philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

Hellbenders (2012)

A comedy where the concept is rather funnier than the film as a whole. The opening of the film admittedly had me laughing out loud.

The concept is of a sect of 'hellbound saints', a group of exorcists who specifically aim to use the method from the movie "The Exorcist" to defeat the most powerful demons. (You'll remember that in the Exorcist the priest defeats the demon by committing suicide while possessed.) In order to be possessed you need to be impure and the intention is to send the demons to hell, so the Hellbenders are priests who intentionally live in a state of debauchery to be ready to use this technique against demons.

Naturally Clancy Brown (the Kurgan from "Highlander") is on his A-game as the leader of the Hellbenders. But a surprisingly fun addition to the cast is 'Bubbles' from the wire (actor Andre Royo). He plays the bureaucrat of the group, recording all their sins to check they are all 'damnation-ready'. However, it's clear that breaking the rules is against his nature (so he's a far cry from the junkie he plays in The Wire').

Click here to read the rest of the review... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

Leviathan (1989)

I hadn't heard many strong recommendations for Leviathan and many seemed to dismiss it as an Alien rip-off. But a few seemed to speak of it fondly.

The big selling point here is Peter Weller. He was awesome as Robocop. Even in the flawed post-apocalyptic killer robot film "Screamers" Weller's central performance kept me remarkably engaged.

Meg Foster also appears here doing her Evil Lyn thing as the company boss. She has.this delicious coldness to her performance which made "Masters of the Universe" such a favourite growing up.

And let's not forget the appearance of Ghostbuster Ernie Hudson.

This is a very engaging cast. Even though we are following a large deep sea drilling group, we can recognise and keep up with every member of that team.
Click here for the rest of the review... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988)

I felt a strong desire to rewatch this crazy film about alien homicidal clowns. It's a bit Looney Tunes, but in a really creepy way. There's one scene where on the one hand an alien killer clown is holding an enormous hammer behind his back and yet on the other hand he's encouraging a small child to come to him so he can kill her.

Rather than going into detail about the varied homicidal methods the clowns use, I should instead probably just mention a few of the more repeated aspects and leave the variety of clever effects a surprise. But believe me, there are some very varied ideas here.
Click here for the full review... )

Killer Klowns is a film I'd seen already, so I'm just going to tag this other film on the end. It's a bit of an awkward one to try to label as sci-fi, but I think it's justified. Let's see...

Society (1989)

Sci-fi isn't entirely about whether the events are happening in the future. It's also about using speculative ideas to say something about the world in which we live. It's all about "what if".

"Society" certainly isn't obviously a sci-fi film. A boy feels alienated from his family and has a strong sense that he doesn't fit in. His parents have lofty ideals for him to live up to, but seem disappointed with his choices. They are also disappointed with his best friend.
On the other hand, his sister seems to be far more accepted, though he feels alienated from her too. The love-hate relationship between them seems to come out as more of an repulsion-attraction relationship. He seems to be dealing with the idea that his sister is a beautiful girl, but also with odd hints that she may be some kind of monster.
Click here for the full review (nsfw image?)... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
I decided to rewatch a number of superhero films to check whether they held up. The results were somewhat surprising.

Spawn (1997)

Spawn is always a superhero I've really wanted to like, but the story isn't the most impressive. (To be frank, I don't think it's handled all that well in the original comic either.)

The thing about "Spawn" has always been the 'look' of him. An assassin awakes to discover that he is a kind of zombie having made a deal with a demon. Part of the deal is that he has a suit with special powers. The intention being that he will come to lead hell's army in the apocalypse.

Click here to read the rest of the review... )

Blade II (2002)

Guillermo Del Toro's sequel to the original Wesley Snipes half-vampire superhero movie contains some fantastic monster effects ideas. The big feature being the brand new albino vampires who feed on normal vampires. The really interesting feature is the way their lower jaw splits in half and their tongues latch on to their victims. It's a very cool visual, reminiscent of Giger's Alien.

