Thursday, April 29, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
(Look at how miserable I was.)
Hey, it’s Wednesday again and I’m a-gonna ramble at ya. I was just sitting here and trying to think about movies. The first thing came to mind was Nell. That movie is so funny. It’s Jodie Foster talking gibberish for two hours and Liam Neeson has sex with her. At least that’s how I remember it. That’s a pretty sweet deal for all parties involved, right? I don’t know. I think that movie makes me uncomfortable because it’s sad. I mean, it may have been uplifting and all but the whole concept was depressing. I don’t like that. It’s okay when a horror movie makes me depressed but not when a drama does it. When a horror movie provides that gory ennui that I crave, it is usually a bittersweet sensation not unlike eating circus peanuts. Or is that just sickeningly sweet?
How deranged was I when I watched Breaking the Waves… FOUR TIMES!?!?! It wasn’t in a row or anything but what the fuck was I looking for with those repeat viewings? Lars von Trier destroys Emily Watson for 2 and a half hours and I couldn’t look away. When it’s not making you cry, Breaking the Waves is a gorgeous and joyful movie (for approximately 3 minutes of its running time). I did manage to come away from that film with… what? A healthy hatred of the Scottish Highlands? An irrational fear of Stellan Skarsgård? I even gave The VonTrierMeister another shot with Dancer in the Dark. How’s that old saying go? “Fool me once, shame on Danish dudes. Fool me twice, that’s not so nice.”
A few years later, I decided to ruin my life with Requiem for a Dream. Why would anyone watch this shit? I finally broke away from my fascination with drug culture movies. Once you realize that drug movies make drugs look really fun for about an hour or so before people start dropping like flies and/or losing limbs and/or becoming prostitutes. Okay, Trainspotting. I think I watched that maybe 5 times. Why? Why would I ever have wanted to watch that? Hooray for charming and hilarious junkies! Even the poster for that movie gives me the chills now. I'm Ewan MacGregor! There's a baby crawling on my ceiling! Waaaaaaa! Waaaaaa! I stood up and applauded at the end of The Basketball Diaries when the credits rolled. I think being a dumb idiot may have helped with that.
I’m trying to think of some other shit that is just agony for the soul. Recently, I watched This is England and I just wanted to crawl into a hole and die. Oh, these films are poison. Like American History X (which I watched two or three times) or Romper Stomper (which I must have sat through like a dozen times). These are gut-wrenchingly depressing movies. Obviously, the anti-racist message of these movies appeals to me and one has to stare in the face of monsters, especially disturbing and perfectly portrayed ones. But I would get so morose after watching these films. I can only imagine what a friggin’ unendurable bore I used to be (still am). Geez.
Like, I would watch Rumble Fish over and over again. Who does that? Was I ever in a gang? No. Was I ever in a Nazi gang? No. Did I have such a tremendous heroin/cocaine addiction that I could relate to the characters in these movies? No. IFC or Sundance or whatever played Bully and I followed it up with freakin’ Elephant. These are not movies for human beings. They are movies for donkeys named Eeyore. Suddenly, Kids just popped into my head. I watched it with this chick and then we made out afterwards. You see what Portishead can do to a person? Who watches Gummo? I mean, besides me at 22?
WHY HAVE I SEEN THE PILLOW BOOK!?!?!!
For a short time I was obsessed with Arizona Dream. It’s a momentarily fun and quirky flick that gets really dark and bizarre (in a bad way). Of course, this leads me to Vincent Gallo which leads me right into Buffalo ’66. I pretty much overdosed on this one. Why would I watch such a bleak (though momentarily hilarious) film populated with horrible, horrible people? Also, why would I buy the DVD and proceed to watch it over and over again? The only thing I got from this movie is a healthy appreciation of Yes (which some people would argue is unhealthy). Shit. What the fuck? I can't even imagine being in the frame of mind where I would rent Slacker, Floundering, and House of Yes. Sure I watched Krzysztof Kieślowski that one time and it did get me laid but don't you try that at home, kids. Hey I know what would be fun, let's watch A Woman Under the Influence. That's a happy movie!
None of these are terrible movies, really. I mean, cinema people always harp on the negative side so of course wildly depressing stuff is going to be somebody’s classic. Plus, for some people these are going to be classics; the films that got them through their awkward teenage (or awkward early to mid 20s) years. I guess they did for me. Part of me growing up cinematically was watching things that made me want to kill myself. Nowadays, I watch horror movies. Some of them are dark and depressing like Martyrs but most horror flicks are uplifting like Crazy Lips. I went from one form of depravity to another and somehow I'm more stable. Weird, huh?
