End of Days


with Arnold Schwarzenegger as Popeye
with Arnold Schwarzenegger as Popeye

For my Countdown to The Expendables I probly should’ve watched RED SONJA, since they put Schwarzenegger on the cover but I don’t think he has a big role. For THE EXPENDABLES they can’t use his name in the advertising but they sure love plastering his cameo all over the ads. So don’t get the wrong idea here, he’s not a true Expendable. He’s just a bit player.

Oh well. Today I’m trying out one of his movies from the precarious late ’90s, when they weren’t really doing as well so he was forced to quit acting and switch to his backup plan of being Governor of Caleefornia.

END OF DAYS is one I had previously skipped, in which Schwarzenegger has to save the world from The Devil. I guess I just figured somebody would’ve said something if this one was any fun at all. I don’t care if the Toxic Avenger already did it, I think anybody would enjoy seeing Arnold defeat the Prince of Darkness using his fists. Or even some guns. Or he could blow him up and have to jump away from the explosion, like in PREDATOR. The fact that nobody’s ever told me much about this movie is a good hint that it’s not something crazy, it’s just some more gloomy, mediocre, pre-millennial, digital era demonic bullshit like other less musclebound stars were doing.

mp_endofdaysIf it was made in ’88 or so it would’ve been another story. Our boy would’ve bodyslammed Lucifer and made some hilarious pun about devil horns or something like that. A real terrible one but not any of the obvious ones we’re thinking of, nothing to do with going to Hell. It wouldn’t try to be dark and spooky. Arnold would take the Devil on with the same cocky humor as he would’ve in PREDATOR, TOTAL RECALL, T2, COMMANDO, etc. But at this late date of 1999 filmatists were self-conscious about that type of movie getting made fun of. They’d second guess and play it safe and try to appeal to modern sensibilities by holding back the awesomeness, the result being mediocre and forgettable movies like this.

(On the other hand this was Schwarzenegger’s follow-up to BATMAN AND ROBIN and JINGLE ALL THE WAY, so in a way you gotta admit he was heading in the right direction. I guess Mr. Freeze filled the bad pun quote for the decade.)

There are some good parts. The movie starts with a priest seeing the signs (comet, etc.) that a baby is about to be born that the Devil is gonna use to kick off the Apocalypse. But the Pope or Bishop or whoever (sorry, wasn’t raised Catholic) says to let the baby be born, we must use God’s love and what not to win it over to our side. I thought that was kind of cool and Jesusy. The baby is born in a hospital and when the nurse takes the baby away from the mother to clean it up she actually brings it to Udo Kier to do a ritual involving the sacrifice of a rattlesnake. Then she brings the baby back like everything’s normal. See, I told you and I told you, this American health care system is fucked up. And that’s with health insurance. Without health insurance they just do the rattlesnake sacrifice right in front of you.

Anyway the baby grows up to be Robin Tunney from THE CRAFT, and she often has weird visions of Gabriel Byrne, but doesn’t realize he’s Satan or that he’s real and on earth looking for her. The Devil has his sinister plan, but there’s one man who can stop him…

An, um… ex-cop? Named Jericho, uh, Cane.

An ex-cop named Jericho Cane trying to stop the Devil! I mean, it’s almost there. You can see that somebody involved wanted to go the ’88 route. That’s like a parody movie idea out of LAST ACTION HERO. If they embraced the absurdity more it could be a classic, but they try to appease the ’99 sensibilties for the most part.


(Okay, you may remember that ’99 was actually a great year for movies. But not because of END OF DAYS. It’s more in tune with the movies I just listed than with the best Schwarzenegger pictures.)

Anyway, he’s Jericho Cane. I guess nobody’s gonna buy Arnold as an occult expert or a priest, so the hero’s gotta be an ex-cop. He’s on the security detail for this banker asshole when there’s an assasination attempt, and then I wasn’t really clear why he kept following the trail that led to the girl and this Devil business. But he follows the clues carved into some dead priests and, along with his wisecracking partner Kevin Pollack (how that guy got into USUAL SUSPECTS and started getting these roles has always been a mystery to me), protects the girl from both a renegade faction of the church (who think they have to kill her to save the world) and the Devil (who thinks he has to fuck her to end the world).

There are a few good Devil bits:

-He walks up to a woman in a restaurant and makes out with her in front of her husband – at first the husband’s mad, but he takes one look and just decides he can’t do anything.

-He goes to Udo Kier’s house, asks “Is this your daughter?” and “Is this your wife?” and then it cuts to him in bed with both, Machete style.

-but since he’s the Devil and not Machete he does some satanic tantric type fuckin where their legs all kind of morph together, becoming one. Cool idea, but too obviously computery. Would’ve been pretty upsetting of Cronenberg and his VIDEODROME buddies did it with latex.

There’s also one particularly stupid part when he bumps into a skateboard punk and compliments him on his “Satan Rules” t-shirt. But come on, who the fuck wears a “Satan Rules” t-shirt? I’m positive that even Satan would realize what an awkwardly forced act of rebellion that is. But I guess maybe his evil plan is to spread lameness across the planet. He doesn’t like that shirt because it’s satanic, he likes it because it makes people cringe and avert their eyes.

Jericho Cane is supposed to be an alcoholic, so people smell it on his breath sometimes but it doesn’t affect him hugely. He seems pretty functional. Never gets a DUI or pisses himself or anything. He has to get help from Father Rod Steiger, but for fighting the Devil, not for dealing with his disease. This is the funniest part of the movie, the pure Arnold part:

Father Kovak: Do you believe in God?
Jericho Cane: Maybe once. Not anymore.
Father Kovak: What happened?
Jericho Cane: We had a difference of opinion. I thought my wife and daughter should live. He felt otherwise.

But ultimately I think this is too much of a demonic thriller and not enough of an Arnold movie. You can’t just put him in a role written for Gary Oldman or somebody. So they should’ve pumped up the COMMANDO shit to take advantage of this rare genre crossbreeding. I mean, an ex-cop trying to beat The Devil with guns should be alot funnier than this. Also I’m not clear why the Devil is so ineffective against Arnold. He had no trouble exploding another character’s head with one punch. The bullet proof vest doesn’t help against that.

And when it comes down to it Arnold being possessed and trying to rape a girl isn’t that fun of an action climax. Hindsight is 20/20, but in my opinion T2: JUDGMENT DAY wouldn’t be quite as popular if at the end the Terminator went on the fritz and tried to rape Linda Hamilton. It was just more enjoyable to watch him battle the T-1000 as he falls apart and then lower himself into the molten metal to save the future from his own existence. I know rules are made to be broken but I gotta stand by the rule “don’t have the hero of your dumb action movie turn into a rapist at the end.” Even if he switches back.

Marcus Nispel almost directed this one. He got dumped due to artistical type differences, which nobody would’ve remembered if not for the manifesto he wrote earlier when he was directing commercials. That was some funny shit. But Hollywood is the land of second chances so it was only a few years before he found his true calling as the homeless looking guy who bums everybody out by making empty, joyless and poorly thought out remakes of their favorite movies. Peter Hyams, who we now know as cinematographer of UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION, took over shortly before filming, so I can’t entirely fault him for the movie’s flaws. It was probly a little late for him to rethink the whole concept and tone of the movie. He probly could’ve said something about the cheesy rock soundtrack with a bunch of random bands including Korn, Creed and Limp Bizkit, though.

The script is by Andrew W. Marlowe, who also did AIR FORCE ONE and later THE HOLLOW MAN for Schwarzenegger’s old TOTAL RECALL helmer. Hmm… maybe Verhoeven could’ve made this one work. I guess we’ll never know.

Oh, who am I kidding? We know. We just can’t prove it. Anyway, shoulda been better.


This entry was posted on Monday, August 2nd, 2010 at 1:24 am and is filed under Action, Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

344 Responses to “End of Days”

  1. I really like this film.

    I like it because I think it has the exact right tone and the right amount of ridiculousness to be a fun ride. The key to the success of this movie is that it thrives to be taken seriously, but you can’t really take it seriously. Which to me is much more fun than constant winking to the camera.

    The religious iconography is awesomely pompous and on-the-nose. The tone is extremely dark with no winking whatsoever. The action sequences are completely over the top, but also easy to follow and very entertaining. Arnold is given a role which completely out of his range, but he sincerely tries to do his best. Some of the plot turns are plain retarded (for example the whole 666=1999 thing), but they are played with utter conviction.

    So many memorable moments in this one. I have seen it already three times.

    And the film also has some genuinely good aspects to it, like the very handsome cinematography.

    VERN, I actually have a complete opposite opinion of this than you have. I think this would be a lesser film if it were more intentionally humorous and aware of its own absurdity.

  2. Verhoeven would make everything work.

  3. One Guy From Andromeda

    August 2nd, 2010 at 2:35 am

    Yeah, that was a pretty bad one. I only remember liking the Arnold introduction where he eats fucked up breakfast…

  4. tuukka – I don’t mean it should be winking at you and nudging you, I mean it should be unapologetic. It should live up to the ridiculousness of the name Jericho Cane. Arnold should punch the Devil in the face, shoot him with a machine gun, have a car chase with him, set up booby traps. I think there are some of those elements but they hold them back in their attempt to make a serious (not good) religious thriller. Making a kick-ass action movie of that type was considered hopelessly ’80s, so instead they made something hopelessly ’90s. But before they found out about THE MATRIX.

    You make a good argument for it though, you make it sound good. I’m glad you get more out of it than I do.

  5. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    August 2nd, 2010 at 2:46 am

    “Between your faith and my glock nine milimeter, I’ll take the glock.

  6. Never seen this one, so I’ll just have to stick to “Toxic Avenger 3”. I can sum up the awesomeness of THAT movie in just one quick sample:

    – The Devil turns into a massive ball of fire to torment our hero the T. A.
    – In a (literal) flash, Toxic has pulled down his pants, whipped it out, and hosed down the Devil with the power of his extinguishing urine.
    – The Devil’s response? “Now I’m pissed.”

  7. INCREDILY perceptive review. wow throughout.

  8. I remember seeing this at the pictures. It was the last Schwarzenegger film I watched. It wasn’t bad. just disappointing when measured against the expectation created by the idea: Arnie vs. the Devil. I think Vern pretty much nails the reasons for that; the way it falls between two stools and ensd up floundering about on the floor of the bar.

  9. Vern, I’m amazed what you put yourself through for your art. I could never do what you do. Kudos!

    And thanks!

    (saw this dreck opening weekend and even on the biggest screen in Toronto, it fell flatter than a day-old flapjack . . . and I have no excuse for having done that to myself. None.)

  10. The main thing I remember about this one is the whole 666 = 1999 thing that Tukka referenced. So, 666 was really just a 999 upside down, but really the 999 was partially obscured and it was actually 1999. Which means that the devil is going to try to end the world in in the year 2000.

    Yup, can’t fault the logic there. That all totally follows.

  11. Peter Hyams might be my man, but man this was stupid, too dumb even for my standards. Its like THE TERMINATOR meets THE EXORCIST, without any of the good implications from such a meeting.

    Bryne is a damn good actor, and really he’s a good idea for Satan but its wasted here.

    This and DEVIL’S ADVOCATE have a real similar scene with Ole Scratch trying to convince said protagonist why God is a Dork, but both absolutely don’t make a really good potent point that mankind has been asking for thousands of years.

    God with its omnipresent ultimate power, why does he let Satan exist, much less allowed to do his wickedness? I mean really Bryne and Pacino would easily make the hero wonder that point indeed. Oh well.

    Also, the END’s whole 3rd act….you know a movie might be too dumb even for me when it makes jokes about the whole “midnight” logical problem. Midnight in NYC or Rome or Israel or what?

  12. Also this opens up another question: Why was Arnold’s last few movies so, for the most part, rather skippable and worthless? In fact, the only two movies post-T2 (or 1991) I would consider watchable would be TRUE LIES and ERASER.

    Did LAST ACTION HERO really fuck him up that badly? I do know that whole period 1997-1999 he was waiting to go make I AM LEGEND with Ridley Scott, but it went nowhere.

    Unfortunately, after seeing something like END OF DAYS, the idea of Arnold whooping Vampire ass probably wouldn’t be as damn fun promising right?

    Also I read somewhere that Sam Raimi was supposed to direct END OF DAYS before he bailed. Smart guy.

  13. This movie had one unique gag that was only aimed at 0.00000001% of the audience and i got to be there for it. New Years day 2000, coming down off everything from acid to jack to prolly just straight piss I went to the cinema, still awake, sheltering from midday alone, except with about 15 other dudes also came alone this day to cruise slow through the come down. The movie DJ early welcomes his listeners to the last night of the world before the Y2k bug wipes everyone out and us random 15 dudes had the best shared laugh that I’ve experienced in a cinema. We laughed so hard about 6 of us went on to a pub afterwards together, I’m still friends with a couple.

    Agree with tuukka. Not as bad as your Point Blank review, but I dun get why you aren’t loving these movies anymore. I’ve seen End of Days like 8 times. I get why you might prefer Best of the Best 2 to number 1 (I preferred 1 but at end of the day have seen em both at least 5 times and both score over 10) but not this bitching all the time.

    What I loved about Seagology was you were so passionate and incorrigably enthusiastic about Seagal’s movies that it was contagious. Just reading your experience made me not only wanna go back and watch every one of em, but I swear I actually enjoyed the ones I liked even more, and genuinely enjoyed the dodgier few that I might’ve never caught otherwise.

    Nowadays, it seems like you can barely tolerate half of the action flicks – even the better ones. This reads like you moped your way through it. Barely passed it. Grumbling and scratching your curmudgeonly balls. IN THIS! A MOVIE WHERE ARNIE SAYS FUCK YOU TO SATAN (SATAN!) AND THROWS HIM OUT A WINDOW! And that’s not fun enough anymore… too serious a film.

    Maybe you were too busy writing about the rape and missed the part where Arnie died for our sins in this film, where FUCKING ARNOLD SCHWARTZENEGGER turns out to be the new messiah – Oh and did I mention that ARNIE FUCKS SATAN OFF AND THROWS HIM OUT A WINDOW

    You make some good points and there’s witty insights so I’m not saying your review sucks. It’s pritty good. Just saying FUCK YOU VERN! Again. Asshole.

  14. Oh RRA didn’t like it. What a fucking surprise. Cunts like you are what has withered Vern’s resistance. Now all we need is fucking Paull cockbag to post about how shit this masterpiece is compared to his favourite B Action movie My Own Private Idaho and this thread will be complete.

  15. AU – Try to not scare away our new (sole) female member like the last time ok?

  16. Majestyk? Will take more than that to scare her away.

  17. If you say so you saucy pirate. Just ask yourself, what would Jesus do? I mean besides taking a hit.

    Anyway Vern can wither anybody and anything. Hell I think his review of that first Dave the Demon proves that he is a tough mother fucker. Neither me or any crappy movie can knock his ass down.

  18. Hey, what did I do?

    My favorite part of this movie is how Arnold is supposed to be a drunk who eats a bunch of crap thrown in a blender for breakfast yet he still clearly pumps iron three or four hours a day.

    Gabriel Byrne made a pretty great Satan, though. I’d definitely watch him in the prequel: END OF DAYS: BEFORE DAY’S END.

  19. Good review. Movies like this remind of an old GK Chesterton line about how politicians make themselves boring in fear of being criticized by newspapers, until finally they become too boring even for the newspapers. I think the same thing’s in play for film-makers, only, instead of newspapers, it’s hipster omega males and the fat, sweaty “nuke-the-fridge” denizens of the internet they’re trying not to provoke…

    I think the reason Arnold’s late career movies aren’t all that great is because, post Last Action Hero, he rarely worked with strong directors or writers…and I always got this weird sense that they were trying to self-consciously make a “Schwarzenegger movie”, rather than to just make a good movie; (it’s a little like that scene in Groundhog Day where Bill Murray has an almost perfect date and then tries to recreate it but can’t).

  20. I’m actually surprised Vern didn’t like this one either. For me, personally, it had the right blend of 75% seriousness and 25% wink-wink humor (the Gremlins 2-esque questions about the movie’s own internal logic were hilarious to me, even though I can see how it can bother some).

    And I gotta disagree with RRA – the “Devil tempts the hero” scenes in both this and The Devil’s Advocate were actually pretty persuasive in both movies – I’d say most people in the same situation would find it hard to make the right decision. But that’s why Arnold is better than us.

    Oh, along w/ the excellent temptation scene, there’s that nice shot of Robin Tunney’s breasts. And the classic “hero makes a breakfast in a blender” scene. And Kevin Pollak’s timeless one-liner “it’s amazing what you’ll agree to….WHEN YOU’RE ON FIRE!!!”. But minus a few points for Guns N Roses “Oh My God”….possibly their worst song ever.

  21. Darth Irritable

    August 2nd, 2010 at 8:02 am

    According to Arnie – he can be blamed for the somewhat turgid ending (which was really the bit the brought the movie down a notch for me).

    Apparently the original script called for him to blow the shit out of Satan, cracking one liners all the way, but big Arnie felt that was inappropriate, so had it rewrritten with the rape/suicide ending.

    You might say he Mel Gibsoned the movie. Great first couple of acts, torpedoed by madness in the final reel.

  22. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    August 2nd, 2010 at 8:23 am

    The Devils Clone.

  23. Maybe the Devil shouldn’t have hatched his plan in america, where at least 80% of the world’s most well-known action heroes live. I’d suggest Belgium, but there’s still the off-chance JCVD could have been visiting family at the time.
    And Vern, I know you don’t play video games, but are you aware of the one called APOCALYPSE, where none other than Bruce Willis himself stars as the main character fighting some crazy reverend’s plans to bring about Armageddon with genetically engineered Four Horsemen, and Bruce, as a Scientist/Escaped Convict has to take them all down, culminating in a battle where he storms the White House, which is turning into hell on earth with lakes of fire and stuff like that all around it. Is that the sort of thing you would have liked?

  24. I don’t know Vern, I thought the “Devil bits” you mentioned weren’t so good because they came across as trying to show us how EVIL the Prince of Darkness is, and all he does is use his power to fondle and fuck. Isn’t that more what, say, Adam Sandler (CLICK) would have done with slightly less of a conscience? But then I doubt he would have had the idea of morphing into the wife and daughter while in coitus. Still, it just seems to me these bits were written by someone more afraid of sexual compulsion than Armaggedon’s arrival. Or maybe it was written for people who can’t tell the difference.

  25. I have not read it, but the original draft’s ending had Satan turning into a giant winged demon, which Arnold then blew up with a rocket launcher.

    I’m not sure if Buffy The Vampire Slayer had already done that yet or not.

    Also, I loved Roger Ebert’s review of this where he imagined the inner monologue of the monks writing the prophecy: “Let’s see, so it’s going to happen at a time determined by a calender which hasn’t been invented yet, in a city that hasn’t been founded yet, in a continent we don’t know exists, on the other side of the globe despite our beleiving the world is flat. So, yes, let’s see, ‘New York, New York, North America, at 12:00 midnight in 1999’…

  26. I wonder why there wasn’t a DTV sequel, that took place on 09/09/09.

  27. That was my birthday! Good God, what if I was the DTV antichrist and I didn’t even know it?

  28. How could you know it Damien?

  29. Jareth Cutestory

    August 2nd, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Majestyk, you can’t be the Antichrist. The Antichrist likes TRANSFO… um, nevermind.

  30. I think garbriel byrne was hot in this movie. And Arnold looked pretty damn good for a drunk. I perso.nally liked this movie. I think I may have it on DVD somewhere.

  31. Jareth Cutestory

    August 2nd, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Vern: If you haven’t decided on a Jet Li film for your Countdown, and if you haven’t seen it already, FIST OF LEGEND has some good fight sequences, and it would compare/contrast nicely with your recent Bruce Lee reviews, as Li’s film is something of a remake of FIST OF FURY.

  32. CC – I must correct Senor Ebert here, but those Ancients never once believed the world was flat. We can thank Washington Irving for making us believe that bullshit.

  33. Majestyk: Yea, the breakfast shake is definitely the highlight of the moviefor me. The throw-everything-into-the-blender scene is the ultimate Burnt Out Cop movie cliche and this one is the greatest of all time.

    I think this one is sorta underrated. It’s formulaic and all, but Arnold really sells it and Byrne is fantastic. It’s also the rare Arnold movie in which he plays a human character that (HUGE SPOILER ALERT) dies. I didn’t see that one coming.