While I'd always known this film wasn't perfect I was quite surprised this time around to discover that I was actually getting bored half way through.
Click here for the rest of the review... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

Fragile (2005)

I decided to check this out because it's a film from Jaume Balaguero, one of the director's of the REC film series currently working on "REC 4: Apocalypse". His latest film "Sleep Tight" really impressed me, but judging him on "Fragile" was liable to be a bit of a trial by fire, since I am easily disappointed by ghost films.

To briefly outline my issues with ghost films:

1. Dying gives you superpowers.

If a ghost can cause severe harm to people and have malicious intent towards those around them then it feels bizarre when they successfully kill one person, yet then fail to pose a threat to the protagonist until exciting third act of a film. Whatever!

2. What do dead people want?
If the ghost is angry and wants to kill particular people or even just everybody, then that is fine. However, the 'unfinished business' motivation is often extremely annoying. ("Unfinished business" is, of course, a phrase established by the movie of "Casper" - the friendly ghost.) In "The Sixth Sense" the unfinished business for one ghost is that their killer was not discovered, but if so, what difference will putting their killer in prison make for the deceased entity? Murderers are generally not kept in prison forever. If they are released in fifteen years will the ghost start haunting everyone again? This idea that appeasing the ghost will stop the hauntings often annoys me, so I was quite pleased with how it was subverted in "The Ring" (the original Japanese version, of course).

Other times the ghost is trying to warn people who are still alive, but when the ghost keeps on placing enigmatic messages around the place that can be annoying. (This can also be tied to point 1.)

3. Ghosts are just like us.
Okay, so some of these problems aren't such a big deal if the movie in question is a fantasy film like "The Frighteners". But if we are supposed to be freaked out by a spectre, I need to find it somewhat believable. If the ghosts are talking to everyone like they would do when they were alive, I find it hard to take them seriously.

4. Dead? No problem!
This is yet another issue from "Caspar". Bill Pullman, who plays Christina Ricci's dad, makes friends with Caspar's less friendly ghost-friends and they persuade him to kill himself so he can become a ghost like them. This is a bit of an awkward issue for "The Frighteners" too when Michael J. Fox makes himself clinically dead so he can wander around as a ghost for a bit. This is admittedly, an issue more often found in fantasy-like films such as "Caspar" and "The Frighteners" where the films are not really taking themselves so seriously anyway. But sometimes more serious depictions of ghosts will display them as if being a ghost is just an inevitable and predictable result of death, rather than a rare occurrance. Just because there are ghosts all around you, doesn't mean that when you die you will become one of them. (I'm looking at you, "The Orphanage".)

5. Ghost experts
Reports of ghostly activity do not generally involve vivid experiences and are generally surrounded by a large degree of mystery. People who believe in ghosts may have their own idea about what causes someone to become a ghost, but this isn't a field open to a great deal of empirical study (particularly when the entities at the centre of it appear so fleetingly and their entire existence is in question). Yet in films, someone often seems to turn up to explain exactly how ghosts work and to establish clear rules. A recent example of this is "Mama" where an archivist explains matter-of-factly that the spirit of a person becomes distorted after death.

I don't like to be too harsh when judging ghost films. I am quite keen that a ghost story have some kind of truths to reveal about real life for the non-ghostly characters. Sometimes there may be ambiguity about the existence of the ghost, so that what really matters is not the spirit itself, but the effects its supposed presence has on those who are haunted. If that's the case I can forgive a few issues. Alternatively if the film has fantasy elements, I can cut it a fair bit of slack. In the end, what I want is to be entertained.

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philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

You're Next (2011)
I can now see why this film received such a varied response. Some seemed to decry it as a sub-standard slasher flick. While others claimed it was subverting the genre 'Cabin In The Woods' style.

It starts like a pretty simplistic slasher and it doesn't even seem particularly interesting in style. However it all leads to quite a surprising finale.

Click here to read the rest of my review... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

From Beyond (1986)

Star Jeffrey Combs and director Stuart Gordon, worked together on one of my favourite horror comedies: "Re-Animator". Here they rejoin to work on another HP Lovecraft adaptation. This time the subject is no longer zombies, but rather creatures in another dimension of reality normally beyond our perception and comprehension.