So I guess what this ramble is really about is this: if I had to live my life over again (well, at least from 18 to 26), I would put down that VHS of Leaving Las Vegas and just watch Tommy Boy again. "Shut up, Richard." Now leave me alone, I needs my emo:
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
After all the Prince talk last week, Nafa sent me the video for The Time's "Ice Cream Castles". So I'm watching the video and much to my surprise, I see who I think is scream queen Brinke Stevens as one of the lovely ladies grooving to the jam. I immediately went over to her official site and sent Jeff the webmaster my question: was that really her!?!?! The next day, Brinke Stevens herself got back to me and confirmed that she was indeed in the The Time's video. Not only is it a fabulous song but someone had impeccable taste when they cast that video.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Night of the Devils
AKA La Notte dei Diavoli
Directed by Giorgio Ferroni
Starring Gianni Garko, Agostina Belli, Roberto Maldera, Cinzia De Carolis, Teresa Gimpera
Running Time: 91 minutes
DVD Studio: Euro Trash Cinema
A man suffering from amnesia (played by Gianni Garko) staggers out of the woods, injured, and catatonic. He is brought to a hospital where a doctor (Umberto Raho) runs tests which determine the man has suffered a terrible shock that has reduced him to this agitated and paranoid state. The only person who can identify this man is Sdenka (Agostina Belli), a lovely young woman who claims she met the patient a just few days ago. She identifies him as Nicola, a business man from Italy, but then disappears after the very sight of her drives Nicola into a frenzy.
The film then flashes back to a few days before to the events that drove Nicola mad. While purchasing lumber for his company, Nicola’s car breaks down in the middle of nowhere and he seeks help from a family returning from a funeral and living in a nearly abandoned village in the woods. Jovan (played by Roberto Maldera) agrees to help Nicola but it must be in the morning because there is said to be a blood-drinking witch who prowls around at night. This turns out to be true when the patriarch Gorca (Bill Vanders) returns from attempting to kill the witch but is now a vampire himself. As each member of the family falls prey to vampiric forces, Nicola tries to rescue the lovely Sdenka, the lovely daughter of Gorca with whom he has fallen in love with.
For some bizarre reason, my library had an old bootleg of Night of the Devils in its VHS collection. I checked it out and tried to watch this murky fucking mess crawling across my TV. It was painfully obvious (mainly because I got a migraine from trying to watch it) that there was a very special film there buried under the tape deterioration, tracking problems, and sludge that happens when you make a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy, etc. I knew that out there somewhere, there had to be a watchable version floating around. I took a chance on Euro Trash Cinema and got lucky.
Night of the Devils kicks in with one of the most attention-grabbing opening scenes in Italian horror. Gianni Garko (or Sartana to you spaghetti western types) comes stumbling out of the woods into a clearing. He passes out near a stream and wakes up in a hospital where he is being examined by doctors. During his tests, we see into his mind where he is tormented by horrific visions of rotting corpses, a woman’s face getting shot off, ghoulish figures ripping the flesh from a naked woman’s body. This sequence is spell-binding. Its cheesy for sure but it is impossible not to wonder just what happened to this guy. Curiosity = piqued? You know it.
Director Giorgio Feroni (Mill of the Stone Women) remakes the 'Wurdulak' segment of Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath but makes it his own by amping up the sex, the gore, and the cackling madness of the vampires. The soundtrack by Giorgio Gaslini (So Sweet, So Dead) is great with its haunting vocal pieces and tense and minimal freakouts. Spanish cinematographer, Manuel Berenguer, keeps things nice and claustrophobic. While the countryside is nice, it is never pretty. Instead, the entire film is very somber and cast in shadows (without being overly dark). When there is a brightly lit scene, it screams danger and madness. If I have to find faults with this flick then it would be that the pacing is a little slow and the gore effects are looking a bit gamy.