  34. got to give arnie props for tryig someting new.

  35. You coulda shortened this review to ‘Udo Kier is in it’. I’d watch that guy read the proverbial phone book.

    On a lark I watched Uwe Boll’s “FarCry” movie (why? I dunno man) and Mr. Kier popped up at random and made the whole shitty thing worthwhile. Also it stars the crazy russian guy from “SLC Punk” and I always like to see him getting work.

  36. Jack Burton –

    If you haven’t, check out Stone Cold with The Boz. Vern raves about it, and rightly so. (SPOILERS) In the beginning the Boz makes a crazy shake with eggs and snickers bars and shit, and you’re thinking “no way the Boz is THAT crazy, to drink that shit!?” but then he feeds it to his pet Gila Monster.

  37. Jareth – NOBODY likes Transformers. Look, God and the Devil may disagree on abortion, slavery, monogamy, most of the deadly sins, and nine out of the ten commandments. But damn it all, there are some things we can all agree on!

    AU Armageddon – I know you sit under a bridge and wait for people to not put coins in a toll box, so that you can eat them. But I’m going to answer you anyway, so bear with me.

    I’m a fan of Vern’s reviews. Anybody who can come out with lines like “he makes Jesus look kind of a dick in comparison, at least as far as he tells it” is worth reading IMO. Sometimes Vern just hits the nail on the head for me. (“Best of the Best” was a recent example where he pretty much wrote down everything I’d thought about the movie.) Sometimes, obviously, we disagree. That’s normal. Different people have different opinions, etc.

    But I do take the “Striving for Excellence” idea quite seriously. I can admire an ambitious failure (recent example: “The Mist”) for at least having the balls to try something new, even if it fails spectacularly and is quite painful to watch. But what I cannot abide is mediocrity. I hate sequels of good or great movies that have been set up with fantastic characters and ideas, and then proceed to piss both those characters and ideas down the drain. I hate new “franchise” films that don’t have respect enough for their source material to try and improve on it. I would much rather re-watch a cheesy film that is “bad” on a technical level but brings lots of new ideas to the table, than a mediocre one that is better in a technical sense but which has no great ideas in it.

    So yeah, I wholeheartedly support the ripping apart of the mediocre and the uninspired, if it means that the gems that are out there are that much more obvious because of it.

  38. By the way, I’m not talking about “End of Days” in particular there, because I haven’t seen it.

  39. …iliketransformers…

  40. This is my first Vern review read from new droidx phone! Woohoo!

  41. Yeah, tell ’em, CJ! Let ’em know that just because a movie is irredeemably stupid in every conceivable way doesn’t mean you can’t laugh your giant metal balls off at it!

  42. It was very disappointing to see this in theaters, where me and a couple pals were psyched about Arnold’s supposed return to glory.

    I mean, the concept (Arnold Vs Satan) and billboards of Arnold looking all scruffed out were enough to get our hopes up… which lasted about 20 minutes into the movie when we realized we were basically seeing Spawn 2 (not a good thing).

    I did however have a thing for young Robin Tunney — lesbi-esques do it for me every time.

  43. I’m w/ Verno on this one. The movie doesn’t play to Arnold’s strengths and felt forced. Looking back, there hasn’t been an unequivocally good Arnold film since T2. That’s almost 20 years ago.

  44. Vern, I’m putting in a help ticket for Cop Land. I thought this was a really great and underappreciated film. I remember being depressed that it didn’t do better, because I think this was a worthy Stallone comeback film. It’s very gratifying for a Stallone film to see him more than holding his own with all these great actors.

  45. …that’s in terms of the whole “Countdown to the Expendables” thing.

  46. yeah I’m with Skani, I enjoyed COP LAND too. Whether your complaints at the guy for his filmatic skills, James Mangold seems to usually get the best work out of his actors no matter the genre or supposed prestige (or lack thereof) for a project.

  47. I ended up watching this twice over the weekend(Canadian SciFi channel).

    Liked it more than True Lies, to be sure.

  48. Yea, the Boz had a good one but I have to give Arnie the edge for the beer + pizza + aspirin combo. Why didn’t I think of that?

  49. Oh yeah, True Lies. I forgot about that one. Okay, so I don’t think Schwarzenegger’s done a truly good action film since True Lies. I think it holds up pretty well over time. End of Days is a skinny confused teenager of film that feels a mix of resentment, admiration, and ambivalent homoeroticism toward True Lies.

  50. Vern – I got another off-beat review suggestion for Sly, if of course you’re truely willing to test your badass juxtaposition theory.


    OK not badass, not all if my memory serves.

  51. seconding the love for COPLAND. although with stallone, ray liotta, and harvey keitel in the same film, one wonders if this Jersey town of police officers is afflicted with a terrible contagious skin disease.

  52. Paul- Don’t talk shit about The Mist, that’s easily one of the top five horror films in the last ten years.

  53. Nothing against Copland (It’s a fantastic movie in my opinion) but I would like to see a review on Party at Kitty and Stud’s. That or F.I.S.T.

  54. What about that one he directed immediately after ROCKY? The one about the skid row wrestlers? What was that called again? MUSCLE ALLEY or some shit?


  56. Vern, you should review Eric Robert’s new movei SHARKTOPUS!


    Okay maybe not. Review the trailer maybe.

  57. cosmosmariner1979

    August 2nd, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    @ RRA – I don’t scare easy. I’d rather be just one of the guys. But thanks for thinking of me. :)

    @ Mr. M – IMDb says that movie’s called PARADISE ALLEY.

    @ CC – I’m pretty sure that Buffy would have had a little more lesbian witchery and vampires with souls, and the mayor of Sunnydale would have turned out to be Satan.

    I haven’t seen this movie in ages, so my memory is hazy…but I do remember being disappointed that the prophecy was so ridiculous. I’m pretty sure that even Nostradamas was like, “Dude, seriously?” And I am in total agreement with everyone who says this movie smacks of THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE.

  58. cosmosmariner1979

    August 2nd, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    Also, Vern – seriously, you should review the mess-terpiece that is OVER THE TOP.

  59. I was IMDBing and I saw that Stallone had a uncredited part in Klute! I guess I’ll have to watch that again tomorrow and see if I can find him in it.

  60. Brakus would review Fist of Legend for Jet Li and Rambo: First Blood 2 for Sly.

    Apparently Vern ain’t much of a Rambo guy, but I put First Blood 2 right up there close to Die Hard as one of the best badass movies ever. “Murdock. . . I’m comin’ to get YOU!”

    I don’t think too much about the political implications of the lead character; I just like watching him kill stuff.
    The George P. Cosmatos coverage on this website is insufficient.

  61. Hunch: Your experience was very similar to mine. Give the marketers some credit because I remember the movie looking good… at least until I went to the cinema to see it. Pretty mediocre. The only things I remember are the blender scene and really liking Robin Tunney.

  62. the proper Jet Li film for review is ‘My Father Is A Hero’, which features bizarre child abuse in almost every scene.

  63. Mouth – Cosmatos only “directed” RAMBO 2 as much as he “directed” TOMBSTONE, when the stars basically called the shots (Sly, Kurt Russell). Don’t know about George’s other movies. Didn’t he do like an underwater monster movie with Peter Weller in the year of THE ABYSS?

    In fact Kurt Russell should be credited for saving TOMBSTONE and somehow turning around that fucking mess which got writer/director Kevin Jarre fired because he was too slow on his 3 hour+ magnum opus western epic and Snake Plissken salvaged it as a damn fun popcorn western, Val Kilmer kicking ass on a level not seen afterwards until SPARTAN.

  64. RRA : Yeah , Leviathan . If I remember right , it’s actually not that bad.

    On the issue of 80’s vs-the-Devil-movies, I just re-watched “Prince of Darkness (1987)” ( here “Il Signore del Male” translated as the fantastic “The Lord of Evil” …talk about a literal translation !) by our friend Carpenter , and it clearly shows that the 80’s route for these possession/demonic movies is not only effective for action driven horror , but also for absolute creepiness and atmosphere . An Arnold-vs-Satan starring vehicle , 80’s style with bad puns an one-liners is a very good idea , but mix in a little Carpenter-style suspense and Carpenter-inspired music ( like Prince and “The Fog” ) and you’ve got a very good recipe for a horror/comedy like the great ones : think Evil Dead and Night of the Creeps , but a little more action oriented.

    And since I mentioned PoD , I will say that I have mixed feelings about it, it depends on the mood if I really dig it or if I notice more the things that I don’t like . I like the story , setting and the movie has that Carpenter style that we love , but also I don’t like fact that basically the “infected” are people making faces without any kind of make-up ( except one ) and the fact that , for me , the movie drags a little bit intil the ending , the part that I like the most .

    I will say that I really like concept of scientists-vs-the-occult in PoD and other movies , the fact that they try to make sense of what is happening by using computers and scientific methods , like in other great 80’s movies like “Poltergeist” and “Ghostbusters”.

  65. VERN,

    Your review made me wonder what you would think of this Filipino action/horror movie from the early 80’s called THE KILLING OF SATAN. The connection is not only that the hero of that movie goes up against the Prince of Darkness, but that the lead actor went on to become a politician, just like Arnold (he accomplished both feats, killing the devil and going into politics, before the governator did.) He also threatened to beat up Alec Baldwin after the actor made a joke about purchasing a Filipino mail order bride on Letterman. Overall it’s a funny movie with some genuinely crazy stuff in it…I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts on it.

  66. I like PRINCE OF DARKNESS, but lets admit something guys: Its at best when dishing out the Catholic Theology/Quantum Physics stuff and of course that whole subplot about the “dream”…

    But underneath this awesome pretty cover and Alice Cooper cameo and crucified pigeon, POD in plot structure its Carpenter being fucking lazy and basically remaking his own ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, which he would do even later with GHOSTS OF MARS, which was shit.

    I think all of Carp’s stuff in the 1980s is worth watching, but POD might be filmatically the weakest of the bunch.

    Still POD is more interesting than most American contemporary horror films I’ve seen, if you know what I mean.

  67. I second RRA’s nomination of OSCAR as the Sly movie. It’s the movie that probably started the argument that Marisa Tomei’s Supporting Actress win was brought about by the Devil himself.

    Plus, it has Tim Curry as a mama’s boy elocutionist and Sue Ellen from Dallas . You can’t go wrong with that.

  68. We’ve all heard about this “Cosmatos is a pushover who didn’t really direct” stuff, but I don’t care. His name is still attached to 2 of my favorite films, thus he’s awesome.

  69. I just saw LEVIATHAN for the first time last week and was pleasantly surprised. It’s a shameless ALIEN and THE THING ripoff, but done with style and energy and some inventive gross-out gags. Although, it’s kind of funny, the more elaborate the monster becomes in the movie, the less they show it. My guess is that Cosmatos wasn’t satisfied with how it came out (too fake looking) and tried to edit around it; the final action scenes a little confusing as a result.

    PRINCE OF DARKNESS is one of those movies that gets better every time I watch it, which is maybe once every 2 years or so. It improved greatly once a friend pointed out a detail that I hadn’t really notice: that the main character is essentially stalking his female love interest in the early scenes of the film. He’s not just in love with her but obsessed with her, which further lends credence to the idea suggested at the end that he’s going to bring about the apocalypse by trying to free her from the mirror world.

    Carpenter has always been great at endings, and POD has one of the best. The unexpected cut to credits is as awesome as the one in INCEPTION that everybody can’t shut up about.

  70. Dan Prestwich : That’s exactly the part that I love in PoD . (SPOILERS ) In my opinion , he’s so obsessed with the girl that in a way or another he’s able to free her from the “other side” , but she’s reborn as the avatar of the titular Prince of Darkness after being imprisoned with him/it . The dream that we see during the movie is actually a broadcast from the future , some sort of resistance fighters during the demonic Apocalypse , trying to warn us . Ah , the good old times when everything was not spelled out for you in the movies !Wow , now that I think of it , that’s a sequel that I want to see.

  71. Prince of Darkness is the only movie I’ve seen that I thought successfully captured the dread and metaphysical horror in HP Lovecraft stories. I couldn’t say why exactly; it has something to do with the mood and style of it mixed with the scientific ideas. And I love the way Carpenter takes what is, basically, a swirling vat of green goo and makes it weird and creepy.

    George Pan Cosmatos – I doubt he directed much of Cobra, but I always sensed enough consistency in his movies to think that he at least deserves some credit for the ones that turned out good.

  72. Jareth Cutestory

    August 3rd, 2010 at 7:43 am

    Gilmore: I also like how Jet Li smokes cigarettes and roughs up hoodlums in MY FATHER IS A HERO. He plays a rough-hewn wiseguy much better than I thought he would.

    The Dimension version of the film, called THE ENFORCER, has an awful soundtrack grafted over the original Cantonese. Fuckin’ Weinsteins.

    CallMeKermiT: Fans of ’80s-vs-the-devil movies might enjoy a wierd little Canadian road movie called HIGHWAY 61. Earl Pastkos’s Satan character is a lot of fun.

  73. Come to think of it, Carpenter from DARK STAR all the way to THEY LIVE, all them are good. 1974 to 1988 right? How many directors are that consistent for that long with that many movies of different genres? Action, chick flick, horror, sci-fi, anti-authority, social commentary, monster

    MEMOIRS OF THE INVISIBLE MAN though, why the fuck did he sign on for that shit? and VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED I must say was also a mistake, despite a kickass 15 minute opening (followed by 84 minutes of who cares?) and while rewatching it VAMPIRES wasn’t as bad as I remembered, its still one of the lesser-tier Carpenter titles.

    So I suppose in the post-THEY LIVE era, the really fucking good JC effort was IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS, though ESCAPE FROM LA is also fun and unfortunately sorta became more relevant with the Dubya years.

  74. RRA,

    Although Carpenter is one of favorite directors, I have to disagree that all of his movies from 74 to 88 were. THE FOG sticks out as an unfortunate blemish on an otherwise spotless career.

  75. Dan Prestwich – Eh I must agree with Scorsese in that THE FOG works best as a moody atmospheric thriller. Is it a B-thriller? I suppose, but its a good one. Also the ending kicks ass.

  76. I don’t know, outside of some pretty cinematography, I don’t think it’s particularly atmospheric. Also, not sure which part of the ending you think is great… the part where they think they defeated the ghosts and then the ghost shows up again and kills the priest? IE the same fake-out ending as every horror movie ever?

    I had this idea for my blog a while back that I got to lazy to follow up on, but it was called “Shitty Movies by Great Directors,” where I talked about bad movies by good people. THE FOG was one of only 4 I got around to writing up. If you’re at all curious to see my more elaborate thoughts on the movie, check it out:


  77. I’m a huge Carpenter enthusiast but I’ve never really been able to get into PRINCE OF DARKNESS. I do owe it another shot, I’ve only watched it twice. It’s been too long to even point out specifics, to the extent that I don’t even remember a lot of the scenes you guys are talking about. But I remember an overall feeling that it was dull and somewhat cheesy. I think it ranks lower than some of the lesser efforts from Carpenter’s classic era, like the De Palma lite SOMEONE’S WATCHING ME, the rather toothless THE FOG, the slightly corny STARMAN, or the strangely underrated CHRISTINE. Compared to the post THEY LIVE (Carpenter’s last true classic) era, however, it holds up pretty well. With the exception of IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS and that CIGARETTE BURNS episode of MASTERS OF HORROR, poor ol’ John’s been on a garbage streak for quite a while. Even among these crapfests though there are always a few grace notes: James Woods’ badass character in VAMPIRES, the extremely pessimistic ending of ESCAPE FROM L.A., the idea of Stacy Keach with long luxurious hair in BODY BAGS, etc.

  78. LEVIATHAN is no THE ABYSS but I like it some. Mainly for the atmosphere of THE THING that it evokes with the claustrophic isolation of its setting and the gruesome creature effects. Also Peter Weller is an eminently likeable everyman in it, the type of blue collar schmoe I’d like to have a beer with.

  79. Dan Prestwich – Not the fake-out in itself my friend. How many movies have a priest get clobbered by ghost pirates at the end?

    Not that many.

    Besides, I’ll gladly take FOG over fucking VAMPIRES.

  80. I think THE FOG would have been better off focusing on Adrienne Barbeau’s character and dropping Jamie Lee Curtis’ character altogether. Curtis was boring and felt like an obligatory post-HALLOWEEN inclusion. Whereas I was invested in Barbea’s DJ character and her tig ass bitties making it through to the end.

  81. lol. genuinely LOL.

    You couldn’t possibly have punctuated my point better Paul than by calling The Mist a failure. A movie that not only absolutely undoubtedly INARGUABLY sits in the TOP 10 horrors of the whole fucking decade… absolutely inarguably…(look up that word before arguing this point), but so much so that I’d confidently speak for even 90% of Vern’s faggot parade and go so far as to say that it actually serves as a front-line ignoramus detector, in terms of movies, of who’s opinions are permanently invalidated across the board. A retard detector if you will.

    I’m not neccessarily saying you are chronically autistic and completely unable to relate to human beings or other human’s experiences, I’m saying you should consider the possibility that you have just failed the entrance exam to the world of cinema, and as such, should not only apologise and accept that don’t have the capacity to post on any movie forum of any level – including that you are not even qualified to post comments on Armond White’s reviews, but that you don’t have the right to enter not only a cinema, but even a DVD shop lest your opinion be again exposed.

    You may however watch television and movies on television. So long as you don’t talk about them with family members (on the obvious assumption you don’t have friends who talk about movies), who though genetically tarnished but your anti-cinema gene, are at least statistically unlikely to be so obtuse as to consider The Mist a failure.

    I thank you for completing this thread though. Now it is another perfect disappointment. I knew you could do it, but even I couldn’t predict that having not seen End of Days (this part obvious in retrospect), that you’d substitute by going after The Mist (which is likely RRA substituting for not having a penis by putting a kayak in his trousers).

    Calling people a troll just cos they get a little enthusiastic is as much of a misnomer as Majestyk putting a Mr in front of her name. Would be more accurate to say I’m just telling it like it is… (so fuck you jack)

  82. RRA,

    If we’re getting perverse pleasure out of watching priest-murder, I think we’re better off talking giallos. 9 times out of 10, if there is a priest in a giallo, he turns out to be the killer and then gets lit on fire or thrown off a cliff at the end. The rest of the time, the priest isn’t a killer, but ends up brutally murdered by the killer or a demon or whatever.

  83. But AU, I thought we were bros now. Is this some of that affectionate ribbing that I hear the males of the species often partake in?

  84. THE MIST is great. I think my favorite thing about it is its oneupsmanship of King’s original ending. While preserving the same theme (don’t give up hope), it manages to turn that theme into a well aimed kick in the nuts. The only thing making it slightly less than perfect is its use of Exotic Wailing Bitch™ on the soundtrack.

  85. I haven’t watched the B&W version though. Worth it?

  86. I prefer it. I never thought THE SHIELD team’s camerawork did any favors to King’s mannered dialogue and the actor’s somewhat stagy performances, but in B&W the film plays more like an eerie sixties existential horror movie like CARNIVAL OF SOULS than like a seventies verite flick like DOG DAY AFTERNOON, which the color version resembles. The lack of color automatically takes the film one step away from naturalism, which fits the performances and the script better, in my opinion.

    Either version is still one of the best horror movies of the decade, though. It’s got just about everything I want in a horror moviem except tits. Maybe they shouldn’t have cut out the scene in the novella with the spontaneous panic fuck.

  87. B&W version definitely worth it. Makes the mist itself look much more ominous and infinite.

  88. I thought a few of the tentacle effects were a bit dodgy, and I assume the B&W makes them look better. Fair assumption?

    Why doesn’t Thomas Jane get more work by the way? Guy is awesome.

  89. I’m not sure if the B&W makes the effects look any better. In fact, if there’s one downside to it (and this is only a minor complaint, as I agree with Majestyk that the B&W version is superior), it’s that the monochrome makes the monsters less icky and the violence less graphic.

    Jane is on a TV show now called HUNG, which I’ve never seen but have heard mixed things about. Personally, I’d rather see him in more genre movies than trapped in some middling TV comedy/drama.

  90. Jane has this real-man Steve McQueen type air about him that’s conspicuously missing from most leading men these days. He should be huge, I don’t get it.