The initial scene of the movie was highly promising, with Combs turning on the machine and seeing a strange floating worm with big teeth which went on to attack him. His fellow scientist working with him on the project insists that they turn the machine up even higher. He is amazed by the results. Things don't go quite like the fantastic short story from Lovecraft, but it's pretty close all the same.

Read the rest of the review here... )

Jacob's Ladder (1990)

This was a horror film I was recommended, though by the time I got around to checking it out I'd completely forgotten who recommended it. Even calling it "horror" is a bit of a weird one, since it doesn't fit terribly neatly into the genre at all. (You might as well call "Twelve Monkeys" a horror movie. That has more in common with this than most films I've seen.)

So with no memory of what horror fans might have recommended this, the first time I CAN remember being recommended this is during a brief period in university where I became interested in the ideas of Christian gnosticism. I don't think I ever took those ideas terribly seriously, but they were different enough from anything I'd normally heard about religion to peak my interest. And of course there was no shortage of fanatics who took it very seriously indeed, connecting their ideas with Buddhism, the works of Carl Jung, and so on. The idea that the physical world is an illusion was a pretty big element (for some of them at least), so perhaps that's why the movie "Jacob's Ladder" seemed so appealing to them.

Read the rest of the review here... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
Just discovered this bizarre trailer for the movie "Wolf Cop". It's from the director of a recent horror film called "13 Eerie". One actor who seemed more familiar, Jonathan Cherry, turns out to have been one of the stars of "Final Destination 2". He played a drug addict and acted as comic relief in the film.

I'm always up for a good horror comedy and this has potential.

(video link)
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

Tales from the Crypt (1972)

A British horror anthology movie which ties up together a lot better than most. The central storyline involves a mysterious figure talking to a bunch of people who are lost touring an old crypt. Each of them has their own story, told to them by the cryptkeeper.

The story elements include a serial killer, a Scrooge-like figure, a magical item akin to the Monkey's paw and a remarkable number of zombies.

Every story has some quality comedy thrown in, making this very similar to Creepshow only British and ten years older. I'd actually go as far as to say that I prefer this to Creepshow. Every single segment of this horror-comedy anthology is brilliantly creepy AND funny. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing.

Heck, consistent high quality is often a problem in anthology movies. So this is a rare find indeed.

philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

As I began working through these films I had only seen the second one. I hadn't actually seen the first one at all. The poster was like a lot of posters at the time and while there appear to be some who think that "Scream" was rescuing the horror genre, it led to an awful lot of horror movie posters showcasing 'hot' young actors all lined up. One look at the original "Final Destination" poster had me convinced that I would never want to see it any more than I wanted to see "I Know What You Did Last Summer" or the "House on Haunted Hill" remake. During this era a bunch of trendy attractive kids lined up on the video box cover was bad news and if I hadn't recognised Robert Rodriguez' name I might never have watched and loved "The Faculty".

My general rule of thumb back when these came out? If it has a line of pretty young teenagers on the cover... don't bother.

I think it was only when studios were releasing the third Final Destination film that I actually came to understand what the purpose of the films actually was and finally checked out the second movie when it was on tv. I thought "Final Destination 2" was trashy but fun, but having heard that the films were only going downhill I was disinclined to check out the fourth movie terribly quickly. For one, I had already missed movie three and also making 3D a big selling point was a complete turnoff for me.

But the central premise intrigued me in these movies. Not the psychic stuff. (Seriously, when I heard that this film was about psychic visions I thought it sounded unbelieveably stupid.) Rather the idea that little coincidences could line up to lead to your death. I think the concept might have its origins with the "Omen" movies. Damien the Antichrist rarely actually confronts people in order to kill them in those movies. Often they'll be visited by some kind of animal, but in many cases the power of Satan just seemed to work through simple coincidences. Weird unexplainable accidents would serve to finish off characters. It's a really interesting idea that death is potentially everywhere you look and that ordinary events from getting in a lift, to walking down stairs, to simply enjoying your dinner all have the potential to be life-threatening activities.