Oh, this cast is great. Gianni Garko is always good. The lovely Agostina Belli of Holocaust 2000 and Scream of the Demon Lover is excellent as the sweet (or possibly evil) Sdenka. You might remember Roberto Maldera from The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave where he played the very unlucky groundskeeper. The luscious and hypnotic Teresa Gimpera of Crypt of the Living Dead gets ripped to shreds in this one (and it’s not by the critics). The always dependable Umberto Raho who usually plays police inspectors gets to flash his skillz by playing a doctor! And then there’s Maria Monti as 'The Witch'. This is a truly eerie performance from an underused actress who had a small role in What Have You Done to Solange? I also have to mention young Cinzia De Carolis who grew up and played the freaky jailbait who tries to seduce John Saxon in Cannibal Apocalypse.
Night of the Devils is one of those forgotten masterpieces and a genuinely gore-soaked relic. This is the kind of cinema that drives me nerdily on. This film proves that if you think you’ve seen every last scrap of Italian junk, chances are there is one more title out there you need to see. Creepy, sleazy, bloody, melodramatic, nasty, and, as an added bonus: mind-fucky! The somber tone never lets up for a second and you just know that this ain’t gonna end well for our deranged hero. This is good stuff, y'all.
“Television? Now that’s something I’ve never seen!”
Eurotrash Cinema’s copy of Night of the Devils is pretty rough. It is widescreen but is faded as hell and the Dutch subtitles are distracting. The print is scratched up and a little jumpy at times (probably due to its VHS source). The English mono audio is passable but there’s lots of hiss and pops. That being said, I have to applaud ETC for rescuing this very obscure horror film from oblivion. To my knowledge, there isn't a special restored edition of Night of the Devils on its way in the near future. I actually had a murkier version of this film from a different company and it was unwatchable. If you are as desperate as I was to see this movie, then give the Euro Trash Cinema version a chance.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
There's gonna be spoilers but you know you don't care.
Back in January, my life changed forever when Nafa put on Prince’s Graffiti Bridge as a joke and we ended up watching the whole thing. It turns out that the joke was on us. Last week, I demanded that we watch Under the Cherry Moon. You see, Nafa is an ardent Prince fan but he hadn’t until recently given his full attention to The Funky One’s films. I used to think Prince was cool but then he scared me off with that hat with the friggin’ gold chains obscuring his face. Plus, I despise funk music. Okay, I appreciate the musicianship and the opportunity to be a music nerd about it but I promise you that I am not a funky person. At least not in a musical sense.
In Under the Cherry Moon, two Miami sleazeballs, Christopher Tracy (played by Prince), a complete douchebag ladies’ man and his partner, Tricky (Jerome Benton), scam the rich ladies of the French Riviera to pay the rent. When Tricky learns of an heiress (Kristin Scott Thomas) who is set to inherit $50 million dollars, the two creeps move in for the kill. However, Tricky falls for Mary the heiress and ends up competing with Christopher for her affections. Their biggest obstacle (besides each other) is Mary’s father (Steven Berkoff), who has his own scheme in place for his daughter’s money. Throw in some murderous clowns and a doomsday device and you’ve got a right kerfuffle! Yeah, I made up that last bit.
The first thing I noticed about Under the Cherry Moon is that (and this was from just the first few seconds) it doesn’t completely suck. For a second there, I was enraged. How dare Prince make something that wasn’t insanely terrible and disastrously un-entertaining? I was accustomed to the atomic strength irony or unthinkable sarcasm that I felt when viewing Graffiti Bridge so I was taken aback by the similarities UCM has with real movies. I mean, God help me, I really liked this film. Hold up. Wait a minute. Just because it isn't a total turd doesn't mean this movie isn't awful in its own way. The lines of what is meant to be a joke and what is meant to be taken seriously are so blurry, you'll get a migraine.
Get ready for the biggest piece of trivia about this film: before Prince took over the direction of UCM, Mary Lambert was the director. Wait, why is that name familiar? She directed Pet Semetary and Pet Semetery II. But here comes the big one: Mary Lambert directed Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge! My mind is swirling now. Lost in the abyss. That’s the one where people’s Halloween masks become their real faces. Doesn’t this explain everything? I’m channeling Joe Pesci in JFK with this one, kids. No? Okay, let’s move on.