  91. HUNG is actually pretty funny. He’s perfect in the role, too. He brings that “Normal Joe who’s just a bit more badass than you are” vibe that endeared him to us in the first place, but uses it to be the straight man in a comedy. I’m glad he’s got steady work so now he can pick and choose his weird low-budget genre parts without having to hustle for a paycheck. He hasn’t hit one out of the park yet but I hope he keeps swinging.

    Also, HUNG has lots of tits and swear words, and a recurring role for Gregg Henry.

  92. I think The Mist would make a really great double feature with the thematically similar Apocalypto.

    My reaction to the ending: “Wait…are they actually trying to suggest that Mrs. Carmondy was right all along? What the fuck?”

    Also, it could have used better special effects, which I thought were pretty uninspired; when I read the story I pictured all the creatures in a sort of 1980’s Rob Bottin style.

    It’s a pretty good movie anyway, even though it’s a little over-serious. Maybe I’ve just had it with post 9/11 horror (“Hey! This is all metaphor for 9/11! Get it!? Get it!?”); that was interesting to me the first 5 or 6 times somebody did it, now…not so much.

    The Fog – I can see why people wouldn’t respond to it, but I’ve always liked Carpenter’s use of mood and atmosphere (which he seems to have pretty much lost) and The Fog, to me, is nothing but that.

  93. Jareth Cutestory

    August 3rd, 2010 at 10:26 am

    Gwai Lo: If you like Adrienne Barbeau, or at least a few of her body parts, that’s just one more reason for you to watch CARNIVALE. She actually holds her own among a very talented cast.

    Also, Thomas Jane was awesome in HOMELESS DAD.

  94. Yet another reason to watch it… I will bump it up on my list. I got three seasons of THE SHIELD left, then I’m gonna tackle BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, then FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON… then CARNIVALE. Will report back with my findings.

  95. I’ve always felt Jane was one of those guys who’s just been waiting for someone to come along and know what to do with him, just like Tim Olyphant before “Justified.” Sometimes it takes a unique actor (or, especially, actress) a little while for people to get them and figure out roles where they can really shine. Guys like will Ferrel and hell, even Harrison Ford spend years, even decades before someone finally figures out how to let them shine.

    Still waiting on Jane, Henry Rollins, Anna Faris, Tea Leoni, Linus Roache, Dwayne Johnson….

  96. Jareth Cutestory

    August 3rd, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Mr. Subtlety: Did you think Olyphant is better in JUSTIFIED than he was in DEADWOOD? I haven’t seen JUSTIFIED.

    Also, did you ever watch Rollins’ t.v. show?

  97. Majestyk,

    Yeah, I’m not going to begrudge a guy for finding steady work, no doubt, my concern would only be if his commitment to this show prevents him from doing more of the kind of movies that I like seeing him in. HUNG has been on my Netflix queue for a while; you say it’s good, so maybe I’ll bump it up some time soon.

    I sorta see Jane as his generation’s Kurt Russell. He’s got the looks of leading man and some serious acting chops, but tends to show up (and do excellent work in) interesting genre and B movies, instead of cushy mainstream fare. He just needs to find his John Carpenter to plug him into a few all-time classics and seal his legacy.

  98. That’s a good comparison, Dan. If HUNG had existed in the eighties (or an alternate version of the eighties where a show about with a huge dick could get on the air) then Kurt would have been the only choice to star in it.

  99. Jareth – -actually, didn’t see “Deadwood” or “Justified” — I’m relying on the huge groundswell of positive feelings the latter seemed to engender here. After watching Olyphant flounder for years in crap like HITMAN, the consensus here seemed to be that he had finally found a role he could really win with. His role in THE CRAZIES made me think that was probably correct.

    As for Rollin’s show, I loved it if only because Rollins, in his exquisitely weird intellectual gay meathead kind of way actually ended up getting some really fantastic interviews with people. His secret? Ask a few actually interesting questions that these folks havent answered 500000 times before, then sit tensely in his awkward head-on comfy chair and let them talk. Time after time, he gets amazing non-canned answers from a wide variety of interesting people. Also, his musical guests were generally pretty great, even if its a lousy venue for it. He was onto Gogol Bordello, Peeping Tom, Manu Chao, and tons of others long before most folks were. I can never figure out if he’s the world’s smartest moron or its goofiest genius, but either way I’m glad he’s out there doing his thing.

  100. Olyphant really is quite good in DEADWOOD. That show was an eye-opener to me because I had previously only been aware of him as the guy with the creepy eyes from SCREAM 2 and the computer hacker villain of LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD. Haven’t seen JUSTIFIED yet.

  101. Jareth Cutestory

    August 3rd, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    There’s a guy over on the AICN talkbacks who tries to recreate the Al Swearengen character from DEADWOOD every time he posts, including frequent references to whores, cocksuckers and hoopleheads. That dude must come across as so bizarre to someone who hasn’t seen DEADWOOD.

    Also: The smartest moron/goofiest genius dilemma will continue to puzzle mankind long after we’ve solved crop circles.

  102. Darth Irritable

    August 3rd, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    AU – you have a lot of rage for an Australian – are you from Canberra?

  103. I bet he’s a Kiwi.

  104. Hey, I’ve met some nice Kiwis.

    My point about “The Mist” is that, whether you love it or hate it (and I’ve made it pretty clear which end of that spectrum I’m on), it’s at least not a work of mediocrity.

    AU, if you think that’s bad, get my take on Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” some time. I have no problem tearing down sacred cows, if they deserve it. And regardless of my admiration of “The Mist”‘s ambition, it REALLY deserves it. I’m not going to bother repeating here what I’ve already said in detail in “The Mist”‘s thread. But I will say this: one of the best horror movies of the decade my arse. If you really think that, my friend, it’s not MY judgement that’s impaired.

    Maybe you could point out to me an apocalypse movie that portrays the fall of man using a scenario where almost two hundred people, after just a day and a half of serious stress, DON’T turn into a bunch of religious maniacs who blindly trust in the word of an evil crone that most of them had previously dismissed as a nutjob. Not sure whether that’ll be a better movie than “The Mist”. But it sure as hell will be a lot less dumb.

    And while we’re on the subject of “must see / review” movies, I’m gonna bring up my bugbear again: “JUGGERNAUT”. Richard Harris playing a badass paramilitary who defuses bombs for a living. Ian Holm. Anthony Hopkins. Omar Sharif. Great seventies thriller. Almost as good as “The Poseidon Adventure”. On a level with “The Day of the Jackal” (the Edward Fox one, not the Bruce Willis remake). One of the best, most well-known and most parodied twist-of-the-knife endings in the history of film. Seriously, why am I the only one who’s seen or heard of this movie? Is it the fact that it’s British?

  105. Is “Kiwi” a racial slur? If it isn’t it sounds like it should be.

  106. Paul — maybe you’re onto something with the British thing. Not with JUGGERNAUT, but with THE MIST. After all, it’s been a long time since your countrymen put a big pile of religious refuse on a boat and pointed it in the direction of the new world. There are probably areas of the States (and of Canada too, for that matter) where 100% of the grocery store would chalk all the Lovecraft shit up to your ol’ standard issue end of days apocalypse. In THE MIST it’s more like 90%, which means they were probably in a different area than wherever they filmed JESUS CAMP. With figures like that, well yeah, 24 hours sounds about right for some opportunist to climb up on the pulpit and work a bunch of irrational nuts into a lather.

    Or something. I don’t know, society going to shit in a hurry is a pretty common theme in the horror genre (see: every zombie movie ever made), is it just the religious bent that bothers you?

  107. Now I want some strawberry kiwi juice

  108. Gwai Lo – there are plenty of excellent horror films with religious themes (see a little-known movie called “The Exorcist” maybe?) It’s not the theme that bothers me, it’s the execution. I can see a whole community going to shit and developing weird fantasies – be they religious, alien abduction, etc – after being cooped up together for years. And I can see a few people getting worked up in a hurry over this stuff. What I can’t imagine is an entire store full of a couple of hundred frightened people suddenly deciding that their best chance of survival is turning to the village nutjob for solace. There are many, many things that I couldn’t believe about that movie, but that was the main one.

    Again – it frustrated me because I WANTED this movie to “work”. It’s a truly great idea and there’s obviously been a helluva lot of time and talent gone into making it. It’s all the more painfully frustrating to watch because it fails so badly, and yet it feels like it could easily have been great.

  109. All right, Paul… what’s your take on VERTIGO?

  110. Darth Irritable

    August 3rd, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    RRA – he’s not a kiwi. We send our ragemonkeys to the UK.

  111. Well THE EXORCIST is a different kettle of fish, the story is much smaller and confined to a handful of characters. I was thinking more along the lines of zombie movies, disaster movies, post-apocalyptic movies, epidemic movies, etc. which usually involve society breaking down the instant the shit hits the fan. Often these movies have nothing to do with religion but I think it’s a viable ingredient to toss into the mix. Having seen and experience religious nuttery first hand I can understand how people would turn like that. THE MIST probably handles it with a bit more clumsiness than however it would hypothetically occur in reality, Marcia Gay Harden could have been a bit subtler, it could have taken a week instead of a day, but it wasn’t a deal-breaker for me. Again, JESUS CAMP. I’m not saying you’re wrong, by the way, it’s a legitimate critique. I was just wondering if maybe your British perspective had anything to do with it, given your country’s history of kicking religious nuts and other undesirables to the curb.

    And yeah, what’s wrong with VERTIGO? Many people regard it to be Hitchcock’s best ya know…

  112. Yea on JUGGERNAUT. Nay on anti-VERTIGO sentiment.

    I don’t remember the former having a “one final big twist” ending, though. Unless you mean


    SPOILERxxxfreddiexxxjonesxxxbeingxxxthexxxbomber.Or DavidxxxHemmingsxxxgoingxxxkablooey. But that development was about two-thirds through.

    Good film, and certainly a surprise coming from Richard Lester. Also a prime example of what I call “tomato ketchup red” cinematography. Seriously, that color red no longer exists.

  113. I have a strange relationship with THE EXORCIST. When people say it’s a piece of shit I feel like defending it. When people say it’s extremely intelligent or the best crafted film of all time or whatever I think “give me a break!” Anyone know what I mean?

  114. Pacman – yes. I feel much like that myself about many films, “The Exorcist” being one of them. Once it gets going it is very good indeed though.

    Darth Irritable – I am British myself, you know, and NOT a ragemonkey. I DO NOT HAVE ANGER ISSUES GODDAMMIT FUCK YOU ALL!!!!!! (Seriously… not really.)

    M Casey – I’m going to leave this one intact, at least for now, sorry. I could do a whole essay on “Vertigo”, but it would take a very long time and probably one or two people would read it. Plus I’ve been negative enough these past few weeks. “Hero”, “The Mist”, “Best of the Best 3”, etc… let’s have a film that I thought was great for once, despite what you may think reading my recent posts there are a lot of ’em out there!

    Frankbooth – I mean the moment when Somebody who’s always appeared eminently reasonable does Something to Somebody Else that there is no obvious motive for. It’s a kick-to-the-guts of an ending actually. A character who’s always appeared perfectly reasonable, if somewhat cold-bloodedly mercenary, beforehand suddenly reveals a streak of pure malevolent evil. It probably shouldn’t be shocking, considering that character’s role in the film, but it’s a final twist-of-the-knife that had me grinning from ear to ear when I saw it the first time, and the outcome of what happens still makes me smile today.

  115. Jesus Paul – that’s your problem with The Mist!?!?! I’m not sure if you are being wilfully ignorant or are simply monumentally naive, but on the odds you are a kid and live in your parents basement and have no experience of chaos, lemme explain why you are wrong. Try for one second imagining that is a possibility before reading on.

    … actually lemme give you a short version. We could talk psychology (such as Cognitive Dissonance – clickety clack Paul: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance), or we could talk any of a boatload of movies from Carriers (day 1 risk their lives to help a stranger, day 2 mow down to christian women to steal their car) all the way through to fucking even Aliens (though Burke’s is a different phenomenon, but valid because oppurtunism is part of what’s going on), or we could talk about the premise of suspension of disbelief and your unfortunate lack of imagination (and another reason you have been lifetime banned from movie review sites, cinemas, and DVD shops), but there’s no need.

    I’m guessing you’re American – you’d have to be. Mum’s basement and tranny porn aside, surely you caught something in between about a little flooding down at New Orleans? In 3 days cops were shooting themselves in the head, people were raping and looting their fellow man, and – this is the clincher, there wasn’t so much as a tentacle in sight, let alone the obvious truth of HELL on earth. Without the clear signs of God’s apocalypse coming to bear and Hell’s weight bearing down, many people still imploded under the pressure. You didn’t catch that Paul? 24 hours too soon but 3 days is fine perhaps. You can be wrong but you dun have to be stupid anymore. Thank me later.

  116. THE MIST would have been better if it didn’t have those scenes where characters blatantly spell out the already not-exactly-obscure subtext of the movie (“get people away from their cellphones and their computers, and the go CAARRAAAAAZYYY!”)

  117. I have to agree with AU on this one. THE MIST wasn’t just about society descending into chaos, like after an earthquake or something. That would at least be explainable under the laws of nature as we understand them. It was about the entire nature of accepted reality changing. These people weren’t just dealing with the breakdown of law and order; they were dealing with the breakdown of their entire metaphysical worldview. I can totally see people developing a mob mentality and latching on to the one person who at least claims to know what the fuck is going on. You can quibble about the amount of time it takes, but that’s all it is: a quibble. It shouldn’t ruin the movie, which has so many more things in the plus column.

    But I can relate to Paul. We all have one or two movies that we just don’t care for that most people would say are masterpieces. We can explain ourselves all we want but our reasons will come across as piddly and inconsequential. But they’re real to us. We can’t make ourselves love a movie if we don’t.

    You’re still wrong, though, Paul. Let’s not get confused about that.

  118. “I have to agree with AU on this one.” My entire metaphysical worldview just broke down.

    Just kidding I also think that was a pretty sharp post from our angry friend Mr. AU

  119. AU – I can believe “Carriers” (which I enjoyed BTW) because we’re talking about four people in desperate circumstances. Four. Who are quite literally the last people on earth and have been through Hell and back.

    I can believe the people going nuts. I can even believe them (or at least some of them, unopposed by the majority for the sake of survival) lynching the soldier guy they blamed for the whole thing. That I can believe. Wisdom of crowds, etc, etc.

    “The Mist” went so far beyond that, it just made it ridiculous. Are you SERIOUSLY comparing this crap to the New Orleans flooding? As I recall it was Bush cutting back on the hurricane relief fund that started that whole fucking mess. And when it did come, a lot of people pulled together in order to survive. Yes, there was looting, assault, even murder. That’ll happen. Disasters bring out both the best and worst in humanity.

    What I DON’T recall about New Orleans is a local “prophet”, who’s been utterly ridiculed before the disaster started, now ordering a whole mass of people to arbitrarily kill one of their own, and the vast majority – not a minority, the majority – of them complying, for no apparent reason whatsoever (they’re not doing it to survive, they’re not even doing it to “fit in” with the established order.) Or did I miss that part of the news coverage?

    My view of humanity isn’t so rosy. There are very few moral “absolutes” in any time period. Not so long ago, a helluva lot of people had the idea that they were morally justified and (in some cases, including Hitler’s) God-appointed to kill every last Jew on the face of the earth. A long time before that, pedophilia was not only tolerated but in some circles publicly encouraged. (Heck, in some societies it was considered bad manners if you didn’t offer your guests a page boy or two to bugger.) Innocent people have been shot, burnt at the stake, slaughtered in droves and thrown into mass graves because they were on the wrong side of a conflict, they were the wrong colour, they expressed anti-communist, fascist or religious views, or they just didn’t “fit in”. All this fits in with what I know of how human beings behave. “The Mist” does not.

    And why “must” I be American? I’ve spent exactly two weeks in America my whole life. Also love the “tranny porn” comment. Classy dude. Real classy.

    Majestyk – you on the other hand definitely have a point about the nature of “accepted reality”. It doesn’t change the fact that I don’t believe human beings would, or ever have, behaved like those in “the Mist”, but heck, there are pretty few points of comparison available. How many times have people every genuinely thought that the world was going to end?

  120. Gwai Lo – if you think AU’s comparison of “The Mist” and the New Orleans floods was “sharp” then I’d advise you to take a serious proportion check.

  121. Jareth Cutestory

    August 4th, 2010 at 10:28 am

    When the next disaster strikes, let’s all come back here and see how many of are persuaded to follow the advice of our own local “prophet,” AU_Armageddon.

    That’s all I got. I haven’t seen THE MIST.

  122. Well what you know about how human beings behave could be written on Gwai Lo’s penis, or even Majetyk’s labia.

  123. …or Jareth Cutestory’s prostrate. When it’s not being used by RRA.

  124. I’m honored to find my man parts are not in question

  125. Or did you mean “cutting”, sorry? In which case, yeah, I’d agree. Although don’t confuse his being a total dick with his actually having a valid argument.

  126. And with that, I think I stop feeding the troll here… *smacks self in head…*

  127. That depends Gwai Lo, given recent evidence, on how much you think Paul understands about the human behaviour…

  128. “Or did you mean “cutting”, sorry? In which case, yeah, I’d agree. Although don’t confuse his being a total dick with his actually having a valid argument.”

    By the way Paul, I’m glad you read the article on Cognitive Dissonance at least. Great example. Kudos!

  129. Haha no, I think AU is actually closer to how I feel on the matter than Paul. I have witnessed society go to shit in situations far less severe than the gates of hell opening up and unleashing tentacle monsters. I think Paul’s specific grievance here is Mrs. Carmody, he finds it unrealistic that the local Jesus freak would find loyal followers so quickly. But even in that case, I’m not sure I agree. I mean nobody really took Dubya too seriously before 9/11 but afterwards he gained a lot of support for his hard line stance on terrorism, before everyone came to their senses and realized he didn’t know what he was doing. And horror movies often operate in broad thematic strokes, like I said in an earlier post Mrs. Carmody could have been subtler or it could have taken a bit longer for her to win over the sheep but I don’t think the principle of the behavior is all that far fetched. Human psychology is fragile, if you can have Patty Hearst and Heaven’s Gate cults and suicide bombers and whatever then Mrs. Carmody can be portrayed as convincing.

  130. Also, I don’t think all of the people in the grocery store were necessarily “convinced” by Mrs. Carmody’s rhetoric. But there is a funny thing that happens when people start taking sides. We fear the possibility that our fence-sitting may leave us as outsiders, and that the opportunity to get in with the majority will evaporate if we waffle too long. We want to belong to the biggest herd, for safety. That’s what Mrs. Carmody represents. And the phenomenon gets more acute depending on the extremity of the situation, from high school cliques to the apocalypse. For many people in that grocery store, Mrs. Carmody may seem like a Jesus freak, but if it looks like she’s gonna be the Jesus freak in charge pretty soon, then it might be prudent to throw down with her.

  131. I saw THE MIST also and I’m sort of a centrist between the Paul Party and the Armageddonists. I thought Marcia Gay Harden’s dialogue and performance were the worst part of the movie, a corny Stephen Kingism in a movie that otherwise avoids going so over the top. But I was willing to forgive it.

    I don’t see anything ridiculous about the claim that it’s one of the best horror movies of the last decade. But then that’s not saying all that much. I’d put MARTYRS and THE DESCENT on there. I’m not sure what else.

    by the way I even reviewed THE MIST one time:


  132. Jareth Cutestory

    August 4th, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Gwai Lo: Tyler Perry Presents: THROWIN’ DOWN WITH MRS CARMODY.

    AU_Armageddon: You know that list you mentioned earlier, the Super Cool List of Totally Awesome Horror Films From the Last Ten Years? Did make it onto MARTYRS that list?

  133. Jareth Cutestory

    August 4th, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Jeesh. Looks like Yoda wrote that last sentence.

  134. Horror highlights of the oughts in my opinion:


  135. I prolly forgot some

  136. You forgot at least Drag Me To Hell

  137. I thought DRAG ME TO HELL was stupid. There, I said it.

  138. BTW Vern have you seen THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE yet? I almost added it to the list… almost… I dislike that I liked such a skeezy movie.

  139. I loved THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE. I thought it was funny, suspenseful, and well-shot, not to mention surprisingly tasteful, given the subject matter.