Final Destination (2000)

The first movie in the series isn't expecting you to know what is coming and it takes its time setting things up. It hints and nods to what might possibly be on the way, but in the most bizarre way. There's an opening credits scene which focusses on a fan turning from side to side blowing into the room, while in the room there's reference to um... the black plague? Seriously, I have no idea what the opening scene is trying to suggest, but simply that it's way too long and boring as hell.
Click here to read the rest of the review... )

Final Destination 2 (2003)

The director of the first movie, James Wong, did not come back for this first sequel. Clearly he thought he'd done everything with the series he wanted to, at this stage at least.
Click here to read the rest of the review... )

Final Destination 3 (2006)

It has been pointed out to me that that the psychic technically should have prevented the whole disaster this time around. In the intricate death sequence at the beginning (all the movies have one), which really wasn't as thrilling as it wants you to think it is, appears to be mainly the result of a character's handheld video camera. That character is one of those that are rescued, he brings the camera with him, therefore the whole catastrophe should have been entirely averted. There should have been been rather more survivors for death to pursue this time around rather than the small group numbering less than ten that we actually have here. But anyway...
Click here to read the rest of the review... )

The Final Destination (2009)

Somehow the choice to make 3D a big selling point for this one seems to lead to some rather cheesy CG effects. There's no magic camera this time. Instead we are back to visions. We have a number of cryptic and rather awkward to decipher imagery using some fairly naff CG effects. But what really matters here are the death sequences.
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Final Destination 5 (2011)

Finally we have a film from a new director. You wouldn't know it though. The problem with Final Destination 5 is that it tries to combine elements from both director's styles and ends up being a poor imitation of both.

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philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

The Exorcist (1973)

In light of my recent dissatisfaction with the box office smash hit horror movie "The Conjuring" I decided to go back to the source. The granddaddy of all exorcism movies: "The Exorcist".

Recently a number of films have tried to revisit this genre including: The Rite (seemingly promoting a rise in Catholic exorcisms under Pope Benedict), The Possession (involving a Jewish exorcist) and the tv series "Apparitions" (involving a quite liberal priest in a larger-than-life story written by an atheist who's done their research).

I considered including The Exorcist in a list of films involving a fear of children. However, I'm not sure this film fits on the list. The child is always posed very much as a victim. The religious view being that the child is subject to a demon possession. The sceptical position being that time kind of issue with the brain or psychological issue is causing her to act in a bizarre and hostile way.

Click here to read the rest of my review of "The Exorcist"... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

The Nanny (1965)

A later Bette Davis performance. A child comes home from a special school intended to sort out his poor behaviour. In the house the boy's mother seems highly reliant on the nanny and she's seen more like part of the family than as a paid assistant, but the boy himself is rude to her and refuses to have anything to do with her.

The central child actor is brilliant and the interplay between him and the excellent Bette Davis is wonderful. The film very cleverly teases out all the details of their odd rivalry and there are actually some quite twisted moments.

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philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
Game of Werewolves (2011)

I'd received a pretty strong recommendation for this from the horror movie blog "John Of The Dead". I don't always agree with "John Of The Dead", but he gives some pretty interesting recommendations. I'd probably never have watched the "Death Note" movies if it weren't for this blog.

One thing that made me want to see this movie was, as far as I could tell, a spoiler for a rather cool gag. The following image is on John of the Dead's review.

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philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
The Conjuring (2013)
My reaction to "The Conjuring" was pretty predictable. I hate most ghost movies (a notable exception being Ti West's "The Innkeepers") and I dislike movies filled with jump scares where the main focus is on startling the audience rather than building up a genuine atmosphere.

Still, I heard a lot of people praising "The Conjuring" which made me wonder whether there might be more to it. In actual fact, the real life story of the frauds perpetrated by the Warrens actually made me even more interested to check out the film. Films are all about suspending disbelief and I had no doubt that a really great horror movie could come from a ridiculously overblown version of the Warrens' antics.