The spotlight, which is supposed to be on Prince, is stolen by Jerome Benton. Not only is this guy a charismatic and handsome dude, he is also blessed with perfect comic timing. Every scene he’s in makes the movie worth watching. He and Prince are a righteous comic duo and are totally fearless when it comes to getting a laugh. The gay over/undertones are jaw-dropping. I think Prince and Jerome are better in this movie than Morris Day and Jerome are in Graffiti Bridge. Even Kristin Scott Thomas gets in on the gags and she is totally brilliant. For example, ‘Wrecka Stow’:
I determined that Graffiti Bridge was heavily influenced by Solarbabies. Well, UCM wears its filmic inspirations on its frilly sleeve. I see lots of Charlie Chaplin and Groucho Marx in here. Plus, the place reeks with Fellini’s 8½. One thing that really helps the film with its faux-classic vibe is the fact that it was shot in color but was released in black & white. The cinematography by Michael Ballhaus is incredible and even more incredible is Steven Berkoff. Both Nafa and I were wracking our brains trying to remember where we’d seen this guy before. After the movie was over, IMDB told us it was the evil guy from Beverly Hills Cop. I was pretty embarrassed. How the fuck could I have forgotten that? Oh yeah, I’m trying to forget Eddie Murphy ever existed.
One part where the film fails miserably is Prince's and Kristin Scott Thomas' total lack of kissing chemistry. The minute these two lock lips, it's all over. It looks like Prince is trying to eat Thomas' face. Maybe that’s not entirely accurate. He looks like he’s trying to knock her unconscious with his beautiful lips. God help her, she's trying to keep up. I usually don't talk about a dude's kissing style but Prince, duder, you need to work on that action. These are seriously uncomfortable scenes to watch. Speaking of discomfort, where are the fucking musical sequences? This movie only has three, I think. Lame.
The fatal flaw however comes during the final ten minutes or so when the pacing takes a total shit. Instead of ending gracefully, we get a hokey boat chase. Mm... Hokey boat chase. Sounds delicious. When all seems lost, Prince goes for the tragic hero bit and it is a god damned riot. When he falls to the ground after getting shot, we see that the son of a bitch has been wearing high heels during the entire film. Un-fucking-believable. This was probably the most important moment and not just in the film. I’m talking about IN MY LIFE. Let’s put Robocop and Repo Man aside for a second here, Prince waits until the final moments of the film to reveal his footwear. Was this predicted in the book of Revelations 69:69 or what?
So what the hell is this movie? I’ll tell ya. It’s a serious arthouse farce that shouldn’t be taken seriously, seriously. Or maybe it’s a documentary. This is what Prince’s life is like every fucking day. Now I really want to believe that Graffiti Bridge is a documentary. If it was, I might be able to find peace (not funk) before I die. I will say a couple of things on Prince’s behalf. First of all, I can’t wait to watch this movie again. And secondly, the scenes in Under the Cherry Moon not graced by the presence of Prince nor Jerome Benton are lifeless and lame. It’s like those connecting bits in Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ movies where neither of them on the screen and everything comes to a complete standstill. So… hottest couple of 1986: Prince and Kristin Scott Thomas? WRONG! The answer is Prince and Jerome Benton, y’all.
Only two movies left, my friends: Sign 'o' the Times and Purple Rain. This is not going to end well.
This is from the movie premiere (embedding disabled by some jerk):
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
After I managed to slog through She Wakes, I moved on to Jack Ketchum’s Cover. In this one, a group of mostly likeable yuppies go on a camping expedition. As luck would have it, they just happened to pick a spot where a crazed Vietnam veteran is growing his marijuana crop. The vet’s wife has just left him and his PTSD has just pushed him off the deep end. Now the yuppies must fight for their lives against a man who has the training to kill but no longer possesses the ability to control himself. Paranoia, drugs, fashion models, pretentious playwrights, and flashbacks; Cover is a pretty great read. It took some time for me to connect or care about the characters or the story but by the middle of the book, I was hooked and couldn’t read it fast enough. Prepare to be shocked as Ketchum piles on the pain and the gore in his usual cinematic style. I can’t believe this one hasn’t been made into a movie yet.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
I'm not sure if I've watched The Number 23 or not. I rented the film, put the disc in my DVD player, pressed play, and then looked at my television for 98 minutes. When the film was over, I had indeed taken some notes but all I was really left with was a strange, hollow feeling inside. I'm trying, at this very moment, to talk about the plot but everything you need to know is in the trailer and anything more would spoil the whole thing. Basically, Jim Carrey reads a book, goes crazy, stuff happens, and several of your entertainment needs are met. Or not.