  140. I like reading this board, does it have to turn into another AICN wankjob filled with wannabe shock jocks like AU_Armageddon? He really sucks.

    I have to agree with Paul on the Mist. I can believe a lot of stuff, but not following Carmody. They could all go crazy and kill and eat and rape each other, but I don’t see them following her cartoony character. It’s one thing to say the US put trust in Bush after 9-11, but to compare that to The Mist would be saying that we all followed Dennis Miller.

  141. Agreed on all counts, Majestyk. And Dieter Laser’s character was utterly iconic. Yeah, add it to my list up above there. Oh wait… it’s 2010. Wrong decade. Anyone seen A SERBIAN FILM yet? That one’s supposed to be nuts.

  142. Jareth Cutestory

    August 4th, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Gwai Lo: You forgot to put PAUL BLART on your list.

    Also, have you seen REC 2?

  143. Yeah, I didn’t like [REC]2. For a few reasons that involve SPOILERS. The main one is a structural thing: we spend half an hour following a new SWAT team that gets eviscerated in short order. Then the movie just resets itself and we spend the next half hour following the most annoying fucking teenagers in Spain who have the world-champion-dumbass idea to sneak into the quarantine. Then the last half hour is a series of retarded twists. My patience wore thin before we even met those damn teens. I also didn’t like the idea to turn zombies into the demonically possessed, or at least the idea to make that so overt if the first one only hinted at it. Not a horrible movie, but a big drop-off in quality from the first one. More drastic than the drop-off from THE DESCENT to THE DESCENT PART 2 in my opinion.

  144. I thought Martyrs was a pretty damned good movie but it’s not one I would watch over and over like I do The Mist or Drag Me To Hell. Martyrs for me is more like Memento, where I’ll check it out once every few years after the plot becomes fuzzy to me. I might have the same feeling towards Fight Club but I like how the characters interact in it. With Memento and Martyrs, the characters aren’t as engaging but the plot and ideas presented in them are interesting enough that they are movies I don’t have a problem revisiting.

    Which reminds me, it’s been a while since I’ve actually seen Martyrs so maybe I’ll be revisiting it sooner rather than later.

    Gwai Lo – I thought it wasn’t “cool” to like Hostel. It’s good to know that I’m not the only person that enjoys that movie. I also like the Saw movies (Up until Saw IV where it just started to get boring) but I’m guessing that I’ll still be alone with that one.

    I never could get all the way through The Orphanage. As a result of that I’m not gonna say it sucks but it just doesn’t hold my interest. I’m going to keep trying though maybe one day it’ll grab me like it did everyone else.

  145. What else? I was tempted to add THE STRANGERS, THE OTHERS, HIGH TENSION, THE RING, DAWN OF THE DEAD, THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, THE RUINS, THE HOST, HOSTEL 2, LAND OF THE DEAD, and OPEN WATER but they didn’t quite make the grade I suppose…


    I haven’t seen FEAST, TURISTAS, ILS, FRONTIERS, the FUNNY GAMES remake, EDEN LAKE, and a bunch of others obviously. I found this link in my search:


    I’ll be checking out a few of those

  146. Oops I meant INSIDE not INTERIORS in my list of stuff I didn’t like.

  147. 28 Days Later would be my number one. There have been some good horror movies in the 2000s. I know it’s only cool to like foreign versions of horror remakes, but I liked The Grudge. Everyone talks about how the original was great but the remake sucked, but I think the remake was better made and scarier. Besides that, they were pretty much the same as I recall. Loved Sesion 9. I think you could include Grindhouse which wasn’t great in of itself, but as an experience, it hit the spot.

  148. hamslime – yeah, I think HOSTEL gets a bad rap because of the stupid “torture porn” label. I liked it when I saw it in the theater (and at that point I hated CABIN FEVER so Roth had to win me over without me giving up too much benefit in the way of the doubt) and I still like it today. I like how it plays with several horror conventions (like male victims, and the virginal “final girl” character eating hot death before the man-slut), I like that it comments on anti-American sentiment and acts as a cautionary tale against traveling, I like that it seems to express a kind of self-conscious fear on Roth’s part of being punished for his frat-boy puerility, I like the various homages to other films, I like the European-flavored cinematography, I like that it went to some gruesome places. But aside from all that business I connected emotionally with the story and was invested in the characters. The sequel wasn’t as good but I still kinda liked that one too. I know it probably marks me as a philistine to say all this shit but whatever.

  149. Jones – good call on GRINDHOUSE. I wouldn’t put DEATH PROOF or PLANET TERROR on my list, but you’re right, as a 3+ hour theatrical experience in one package, GRINDHOUSE was the tits.

  150. Jareth Cutestory

    August 4th, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Gwai Lo: I don’t disagree with any of your points about REC 2, but none of the flaws you mentioned really bothered me all that much. It was a strangely underwhelming experience, despite the obvious attempts to pump the film up like it was ALIENS. Maybe there’s something about handheld that makes it difficult to get too invested in the film. My big complaint is that REC 2 had so little of the atmosphere of the first film.

    Did FRONTIER(S) not make your list for similar reasons?

    Also, it’s really cool to see all those titles on your list in one place. I’d have to say that horror is in good shape these days.

  151. Nope, just haven’t seen FRONTIERS. Will get on that.

  152. Jareth Cutestory

    August 4th, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Never mind about FORNTIER(S). I saw you answered that one. It’s kind of incredible how much that
    film ripped off from other films, particularly TEXAS CHAINSAW.

    Also, I don’t like DRAG ME TO HELL either.

  153. Jareth Cutestory

    August 4th, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    I’d put SILENT HILL in there, though I find it difficult to justify why.

  154. I thought SILENT HILL was OK, I just didn’t like it enough to put it in my runner up list and didn’t dislike it enough to put it in the dislike list. It’s the best videogame movie to date, I guess?

  155. With regards to DRAG ME TO HELL, I just kind of thought it was like THINNER filtered through a LOONEY TUNES sensibility. Everyone kept calling it a return to form for Raimi, a throwback to EVIL DEAD and whatever. But compared to the EVIL DEAD movies, even ARMY OF DARKNESS, it’s remarkably toothless. I know we can’t really expect more tree rape out of the guy after he did the SPIDER-MAN pictures, but I wasn’t expecting something so harmlessly silly. There’s only so many icky CG objects you can watch thrust into that poor girl’s mouth. But aside from that, I thought the writing and acting were terrible. Everything was so on the nose. And the ending was fucking atrociously hackneyed. Not that she went to hell (SPOILER), but the method of delivery itself. I think I actually yelled something at the screen when she pulled that accidental envelope switcheroo and didn’t even bother to check. Lazy, lazy, lazy writing.

  156. Holy shit, wait a second…slide 28 Days Later down to number 2 because number one is clearly Shawn of the Dead. That movie is really just about perfect.

    I agree with Gwai Lo about Drag Me to Hell. It was okay, I didn’t hate it or anything…but it wasn’t really that great either. WAY overhyped.

  157. Oh, right. SHAUN OF THE DEAD is definitely among the best. Probably slipped my mind because of the whole comedy thing…

  158. I’ve seen about 80% of the horrors to come out in the last decade and Martyrs isn’t one.

    If I had a top 10 horrors of this decade I’m looking forward to seeing Matryrs would have just joined it. Lemme make that list cos it’s the best…

    Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
    I Spit on Eli Roth
    A Serbian Film
    Piranha 3D
    Dahmer Vs. Gacy
    Big Tits Zombie
    Existence 2.0
    Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Undead
    The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2

    To call something Top 10 of the decade is partly a figure of speech of course though.

    I mean Top 10 Horrors of the Decade is the kind of list that has at least 3 versions for everyone. The ones you think should be top 10 verses the 10 you enjoyed most verses the 10 the scared you the most of otherwise fucked you up for a few days. You prolly got crossovers, but still I think that is 3 different lists for the most part for everyone. Which list is most significant? Perhaps it should not be the objective cinematographicamlogical one, but the one’s that fucked you up and intruded on your dreams. Or are one’s you rewatch 16 times the best. Like I would rather have a beer with Paul than watch Let the Right One In 16 times or even just 6 times.

    TOP 10 Horrors of the Decade: The Signal; Ju-on: The Grudge; The Ring (either); Saw; The Descent; A Tale of Two Sisters; 28 Days Later; Dawn of the Dead Remake; The Mist; Drag me to Hell; The Host; Trick R’ Treat; or you’d include Zombieand if it counted as horror or Let the Right One In cept it’s drama. The Final deserves to be here to.


    Top 10 Horrors of the deace that scared me or fucked me about for a few days: The Human Centipede; Hills Have Eyes remake; Bug; Hostel; REC 1&2; The Invasion (fucking vegetable pod people like Paul and Jones creep me out); White Noise; Dawn of the Dead; Eden Lake; The Gravedancers & Teeth fucking disgusting. And Rampage if it counts as horror.


    Top 10 Horrors of the decade that I enjoyed: Final Destination 2 (for the crash is amazing work); Resident Evil 1 & 2; Dawn of the Dead remake; Pandorum; My Name is Bruce; The Mist; Freddy vs Jason; The Happening; Wrong Turn 2: Dead End; The Hills Run Red; Feast; Cube Zero; Hard Candy mebbe fights for outside spot. And the stupid gore porn one with all the traps I wanna see again.

  159. I kind of liked Marcia Gay Harden’s performance in The Mist; I saw her as a little bit like the Mickey Rourke character in Sin City, a person born completely outside of her epoch, until now, finally, her time is here at last! (Also, I just like over-the-top horror movie shit).

    Drag Me To Hell – I was ready to like it, to proclaim “Yes, Sam Raimi is back!” but, unfortunately, it’s just not a lot of fun to watch Alison Lohman get the shit kicked out of her the way it is with Bruce Campbell.

  160. Well, Paul, if you ever feel like doing that VERTIGO write-up let us know. Personally I agree that it’s overrated, as least compared to other Hitchcock (seriously, better than NORTH BY NORTHWEST?), but it’s hard to articulate why. I think a lot of critics were overly interested in the whole “Scotty as Hitchcock” kind of angle but I’m more interested in evaluating a movie by what happens onscreen.

  161. You guys calling VERTIGO overrated — have you never been haunted by the one who got away? THe film really takes on resonance if you let “that one” slip between your fingers, particularly after a few years have passed and you realize that she was THE IT. Have you never fondled a square of velvet cloth and cried softly over your PBR at the Slow Club? (Wait, wrong movie. But same general idea. Or am I the only guy in the world who sees a connection between Frank and Scotty?)

    “I thought Martyrs was a pretty damned good movie but it’s not one I would watch over and over like I do The Mist or Drag Me To Hell”

    This question again! How many times can you watch the same movie? These films are only a couple of years old! I’ll only watch venerated favorites like J.C.’s THE THING or TCM or FREAKS or SEVEN SAMURAI once every three to five years. I’ll see just about any Lynch film if it’s playing on a big screen,* but that’s once every couple of years at most. (Still, it plays often enough that I’ve never felt the need to crack open the DVD of BLUE VELVET that I keep more for security’s sake than anything else.) Very rarely, I’ll see a film in a theater more than once during its initial run, but it’s usually something that’s either visually spectacular of a “puzzle” film — INCEPTION being the most recent example.

    But to watch a movie that just came out, over and over again? Are you in a country club prison with Netflix streaming? Are you a brain in a vat? Have you already seen every classic ever made, read every great novel, been to every country, slept with women of every nationality and sign of the zodiac? Who has the time, man!?

    *Speaking of, see some of you tomorrow, maybe. In dreams, I watch with you.

  162. I’ve consistently watched Watchmen once a month since it came out. Most people woulda spent that time sleeping, or mebbe watching TV which I never got patience for. I stopped reading more than a few books a year, it just dun feel efficiently entertaining anymore. I watched The Signal about 7 times a few months ago cos I hadda show it to friends. I usually watch one new film a night, though last night first time in ages I blew half that time reading reviews and bitch slapping Paul instead so only caught half a new film (Neighbour – horribly horrible gore porn so odds feel high that skipping the 2nd half won’t be a loss). Some people fish. Some clean. Some gamble. Some play WoW 19,873,237 hours a year. Some like Paul go to S&M clinics for the weekend. But rewatching films I’ve enjoyed is probably the most relaxing thing I find to do during work-free/kid-free down-time. I imagine that’s the reason for most people.

  163. WATCHMEN, a very adult novel, as adapted to the big screen by a child.

  164. I have a lot of films I’d like to revisit but I always find myself obligated to watch something I haven’t seen, since there is just so damn much of it. I try to keep track of the movies I see on IMDB, I’ve rated about 2700 so I’ve seen at least that many. But the last time I watched movies over and over and over again was in my teens, since then it has always seemed more important to constantly expand my horizons. I figure one day I’ll end up marrying some broad who doesn’t know shit about film and I’ll have a chance to rewatch all the great ones in my efforts to educate her.

  165. Prompted by this talkback, I think I’m gonna go on a horror binge for a while in order to play catch-up. I watched A TALE OF TWO SISTERS last night, which I hadn’t seen previously. I’m not sure if it’s just because a lot of the motifs and tricks of East Asian horror have been played out in the intervening years, but I wasn’t all that impressed. I thought it was OK, mind you, stylish and atmospheric with some decent performances. But ultimately the story left me cold and the third act twists and reveals didn’t strike me as earned, or for that matter original.

  166. speaking of horror, saw LORD OF ILLUSIONS the other night, I enjoyed it.

  167. speaking of horror, a producer I collaborate with asked me to read a script from some of his other writers and send him any notes I had. And this shit is rotten, I don’t even know where to begin. Enough with the vampires already, CHRIST. I don’t think he’ll take it personally but I’m so put off by the unoriginality on display here that I don’t think I can be constructive. Stuff like this serves as a reminder of how hard it is to get horror right. I can tell these guys haven’t even really watched anything beyond the obvious staples, otherwise they’d realize how stale this is.

  168. Gwai Lo, I’ve been working on a script about vampires, but get this: the twist is the vampires act just like people, only SEXY! It’s edgy!

  169. hahaha. Well I think you’re just joshin but sorry if you’re not. I’m sick of vampires, but I still liked LET THE RIGHT ONE IN and DAYBREAKERS. This will never be on the level of the former, and has a long way to go before it’s anywhere near the level of the latter.

  170. I am dead serious, Gwai. The vampires have sex and complain, and then a bunch of zombies show up, but get this: the zombies are a METAPHOR for something! Gritty!

  171. Zombies as a metaphor for… vampires!

  172. Sorry, broke my rule of not visiting this thread. (I’m not even gonna look up and see how “The Mist” debate turned out after I’d left it.)

    “Zombies as a metaphor for vampires”? Dammit, Gwai, I just orgasmed again. Gotta stop doing that, it gets the keyboard dirty.

    I still fucking loved Kairo though. For the record.

  173. Ooooh boy. Ok then Gwai Lo, here we go…

    THE STRANGERS – on my “to see” list.
    THE OTHERS – Haven’t really gotten onto my radar.
    HIGH TENSION – Have the DVD, waiting to watch it when I have time.
    THE RING – Was generally impressed by the original, haven’t seen the remake.
    DAWN OF THE DEAD – Was VERY impressed by the original, although it loses it at the end; haven’t seen the remake.
    THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT – Haven’t seen it, hadn’t planned to.
    HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES – Haven’t seen it, didn’t plan to.
    THE RUINS – Thought this one was an unexpected gem.
    THE HOST – Thought this one was great as well, although given its reviews that’s not so much of a surprise.
    HOSTEL 2 – Vastly inferior sequel to a vastly underrated movie IMO.
    LAND OF THE DEAD – Haven’t seen it, probably will since it’s Romero, but no plans right now.
    OPEN WATER – Thought it was excellent. This could so easily have been a disaster if it had been done badly, but the great execution of the concept makes it.
    WOLF CREEK – Disliked this one. I thought the guy playing the villain was head-slappingly bad, which ruined it for me.
    SAW – It’s got a worse rep than it deserves in my opinion. The concept is great, the execution is ok. Not going to set the world on fire but not worth burning DVDs over either.
    THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN – Never even heard of this one.
    CABIN FEVER – I thought this was just ok. It loses it towards the end.
    ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE – This one is on my “to see” list.
    BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON – I liked this one far more than most of the commentators here including Vern, I think.
    HATCHET – I agree with Vern completely on this one, it was very over-rated when it first came out. It’s always a problem when a horror movie relies completely on cliche’d characters.
    JEEPERS CREEPERS – Will see it when I get the chance.
    ORPHAN – Saw and enjoyed it. Definitely recommended for devil-child devotees.
    30 DAYS OF NIGHT – Had no plans to see it.
    HOUSE OF THE DEVIL – Have barely heard of it, it’s never been on my radar.
    THE COLLECTOR – Ditto.
    DRAG ME TO HELL – Sam Raimi on top form. Although I am on record as disliking the ending – it’s too predictable. That’s not to dis the other 99% of the film though, which is great.
    THE DEVIL’S REJECTS – It genuinely surprised me how good this one was.
    THE ORPHANAGE – I’ve not heard anything about this except the name, so I’ve never really considered watching it.
    THE SIGNAL – Sitting on top of my DVD cabinet right now, but I’ve yet to watch it.
    LET THE RIGHT ONE IN – Just superb.
    AUDITION – I’ll have to revisit it because I watched the first third of it and just couldn’t get into it. That’s not a good thing.
    28 DAYS LATER – Fantastic until Brendan Gleason dies (in the most mind-numbingly moronic way possible), at which point it quickly turns to shit. Absolutely worth watching for everything until that point though. Would have been a far, far better film if they’d have ended it at the horses IMO. Some horror films need a downer ending, this one didn’t.
    28 WEEKS LATER – Nothing about this comes close to being as good as its prequel. Shakycamtastic. I find it seriously ironic that Vern liked this one and I didn’t, because to me it epithomises everything that he states as being wrong with modern action movies.
    [REC] – I’d agree with Vern that it’s somewhat overrated, but to me it’s still pretty damn good.
    THE HILLS HAVE EYES – Haven’t seen it (either version), will watch the original at some point.
    HOSTEL – A genuine masterpiece of horror film-making. Yeah, I think it’s that good.
    THE DARK HOURS – Never seen it or heard much of it. The name is familiar but it’s never been on my radar.
    KING OF THE ANTS – Ditto. (Actually come to think of it, I’ve never heard of this one at all.)
    MAY – Ditto of “The Dark Hours”.
    SESSION 9 – Ditto.
    DAGON – Ditto.
    FRAILTY – Ditto.
    AMERICAN PSYCHO – You remember how a lot of reviewers called Hostel vacuous torture-porn? This film could’ve invented the term. Stylish, soulless, unpleasant to watch, empty.
    THE DESCENT – Gripping, edge-of-your-seat stuff.
    MARTYRS – Never heard of it.

    There ya go…

  174. A few notes re: Paul’s most recent roundup post

    HIGH TENSION – Like most people I think this movie is excellent up to the moronic twist ending. In fact without that damn ending it would be on the Best of the Oughts list.

    WOLF CREEK – I actually thought the villain was the best part of WOLF CREEK. But as I’ve indicated on this websight in the past, faulty logic often slams on the brakes for me in a movie. I can’t remember specifics of this one but a bunch of shit the victims do (plus a bunch of wacky continuity) ruined this one a bit for me, at least to the point I thought it wasn’t up to par with THE DEVIL’S REJECTS or HOSTEL, which came out at the same time and drew a lot of comparisons. Similar problems with INSIDE, which features one of the most idiotic characters in horror movie history (hint: he’s a cop)

    AUDITION – dude, you GOTTA watch more than a third of this one! This is the rope-a-dope of movies. The first third is setting you up for a huge fall. Do not read or investigate any further into this film, just watch the whole thing next time!

    KING OF THE ANTS – it’s borderline whether this is even horror, but it certainly has horrific moments in it. I’m a big Stuart Gordon fan.

    DAGON – another Stuart Gordon gem. Dodgy CGI aside, this is a great little Lovecraft adaptation. And it has one of my favorite horror movie scenes of all time in it. The protagonist has just rented a room in the skeaziest hotel you’ve ever seen from the creepiest desk clerk you’ve ever seen. Then he hears a bunch of monstrous fish people barreling up the stairs towards his room. He goes to lock the door but the lock is missing, so the guy breaks out his swiss army knife, unscrews a deadbolt from an opposing door, and screws it back into place on the main door as the monsters get closer. Of course this ends up being fairly pointless when the monsters break his door down but it’s an awesome scene.

