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Archive for the ‘Horror’ Category

In Fabric

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

IN FABRIC is a unique little movie – a horror film that’s not exactly serious, but not adverse to making its absurd premise work; a comedy too, but dry as freshly folded laundry. It’s primarily an exercise in style, a period piece exalting the golden era of Italian horror with its slender beauties and very good retro score – more proggy than the synthy stuff everybody is doing now – by somebody called “Cavern of Anti-Matter.” It fetishizes retail fashion, taking place in and around the women’s department at a ritzy London department store, frequently featuring montages of (and a nightmare about) catalog models, having its characters repeatedly make small talk about “the sales,” and whether each other found anything good to buy. And of course mannequins. Lots of mannequins the look like people and people that look like mannequins.

And it’s about a killer dress. (read the rest of this shit…)

Color Out of Space

Monday, February 24th, 2020

COLOR OF OUTER SPACE is last year’s comeback film for Richard Stanley, known for not directing THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU. Working on a lower budget with the cool production company SpectreVision (MANDY, A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT) he was able this time to successfully achieve his weird literary adaptation dreams without ever having to hide out in a rain forest disguised as a dog man.

This one’s based on H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out of Space,” originally published in a 1927 issue of Amazing Stories, and it opens with a young woman in a cape with a white horse performing an occult ritual. Nice trick – I assumed it was a prologue in the faraway past, but it’s the modern day, and she’s just a weirdo. She’s Lavinia Gardner (Madeleine Arthur, BIG EYES), daughter of Nathan (Nic Cage, known for not starring in SUPERMAN LIVES) and Theresa (Joely Richardson, MAGGIE), who have recently moved from “the big city” (as all normal humans call their home town) to an isolated farm in Arkham, Massachusetts. They’re kind of trying to live Off the Grid, so they get their water from a well, don’t have reliable wi-fi, and are raising alpacas, “the animal of the future” according to Dad. (read the rest of this shit…)

Rabid

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020

Maybe it’s sacrilege to remake a David Cronenberg movie, but if somebody’s gonna do it it’s fitting that it’s weird Canadian twins. I really liked Jen and Sylvia Soska’s extreme-surgery underworld tale AMERICAN MARY, and kind of liked their SEE NO EVIL 2. And it’s been a long time since I’ve seen Cronenberg’s 1977 RABID, so I don’t remember it well enough to have any specific expectations for a redo.

This RABID is about Rose (Laura Vandervoort, THE LOOKOUT, INTO THE BLUE 2: THE REEF), a lowly employee for a pretentious, obnoxious, and on-the-nose-German-accented fashion designer named Gunter (Mackenzie Gray, JOY RIDE 2: DEAD AHEAD, Legion, WARCRAFT, MAN OF STEEL, True Justice). In tribute to the original’s motorcycle she rides a scooter.

It’s one of those things where they cast an unusually beautiful TV star to play an awkward misfit who everybody picks on, the excuse I guess being that her co-workers are supposed to be mostly models. I had a hard time watching adults act out these teen movie tropes such as the ol’ ’getting mad when she finds out the cute boy only asked her out as a favor to someone who feels sorry for her’ and of course the ‘overhearing the mean girls talk shit about her when they don’t know she’s in the bathroom stall.’ Maybe it’s meant as a satirical statement about the fashion industry to make them this petty and childish, but it feels phony to me. (read the rest of this shit…)

Tammy and the T-Rex

Tuesday, January 28th, 2020

Everybody has that list of the movies they know they should’ve seen but just haven’t yet for some reason. For me right now it includes BARRY LYNDON, THE DEER HUNTER, the ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA series, KUNDUN, MASTER AND COMMANDER, THE INSIDER, and others. But it no longer includes TAMMY AND THE T-REX. Progress.

TAMMY is a movie from 1994 that I was vaguely aware of as a cheesy family comedy only released on VHS. I definitely confused it with THEODORE REX at times, but I knew it had young Denise Richards (her first starring role) and Paul Walker (his third movie, after MONSTER IN THE CLOSET and PROGRAMMED TO KILL) and was supposed to be pretty crazy. Then last year there was an important new development in film scholarship: somebody discovered a print of a “gory cut” of TAMMY. Turns out before it was released straight to video it was edited down from a very R-rated horror comedy (both terms used loosely). So it played Fantastic Fest and Vinegar Syndrome released a beautiful Blu-Ray special edition and now it’s playing on Shudder. (read the rest of this shit…)

Underwater

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

When the trailers for UNDERWATER surfaced (get it, surfaced) it seemed kinda out of nowhere. Never heard this was coming, and it looks like underwater ALIEN (AQUALIEN?), it has long-since-cancelled T.J. Miller in it, maybe it’s been sitting on the shelf forever, and that’s why it’s coming out in January? Then people started seeing it and saying it was crazy and fun, or actually good, so I made the effort to see it.

Well, don’t get your hopes up. It’s fine. I enjoyed it. But we didn’t get to see it with low expectations. I don’t know where the craziness reports come from – I can’t think of what would be surprising in it, unless you don’t know Kristen Stewart (CATCH THAT KID) is a good actress.

She’s the main attraction playing Norah, a mechanical engineer on an underwater station deep in the Mariana Trench. She happens to be awake and brushing her teeth the morning that her section of the station gets breached. As she runs from the flooding she tries to wake the others, but only a dude she barely knows named Rodrigo (Mamoudou Athie, Grandmaster Flash on The Get Down) makes it safely into the other chamber where she opens a panel and rewires it to close a door right before some others make it. (read the rest of this shit…)

Sweetheart

Thursday, January 16th, 2020

SWEETHEART is a simple little horror movie from second-time writer/director J.D. Dillard (SLEIGHT). It only has a couple characters, most of the time only two, and only one of those is human. Jenn (Kiersey Clemons, DOPE) wakes up face down on an island shore, life vest on, having survived some unspecified boat disaster. A friend or acquaintance of some kind, Brad (Benedict Samuel, the Mad Hatter on Gotham), has washed up too, but he’s impaled on some kind of shell, and he doesn’t last long.