Seriously though, parts of The Number 23 are very well done, beautiful and surreal even, but the rest is corny as shit. What's funny is that the film is cheesy on purpose especially during the hard boiled detective bits. What is less funny (and more pathetic) are the scenes where the film doesn't know it's being cheesy. Like... the rest of the movie. This film just stops being self-aware and becomes totally ridiculous (and not in a The Cable Guy kind of a way either).
The biggest problem for me is how tame The Number 23 is. The movie has madness, murder, and sexual obsession, plus they got the friggin' R rating; so why didn't Schumacher and company just cut loose a little bit? There's some violence, a little bloodshed, and the mystery at the core of the story is pretty cool but the presentation is timid and noncommittal. Oh wait, this is the guy who did 8MM, another pansy ass movie about supposedly dark subject matter!
I think the only reason I watched this is because of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. I have a crazy soft spot in my heart for Jim Carrey. I will always watch whatever this duder does. Unfortunately for Carrey, his finest hour was in Once Bitten. Or maybe, it was Earth Girls are Easy. Anyway, I can't recommend The Number 23. All the pieces were there for a great thriller but somebody wanted a date movie. No dice.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
I'm not a huge fan of Hitch-Hike but I have to admit that it's one of those movies that really sticks with you once you've seen it.
I haven't seen Nightmare Detective yet but I've read that it's okay. I have been very, very negligent with Japanese horror lately. Sorry about that.
Last night at FYE:
(new - $4.98)
God help me, I love Joan Collins! And what's that you say? Joan Collins starring in an Italian crime film (with some slightly giallo-esque moments) that is directed by Stelvio Massi and also starring Marizio Merli? Holy shit, duder. Originally, I found Fatal Charm on VHS but it was a murky (and probably moldy) flea market find. This DVD kind of sucks but it's better than nothing.
Cool Ass Cinema reviews a much better copy than the one I got.
Here's a clip (couldn't find a trailer):
(new - $4.97)
Oh yeah, I finally complete the Sabata trilogy. While all three films are pretty great, it's Return of Sabata that wins my heart because it's so freakin' weird.
Careful, this trailer is LOUD:
(entire series (4 discs) used - $29.99)
Boogiepop Phantom is an excellent horror anime series along the lines of Serial Experiments Lain only a little (okay, very little) less confusing. I love how there are all these forgotten horror anime series out there. I'll give them all a good home. You'll see.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Last week I talked about how I almost got to see Robocop. Here's the real deal.
Now where was I? Oh yeah. So I'm sitting there, all alone in the dark, watching Robocop. My short 11 years on the planet suddenly meant nothing. This was the apex of my life and I knew it. At the first sign of gore (a hapless executive getting shredded by ED-209), the realization that my disastrous swimming lesson freakout that prevented me from seeing the best film ever made WITH MY MOTHER was a blessing in disguise. I knew that my mom would have flipped out and I wouldn't see Robocop until I went off to college. (If only my Space Mountain spaz-out had some secret happy outcome. (All that really accomplished was making my parents ashamed to call me their son. (But that's another story.)))
And little did I know at the time, this was the cut version:
When the film was over, my mind was swarming. I couldn't calm down. You'd think that I had snorted about 50 lines from that coke factory Robocop busted. I went down to the arcade with a fistful of quarters and played Rolling Thunder until I was broke. Once my parents were done with their conferences for the day, I chewed their ears off about Robocop. I couldn't shut up about it. However, I was very careful not to mention anything about people getting shot in the privates, their hands blown off, stabbed in the jugular, shot in the kneecaps, etc. I did mention the toxic waste bit. How could I resist grossing my mom out by detailing a scene where a man is dipped in toxic chemicals and then explodes when he gets hit by a car? I just couldn't.
When you just couldn't enough Robocop (and believe me I just couldn't), then you just had to check out Marvel's comic adaptation of the film. It is seriously one of the worst fucking comic books ever made. Obviously, all of the cursing is absent, as is the extreme gore. The worst part, of course, is the terrible artwork. Certain scenes from the film are drawn pretty good, the rest of it is just awkward and lackluster bordering on pitiable. This lame garbage put me off so much that I didn't even know there was an actual Robocop comic book with its own storyline. I'm assuming it sucked too.
The following Christmas, after I thought I had opened all of my presents, I noticed that there was one for me left unopened. Judging by the shape and the weight, it was definitely a VHS tape. When I peeled off that paper, you could have knocked me over with a feather. It was Robocop! I owned very few movies in those days and my parents (unless they watched it without my knowledge) had just given me the most ultraviolent thing I'd ever seen.