    SESSION 9 – horror movies generally don’t scare me, but this one CREEPED ME THE FUCK OUT. Mainly because of the location. It just gets right under your skin and won’t come out.

  175. I found a review I wrote of INSIDE when it came out, here’s the chunk where I address the dumbass cop:

    “There is one character who defies logic with such panache that the only way to do the absurdity justice is to describe his entire role in the film. The character in question is a police officer, following up on Sarah’s report of a disturbance earlier in the evening. He waits in the car with a perp while two other officers go to the door. The two officers realize something is amiss (the woman they spoke to at the door is not pregnant) on the way back to the car, and return to the house to check their suspicions. Shots are fired (despite their guns these cops were ill prepared for a woman with a knitting needle.) At this point, the logical thing for the cop in the car to do would be to call for backup. Instead, this officer handcuffs himself to the petty crook from the backseat and proceeds into the house without making the backup call. Upon discovering a pregnant woman in the middle of a Fangoria spread, he spends an inordinate amount of time with his back to an open doorway, trying to make her put down a piece of broken mirror so he can bandage her hands. He at least has the common sense to arm the criminal he is shackled to, but for some reason refuses to free him. When the lights go out (as they always do in these situations) his new priority becomes finding the breaker box and turning the lights back on. Apparently he just wasn’t satisfied with his flashlight, a tool that even the killer didn’t have. He tells Sarah to go wait in the bedroom, alone, while he fixes the lights. She doesn’t object (something to the effect of “officer, I’m in labor and there is a crazy person in the house, perhaps you can take me to the hospital?” would have worked) but I’m not going to argue with the behavior of a woman in shock. The cop and the criminal proceed downstairs to the breaker box, where the cop chastises the criminal for being concerned about the murderer in the house. This guy was too stupid to live another second at this point, so you do the math. However, even major brain trauma (a point blank shot with some sort of riot gun) isn’t enough to stop this nonsensical idiot. He rises from the dead later in the film to fix the lights, and then buffets Sarah in the stomach for no reason at all. Apparently a shot to the head lobotomized the part of his brain preventing him from being a psycho killer. Or maybe the bullet had a spell on it that turns dead bodies evil while improving their aptitude for electrical work. We know this man had a cell phone throughout all of this, because he is using it when he is first introduced to us, talking to a ball-busting girlfriend. If he’s this inept in his relationship it’s not hard to see why she rags on him so hard. Horror Movie Survival 101: When dealing with serial killers, being a dumbass is not an acceptable alternative to the fight or flight response.”

  176. Gwai, I will see your review and raise you mine:

    Inside is a French horror movie, which used to be an oxymoron. Unlike Italy, Spain, and England, France never had a horror movie tradition of its own. The only old French horror movie I can think of is the highly influential Eyes Without A Face, which is probably the goriest black-and-white movie you’ll ever see. But that was a fluke, an art movie dressed up as a horror movie. So for the vast majority of its long and storied cinematic history, France was more known for its candy-colored romances and bourgeois angst than for mad slashers and frothing beasties. Quelle horreur.

    But then High Tension came out, and that opened the floodgates for a new wave of la horreur française. And let me tell you, these movies are le fucked up. I haven’t seen a lot of them, but they seem to possess a certain artful yet brutal reality that cuts right to the bone. Whereas the most disturbing thing Eli Roth can think of is to be, like, tied down and totally cut up with a power saw, dude, the French have applied their whimsical imaginations to finding fresh new ways to disturb and disgust. Their horrors are mostly physical, but with more interesting psychological and emotional underpinnings than we Americans have been able to come up with lately. I don’t know too much about what’s going on in France right now, but it seems like their society is going through a particularly violent time, what with all the race riots and whatnot. Horror movies have often proven to be a handy release valve in times of strife, allowing a society’s anxieties to be expressed through horrific imagery. But you all knew that.

    I don’t want to talk too much about this one, because most of the fun comes from wondering just how far they’re going to take this fucked up premise, which is that there’s a pretty little pregnant woman all alone in her house on Christmas Eve who gets attacked by an insane chick with a mouthful of crooked teeth who wants to take that baby out of her by any means (and with any implement) necessary.

    You wouldn’t think they’d be able to stretch this premise out to a full movie (it seems more like a Tales From the Crypt episode), but the filmmakers keep adding in new twists and turns. By new twists and turns, I mean new characters for the insane lady to murder in increasingly gruesome ways. This is not one of those movies where people get stabbed in the stomach and immediately die. People take damage in this movie. One of my favorite things a horror movie can do is to fuck up a character so bad that you would feel relieved if he died, except he doesn’t. Or at least not right away. That happens a few times in this movie. And about 20 minutes in, the pregnant lady gets this deep gash on her upper lip that looks really gross and painful, and you’re stuck looking at her like that for the rest of the movie. This isn’t some cute little cut over the left eyebrow that makes her look like an action star. This is a three-inch flesh canyon cutting right through her mouth that makes her look like Castle Freak. I’ve never seen a movie’s protagonist take this level of facial damage this early in a movie before. It’s a little thing, but completely disconcerting. It throws you off balance.

    This poor girl. The shit she goes through. Jesus. Do not watch this movie with anyone you intend to fuck ever again. At least the brutality is somewhat alleviated by the fact that it’s another woman doing these awful things to her. If it was a man, this movie would be nearly unwatchable.

    The killer herself is pretty awesome, though. Unlike most stoic slashers in the giallo tradition, she gets really emotional about this shit. She’s not just doing this for the fuck of it. She wants that baby. She needs that baby. She’s gonna have that baby. So she’ll flip the fuck out and start wailing and screaming when things don’t go her way, but then she’ll flop over to this supercool ice queen persona, and she’s actually kinda…hot. Even with her fucked up teeth, which are totally real. She’s a great character, completely believable and utterly menacing. And she smokes a hell of a cigarette.

    Anyway, that’s about all I have to say, except that the ending is as fucked up as you would hope, given the potential of this taboo premise. But it’s still a classy affair that doesn’t feel like it’s just rubbing your nose in shit, like some other extreme horror movies (Chaos, I’m looking at you). The violence really does grow out of the plot and themes of the film. Birth is a violent and bloody process, so why should a movie about it be any different?

    I don’t know what made the French finally decide to grow some balls after all these years, but as a fellow frog, I’m grateful. Now they just need to learn how to play some goddamn rock n’ roll.

  177. Alright, as long as we’re posting long-ass comments on INSIDE, here’s my blog post on it from a few years ago:


  178. Oh yes fuck the vampires bullshit, or at least hell make them interesting again outside of teenage emo melodrama and horny romantics.

    Like look at DAYBREAKERS, which was a B-action movie but well-thought (enough at least) universe where humanity becomes vampires, humans the hunted minority. See there was a point to made I guess in commentary outside of some fucked up middle America-approved abstinence allegory.

    BTW, is it me or would those TWILIGHT movies be incredibly more tolerable if the obviously gay vampire and the obviously gay werewolf just stop chasing the girl and date each other instead? Its bad when the gal has more testosterone than the dudes.

  179. You’re killin me Paul. As soon as I get comfortable with you you write another post that makes me wonder if you’re just fuckin with us. I mean how could you love horror movies and post on here as much as you do and never have even heard of MARTYRS, a movie we bring up constantly? Or how could you be surprised how good DEVIL’S REJECTS is but have no interest in seeing the movie it’s a sequel to? I was hoping for HIGH TENSION you’d say “I’m watching it right now, I’m almost to the end and loving it, I can’t imagine how they could screw this up!” and then for AUDITION you pretty much used the equivalent joke. I want to take everybody at face value but then what are the mathematical chances of all of these things being real?

    But I still believe you, and I’m not trying to be mean. The world don’t move to the beat of just one drum, the card attached would say thank you for being a friend, etc. Just try not to make me pull ALL of my hair out.

  180. I think my experience with INSIDE falls somewhere in between Mr. Majestyk’s and Mr. Prestwich’s. I had all the story complaints that Prestwich did, which were all the more tragic because I had all the appreciation for the other aspects that Majestyk did. I love that she takes that nasty facial scar early on for instance. Some more choice quotes from my review:

    “What we have here is a fairly standard killer-in-the-house movie, replete with unreasonably vicious death scenes and stock characters (the concerned boss, the stupid cops) that drop by intermittently to keep the movie from ending after twenty minutes.”

    “This isn’t so much a story as an endurance test for an audience, an exercise in cruelty. Things happen because the directors (French newcomers Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury) want to make you upset.”

    “Watching a pregnant woman in peril is like watching someone juggling eggs”

    “Sarah is overly cautious and doesn’t let the woman in, which turns out to be the right decision. This decision produces the creepiest moment of the film, as the stranger’s next move is to stand outside a sliding glass door smoking a cigarette in the dark while Sarah phones the cops and takes pictures. ”

    “She explains why she’s there at the end of the film using voiceover and flashback, and it’s a completely ridiculous explanation. No explanation at all would have been a lot more unsettling, but Inside opts for an almost-cheating-groaner-of-a-twist, laying the contrivances of the plot bare. Inside barely clocks in at eighty minutes, and even at this length the concept is stretched pretty thin. The whole killer in the house angle is fairly shopworn; the only true wild card is the pregnancy. So at the bare minimum, I expect the characters to behave in a rational manner. That doesn’t happen. Everything in the film occurs because the filmmakers have complete control, I was half expecting the killer to turn to the camera Funny Games style and insult me for being a sick bastard.”

    “It’s a shame that Inside is practically ruined by all this nonsense, because I can at least recommend it on a technical level. The film is shot very well and the gore is top notch work. If this was a Dario Argento film (and at times it feels like one) no one would care about all the plot contrivances, but for some reason the absurdity can’t be chalked up as part of the charm here.”

  181. Vern – I loved how you called THE DEVIL’S REJECTS a sequel to exactly one scene from HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, that slow motion one where the cops get dead. Precisely! The rest of the movie is kind of a(n albeit interesting) mess, but that one scene is true greatness, and Zombie definitely seemed to hone in on what worked in that two or three minutes of celluloid and expand it to feature length for the sequel.

  182. I like HOUSE, but that movie’s faults I would argue stem from that whole stupid production mess (alot of bullshit that coulda been avoided) but overall I would consider it an interesting fascinating good mess.

    DEVIL’S REJECTS is just all together a much better movie, and they didn’t make the dumb mistake of filming it like on path of a studio tour.

  183. Man, it’s so disappointing that Rob Zombie went back to making messes after THE DEVIL’S REJECTS. I mean his HALLOWEEN movies are definitely interesting messes, the second one is even one of those fascinating messes, but he really seemed to know what he was doing with THE DEVIL’S REJECTS and I doubt his BLOB remake is going in that direction.

  184. Gwai Lo – I got advice for Rob: QUIT THE FUCKING REMAKES.

    Seriously dude, you’re above that shit. Instead of remakes, just gloriously rip them off in your “originals.”

  185. Jareth Cutestory

    August 5th, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Paul: Since you liked KAIRO, I’m not going to second-guess your taste. But you have to see MARTYRS, fella. Even if you hate it. And AUDITION deserves a second chance. In my opinion, those are the two best films on your list (though if your list included SUICIDE CIRCLE it would bump off AUDITION).

    DEVIL’S BACKBONE and ORPHANAGE are good too. You could probably skip MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN.

    Majestyk: Did it kind of freak you out knowing that the actress who played the antagonist in INSIDE was also the star of BETTY BLUE all those years ago? I don’t think the filmatists were riffing on that role or anything, but something about the early, youthful exuberant performance in BETTY BLUE made INSIDE even more unsettling for me. Sort of like if one day Audrey Tautou was in a horror flick (I mean real horror, not THE DA VINCI CODE).

    Gwai Lo: The first time I saw Zombie’s first two films was as a double feature on video a couple of years ago. I’m not a huge fan of the films, but my impression was that the flaws of CORPSES weren’t as bad as I had heard, and REJECTS was nowhere near as good. In fact, I think the films played like one long movie better than most sequels tend to do. I uderstand the distinction people make between the two, and I know Zombie was shifting his genres for each film, but they still played well for me as a continuous whole.

    Except it was sad seeing Jack Tripper’s old room-mate get raped.

  186. anyone mention that the horrible Richard Kelly movie SOUTHLAND TALES kinda has a parody of END OF DAYS in it? Sarah Michelle Geller is writing a script about the Rock’s character (a Californian action star/politician) where he plays a guy named Jericho Cane

  187. Brimstone – Ah yes, the script where the hero’s bowel movements may indeed determine the fate of the world.

    Which also describes where the inspiration for that movie came from.

  188. Man, I finally just caught Southland Tales a few days ago. Such an awesome start I was so pumped to be facing a whole movie like that only to be slowly and painfully forced to turn it off a couple hours in. If only the rest of em played it serious like Stifler did it instead of hamming it up it might’ve really worked.

    I’ve seen at least 5 movies named House so I think you gotta give the date when talkin about House, but only 2 were memorable. The original house was good though sort of Burbs-like comedy as well with a young Madsen and Moseley as well, but House 3 with Brion James and Lance Henrikson is a must see horror with lots of gem moments and concepts. I especially loved it’s introduction of the concept of training yourself to take the electric chair (to be used in horrors at least 3 times since) and Brion Jame’s great execution of “all that did was give me a hard on”.

    The more recent House horror was by someone who thought he discovered a gem idea in Sixth Sense that no-one else would have seen. Still a respectably creepy film, but no gem (unless you havn’t seen Sixth Sense in which case watch House first and t should rate as clever in your horror list).

  189. Since Paul isn’t reading anymore let me just share with you all that he sent me an e-mail asking if we can be friends and he sent me a photo of himself:


  190. AU – I was refering to HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES.

    Lay off the sauce buddy, ok?

  191. – Gwai Lo

    I had to see A TALE OF TWO SISTERS twice, before falling in love with it. The twist is so insane that it pulled me out of the movie the first time. The second time I watched it, everything fit perfectly together and the movie worked as a brilliant portrait of a tortured psyche, instead of a scary ghost-story. It is (imo) the second best asian horror of the last decade (which says a lot, since Audition is one my favorite movies ever).

    SPOILER: My disc of A TALE OF TWO SISTERS have a great bonus-feature, where a psychiatrist analyses the movie and calls it the best portrayal of schizofrenia ever. He might not have seen REPULSION or LOST HIGHWAY, but I kind of agree with him. It also have a great interview, where the director asks the youngest actress if she had a good time at the set and she starts crying. Then he scolds her. Never seen that before. Well, it`s kind of funny and disturbing.

    Oh, and I`m gonna watch the premiere of THE EXPENDABLES on my birthday. And then get totally drunk, write a review that makes no sense and post it here.

  192. Vern – First of all, when has “Martyrs” been mentioned before? I must seriously have missed that, or it must have had so little context that it meant nothing to me. (eg, “Yeah, they did that vampire petunia backstroke thing, like in Martyrs” probably wouldn’t ding my bells.)

    Audition – CUT ME SOME SLACK! When I say “I couldn’t get into the first third, and that’s a problem”, I mean nothing more or less than “I couldn’t get into the first third, and that’s a problem”! I found the main guy totally unrelatable, and that made the film boring for me. I don’t know, some day I’ll revisit it when I’m in a better mind.

    Look, I’m the guy who finds “The Godfather” unwatchable, ok, and not because I think it’s a bad film. I just don’t see a single thing in it that’s the least bit relatable or real to me. Everything in it, from the accents upwards, is a barrier to me. Totally subjective opinion, not relevant to the quality of the film.

    “House of 1000 Corpses” – Ok this one bothers me also. Look, I have a finite amount of money to spend on DVDs and films. Mostly I get them in batch and secondhand from stores that keep stuff like this in them. “The Devil’s Rejects” got reviews that ranged from “Interesting-good” to “genuinely great”. Its prequel got panned. Do you think I’m so suckerable that I’ll buy a film just because it’s a sequel or prequel of one that I liked? There’s no guarantee they’ll be of the same quality.

  193. I like picturing a grown man like AU watching Watchmen over and over and over. There’s something so sad about that.

  194. Jareth Cutestory

    August 6th, 2010 at 6:59 am

    A little tear runs down his cheek when the song “Hallelujah” plays. Then he goes and punches a dingo.

    Paul: We only want you to see MARTYRS because it is awesome. Vern reviewed it a while ago. But it’s better to go into the film not knowing anything about it.

  195. dna,

    “Oh, and I`m gonna watch the premiere of THE EXPENDABLES on my birthday. And then get totally drunk, write a review that makes no sense and post it here.”

    I’m holding you to that. You must post a review of the EXPENDABLES here next weekend, you must be drunk when you do so, and it must not make any sense. For my reading pleasure.

  196. Paul: You have to see MARTYRS. I’ve kind of never seen anything like it. It somehow makes torture transcendent and ends up being more beautiful than brutal. But it’s delicate balance that doesn’t work for a lot of people.

  197. rofl Jones, well you definately came to the right site if what gets you off is picturing grown men over and over watching videos. If you picture hard enough I’m sure you can imagine Vern too watching em in his jockeys even. But there’s nothing sad about doing what makes you happy Jones, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone, so if picturing me makes you happy I’m all for it.

    Okes, so I couldn’t rent Martyr’s here so I just bought it for a crazy $33 on the assumption I’m about to watch one of the top horrors of the decade. This despite having seen well over a thousand horrors this decade and somehow miraculously having never seen this cover and never heard of this movie. Something creepy about this movie’s desire to stay hidden. I feel like I’m about to watch something by Sutter Cane…

  198. Majestyk,

    I enjoyed MARTYRS quite a bit, but I can’t say I found the torture to be either transcendent or beautiful. I know that the (without getting into spoilers here) the villains of the film might see it that way, but I thought all that made it even MORE disturbing.

  199. Obviously, I am not advocating the actions of the villains, nor am I agreeing with them. But the movie managed to have a similar effect on me that their methods were intended to have on their victims. That’s good filmmaking.

  200. Jareth — actually, Audrey Tatou has done a kind of creepy film, 2002’s HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOT. If you haven’t seen it, its well worth a look (terrible title and horrible box art notwithstanding)– pretty unique and definitely not what you’re expecting from Amelie. The cover makes it look like a cutesy romantic comedy — it ain’t.

  201. Jareth Cutestory

    August 6th, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Thanks for the tip, Mr. Subtlety. I shouldn’t be surprised that Ms. Tautou would want to demonstrate that she has more range than her most famous role. DIRTY PRETTY THINGS and BABY BLUES seemed like steps in that direction. There’s something vulnerable about her face that could lend itself very well to a creepy film.

    A friend wrote a joke script treatment for a sequel to COCO AVANT CHANEL that plays pretty much like SCARFACE in French. Lots of dope, lesbians and machine gun violence.

  202. Audrey Tatou is le hot. That’s all I have to say about that.

  203. More le adorable than le hot. In fact thinking of her in a sexual way is kind of weird, like trying to sexualize a rainbow or a daffodil or a kitten or something.

  204. Jareth Cutestory

    August 6th, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Not to mention, Tautou is related to Christ by blood. So sexy thoughts about her are just wrong.

  205. Dan: Apparently you’ve never seen any of her nude scenes.

  206. I saw DIRTY PRETTY THINGS, where she’s sexually assaulted by her boss. It was like watching someone rape Bambi or something.

  207. Man, am I late to the French party here. Let me just say I loved Martyrs. I enjoyed Inside. Le Professionnel is amazing. I did not like Amelie. Audrey Tatou is indeed hot. I like croissants.

    May I take this opportunity to plead with you all to never watch Serbian Film. One of the only movies I’ve ever seen that bummed me out to the extent that eating a bullet would be preferred over ever watching it again.

  208. Oh Stuntcock. Don’t you know that’s just gonna make us want to watch it more?

  209. Jareth Cutestory

    August 6th, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Majestyk: DIRTY PRETTY THINGS has Chiwetel Ejiofor in the lead, and it was directed by Stephen Frears. Those are two other reasons to see the film. It’s a bit pedestrian, but not bad.

  210. Fucking MARTYRS you fucking cunts. Fucking $33 goddamit. Movie of the decade you cunt Vern. Fuck you Majestyk. And FUCK YOU Jareth too.

