie, it's really somewhat of a thriller and absolutely part of a sub-genre I'm just calling "violence" or "violent film." That may sound hugely nebulous and as though many movies could fit into it but, the differentiator of movies that fit into the "violent movies" category is that their violent components  are for the sake of violence. We're not talking about ancillary explosions in the course of a daring escape here, we're talking about deliberate, violent actions with no purpose other than "being violent."

My editor says, "The word that comes to mind here is gratuitous." She's not wrong. The violent movies genre is literally defined by excess.

More often than not, dramas and thrillers (Eastern Pro…

Lord of Illusions

"I was born to murder the world." I know I've joked before about my strange inability to separateLord of Illusions and In The Mouth Of Madness in my head but, in all seriousness, I know that they are very different animals. As I sit down to write this post I have to ask myself: how does one set about deconstructing a Clive Barker movie?
We'll start with the man Ask the horror community to describe Barker and most will say he's a genius. In the late 80's, when his first novel hit the stands, it was a mystery story that embraced horror in the way Dante and Lovecraft would have admired but few other writers were really capable of. This really set the bar for his future stamp on the genre but, it also set the bar for his peers. By the time we were getting to sink our teeth into Lord of Illusions, we expected Barker to shake us to our cores - and he constantly delivered in that expectation.

Clearly, he's a complicated man with a vast imagination and an extreme…

Maniac

Original - 1980
Starring Joe Spinell. Directed by William Lustig.

Maniac is one of the all time great slasher movies.

You've got a killer who could be your neighbor (if you lived in Hell's Kitchen circa 1980), special effects by Tom Savini, and a gritty realism that makes your skin crawl. Spinell's Frank repeating, "I told you not to go out tonight" in a cracked, teary, pseudo falsetto will never leave you.

There's nothing new about a serial killer who targets prostitutes and other women with especially low self-esteem but, other movie serial killers don't have such extreme mommy issues that they result in the killer living with a house full of hooker scalp wearing mannequins who he regularly converses with. Cuckoo!  

While some have compared Maniac to Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, the story is more similar to Peeping Tom or Man Hunter. Our killer falls in love with a "good woman" and we find it hard to believe she can't "see"…

The Killing (US Version)

I watched The Killing on Netflix at a point when there was only one season available for streaming. I had heard a bit about the show but hadn't had any real, pressing interest in watching it. I started watching with very low hopes and even lower expectations.

A couple episodes in and despite not hating the show, I was still feeling "meh" about the whole thing.

And then I was on episode 8 or so and realized that I couldn't stop watching the show. It wasn't the particular episode that had hooked me - I realized that this whole time the show had been creeping up on me and I was just becoming aware of it now. Dammit AMC! You win, again!  I also love Mad Men and Hell On Wheels.

Before I jump into some details, let me say that I've never watched the original Forbrydelsen so I can't speak to the relationship between the two. When I was describing the show to a friend I said that it's as if Twin Peaks and Seven had a baby together. The setting looks like it …

Extracted

Sci-fi is such a great genre; it's loaded with forward-thinking folks pushing the bounds of science and morality in order to create better lives for people. It's also loaded with simple mistakes ("Whooops! Life will find a way."), catastrophic failures (just ask Jeff Goldblum), evil plots (Weyland Corp.), and unadvised stumbling into god territory (Paging Dr. Frankenstein!)

As humans, we have such mixed feelings about medicine and science that any time either comes into play in sci-fi we'll have elements of "HEY! We're doing this for the betterment of human kind!" butting up against "We're furthering our hateful subplots through the targeted, well-funded use of science."

Enter Extracted; many years too late to be unique but, not bad at being what it is.
Here's how it goes A scientist creates the technology to "go inside" someone else's memories.
Even if this doesn't sound familiar to you, it should at least sound …

Crucible of Horror (The Corpse) 1970

If you've been thinking to yourself, "I wish Diabolique had more incest, more dream-like acid montages, and more campiness" then I've found the movie your'e looking for: Crucible of Horror. NOT to be confused with Crucible of Terror - of course.

The short version A terrible man (played by Michael Gough) does terrible things to his wife and daughter. They reach their breaking point and conspire to murder him. Turns out, he's not so easy to murder.

On the surface - this movie seems like a cheap rip-off of better movies; a simple, throw away flick that is rightfully forgotten. But then again, it may be dismissive to simply call this movie a piece of poorly made crap.

One could read this movie as a shitty version of Diabolique: a conspiratory mind-fuck in which an enemy appears to become a friend but is really setting you up to be killed yourself. When Gough appears at the end of the movie, alive and well, his son seemingly unaware of all the previous dealings, …

The Possession (2012)

The Possession is yet another installment in the seemingly unending genre of possession movies and brings nothing new to the table. I'm fairly certain they just Googled "possession movie script template," downloaded the first option they found, and pitched it to the studio.

The gist: Acouple gets divorced (that's a sin or something, right?) and shares custody, but not parenting styles. Dad is struggling to be cool and to remain relevant in his daughters' lives so he buys them things at a creepy tag sale. One daughter becomes obsessed with her tag sale find, which turns out to be inhabited by an angry, Jew demon who like to devour children's souls. Possession progresses to a point where the family seeks spiritual support. Then there's an exorcism. The rabbi eventually gets the demon back in its box and takes it away. Don't worry though! Apparently nothing ends a divorce like a good possession and the family ends up together in the end - demon free. And …

Creature (1985)

Obviously - Creature was made to ride the coattails of Alien's popularity. (In recent memory think Hansel & Gretel with NO ONE ANYONE KNOWS ANDHansel &Gretel: Witch Hunters with that guy from Avengers and that broad from Quantum of Solace).

If you've seen Alien, you don't really need to watch Creature to know what happens; like 90% of the shots are exact recreations of shots in Alien. Which is not to say that the level of technical skill that went in making Alien is at all represented in the pathetic, low-budget abomination that is Creature.

Really, the biggest difference between the movies is that the aliens in Creature are like cousins of the giant earwigs from Star Trek that take over your body and make you play out their nefarious plans for world domination. It's a very different take on the fears of maternity and rape that Alien really drove home and inherently changes the type of terror. Alien makes you feel violated - physically dirty and uncomfortable. …

Haunt (2013)

Haunt is a heavy-handed little flick that lives somewhere between classics like Amityville Horror (even having a viral website campaign that tried to convince folks Haunt was based on a real paranormal event) and more modern thriller types like What Lies Beneath (which has a genre classification of "supernatural horror drama" - pfffffft. Oooohkay).

Here's the scoop: family is tragically killed in their home, one by one, ALL except for the mother. SPOILER ALERT - if ALL BUT ONE family member is killed, you should immediately assume that they are a SUSPECT and not a lucky, escaped VICTIM.

Fast forward to the new family (same head count as the old family) moving into this wonderfully under-priced for it's extravagant size house DESPITE the entire town making it known to them (albeit off screen) that the house is haunted.

If you aren't already sure at this moment that things will ABSOLUTELY GO TERRIBLY WRONG FOR THEM then you need to hand in your movie-watcher card an…