I think I've watched Robocop somewhere between 20 or 25 times thanks mostly to that tape. This was one of the very rare films that I could actually watch twice in a row. I prided myself on knowing every line of dialogue by heart. (Yeah, that's one useless talent I no longer possess.) Unlike the comic book apaptation, I found the network TV version quite amusing with all the curse words replaced and jarring editing to cover up the violence, so I usually watched it when it was on. Obsessive behavior is so much easier when you're a kid. No one's keeping track of your free time.
When the trailers for Robocop 2 started popping up on TV, I couldn't contain my excitement. I actually started writing my own novelization of what I thought Robocop 2 was going to be about just based on what I gleaned off the trailers. I don't remember how far I got or what the exact plot was of my little fan fiction but I was 14 so I imagine it was pretty friggin' dumb and hilarious. Or maybe just pathetic.
I have a vague memory of my mom taking me to the theater to see Robocop 2. I know she just bought me a ticket and dropped me off. I'm glad she didn't come with me to see the film because there were several things about this awesome sequel that would have probably caused her to bolt with me in tow. For instance, there's that kid, Hob (played by Gabriel Damon), a drug pushing, murderous psychopath, who was my freakin' hero. My mom would have noticed the obvious glee and admiration on my face during scenes of him blowing people away and cursing up a storm and it all would have been over.
Even then I knew the sequel wasn't as good as the original but I was more than pleased. The things that I loved about the first film were even more pronounced here. The urban decay, fake commercials and newscasts, the cartoonish levels of violence, etc. It was all there. A bad guy like Cain (played by the terrifying Tom Noonan) made me forget all about Clarence Boddicker. Of course. Seeing Dan O'Herlihy in a hot tub... that wasn't so good.
So aparently, the Robocop phenomenon continued without me. When I heard they were making Robocop 3, I had only two rules: it had to be rated R and it had to have Peter Weller. Well, they screwed that up and did neither of those things. No disrespect to Robert John Burke but dude ain't Robocop. I will never accept him. Of course, the PG-13 was the final nail in the coffin of my interest. I was a dickish 16 year old at this point so there was no way I was going to waste my precious (yeah right) time on this crap.
Then there was a TV series which I didn't even know about until the toys were available for purchase at Kay Bee Toys at the University Mall. This was in 2002 and the show had been off the air for 8 years. Another strange thing: Kay Bee never had the Robocop figure. It was always the supporting characters. Had they had at least one friggin' Robocop, I would have bought the dang thing. But wait, there's more. A mini-series? A Japanese rip-off? A slew of videogames? (No wait, that I remember.) A Frank Miller comic book? And now, word on the street is that a 3D Robocop might be in the works? I'd buy that for a dollar! You knew that was coming, didn't you?
I did pick up the DVD back in 2001 and had a tearful reunion with my Robobro. It was still an exhilarating film and I remembered so much dialogue from it that I annoyed everyone in the room (nothing new there) by telegraphing the best parts. But I haven't watched it since. I guess it's time to get reaquainted with an old friend. I probably need to get down with this unrated cut I keep hearing about.
Friday, April 9, 2010
Okay gang, have a good weekend. I have to bow before the stellar Death Rattle blog (you should already be following it!) and thank Aaron for allowing me to contribute to the Top 5 Standalone Slashers. Please check it out if you haven't already. Things might be a little slim next week as I'm gonna be pretty busy but you know I'll be around.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Something Creeping in the Dark
AKA Qualcosa Striscia nel Buio
Directed by Mario Colucci
Starring Farley Granger, Lucia Bosé, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Mia Genberg, Stelvio Rosi
Running Time: 95 minutes
During a terrible storm, a group of obnoxious strangers are stranded at a mysterious house in the middle of nowhere occupied only by a lone hippie butler named Joe (played by Gianni Medici). Among them is a murderous criminal named Spike (Farley Granger) accompanied by two police detectives trying to haul him in. While playing a haunting melody on the piano, Spike makes a strange connection with Sylvia (Lucia Bosé), a bored bourgeois lady, much to the dismay of her husband Donald (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart). Things get really strange when Sylvia holds a seance and they make contact with Sheila Marlowe, the recently deceased owner of the house. It seems that Sylvia's spirit is not the restful type and she wants a new body to possess. People start dropping like flies under strange circumstances and the chances that anyone is going to survive until dawn are slim.