    Man, that wasn’t even a fucking horror movie you idiots so how can it be the horror movie of the decade. How could fucking reccomend this movie the way you all did?!??!?

    For one, it’s a fucking ARTHOUSE film you fucking faggots. Recommending this as a horror is like recommending Existenz to Matrix fans. Certainly as pretentious Existenz though, and as irritating as Funny Games, as inevitably disappointing as Contact, and as stupidly smug as Donnie Darko. At the end of the day, no cleverer than Hellraiser and not as different to Hostel as it genuinely and embarrassingly thinks it is.

    These fucking french faggots – fuck me – you know who capture what’s going on here – Matt and Trey in the South Park movie, the serious dark and brooding little french fucker the Mole “Careful? Was my mother careful when she stabbed me in the heart with a clothes hanger while I was still in the womb?”. That’s who made this movie. That accurately tedious little caricature cunt character from South Park.

    I certainly got a growing sadness as it went on knowing the smug director was holding no more cards than fucking retard Kelly ever does and how it had to end. Thinks it’s not Hostel because it’s emotionally engaging with the characters but you don’t want to be engaged of course any more than you wanna be engaged with the cops that Arnie mows down in the Terminator. Fuck me. Would you say CONGRATULATIONS to fucking James Cameron if we empathised with the cops family’s and grasped the horrific loss and impact of that loss when a whole PD is murdered?

    Would a version that does that still be an Action – a suddenly new transcendent piece of action cinema that made you question your role and love of action movies?

    Or would it be yet another tedious fucking arthouse trawl. Man, I keep getting stung by these fucking reccomendations. I should have known better. This community is, without a shadow of a doubt, the fucking most artsy faggotty bunch of girl scouts in movie fandom – disguised as action fans – badass ones no less ROFL. The irony in this recommendation would be hysterical if it hadn’t cast such a blight on my collection. 33 bucks you fuckers.

    The shooting scene was well done and the only intriguing moment in the movie. The girl you are emotionally duped into empathising with helping the prisoner, but then the girl leaving her and falling asleep was sloppy and stupid. The character was together enough and in the situation and frame of mind to call an ambulance/and or police. It was a dumb part of the setup.

    The FUBAR cult is stupid too because the logic implodes. Not many cults in the world engage in torture like this – Aum Shinrikyo was one of the few but like every other cult in the real world they had a charismatic leader who was directly privelaged from a higher power. This FUBAR Martyrdom cult doesn’t have that – which is because they weren’t well thought out but instead based on the Hostel ‘cult’ which unfortunately for our great Mole director, wasn’t actually a cult but a fun and silly group of exclusive consumers. Mole’s ‘cult’ is even more lose-lose than Heaven’s Gate since if they find something, they’re methods are certain to exclude them from any meaningful access to it, and if they find nothing, they’ve been mercilessly evil for nothing and no end. Even Heaven’s Gate ending – as penisless as this community, had a potential win in that if they were right, their energy would be on the alien spaceship and they’d live happily ever after – penisless of course, and sponsored by Nike, but happy.

    There’s something seriously wrong with this type of filmmaking, but killing someone to demonstrate killing is ugly is disingenuous to say the least, and says even more to me about mr Mole than his gender bias in his victimisation in martyrdom.

    Fucking faggots.

  211. AU, please don’t mince words, tell us what you really think.

  212. AU, seriously, how often do you think about men fucking each other? 30, 40, 50 times a day? I only mention this because you seem to talk about it a lot. I love chicks, but I don’t talk about them half as much as you talk about gay dudes. I know you’re all man and all, but methinks the lady doth protest too much.

  213. Man, who didn’t see that one coming? It’s been like a ticking time bomb on here ever since he mentioned he spent $33 on it.

  214. It looks that way cos I do it here all the time but that’s cos you guys are all raging faggots. Scan my posts on say Civ4 forum or NWN, unless I was telling about you guys I wouldnt have mentioned it once in 6 years. And I best go cos I feel a similiar rant building up as I look at this cover glaring at me with it’s bright yellow $33 sticked taunting me. Another few minutes of this and I’ll be having visions myself…

  215. Wait, how much did you spend on it? I feel like I’m unclear on that fact and would like you to refresh my memory.

  216. I don’t know why you put up with us, AU. You’re Rudy, we’re the rest of the Monster Squad.

  217. AU knew we were gay the moment he tasted our dicks.

  218. Apologies Dan,

    that’s $33 Australian
    $30.32 US
    $31.17 Canadian
    31.47 Switz Francs
    205.280 Chinese
    170 Kroner
    $22.81 Euro
    18.99 British pounds
    $235.42 Hong Kong
    1,397.04 India Rupees
    2,590.83 Yen
    $219.19 African

  219. Okay. I think I have a better grasp on exactly how apoplectic you are now. Thank you.

  220. Dude, sell that shit to Japan. You’ll be rich!

  221. Watched two horror movies last night, EDEN LAKE and DONKEY PUNCH. Both British, as it turns out.

    EDEN LAKE was the better of the two. Premise: guy (the awesome Michael Fassbender) and his girlfriend (too lazy to check IMDB) go for a nice relaxing weekend at Eden Lake, where they’re thinking of buying property. Their romantic weekend is interrupted by loud obnoxious teens. Guy asks teens to keep it down. Escalation ensues. The movie maintains a pretty realistic tone throughout, and the characters are empathetic and likable. The ending is pretty dark, (SPOILER) kinda like a reverse riff on THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT.

    DONKEY PUNCH kinda sucked. Premise: some guys and girls head out to the high seas in a yacht, smoke crack and have sex. One of the idiot guys punches one of the girls in the back of the head while he’s fucking her doggystyle. She’s killed instantly. The rest of the movie involves everyone arguing over how to handle the situation and then turning on each other with various weapons. It’s as boring as it sounds. I was surprised to find that one of the girls in the movie is Ray Winstone’s daughter. She is much more attractive than Mr. Winstone and she gets naked. But I find it weird to imagine Ray Winstone watching this in the theater, or visiting the set. If I was the guy having fake movie sex with her I’d be concerned about dear old Dad pistol whipping me or something.

  222. The last horror movie I saw was Picnic at Hanging Rock. Picnic at Hanging Rock is creepy as fuck. Makes me never want to go anywhere near Australia. No offense to the guy who keeps calling everybody cunts, he really sells me on the place.

  223. I liked Eden Lake a lot. Those closed communities creep me out, I’d like to see more movies use em (Stan Helsing is prolly most recent…).

    Donkey Punch had to be made sooner or later. I’d like to see the sequel – Bismark prolly being my most hopeful, although Strawberry Shortcake will substitute well enough.

  224. Man, I live like an hour from hanging rock. Come and kill two birds with one stone.


  226. I had mixed feelings on EDEN LAKE. I think for me the film’s deadly serious/disturbing tone clashed with some of the more ridiculous plot developments and crass, over the top, rub your face in it type violence. The lead actors were probably the best thing about it, though.

    And it’s nice to see someone acknowledge PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK as a horror movie. It seems like it has a reputation for being, like, a drama or something, but its definitely creepy and atmospheric as all fuck.


  228. I thought PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK was one of those artsy-fartsy faggot cunt movies for people who like to lick the genitals of members of their own sex and discuss films in a critical fashion and other homosexual-type activities.

  229. Jareth Cutestory

    August 6th, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    It’s kind of weird to think that MARTYRS, a film that not many mainstream audiences would tolerate, and that
    even some of us hardened bastards found a bit disquieting, is too artsy for our pal, AU. Buddy, I’m sorry for misleading you. You’re obviously way more hardcore than the rest of us. You’re like John “Casey Donovan” Culver to our collective Ron Jeremy. Keep leading the way, AU.

  230. Not to fan the flames too much here or anything, but I’m not even sure why AU thinks “horror” and “arthouse” are mutually exclusive genres.

  231. Dan – what in EDEN LAKE stuck out to you as ridiculous plot developments? I thought it kept a pretty even keel in that regard, the only exception being when they SPOILER burned that Indian kid to death.

  232. “Recommending this as a horror is like recommending Existenz to Matrix fans.”

    And AU and I are back on terms again. Who’d have thought it would be the shared hatred of a bad film that put us that way?

  233. Don’t kid yourself, Paul. AU still thinks you’re a cunt. I tried extending the olive branch a long time ago and it had zero effect. Compromise is weakness, which just enrages him further. What you need to do, puff up your chest so as it appear larger and rush him while yelling loudly and waving your arms. Establishing dominance is key when dealing with gorillas and/or Australian sex cult leaders like AU.

  234. Olive branches are for Greeks. And we all know how they align themselves sexually.

  235. Jeez AU, do you suck your children’s cocks with that mouth? You’re a dirty man, clean up your act.

  236. Ok, I am officially declaring this the Ain’t It Cool News Talkback Zone. Just because one person has lowered the tone, does that mean we all have to stoop to his / her / its level?


  237. We’ll all remember this day as the day Jones got us flagged by the FBI child sex crimes division. Thanks, bud.

  238. I agree that was harsh. I should have said “private parts.”

  239. you know for once you can’t pin this shit on me.

  240. Gwai,

    Well, without going into too much detail, I thought the violence escalated a little too quickly, and that the lead villain kid was able to bully his friends into murder a little too easily. And then, in the last act, the movie essentially pulls the same twist three times in a row (she thinks she escapes, but then the person who helps her turns out to be connected to the kids!) I saw too many gears turning in the plot, contrivances to keep them in danger, and as a result the extreme violence didn’t really feel earned.

    I respect that the film was trying to take itself seriously, I thought the acting was strong, it looked nice and had some solid technical credentials, and I even kinda loved the first 30 minutes or so. I can see why someone else would really dig it. But it increasingly felt to me like there was a disconnect between 1) the grimness of tone and 2) the labored machinations of the plot and the deliberately provocative violence.

  241. Hey, have you guys noticed that this seemingly low-profile board is approaching INCEPTION levels, thanks in no small part to the controversial but crowd-pleasing antics of the noted provocateur and gay rights activist AU?

  242. My problem with this board is that by the time I read something everything’s pretty much been discussed, so there’s nothing to add. Here, there was!

  243. Paul – okay bud, I take your word for it. We’re all obsessed with movies here so we try to watch them whatever way we can, just like Richard Pryor crawling around on the carpet looking for rock crumbs. So it seemed weird to me that you loved part 2 but wouldn’t consider throwing down a couple bucks to rent part 1. But you’re right, now that you say you can’t watch The Godfather because it’s hard for you to relate to their accents I realize that there’s no sense in trying to comprehend it. It just is.

    (are you able to watch samurai movies?)

    As for AUDITION, wasn’t trying to give you guff on that, I don’t even think the movie is that great, but if you had heard anything about it before you would know that there’s a major change that happens probly at the very next frame after you turned it off. So it’s like if somebody said “I don’t know why From Dusk Till Dawn was even in the horror section. It’s just about bank robbers so I turned it off half way through when they were at the bar” you would assume they were joking.

  244. Jareth Cutestory

    August 6th, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    Vern: If I’ve learned anything from your reluctance to throw down a few bucks to rent THE WIRE, it’s that sometimes a man just has to go at his own speed of digestion. One day Paul will get THE GODFATHER. One day AU will find whatever snuff movie he’s been looking for. One day you’ll watch THE WIRE. Like Diana Ross said, you can’t hurry love.

    Also, you have to watch KAIRO.

  245. To Dan Preswitch- Yeah, it took me a while to really classify that movie. And it stretches the definition of ‘horror’ beyond what 90% of audiences would consider the genre to consist of. But I can’t think of another movie that filled me with such a collosal sense of existential unease and creeped me out to the same degree that that movie did.

    I was pumped when I re-read Danse Macabre recently and saw that King had listed PICNIC as a highly recommended horror movies. I was like “Fuck Yeah! I knew I was on to something!”

  246. No offense but in this age of the Internet, not finding a snuff film is rather….well, pretty incompetent? I mean its like paying for porn, you’re doing something wrong.

  247. Vern – I can’t watch ANY “mafia” film, period. I just don’t “get” them. Hell, I couldn’t get through “Goodfellas” for that very reason. You name a mafia movie, good or bad, and I’ve probably either not been able to watch it or just avoided it. It’s a subjective thing, nothing to do with the quality of the film.

    But please don’t mis-quote my own argument against me. I never once said it was ALL about the accents, I was using that purely as an example of something that just didn’t click.

    “Audition” – is it that offensive to you that I started watching a film, didn’t like the first part, and didn’t bother to finish it at the time? Sheesh… And just for the record, this was a couple of years ago, and no, I didn’t know about the second-act twist. I just knew that it was a film a lot of people recommended watching. I deliberately avoid spoilers about films I plan on seeing.

    And “House of 1000 Corpses” was panned. Pretty much everyone including yourself said it was at the very least badly executed. A lot of people hated it. I LIKED the characters in the sequel. I don’t want to spoil that by watching an inferior film with those same characters in it.

    To use an example totally out of left-field: American Pie 2 was a fucking horrible remake of American Pie 1 where all the characters had been replaced by hollow shells of themselves played by the same actors, the jokes weren’t funny, the plot was pretty much identical, the resolutions between the characters were identical, and everything about it screamed “cash cow”. The biggest difference was that everyone in “American Pie” spent the movie discovering they weren’t cliches, and everyone in American Pie 2 spent their time proving that they were.

    I hated that movie, but more than that, it kinda spoilt the first film for me. (Not that I’m saying “American Pie” was a timeless classic, but aside from the scenes involving Chris Klein and Mena Suvari, it was a fun movie that did what it did very well.)

    Now the thing about “American Pie 2” was that a few rather silly reviewers in film magazines had said “Well if you liked the original, you’ll like this, it’s more of the same.” If I’d have known how bad it was going to be, I wouldn’t have watched it. So why on earth would I want to watch “House of 1000 Corpses”, a film ALSO starring actors playing characters from a movie that pretty much everyone agrees is far better and that I very much liked?

    Or to put it another way – when enough people tell me to avoid a film, and especially if I’ve already got emotional investment in the characters from a prequel / sequel, I’ll avoid it.


  249. Paul totally reminds me of the Cosmic Cube from ATHF.

    Brendan – Hey don’t go slanting me. For the record, its goats.

  250. RRA… In… what… way… exactly? *Glares…*

  251. Snuff films? It took me three watches to get through 9mm. When I said “there’s something seriously wrong with this type of filmmaking” about MARTYRS, I meant cos it’s bad for humanity. I had to turn Hostel off too, it took me almost a year to work back the effort. Even Hills Have Eyes remake had me in shock. It took a month to build my stamina back enough to take it on.

    Hell, I had to turn off the 9 minutes of Pirahna 3d that’s floating about. It made me genuinely sad that so many human beings are going to be exposed to it. I’m still not sure if I can take it in the cinema, trying to work up to it as I’m definately looking forward to it. A clash of my deep love of cinema and desire to see everything ever filmed against not enjoying true brutality as a sport.

    One of my day jobs is as a trauma counsellor and there are countless people who have suffered way worse experiences than any movie to date, incomparable even to the horror witnessed in MARTYRS. If you had a choice between many people’s real lives and experiencing the depravation of MATRYRS you would choose martyrdom in a second. Mere weeks of pain, intense though it may be, that is only your own suffering, is comparitively no choice at all. I’m not certain movies are a medium that could capture the real kinds of suffering that are possible, that many people experience. On a suffering scale of 1 to 10 I’d say movies have managed to hit about 5, or perhaps even a 6 in recent times if in addition to being physically disturbing, A Serbian Movie will prove as pyschologically haunting as I imagine it will be. I don’t think movies can climb higher. Books certainly can and I’m sure would have gone higher, but I never encountered one.

    I have a friend into snuff, downloading everything from the Sadam video and whatever is on Rotten to whatever trashe he scavenges from anonymous linux surfing backdoors, and many conversations later I still don’t genuinely understand the attraction at all.

    And Maj, I keep coming back here partly cos when he’s trying, Vern’s got a sharper eye and wit than me, and partly because – despite the rampant homosexuality and the fact that you mostly are not action fans but tryhard high brow lillies, there’s a larger than average bunch of almost moderately intelligent posters mixed in with the dullards, tards and morlocks. With the obvious exceptions of Paul and Jones of course. Though I did get a laugh from Jones ranting against AICN talkbacks only to post hands down the worst line on this whole board, and probably the whole site.

  252. Continued my horror movie catch-up last night with two more films.

    BELOW was aiiiite. It’s a haunted submarine picture, which I guess makes it slightly different than other haunted boat pictures like DEATH SHIP, GHOST SHIP, and VIRUS. I’m sure there’s more of these movies but those are the ones that popped into my head while watching it. It’s a pretty run of the mill haunted “house” movie, it also kinda reminded me of EVENT HORIZON. Apparently it was written by Darren Aronofsky but I didn’t detect any Aronofskyisms. It was directed by David Twohy in between PITCH BLACK and the CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK… maybe it was the one that drove him mad? The cast was probably the saving grace, filled with solid characters actors like Bruce Greenwood, Nick Chinlund, Jason Flemyng and, strangely enough, Zach Galifianakis. I thought it was nice and atmospheric for the first half, but then it started to lose its grip when it shifted into “kill everybody then explain” mode.

    FRONTIER(S) was more proof that the French are angry about something these days. Jareth is right – this is a total rip of THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE. Only the victims are young Muslim protesters and the killers are old inbred Nazis. Given that premise you’d expect a lot of interesting subtext, but there was almost none. It’s weird, a film like THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE drips subtext from every frame without even trying. Books have been written on all the stuff going on in that movie. I can’t see similar books being written on FRONTIER(S), which uses the setup of a culture clash but then basically just lays everything out at face value. It’s an interesting idea to make the victims these young Muslim punks, fleeing from the police after participating in a riot. But wouldn’t it be more pertinent to make the killers some old upper crust/bourgeoisie French in that case? Or neo-Nazis even, people who have taken up the dream of the “master race” in the face of all this racial tension? Instead these people are literal Nazis, led by a Nazi who was in WW2. They’re just hiding in a border town close to Germany. Does that really get at deep-seated fears in French society? I mean the French are often accused of being just as racist/anti-semitic (if not more so) as the Germans, especially these days, so doesn’t it seem like the setup defuses this opportunity? Why make the antagonists these archaic old Nazi fossils? At least make the victims Jews if you’re gonna do that. I mean I suppose they stand for white people in general, but I think it defuses an opportunity for a lot of subtext that would have more to do with French society. Anyway, aside from all these lamentations of what could have been, it was a slick product I guess. But I’m finding this type of movie a little too rote these days, I was interested during the first act but once the movie shifted into gorefest mode I got bored, waiting for it to check the mandatory beats off the checklist. There are some sick deaths in it though, it’s as savage as HAUTE TENSION and not too far off from some of the stuff in MARTYRS I guess.

  253. I dunno, but I apparently enjoyed BELOW more than you did. It was a well-fucked whore of a formula given a new wig, pair of silicone tits, and fucked freshly again. But yeah Darren A. was supposed to direct at one point but he just didn’t get around to it.

  254. The August Underground movies are the closest you’ll ever get to a real snuff film. There isn’t even any real narrative to speak of. It’s shot on video, usually in one long take, and you just watch as these douchebags torture and eventually kill people.

    Obviously if you’re looking for a story you should look elsewhere as these movies don’t really have one (Although the third one has a kind of Mickey and Mallory type thing going on) but the in-camera-long-shot gore effects are outstanding. Couple that with the “victims” reactions such as crying, pissing their pants, laying completely sill after they’ve been “murdered” for minutes (they don’t even appear to be breathing nor do they flinch when they get hit after the fact.)

    I knew going in that this was fake but even then I had to turn away because it felt and looked so authentic. I can’t remember which one it was but one of them had this guy tied up screaming and being tortured until finally one of the guys gave him a columbian neck-tie right there, in one shot, in camera. Short of “actually” doing it to that guy, I have no idea how they pulled that off. It wasn’t CGI and if it was a dummy then that dummy was VERY convincing as it was struggling and crying and screaming and reacting all throughout that segment.

    Again. Storywise this movie sucks. Special effects and acting wise, these movies are amazing.