While it will come as no surprise to hear that I didn't like "The Conjuring", my specific reaction seems rather atypical even amongst the films detractors. You see, this film begins by telling the story of a doll called Anabelle. The doll has been inhabited by some kind of spirit and it scares inhabitants of the flat by appearing in random locations and writing creepy words on the walls in red crayon.

I was immediately reminded of Child's Play, except that I had never found the bare-bones premise of the possessed doll quite as funny as I did here. I couldn't help myself. I completely cracked up. It didn't help that the young women in the flat had completely failed to consider, say, throwing the dol in the trash. Nor did they ever seem to consider the possibility that their flat might have been broken into or that someone was playing a prank on them. However, they DO decide to consult a medium (long before they get around to contacting the Warrens). The characters completely freaking out because a doll is sitting not moving IN THE WRONG PLACE. What's more when they gasp at the presence of red crayons NEXT TO THE DOLL'S HANDS. And the dramatic horror-movie music is not helping me to take things seriously either.

Click here to read the rest of the review... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

The Possession (2012)

So, another ghost story.... Well, demon story. Same sort of thing.

Put forward around the place as a Jewish version of The Exorcist, the film talks about a Hassidic evil spirit known as a Dybbuk. Now, this wasn't the first time I'd heard the name Dybbuk. It was a major feature in the opening scene of my favourite Coen Brothers film "A Serious Man". I have to say that the opening scene to the Coen Brothers film, jokes and all, is actually more disturbing to me than "The Possession". That opening scene of "A Serious Man" seems to take a "story with a moral" form, yet there doesn't seem to be a moral to be found. That opening finishes with a character praising God, but the other character feels deeply uncomfortable and it's difficult not to side with him on the matter.

The Possession begins with a woman being thrown about by some powerful supernatural force. Her face gets distorted, she's slammed into walls, her body gets contorted and she's thrown down onto a glass table. Quite a visceral scene, but not exactly 'scary'. My thoughts at this point were that this was immediately going into my s**t list for giving us a supernatural monster that can seemingly do whatever it wants. The woman in the opening appears to have the ugly box containing the power of the Dybbuk on her mantlepiece of all places and that always felt rather bizarre.

Another feeling I had in this opening, however, was that it was hard to take it seriously. While the woman is being thrown around her adult son is at the door wondering what is going on. The idea of a man going to see his mother while meanwhile she's being thrown around by this ludicrous supernatural force just felt funny to me. And I've got a horrible feeling that some of the production team actually intended this to be a horror-comedy and their vision was mangled. I will explain my feelings on this further down, but first let's make clear what happens here.

Initially it feels like there are two films going on at once. There's a massive disconnect between the family drama, which I was really getting into, and the supernatural horror scenes, of which the vast majority were not connecting with me at all.

Remember the movie "Watchmen"? Remember the actor who played "The Comedian"? Well he's a father in this movie. He's a really nice guy who gets on well with his children. He has two children, one who is into dancing and another super-sweet younger one who is campaigning for animal rights in her school. They also have a mother who clearly cares a lot about them too, but this image of happy families is broken up when we discover that the two parents are actually divorced. The father is actually picking up his children to take them away for the weekend.

The character interactions feel very natural in these early scenes. The father shows his children his new home and they visit a yard sale and pick up the box connected to the Dybbuk. But here there is a little 'scary' moment when the woman we saw beaten up by the evil force earlier can be seen in the window covered in plaster casts, calling out in horror as she realises that a little child is going to leave with the box containing the evil spirit that hurt her so badly. This is a clear exhibit A moment which makes me think that the writer intended this as a horror comedy. Sam Raimi is one of the producers and there's very much a kind of over-the-top "Drag Me To Hell" kind of feel to a lot of these 'scary' moments which makes me wonder whether the humour was intended by the writer even if it doesn't seem intended by the director.

Some of the lines actually suggest to me that we are not supposed to be taking this movie as seriously as the direction would suggest. This is arguable, but when the Jewish exorcist finally turns up and they are with the possessed daughter in the hospital late on in the movie, the mother asks, "Can you help her?" and the Jewish exorcist replies, "Of course I can. What am I? A Doctor?" How is that not supposed to be funny?