I want to love this movie, I really do. Oh yeah, it's gonna be one of those reviews. The kind where I can't be trusted. Director and writer Mario Coluuci only directed one horror film and it's easy to see why. Something Creeping in the Dark has some great and very weird moments but the pacing is so off, it is almost funny. Almost. There is very little blood but there is plenty of violence with all the strangulation, bludgeoning, and shooting going on. What this movie has a great deal of is sex. Most of it is suggested and it's as subtle as a sledgehammer (the Peter Gabriel kind).
There is a little skin on display from Joe's girlfriend, played by the adorable Giulia Rovai (who went on to star in nothing). The cast is also blessed with two lovely vixens: Lucia Bosé and Mia Genberg (who plays Susan, the repressed nerd whose inhibitions come out and play once the ghost is in control), who both get to wear some very skimpy outfits. Lucia Bosé participates in the film's freakiest scene. While Spike is charming Sylvia's panties off with his piano playing skills, the two of them share a disturbing fantasy sequence. In this daydream (?), Spike chases Sylvia around, slaps her around, and is about to rape her when she stabs him with a knife. She stabs him again and again and again while Spike just laughs maniacally. Genius!
The seance is where this film really kicks into high gear. (Don't get used to it.) As you may have figured out by now, I love seance sequences in horror movies and this one is pretty superb. Giacomo Rossi-Stuart kicks all kinds of ass here when his character Donald, a natural medium, becomes possessed by the spirit they are contacting. Donald is a little ball of misery and rage and the ghost takes advantage of that with deadly results. It's nice to see Rossi-Stuart actually getting into his role for a change. When directors didn't know what to do with him, duder really phoned it in. Check out The Bloodsucker Leads the Dance (totally awful) and Death Smiled at Murder (better film, same result) to see what I mean.
I've watched Something Creeping in the Dark twice now and I still can't get a hold on it. Yes, it is boring. All of the good stuff: the trippy possession and poltergeist sequences, the loungy/eerie soundtrack by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino, the painfully obvious model house, the catty and banal dialogue, the always welcome presence of Farley Granger (Amuck!), and general disjointedness, just doesn't make up for the snooze factor involved. Thanks to a couple of well-crafted scares though, I will be returning to the house of Sheila Marlowe against my will. It's almost as if she has possessed me as well. What's that, Sheila? You want me to eat more bacon? Okay!
"This kind of morbid exultation can be harmful to the nerves. I advise against it."
"Don't knock at Hell's door. It might open."
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Robocop and Bladerunner are very similar films and I am going to make a list of how they are similar. 1) They both take place in a city. 2) They both take place in the future. Those are the only two I can think of right now. Well, that didn’t pan out. I guess I’ll just blab on and on about why Robocop is still one of my favorite movies of all time since it was released nearly 23 years ago. But first, I have to talk about how I almost got to see it in theaters.
The summer that Robocop came out, I was taking swimming lessons. I was nine years old and I did not yet know how to swim. It was for that reason (and partly because of Jaws) that I was scared of the deep end of the pool. However, unlike my breakdancing lessons from the previous summer, I was taking to swimming quite well. It was only a mildly humiliating experience. I was one of the older kids there (if not the oldest) so the learning process actually made me feel dumb because I should have already been swimming like a dang fish. So yeah, my mom promised me that she would take me to see Robocop if I passed the class.
Robocop was the hottest movie that summer. My friends had already seen it and had told me that it eclipsed the awesomeness of Transformers: The Movie. This was essential viewing and the promise of seeing it made me all the more determined to learn how to swim. On the last day of class, my mom stayed on the benches, watching, ready to pick me up, take me to lunch, and then whisk me off to the movie theater. My tenth birthday was just a few days away, I was going to see Robocop, and some 7 year old kid was playing with his snot in the pool. I was having the time of my life. That’s when the swimming instructor announced that our final test was to jump off the diving board into the deep end of the pool.
It was like a slap in the face. It dawned on me that in order to pass the class and get to see the movie event of the century, I had to risk drowning. Like, really drowning. I watched other kids (some of which were half my age) jump off the diving board and into the deep end. Each time they sank like a stone and my stomach seized up. Then they rose to the surface laughing and confidently swam to either the edge or the instructor waiting in case something went wrong. I was going to fucking die. I just knew it.