  255. AU, you can impugn my manliness all you want (frankly, I’m not all that attached to it) but you cannot impugn my status as a true action fan. Do you have a vintage DIE HARD 2 poster on your wall? Did you buy a converter so you could transfer the most obscure VHS-only action gems of the eighties onto DVD so that they might be preserved for future generations? Do you have three separate Jet Li sections in your home video collection? Did you name your first cat Riggs? Do you go into the porn store every week looking for new Thai imports? Did you risk your reputation defending Bad Boys II? Did you see Tango & Cash in the theater three times? Did you buy the Commando director’s cut the day it came out so you could see those precious extra seconds of the toolshed scene that you’d been hearing about for years? Did you name yourself after a fucking Charles Bronson movie?

    Sir, if I am not an action fan, I beg you, tell me who is. What qualifications must he have? Must he give any movie a pass as long as it features one (1) explosion? Or can he appreciate the genre for its mindless pleasures while still holding it up to some critical standard?

  256. I didn’t think BELOW was bad, I just think it’s probably the type of movie that will pass harmlessly out of my head within 48 hours, its vestigial remains lumped into the conglomerate of DEATH SHIP, GHOST SHIP and VIRUS that currently occupies 0.00000018% of my conscious thoughts.

  257. hamslime – I got no interest in that type of stuff. Story is always the main thing for me, even when it’s threadbare there has to be SOME narrative for me to be interested. Those movies where it’s just people being killed for the camera actually do legitimately deserve to be called “torture porn”. I have watched a handful of noteworthy pornos-with-plot (the best one I’ve seen is CAFE FLESH) but if I’m just jerking off I don’t want to see any story. These August Underground type “horror” films seem like they’re designed around the same principle, but I completely fail to understand the appeal, as I don’t think fans jack off to that stuff. At least I hope they don’t.

  258. Never watched Below. Always wanted to. But isn’t this movie (or more specific: its audio commentary) the reason we get a disclaimer about opinions in interviews and audio commentaries on every DVD these days? I remember reading something about it years ago, but can’t really remember.

  259. Jareth Cutestory

    August 7th, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Gwai Lo: I consider FRONTIER(S) a real missed opportunity. I like the political framework around the movie, but agree with you that introducing actual Nazis into the plot was a mistake. There’s so much neat stuff they could have done to explicate the unease between the dominant culture and the Muslim youth without resorting to caricature.

    A pal of mine tried to argue that the film deliberately evokes TEXAS CHAINSAW, but by putting the grotesque family out in the open, the film is trying to show how the ascendance of the right wing party in France has turned the middle class into acceptable authoritarian monsters. I don’t buy it, but even if that was the intention of the filmatists, I can think of a dozen ways they could have done it better.

    In addition to TEXAS CHAINSAW, it also has a dash of THE HILLS HAVE EYES in it, at least as far as the little girl is concerned.

    Thought less ambitious, I like ILS (THEM) a lot more. But THE STRANGERS rips off so much from ILS that it’s kind of a drag if you see the far superior ILS second; STRANGERS steals the thunder from that movie, but not the killer ending.

  260. Jareth Cutestory

    August 7th, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Majestyk: You’ve got to tell me how you’ve broken down Jet Li’s films into groups. So far, the best I can come up with is:

    – Awesome
    – Fucking awesome
    – Would have been awesome if Dimension hadn’t fucked up the soundtrack.

  261. It breaks down like this:

    1. Vintage HK work
    2. The Joel Silver Years
    3. Latter-day prestige kung fu

  262. Hmm, yeah, I’m not sure I agree with your friend either. I think (s)he is projecting a bit, because I was looking for that type of subtext and found that the film wasn’t willing to meet me halfway. The German family, as self-reliant low income rural types, didn’t seem all that representative of the middle class. And Nazism/National Socialism no more represents the majority of right-wing politics than Stalin-style Communism represents the majority of left-wing politics. Like I said earlier, if the film had fashioned its killers after relatively normal right-wing bourgeoisie French citizens, kidnapping and torturing these lower-class Muslim youth, then all of the subtext would have written itself. But Nazis? Like, bonafide German Heil-Hitler style Nazis? That hardly seems like an accurate or fair metaphor for whatever led to the rise of the right wing party in France. And so it reduces the potency of the metaphor/subtext.

    I haven’t seen ILS but I’m gonna watch it soon. Unfortunately I have seen THE STRANGERS, but we’ll see how it goes.

  263. Jareth Cutestory

    August 7th, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    You are a scholar and a gentleman. Let’s hope there is never a fourth section:

    4. Lame comedy vehicles with Chris Tucker.

    Did you see WARLORDS, the recent entry into category 3.? Not the best by any stretch, but an exceptional cast giving good performances. Part way through the film I thought to myself, “all those guys who thought HERO was too pretty might prefer this.”

  264. Gwai Lo – You can rest easy, I don’t jerk off to it. In fact, the only reason to recommend it would be to marvel at the effects in this “movie”. I’m pretty jaded as I’m sure most of you are to effects both CGI and practical. We’ve seen enough movies to see the seams and imperfections that go under most people’s noses. The August Underground guys though do some truly remarkable things as far as gore effects go.

    Everyone is always giving out handies to KNB, Savini, Bottin, Winston etc. (As they should, those guys are great) but The AU guys go unnoticed which is a shame because they really have talent in the effects department.

    Think of August Underground not so much as a movie but a really impressive demo reel for gore effects. That’s my interest in it anyway.

  265. Jareth Cutestory

    August 7th, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Gwai Lo: And for a bunch of Nazis, they were kind of eager to gloss over the whole “impure” aspect of the girl they captured. They talked a lot about purity in their bloodline, but in truth I think they were just trying to get the son who was a cop laid. Maybe he had been harassing the livestock or something, and Nazi dad decided it was time to get him hitched.

  266. Gwai Lo – BELOW surely is leagues better than those other movies. For that matter, I still don’t get how the hell VIRUS, purely a sci-fi channel movie of the week screenplay, got a big ass budget.

  267. Jareth – good point, that definitely crossed my mind while watching it. Couldn’t they just wait for some whities, or maybe abduct a white girl from somewhere? Nah, apparently if you give her a pixie cut that’s good enough.

    RRA – Yeah, I’d probably rank BELOW higher than those other movies. But does it have a poster as awesome as DEATH SHIP? Methinks not:


  268. Oops, hamslime, didn’t see that re: there from you.

    Sorry if I implied that you were jerking off to this stuff, I was just making a general observation. The only reason I’ve seen any of this August Underground (hmmm.. AU… coincidence?) stuff is because of a hardcore cinephile/exploitation fiend friend of mine, who got a bit too giddy showing me clips of it, which were spliced with real extreme hardcore porn in an underground mixtape type of format. Which is really just not my bag. Although I love horror and can readily appreciate the more extreme niches of the genre more than others, I think I draw an arbitrary line somewhere just short of MURDER SET PIECES and those GUINEA PIG movies and whatever that seem to exist purely for gorehounds to get their jollies. I like MARTYRS and THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE and stuff that make my Mom consider her job as a parent a failure because of the extreme lengths to which they push their narratives, visual gore and violence aside. I have no interest in real snuff, in fact I watched that Nick Berg decapitation video on the internet back when it happened and swore that type of stuff off for good. So by extension I have very little interest in something that tries to simulate real snuff. I’m always looking for a good story, and the technical aspects are decidedly secondary for me. I got from your original post that you’re impressed by the effects and the performances, which makes sense. It would certainly make sense for anyone in the industry, specifically someone involved in the production of horror movies, to keep an eye out for talent in these “demo reels”. But personally, yeah, not my thing.

  269. “Don’t kid yourself, Paul. AU still thinks you’re a cunt. I tried extending the olive branch a long time ago and it had zero effect. Compromise is weakness, which just enrages him further. What you need to do, puff up your chest so as it appear larger and rush him while yelling loudly and waving your arms. Establishing dominance is key when dealing with gorillas and/or Australian sex cult leaders like AU.”

    This has win written all over it. I tip my hat to you Mr. M.

  270. Dieselboy – I have to agree with you.

    Incidentally AU is a trauma counsellor? Suddenly a lot of stuff about his “world view” makes sense now.

  271. Gwai Lo – No worries. I figured the jerking off comment was to be taken as a joke.

    I think the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a snuff film was something called Banned From T.V. which was a Faces of Death type thing which was stunts gone wrong or accidental deaths caught on tape and quite frankly I have no interest in seeing that kind of thing again. Those are real people who died and I just can’t stomach that. At least when the AU “movies” are over (and I wipe the semen off my belly *wink*) I can rest easy knowing it was all fake.

    I do understand why you or anyone else for that matter would avoid it though. I just brought it up because someone mentioned snuff films and naturally the August Underground movies are the first thing that I think of when snuff is brought to the table.

  272. Hostel – Not a fan of brutal, realistic torture porn-type horror – the subject matter puts me off, and, at a certain point, I think it’s repetitive and boring – but…I enjoyed Hostel; because it struck me as being closer to EC comics than torture porn (and the story pretty much follows the Tales from the Crypt formula where bad people experience a kind of karmic payback by meeting someone or something worse than they ever thought possible). Even the gore effects, to me, were more theatrical than realistic, a kind of winking acknowledgment that the horrible shit you’re watching is only a movie.

    And, I think it has something pertinent to say about where the world seems to be at right now and expresses it well…

  273. Well, to paraphrase my new best friend on this forum: if you don’t see what a work of genius “Hostel” really is, you must be a basement-dwelling sub-moronic spank fetishist.

    In all seriousness though… I can see why people don’t like it. It sure as heck isn’t for everybody. As Vern accurately put it, the protagonists are “ugly Americans”. It’s not an easy film to watch, and it’s certainly not a conventional one. BUT…

    …There’s a scene in “Hostel” where the protagonist has just escaped from a gory death-room. He’s about to get out of the building. He’s pretty much destroyed, emotionally and physically. He’s seen his best friend killed. He’s been cut down, physically and psychologically. At one point he’s barely able to stand. And then, just as he’s about to get out, he runs into another guy – a customer, someone who’s paying to kill someone just like him.

    And for a couple of minutes they talk, the protagonist trying desperately not to give himself away; and at the end of it, the customer asks him for his advice. Should he kill his victim slowly, or quickly? And the protagonist does the only thing he can do at that moment – says “do it quick”. It’s a rare and totally unexpected moment of pure compassion from a guy who, a few days ago in film time, was ragging on his best friend for having a “fanny pack”. It’s riveting.

    What really annoyed me about a lot of the reviews of “Hostel” that came out was that they didn’t seem to take into account the quality of the film. They called it torture porn, or just porn, degrading, exploitative. Any of these things might be true. But look at the scene I’ve mentioned above, or the one where the protagonist goes back through his day the second time and realises that everything’s staged for his benefit, or the suicide towards the end of the film, or any one of a dozen other scenes. That’s excellent film-making, by any standards.

    In other words, I’ve still yet to watch Seagal vs Vampires. But hey, I need to get the Seagalology thing out of my system, so maybe this can be my penance or something.

  274. HOSTEL, or Eli Roth wanting to be the contemporary bigger budget Jesus Franco.


  275. That was good defense of Hostel, Paul. Actually kinda makes me want to watch it again.

  276. I think the political message of Frontier(e)(s) might be “we’re so awesome, not even our Nazis are racist anymore!”

  277. Hmmmm…I haven’t seen many Franco films; but of the one’s I’ve seen, I’d have to say Eli Roth is the superior director. When I watched Hostel I thought more of early 1980’s John Landis movies; I view the whole thing as, basically, a very dark social comedy.

  278. W.S. – That’s not exactly saying much buddy.

    As for the Landis comparison, did Roth get a cast member decapitated lately?

  279. Jareth Cutestory

    August 8th, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    Paul: DId you also like HOSTEL 2? I preferred the second one just slightly over the first. And I agree with you about the craftsmanship of those films. Compared to the gaudy, spastic SAW films (which I still think are great comedy), the HOSTEL films are almost stately and dignified.

    Refresh my memory: was the guy that you mentioned in your post, the guy that the first film’s protagonist has a conversation with, Takashi Miike? Or did Miike appear earlier in the film?

  280. I think Hostel 2 is much better than the first. As is Cabin Fever. Miike just has a small moment where he says, “You, spend all your money in there”. I’m curious to see what Roth does next. He has a ton of promise and without the frat boy characters his movies can breathe a bit more.

  281. Jareth – I did see it, and I have to say I’m not a huge fan. I did like that they showed part of it from the perspective of two of the people paying for the service, and I particularly liked the twist regarding those two (that was probably the best part of the movie). But in other respects I had the exact opposite reaction to Andy C – specifically involving the “victims”.

    I didn’t like the protagonists (you have the usual combination of the flirt, the nerd, and the final girl, thereby making it ridiculously obvious who’s going to die and in what order from the start) and I felt as though they were the same combination of characters that I’ve seen in a hundred different horror movies, most of which are far inferior to the original “Hostel”. Yes, the frat boy characters are unlikeable, but I felt as though the whole point of the first film was that they – or at least the main guy – got to be tested, put through the fire, and in the process regain the humanity that they didn’t seem to have much of in the beginning. I think a large part of whether you can enjoy “Hostel” or not depends on whether or not you can get on board with this.

    Don’t get me wrong – “Hostel 2” was pretty good. I can watch attractive girls in peril all day, I just wanted this film to be a bit more than that. And I don’t think it ever achieved what its predecessor achieved, for me. I almost wish it had been completely about the two guys. Show it from the customers’ point of view. That would’ve been a more interesting film, for me, than having it partly filmed from the point of view of a stock “final girl”.

    In other news, I’ve just finished watching “Against the Dark”. In one sitting, no less. I’ll write something up on it in the comments section of Vern’s review of that film, but suffice to say – not great, not even that good, but far far better and more interesting than “Submerged” in my opinion.

  282. Roth/Franco – yeah, I know. I actually meant that to be an understatement, unfortunately it didn’t translate that well to text.

    Roth/Landis – Roth used George Folsey jr., one of Landis’s editors, and I can see bits of an American Werewolf in London, Animal House and Trading Places throughout the movie…also Roth’s deceptively basic, old school direction strikes me as very early Landis.

    Hostel 2 – I liked Tarantino’s strangely apt comparison of it to Westworld. I see that one as an intense horror movie that’s a kind of savage parody of capitalism; I like the implication that if Elite Hunting actually existed there would be nothing anybody could do to stop it; if you get away, all you’re doing is escaping to a world owned by the clientele. The only way to survive is maybe to buy your way out and lose your soul in the process (I wonder what Slavoj Zizek thought of this movie?)

  283. Jareth Cutestory

    August 9th, 2010 at 7:13 am

    Andy C.: Thanks for clarifying Miike’s role. I knew he had a cameo in there somewhere as one of the customers.

    Also, I know it’s kind of gothy, but I like the poster for Roth’s upcoming LAST EXORCISM movie:


  284. I dig the Hostel films. To me, the actual torturing is a small part of the film. Well, maybe not in the second one with the blood shower and whatnot. All this Eli Roth hating is just silly, in my humble opinion. I’d trade places with the guy any day of the week.

  285. I agree that Roth is underrated as a director. I think the Landis analogy is apt. His style isn’t showy, but his compositions and pacing are always interesting and give a sense of weight and reality to the proceedings, particularly in Hostel 2, which I think is his best movie. That opening sequence with the burning passports is a good example of someone who knows that you don’t have to blow your back out trying to impress people if you’re confident that the images you’re presenting are visually strong and thematically appropriate.

  286. I think the second one is better as well. Looking forward to seeing him in Piranha 3D.

  287. I rewatched CABIN FEVER not to long ago (in a double feature with its bizarro sequel) and was disappointed that it wasn’t as good as I remembered. I loved it when it first came out, and it’s still a lot of fun, but it seemed like a collection of clever ideas in search of a coherent tone or structure.

    I agree that HOSTEL 2 is Roth’s best all-around film. I particularly like what I saw as something of a meta-commentary on the whole “torture porn” debate in the whole sequence where SPOILERS that one guy stands in front of the security camera right before you’re about to see Bijou Phillips get the axe. It seemed like Roth was trying to make a statement on the fact the depictions of torture in the film were not supposed to be pleasurable, and if that’s really what you’re looking for then he’s not going to give it to you. Then, he follows it up with a bad guy bloodbath, to show how violence CAN be fun.

  288. I thought I was the only one who liked Hostel 2 better. I did have a problem with the first one because the protagonists were such obnoxious douchebags, and to me the whole point of a movie like that is to root for them to get away. The second one had less hatable protagonists and showing some of it from the torturer’s point of view was more interesting. Also I remember Heather Matarazzo was pretty balls out in that scene where they hung her upside down.

    Now, I don’t mean to interrupt this off-topic discussion with a semi off-topic one, but I don’t know a better place to mention that I’m really surprised and amazed to realize that Arnold Schwarzenegger may go down in history as a heroic figure in the U.S. civil rights struggle. When he became governor I was down on him thinking he was just a tool of the right wingers. I’m impressed to see that at least in some respects he’s followed his own conscience and in regards to marriage he’s giving Ventura a run for his money in the PREDATOR-actor-turned-governor-making-surprisingly-right-on-political-move department. He even has his name on what may end up being a historic court decision.

    I mean, back in the ’80s I don’t think I could’ve pictured that one day the guy from COMMANDO would be a state governor paving the way for gay marriage. (or that I’d be excited about that.)

  289. Yeah Vern, I always thought Arnie was about as right wing as it gets. Good for him on the gay marriage thing. John Matrix, you done good.

    Hopefully he doesn’t lose his mind like Jesse.

  290. Vern – To be accurate, Arnold’s veto of a gay marriage state bill years ago (purely out of political capital for his then quest at the time to run for a possible Senate seat) was what paved way for that Prop 8 mess in the first place.

    Wished he the balls back then to have signed it, and thus forever take credit as the progressive Governor on that issue, which I’m sure would have been a satisfying screw you for him at the state liberal Democrats.

    Better late than never. I mean look at Clinton all now for Marriage Equality, same asshole behind DADT and signed DOMA.

  291. I also liked Hostel 2 better. I think he took a way huger risk by explaining characters on all sides and tapping more into true horror of what regular people are capable of given the circumstances. I really liked the reversal of the two torturer guys. The way the one who keeps acting like the alpha dog the whole time freaks out and can’t handle it, but the guy seemed like he was pushed into it just turns out to be deeply angry.

    There were lots of ambitious moments and clever moments that didn’t have to be in there to make the story function but it gave it that extra personality. My favorite being when the hostelmaster encounters those hooligan kids in the forest and pulls out the pistol and forces them to sacrifice one of their own to pay for damaging ‘his property’. It’s a silent moment done all with physical acting.

    The only thing I didn’t like about Hostel 2 was the opening. Having that dude die horrifically in a dream and then wake up and die slightly less horrifically in real life was a pointless fake-out in a movie that doesn’t deal with dreams or anything.

    But I do hope Roth gets to make more movies.

  292. Sorry guys, I just don’t get this Eli Roth orgy right here. But hey go right ahead, and don’t forget to use protection.

  293. Out of courtesy, I generally try to avoid shooting down the tastes of others, but, yeah, Eli Roth has made terrible movies. I was ostensibly his target audience for Cabin Fever, and I found it just wretched. It angered me how bad and obnoxious it was, especially after reading kind reviews. Were critics just trying to sound hip & edgy by praising this thing?

    Hostel just seemed like a failure to me. The story was a big nothing. I didn’t care about anything that was happening for any portion of the film. It had a couple interesting parts, but, again, I was offended that it used 90 minutes of my life. I place Roth a tiny notch above Rob Zombie for filmatism skill, though this forum has recently convinced me, ever a masochist, to give Devil’s Rejects a try, so we’ll see.
    Vern, I’m also pleasantly surprised by the recent developments in Cali. I’ve hit a point in my life the last few months where I’m finally realizing the ridiculousness of the inequality with which people treat LGBT. Legislative & political history aside, this judicial ruling and Governator’s current support is a good thing. Good call on the current events — I’d love for the release of The Expendables to somehow serve as part of a platform to further voice support for gay rights.

    I really believe that, 20-30 years from now, many people will look back at today and be embarrassed at their behavior and attitudes toward gays. People will wonder how in the hell we could elect & support politicians who explicitly denied equal rights for good citizens & human beings. Aight, sorry to get all political, but Mr. Outlaw is right — this could be a special moment in history for a lot of people.