Click here to read the rest of the review... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

In Fear (2013)
It's interesting that the "Agents of Shield" series, which was set off to be a vehicle for background character, seems to have two background characters who out-do everyone else in the cast. I am, of course, referring to the two scientists Fitz and Simmons. Why do I bring this up here? Because Iain De Caestecker, who plays Fitz in "Agents of Shield" is one of the main actors here.

He's a strong actor and was able to give a lot of charm to his role during what I suppose you might call 'the boring bits' of the movie. Similarly strong here is Alice Englert who I haven't seen anything before. The two leads have great chemistry here.

In Fear starts off strong with a couple trying to find a hotel and getting lost in endless winding roads surrounded by high trees and high bushes. The signs seem to point them in circles, the phone reception is awful, the satnav in the car is on the blink and it's hard to know whether it is just pure bad luck or malign human agency keeping them from their destination.

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philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

Sightseers (2012)
My main focus when deciding whether to watch a movie or not is the director. Here the director is Ben Wheatley. Before this the only thing I'd seen from Wheatley was "Kill List" a movie that had a really interesting bizarre build-up leading to an utterly ridiculous conclusion. I was completely non-plussed by the ending which meant that I was pretty unimpressed by the movie as a whole, but I couldn't help but feel that Wheatley was capable of something better.

So then I hear that "Sightseers" is Wheatley's next movie and not only do I see it getting high praise, but also that it is a horror comedy. YAY! Before I had a chance to check it out, I heard that Wheatley had yet another movie with high praise called "A Field In England" which he made the news by releasing at the cinema, on DVD and -um what else is there "pay per view" or something?- all at once!

Read the rest of the review here... )

Silent Hill: Revelation (2012)

I wasn't a massive fan of the first Silent Hill movie, but I thought it had a lot of potential to be better. The whole "the darkness is coming" thing (which, I'll go into more detail on in a moment) was really impressive and Pyramid Head (who I'll also explain in more detail later) was a really iconic horror figure. However, the background mythology surrounding the child Alessa was not terribly well explained, with all the information suddenly coming out during an information dump at the end. The information dump comes just before the filmmakers ripped off a scene from "Witchfinder General". Basically I think the first half of the original "Silent Hill" was a great deal more inspiring than the second half.

The first footage I saw of "Silent Hill: Revelation" was a scene of a man tied to a table while blind monster nuses carrying knives stood motionless around him. They only move when they hear a noise. It was a wonderful idea and looked great and I thought this was a sign that this new sequel would be wonderfully creative. But watching the actual movie it turns out that sequences like this were actually few and far between.

Read the rest of the review here... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

Halloween II (2009)

I went into this dreading the worst. Rob Zombie's sequel was not well-received and, having not been terribly keen on Zombie's initial entry in the series, I hated to think what his follow-up would be like. But low expectations can be helpful sometimes.

In early scenes I was as unimpressed as I'd expected to be. Rob Zombie's shock tactics come in when we spend some time with the undertakers and get to hear one of them express his curiosity about necrophilia. Still, I suppose I should be thankful that he wasn't actively engaging in it considering the rape sequence in the last movie *shudders*.

When Michael first strikes the portrayal of Michael's attacks seem more brutal than ever. In this sequel Zombie seems to have a better idea how to capture Myers' violent stabbing motions and the unrelenting horror of his attacks, as opposed to in the previous film where such attacks felt somewhat boring and repetitive.

Also it now finally seems to make sense that we have an absolutely enormous juggernaut of a man in the role of Michael Myers. It seemed rather jarring in the first instalment, not least because Myers had always been a slim figure before. But this time we see him absolutely demolishing his targets (both people and objects) in such a way as really suits his larger stature.
Click here to read the rest of the review... )

Ranking the Halloween movies:

10) Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) E-
How do you jump the shark this badly and yet manage to remain so unbearably dull? Now Michael is being controlled by a bizarre cult who use a special rune to make him kill his own family. What stupid nonsense is this and why isn't it more fun?

9) Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) E+
After a promising early scene with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, it's clear that no one working on this has a clue how to make a decent Halloween film. Very little happens for the majority of the runtime. Some fans praise the sequence whereby Laurie Strode faces Michael Myers down in the final act, but to be quite frank that is too little too late. If Laurie is supposed to be such an important character in this sequel, why is she so ridiculously under-developed? Even the final act seemed to be lacking in thrills.

8) Halloween 5 (1989) D-
Very little effort appears to have gone into this sequel and there's very little in the way of characters or story structure. This is semi-bearable lazy filmmaking. A few neat sequences like where Jamie (the new heroine) is hiding in a laundry chute, save this from being a complete waste of time.
Click here to read the rest of my ranking of the Halloween series... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
Trigger Warning: There is a r*pe in the director's cut of this film. I won't be going into too much detail on it. Just enough to question its inclusion.

Halloween (2007)

Rob Zombie, of "House of a Thousand Corpses" and "The Devil's Rejects" fame, took his success with those two rather strange and meandering films and decided to remake John Carpenter's horror classic. What he did with this opportunity stirs mixed feelings in me.

My concerns aren't with the decision to remake the original. I don't have a problem with remakes, I don't think the original Halloween was perfect, and at this point in the franchise a fresh start seems like a really good idea. My problem is more how Zombie re-imagined the character.

I need to give credit where credit is due first of all. This isn't a boring re-hash. Zombie is clearly trying to do something new and the best remakes generally are the ones that have a new take on the original material. I actually wonder whether this remake would not have been better off taking even more liberties with the source material.
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philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
It wasn't so long ago that I released my "best movies" list for 2013, but I've already seen two movies probably more deserving of a place on that list (at very least in the top 20). My reviews are below.

Escape (2012)

There's been an odd tendency recently for horror directors to try out a kind of atmospheric period piece horror. Neil Marshall (director of "The Descent" and "Doomsday") made "Centurion", a film about Romans being massacred by Picts in Northern England (starring Michael Fassbender btw). Then Christopher Smith (director of "Severance" and "Triangle") made "Black Death", a film about a bunch of Church-sanctioned mercenaries investigating claims of necromancy in a village mysteriously unaffected by the plague (starring Sean Bean and Eddie Redmayne).

This film, "Escape", is from Roar Uthaug, the director of "Cold Prey". The first two "Cold Prey" movies feel like someone watched every single slasher film, worked out a formula for what was best about all of them and then flawlessly applied that formula. "Cold Prey" is a slasher film with genuine characters and genuine terror and there's no other slasher film that can hold a candle to it.

"Escape" takes place ten years after the Black Plague. A family is travelling down a mountain pass when they are attacked by some kind of savage group of bandits led by a mysterious woman who has a remarkable level of influence over her male helpers. Out of the family, only the daughter is left alive. The group of bandits' plans for her are not pleasant and her only option seems to be to escape, but how?

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The East (2013)

Another script from Brit Marling, here once again teamed up with director Zal Batmanglij. Since they worked together on "Sound of my Voice", one of my favourite movies from 2012, I'd actually been quite keen to see this at cinemas. But unfortunately I ended up missing it. The reviews haven't been terribly positive in spite of the more high profile cast this time around.

I will admit first of all that this is not quite on the same level as "Sound of my Voice". Nevertheless, I think there is a similar high level of quality here. Instead of a couple who wish to expose a dangerous cult, this time it is a trained corporate spy actively employed to track down a dangerous anarchist group.

From some accounts you'd have thought this was a whiny anti-corporate rant, but in actual fact the script takes great care not to push too far one way or the other. On both sides there are pragmatic elements which get in the way of doing the right thing. The anarchist group are aware that small-time stunts do not make headlines and constantly have the temptation to cause more harm. Meanwhile the firm uncovering the group are disinclined to step in and take action on the anarchists unless they can obtain a fee for doing so. The anarchists are in danger of taking their demands for justice too far, while the corporations are in danger of putting profit above integrity.
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