I immediately got out of the pool and went over to my mom and tried to talk her out of making me finish the class. She was not amused. I begged her not to make me jump into the deep end and explained that I knew how to swim so there was no reason for such a pointless act. She told me that if I didn’t jump off that diving board, she wouldn’t take me to see Robocop. I lost it. I wasn’t really a tantrum kind of a kid at this point. I never swung my arms around, banged my head on the ground, or squealed like a beast. I just shook and wept. I’m sure it looked like my dog had just died or something. I was in one of those impossible quandaries. I knew that crying wasn’t going to get me what I wanted. I knew that I was going to have to do the scary thing I had to do. I knew that by crying, I was making things worse but I couldn’t stop.
After five (or ten or twenty) failed attempts to get up the courage to jump into the deep end, I finally did it. Now granted, I was crying when I jumped in and I had the instructor catch me when I hit the water. And I came up choking and flailing like a drowning cat. Yet I rose from the pool triumphant and went over to my mother who was just staring at me. Smiling (and strangely proud), I said something to the effect of ‘see, I knew I could do it, now take me to Robocop’. She calmly said, ‘no’ and we left the pool. I don’t remember if we spoke on the way home or not. I probably tried to reason with her and failed. I didn’t get to see Robocop that day and I’m glad. I had proven myself to be a sniveling wussy coward and God only knows how I would have turned out if my mom had given in. So Robocop came and went. It was in theaters for what seemed like forever and I didn’t even try to convince my mom again to take me to see it. I had failed in my quest to grow up even a little bit that summer.
The following summer, my parents took me along to the Tupperware convention in Orlando, Florida. It was a week’s stay in a nice hotel (probably the Marriot) with a game room and a swimming pool (uh oh). The best part about the trip was that my parents would be in meetings all day and I would be free to roam around the place, read, draw, and waste some cash at the arcade. It was late afternoon when we checked in, hauled our bags upstairs, and went up to our room. Something caught my eye immediately: there was this little cardboard promotional thingie on top of the cable box showing the Pay Per View movies the hotel offered. At the top of the list was, that’s right, friggin’ Robocop. I danced a jig and showed my mom the good news. For a split second, I could see that she was remembering last summer’s Roboswimming misadventure. But she just smiled at my enthusiasm and said that I could watch it the next day while she and my dad were at their meetings.
The wait was agony. I had already waited a year to watch Robocop and now I had to wait one more night? Shit. I could barely sleep a wink that night. Of course, I had already wasted a third of my week’s videogame budget that evening (they had Space Harrier!) so my mind was already racing. But the promise of the single greatest film of all time waiting for me in the morning made it almost impossible to sleep. At six in the morning, I got up with my parents. I tried to help them get ready to pass the time. The next showing of Robocop was at 8:00am. My dad quickly re-explained how Pay Per View movies worked. Once I was done with the movie, I had to change the channel. If I left it on all day, we would have to pay an exorbitant fee when we checked out. Duh, like I didn't already know that. After a quick breakfast with my folks, they went on their way and I was finally alone. I shut the curtains, plunging the room in darkness, and watched some morning cartoons while keeping an eye on the clock. When it was finally time, I turned to the Pay Per View channel and there it was: ROBO FUCKIN’ COP!
To be continued next week...
Monday, April 5, 2010
Somehow, my review of the gore-tastic Baby Blood slipped through the cracks and was sitting all alone in a folder somewhere. The date on the file says August of 2006 and honestly, I only vaguely remember writing this one. It was definitely done before I was aware of the French Invasion (High Tension, Frontiers, Inside, etc.) But Baby Blood is still one of my favorites. It is equal parts shocking and hilarious. My friend Tim and I rented this one titled then as The Evil Within back in the 90s and it blew our friggin' minds. So anyway folks, here is one from the Doomed Moviethon vaults.
Here's a clip:
And apparently, they made a freakin' sequel (slightly NSFW trailer):
Good morning, duders. For the next 5 days, the phenomenally awesome blog, The Death Rattle, will be lowering its standards to allow me to contribute. Aaron and I both came up with our top 5 slasher flicks that didn't inspire any sequels or explode into any insanely profitable franchises. They are the standalones. Contrast and compare. Check out the beginning and be sure to tune in through Friday.