So it’s a castaway movie. Jenn immediately proves to be very resourceful, smashing through a coconut with a sharp rock to get water. She finds her luggage, and manages to be well dressed in beach attire throughout the movie. She also finds luggage from someone else who’s been on the island, but maybe a long time ago. Long enough to have a Gameboy.

For a bit it seems like some puzzle-oriented video game like Myst, because she’s looking at objects and photos, piecing together a bit of a backstory for characters we never even see. There’s a journal, but it got wet enough that all the ink smeared away. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Curse of the Cat People

Wednesday, January 15th, 2020

THE CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE is a cool and unusual sequel because it is a direct followup to CAT PEOPLE with the same characters, and it references the events of the first movie, but it’s an entirely different premise. It came out in 1944, two years later, but theoretically takes place in the then-future because Oliver (Kent Smith) and Alice (Jane Randolph), his assistant who he conveniently left his now dead wife Irena (Simone Simon) for when he thought her cat person beliefs were psychological problems, have had enough time to get married and have a little blond six-year old named Amy (Ann Carter, I MARRIED A WITCH). After failing so spectacularly with his first wife, he uses her tragic ending as justification to continue the exact same oblivious behavior with his daughter, worrying about her being too imaginative and accusing her of “lies” when she tells him strange things like that she heard a voice speaking to her. Once again, the girl he doesn’t believe is 100% correct, and shutting her down makes everything worse. That’s the curse of the cat people.

In his defense, some of this is probly hard to deal with. Little Amy has a potentially traumatic fiasco where nobody shows up for her birthday party and dad figures out that when she went to deliver the invitations she put them in a fuckin tree hole instead of a mailbox, believing that would work. And then not only does she have a childless birthday, but the next day the kids at school believe they weren’t invited and are mean to her. I’m not sure how you deal with something like that as a parent. (read the rest of this shit…)

Cat People (1942)

Thursday, January 9th, 2020

Well, this isn’t news to the world, but I can now personally confirm that Jacques Tourneur’s CAT PEOPLE (1942) is a simple, moody little black and white horror classic. It has a strange mythology (woman believes she’s descended from a tribe that turned into panthers when jealous or horny), but any monster business is late and brief and primarily implied by shadows (and a little bit of animation). Mostly this is a movie about men and women and their relationships.

Irena Dubrovna (Simone Simon, THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER) is the one possibly belonging to the titular race. She’s an immigrant from Serbia and a fashion illustrator. In her spare time she likes to go to the Central Park Zoo to paint the animals. One day she’s tossing one of her sketches in the trash and misses. Oliver Reed (not the actor [THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM] but a fictional character played by Kent Smith [BILLY JACK GOES TO WASHINGTON]) is the dipshit standing near the garbage who gives her shit about it. He strikes up a conversation, they have tea, next thing you know they’re married. (read the rest of this shit…)

Jack Frost 2

Tuesday, December 24th, 2019

Last Christmas I gave you my heart, by which I mean I finally watched JACK FROST and wrote about it. This year, I wouldn’t say I was in tears, but JACK FROST 2: REVENGE OF THE MUTANT KILLER SNOWMAN wasn’t as special.

I mean… they tried. Writer/director Michael Cooney returned in the year 2000 (three years after the original) with another scrappy low budget bag of silliness. This one does not have a fancy Vinegar Syndrome special edition, because it was shot in shiny ugly digital video, so what would be the point? There are a couple obvious stock footage shots and I thought “Oh, that’s what a real movie looks like.” On his commentary track (respect for including that), Cooney says he hopes people don’t notice that the stock footage looks different. Whoops. (read the rest of this shit…)

Black Christmas (second remake)

Monday, December 16th, 2019

BLACK CHRISTMAS (2019) is another loose remake of BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974). Like the original and the 2006 remake it’s about a group of sorority sisters who stay on campus during winter break and then start getting stalked and murdered. The creepy phone calls have been updated to creepy texts, and the identity and mythology behind the killings is completely different from either of the previous versions. Which I support. No reason to do this otherwise.

The opening feels like the serious, scary parts of SCREAM. A student named Lindsay (Lucy Currey) is walking home one snowy night, getting weird texts, thinking a dude is following her. He’s not, but suddenly she crashes into a different man wearing a mask and black robe who chases her around a heavily Christmas-decorated house where no one responds to her cries for help. But the horrifying/beautiful overhead shot of Lindsay making a snow angel as she dies and is dragged away sets a bar that’s never met in the subsequent off rhythm and ineffective cat and mouse scenes. I didn’t realize until afterwards that it’s a PG-13 movie, which might explain some of that, but doesn’t really justify that the mask isn’t particularly cool or creepy. That shit is important in a masked slasher movie.

But maybe not as important as a good protagonist, and in that department BLACK CHRISTMAS definitely delivers. The story centers on Riley (Imogen Poots, 28 WEEKS LATER, FRIGHT NIGHT, GREEN ROOM), who is helping the sisters prepare for some sort of Christmas performance at a frat party, but doesn’t plan to participate. Even though she’s in a sorority, her long coat and Doc Martens signal a tinge of cool non-conformist status that Poots somehow makes credible. (read the rest of this shit…)