  294. Damn, I’m outvoted on this one it seems. Oh well, I stand by my opinion. “Hostel” was a genuine masterpiece, “Hostel 2” was just pretty good. But as I said, “Hostel” sure as hell ain’t for everybody. “Hostel 2” might very well be for everyone (which is the main problem I have with it actually, it’s so much more conventional than “Hostel” that it lost the “edge” that made the first film great for me).

    In other news, as I’ve said in another thread, I will shortly be watching “Kill Switch” and posting on it in the review thread for that movie. You might want to put that one in your diaries or something. “Paul watches Kill Switch, then writes it up.” It’s all for your entertainment and pleasure.

  295. Paul,

    I’m curious to hear you elaborate on why you think HOSTEL PART 2 was more conventional than the first one. It’s interesting that you say that because I think the common feeling among fans is that the whole added subplot about the customers, fleshing them out into actual characters, made the sequel feel a lot LESS conventional than the first film. Was is it about the 2nd film that you think lacks the “edge” that the original had?

  296. Dan – simple answer: the protagonists. A final girl, a nerdy girl and a flirty girl, as seen in every generic horror movie ever made. The moment these three are made out to be the heroines, you know exactly which of them is going to die, and in what order. It’s too predictable. I also think that the fact that they were female probably meant that the film “held back” somewhat. I mean, the blood bath? Seriously, how many times has that, or some variation on that, been done in film? Ok, it’s done well, but it’s pretty restrained considering what was either shown or (more effectively) suggested in the original film.

    As I said in an earlier post, I thought the whole film should’ve been about the two customers, rather than that being relegated to a subplot. Some of those two’s scenes were by far the best in the movie. Especially the reversal at the end of the film, which I thought was probably its best idea.

  297. I see your point, but honestly, outside of their somewhat novel purposeful assholishness (as opposed to all the bad horror movies that accidentally make all the characters assholes), were the guys of part 1 any different? I guessed pretty much immediately who was going to die, and in which order, in the first film as well, so I can’t say it had a leg up on part two in that regard.

    Also, although I’m sure its been depicted in plenty of films, the whole bathing in blood thing isn’t exactly an overused cliche. I can’t call to mind a lot of modern horror films that have shown that.

  298. Dan: I don’t know, I was pretty surprised by who the Final Dude turned out to be in the first film. I assumed it would be the sensitive one who didn’t like going to strip clubs and brothels and such, but it turned out to be the frattiest douche of them all.

  299. I’m with Paul on this one. I do think that the killer customers subplot from part 2 is more unconventional than anything in part 1, but I think the victims in part 1 are a lot more unconventional than the victims in part 2. For two reasons. First of all, they’re guys. How many horror movies that follow the slasher formula have a group of guys in peril? Second of all, I differ from Dan in that I don’t think they died in a conventional order. Sure, anyone could have guessed that Oli would die first. He was just tagging along with Paxton and Josh. But if the characters were girls, Paxton would have been the next logical candidate to go. He dabbled in sex and drugs, he’s Latino, he was way more of a dick than Josh, who was the white blonde virginal prude in the mold of a typical Final Girl. Paxton already seemed kinda tough, you would expect the movie to kill the tougher one to show you how bad the villains are, and pick the weakest, wimpiest character and force him to rise to the occasion. But Roth kills the weakiest, wimpiest character and that kinda throws a monkey wrench in the formula in my opinion. I was shocked when I saw it in the theater. I think HOSTEL 2 is only a notch below HOSTEL, but part of what was refreshing to me about it when it came out was its unconventional choices and the fact that I could empathize with the situation: college guys backpacking through Europe and enjoying hedonistic pleasures.

  300. Yeah but Paxton was also the best known actor of the three, the most conventionally handsome, plus he gets that whole monologue about the drowning girl that pretty much establishes him as the most fleshed out character and sets up his arc. So it wasn’t much of a shock to me when young Jeff Daniels bit the dust (granted, maybe it happened a little earlier than I expected, but it was still in the anticipated order.)

  301. Oh, and while I agree Josh fit the description of “final girl” to a certain degree, the fact that they were all men lead me to assume the film wasn’t going to follow that paradigm. It might have been more effective if they WERE girls, and the sweet, virginal one bit the dust and the whorish one became the lead.

  302. Dan – the order of death is a side-issue really, but it seems to have taken over the discussion. That’s not quite what I meant by “predictable”, it was just the easiest way to describe it.

    Here’s a better description. I mentioned a moment in the original “Hostel” where the Final Guy meets one of the “customers”, and gets a rare and totally unexpected moment of sympathy. “Hostel” is full of little moments like that. “Hostel 2”? Not so much. There wasn’t any point in the sequel where I felt as engaged with any of the characters as I did at that one moment in the original film.

    Again, the scene from “Hostel” where the guy, having lost both of his friends, goes back to the hotel where nobody’s expecting him, and is immediately greeted by two topless girls on their way to the sauna – exactly as happened the day before. I’d have to think a VERY long time before coming up with another moment in a horror movie with as much “creep” factor as that one does. It still gets me. There’s nothing close to a moment as effective as that one in “Hostel 2”.

  303. I think if you only look at the casting of the leads then Hostel is more unconventional…but in terms of structure and what it’s doing, the second one is.

    I lked Hostel and it’s a good enough movie, but “masterpiece” is way overstating things. In terms of horror, The Thing is a masterpiece, Hostel is just a good movie.

  304. Paul,

    That is a good moment. I think even better is the part where Paxton sees the girls again, and instead of being all seductive they are acting strange and creepy (possibly high?) and something seems off about the whole encounter. (And aren’t there faces bruised or something to that effect?) It’s nice and creepy in an understated way.

    As for the second film, I do think it has those kinds of moments in it. Think of the part when one of the killers engages the oblivious heroine in conversation. Or Heather Matarazzo’s wide-eyed innocence right before the guy she’s smooching beats and abducts her.

  305. Eli Roth may not be a master of delivering pulpy thrills while also commenting on them the way Paul Verhoeven was, but I admire the guy for trying.

    I don’t think HOSTEL 2 was the social commentary on cruelty that DAS WEISSE BAND was, but I think Roth put more of that stuff in than most horror guys while still delivering the pulpy thrills. Roth is at least probing the reasons people are cruel and the situations that allow them to be cruel or pressure them into being cruel.

    I guess as far horror goes, I am more interested in something like what Roth does, even if he doesn’t pull all of his ambitions off, than another mindless slasher movie.

  306. I too appreciate the fact that Roth’s films are thematically ambitious, even if he doesn’t always fulfill that ambition. That’s why I never understood those HOSTEL reviews that flat out dismissed it as “torture porn,” or whatever. He’s so OBVIOUSLY, sometimes awkwardly, trying to inject some social criticism into the film that it seems impossible to miss. It’s cool if you want to argue that Roth fails in communicating his themes or whatever, but you should at least acknowledge that they are there.

    I suspect the problem is too many critics/filmgoers are willing to dismiss horror movies without really thinking much about them.

  307. This thread is a mystery to me.

  308. Dan’s right. No one thinks twice about a movie like Friday the 13th where you are actually meant to laugh and have a grea time when Jason is murdering innocent people…but Roth treats his victims as actual people stuck in a horrible situation is somehow reprehensible?

  309. Pfft, real people? What real people? I don’t see any real people in Eli Roth movies. If you think that way, you might as well for EVIL DEAD. And honestly has anyone ever said that about that particular movie? No.

    In absence, little becomes the gold of the void.

    Of course I would think the guy might end up being a Sidney Pollack, a better actor than director.

    Of course Pollack happened to make some worthwhile movies here and there like YAKUZA and THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR. Oh and fuckin’ JEREMIAH JOHNSON.

    So I guess Eli might be the poor man’s Sid?

  310. Sorry RRA, but in this one I gotta go with Jones, Dan and Wolfgang. We may have different opinions on what Roth’s successes and failures are, but I agree with them in that he makes movies that make you (or at least made us) think about stuff. Although to say “nobody thought twice” about Friday 13th would be like saying that nobody died in the battle of Stalingrad, ever. It was HUGELY controversial when it came out. Much like Hostel, in fact.

  311. RRA, I mean “relatively” real. You wouldn’t plug those characters into Apocalypse Now.

    And Paul, I mean the remake of Friday the 13th. I’m talking about modern movies, more in the line of Hostel.

  312. You know, the director had no real ambitions beyond ripping off HALLOWEEN in beats and jumps and whatever, plus an ending which totally ripped off CARRIE. But I would consider the first FRIDAY THE 13TH to be a legitimate good thriller, with effective mood and pun intended killer atmosphere.

    Not rocket science, but it performed at the very least what an operable thriller should do. And no, I can’t say either of the HOSTEL pictures did that.

    I know recent years in American horror have been scarce to say the least, like a potato in Plight-wrecked Ireland, but why otherwise can explain how someone seriously without being a smartass can compare Eli Roth to AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON?

    Or to put it another way, remember that DOOMSDAY which I’m one of the few assholes who apparently liked it? Never once did I say it was just as good as John Carpenter, because that would be just goofy.

    Of course I did call DAYBREAKERS a John Carpenter-type movie, so there you go. I’m a hypocrite.

  313. Jones – Relative or not related to you or plastic or velvet or human skin or polyester, I never gave a shit about any character in a movie titled HOSTEL. Those people felt like the typical nice-looking people that die in most of those genre efforts and I don’t bat an eye.

    Hell again to make my point clear again kids, outside of maybe Ash I didn’t give a shit about the other people in EVIL DEAD. Still a good thriller with still effective jumps and paranoia atmosphere and all that.

    Of course I guess I liked Bruce Campbell’s character because the poor demasculated guy gets the shit beaten out of him and all dirtied up by those mean ole zombie ghost demons. I think the common cliche that he’s the reverse of the last surviving screaming female horror staple does apply.

  314. RRA – nothing short of “Submerged”-style mind control will bend your mind to our collective will, it seems.

    Talking of which, did anybody else think the terrorists in “Submerged” (the ones whose ruthless leader looked like a thirteen year-old girl, not the ones led by an awkwardly obvious parody of Dr Mengele) missed a trick? At the very start of the movie, they’ve already brainwashed three Secret Service agents. Why not just get the rest, one by one, and then start on the people they’re protecting, including the Government and then the President? That would be an interesting movie.

    Completely off-topic, just throwing it out there.

  315. I think the first two Friday the 13th movies are legitimately good and have a kind of”camp-fire tale” quality that the rest of the series lacks (even though it’s still fun).

    An American Werewolf in London/Hostel – won’t argue in terms of quality (I don’t think Roth does anything as bizarre and awesome as having Nazi mutants murder a family while the Muppets play on TV) but, to me, Josh and Paxton are not that much different from David and Jack – they ARE more entitled, aggressive and less witty, but that’s modern life for ya’ – and, I think the set-up of the movie owes a lot to American Werewolf.

  316. Yeah, I think they’re fairly similar to the characters in Werewolf too. We see how douchy they are in more limited amounts since within the first ten minutes one is dead and the other has gone trough the trauma. But first chance he can, he fucks the hot nurse!

  317. Jareth Cutestory

    August 10th, 2010 at 8:28 am

    I doubt we’ll ever see anything in an Eli Roth film that is half as cool as a decomposing, but still talkative, Griffin Dunne. But I think the HOSTEL guys and gals were nowhere near as obnoxious as the CLOVERFIELD douchebags.

  318. I’ve always argued that HOSTEL is technically well-constructed and not without some subtext, but also not fun enough to be enjoyable or deep enough to be interesting. To me, its just sort of grim, ugly and joyless without being particularly compelling or even scary. There’s commentary in there, but its not interesting or rich enough to make an otherwise unpleasant filmgoing experience worthwhile. Still, Roth does have a surprisingly keen eye for pacing and detail. I feel like a lot of my dislike of his films come from the things I imagine I would dislike about Roth personally, which in a way says something about the uniqueness of his films. But the bottom line is that I feel like the HOSTELS are more CHAOS than AMERICAN WEREWOLF… they may be interesting and unique in some ways, but not nearly as much as they think and nowhere near enough to make them particularly worthwhile (to me).

  319. I agree most with Mr. S. You pretty much said it right. Roth personally seems like an annoying, overbearing douchebag…but then I think a lot of people take the dislike for him personally and bring it over to his movies and hate them because they hate him. Hostel is a good movie…but I mean good in the sort of medicore term, it’s not horrible but it’s not great. At least he’s attempting some things. But put it next to Chaos and I think the differences become gigantic in terms of quality…that movie is absolutely empty and sleazy and not just that, but in the most eye-rolling stupid obvious way. I saw Hostel once and wouldn’t want to see it again, not because I disliked it but because it’s not really worth a second viewing. That said, I think one day Roth may make a really good movie someday. So far The Hostels were fine but I hated Cabin Fever. I think he has a really good one in him.

  320. Jones,

    Not that I think I could convince you to see it again, but I actually think HOSTEL (and its sequel) improve considerably on a repeat watch. I think it becomes apparent that the leads are intentionally unlikable and that the film has a sort of karmic payback element to it… i.e. the heroes are punished for all the exploitation of women they take part in by later being exploited themselves. One thing I noticed watching it a second time is how the brothel they visit early in the movie, with its long corridor of rooms with lurid activities going on inside, is designed to look like the torture chambers later in the movie, which nicely illustrates the themes I was just discussing. There are little textural details like that (in both films) that I think become more apparent when you see it again… I for one liked HOSTEL a lot more the 2nd time I saw it.

  321. I don’t know how Mr. Roth acts or not because I’ve never bothered with any such commentaries or whatever, I’m just grading the artist. And like Mr. S, so far I’ve found them rather lacking.

  322. Dan — completely agree with you that both HOSTELS at the very least have some thematic elements Roth is exploring, but in a way I actually was less impressed the second time I saw part 1 (only seen part 2 once).

    Similarly to the way I feel when Roth’s pal Tarantino talka about the subtext in his films, I’m not entirely convinced that they’re effectively exploring the topics they’re claiming to — or that subtext is necessarily the same thing as having something interesting to say about a topic. The difference is, Tarantino’s films are a joy to watch, even if they’re not the eloquent metaphysical dissertations on violence that he sometimes claims. Roth’s films are thoroughly unpleasant, and even if that is intentional it doesn’t really give me much more reason to watch.

    That’s why I mention CHAOS, which is obvious inferior on almost every level, but I have fundamentally the same problem with. DeFalco spent all this time arguing with Ebert that he had something to SAY with his film, and possibly he did. It’s just not a a particularly interesting or well-articulated point, and hence suffering through hours of sadism just doesn’t seem all that worthwhile. It’s not all that fun or all that interesting, and I get the distinct feeling that Roth believes the distateful content of his films automatically gives them portence, authenticity, and profundity — a position I generally disagree with.

  323. The thing is, I don’t find Roth’s films all that unpleasant. Because of the humor involved, they’re not a soul-crushing grind to get through like CHAOS. I never feel like I’m getting my nose rubbed in shit. They feel like old-fashioned horror fun to me. A bit more brutality than usual maybe, but hey, I can take it. Your mileage may vary.

  324. Mr M – I guess the combo of unlikable characters and sadistic (but not particularly creative or suspenseful) horror just doesn’t do it for me, and does ultimately feel like kind of a chore (in no way as unpleasant as CHAOS, but still just not very fun). Probably the humor doesn’t wash with me because I find it to be of a kind of douchey variety, but of course with humor you can’t really argue the point. I will say that the weirdo WTF joke about “rifles for niggers” at the end of CABIN FEVER did win me over, not because its particularly funny or well-executed, but because who the fuck would put that in a movie, let alone the end of that particular movie? That’s just idiotically ballsy enough that I’m charmed by it. The Hostels, not so much. But, as you say, milage may vary.

    Mostly, I’m just tired of being told I didn’t ‘get’ the subtext of those films, which is assuredly not the reason I don’t enjoy them. Its kind of a pet peeve of mine, and admittedly it extends for beyond the HOSTELS. A lot of filmmakers respond to criticism by claiming a message (see: CHAOS), and a lot of times they get an easy pass for it from normal cinemaphiles, as if asking how effective or interesting that point is conveyed isnt meaningful once the intention to express a point has been stated. Not this time, Eli. Not on my watch. Just because you had a point doesn’t mean it’s automatically worthwhile. Just so its clear, it’s not like I’m offended by their existence or think they debase humanity or inspire cruelty, nor do I dismiss them defacto as torture porn. I just don’t find them to be particularly worthwhile in the same sense I don’t think THE SCARLET LETTER is particularly worthwhile.

  325. Mr S,

    I completely agree that having subtext doesn’t immediately make a film better, especially if it does a poor job communicating/exploring/saying something about that subtext, or if the subtext is simply uninteresting/not worthwhile. I think the point I was making above was that it’s more valid to criticize the film for poorly developing its themes (your argument) then to dismiss it as an empty provocation (what some critics/filmgoers have argued) when it so obviously DOES have subtext. You clearly made an attempt to engage the film on more than a surface level, and therefore I totally respect your opinion of it, even if I don’t share it.

  326. Mr Subtlety, I completely agree with you, on “not getting” subtext if not on “Hostel”. (As I said above, I think that whether you like it or not depends on whether you can deal with the characters. If you can’t, nothing is going to improve the movie for you.)

    The best example I can think of of “you don’t get it” syndrome, though, is a film that everyone seems to disagree on, at least when it comes to the ending. I’ve said that I loved “Adaptation” right up until the last twenty minutes or so. And its fans go nuts, saying “No! You just don’t get it! Here’s what the director was trying to do…” and then go on a five-minute rant that reminds me of the adage that if you have to explain a joke, it’s not funny. I understand completely what the director was trying to do. I just don’t think he did it.

    Also agree with DP that subtext doesn’t automatically make a film better.

  327. I feel that way about the endings of The Sopranos and No Country for Old Men…no matter how they’re intellectually justified, nothing will ever convince me that they’re not poorly handled, and even a kind of pretentious lashing out at the audience for taking an interest in everything that happened before.

  328. W.S. – How would you have ended them? Brolin blows up Bardem in a giant action set-piece fireball? Tony Soprano suffers the same boring fate as Henry Hill?

  329. Paul — 100% with ya on ADAPTATION. I think the main reason I dislike the end is that I was superaware that the film had turned from painful introspective to shaggy-dog meta-joke for the last 20 minutes or so. I actually think it might be a MORE effective film if you missed that subtext the first time around. Getting it actually makes it way less enjoyable and only marginally more interesting (in fact, I’d argue it makes it more superficial in most ways). Sorry I can’t get into HOSTEL with you, but at least I think we’re on the same page there.

    Actually, the question I wanted to ask everyone is given the fact that I don’t think anyone here writes off Roth as a total hack and yet not too many people think he’s made a really great film yet — I’m curious as to what sort of film everyone thinks might be a realy home run for him. What kind of story would his particular character really work for?

    W.S. — I’m all for avant-garde and cerebral cuteness, and probably more tolerant of it than most. But to me, you make a serious error when you turn something which has emotional investment and depth into arty intellectualism at the climax. It ends up feeling like something of a betrayal of the audience’s actual investment in the story and characters. Ending a movie like NO COUNTRY has its merits, and certainly makes you think about narrative as a reflection of reality and all that, but I’d still argue that in a lot fo ways it’s a more superficial ending than an actual emotional and narrative conclusion might be. It ends up being a purely postmodern intellectual excersize, rather than an attempt to speak to the soul. IMHO, both Sopranoes and NO COUNTRY pull it off better than, say, ADAPTATION does, and I’m not sure I’d necessarily want them to be different… but it is certainly hard to feel, especially with the Sopranoes, that the creators are almost mocking you for caring what happens to the characters you’ve just spent hundreds of hours watching.

    BTW, how did the END OF DAYS thread end up giving INCEPTION a run for its money?

  330. Mr. S – Again I’m gonna ask you too, how would you have ended them differently?

    Really I will be terribly disapointed if neither of you or nobody comes up with at least a serious attempt at an alternative, perhaps for you at the least more satisfying conclusion?

    As for Eli Roth, I don’t think he’s a total hack. That terminology would suggest that I hate the guy, and I don’t. His movies just are blanks for me, do nothing. I don’t hate them, I don’t like them. They’re not Pittsburgh Pirates bad or New York Yankees good, they’re the Florida Marlins: Forgettable meh.

    Again I said it earlier, but Roth might end up being the Nerd Chic’s Sidney Pollack: Better actor than director.

  331. RRA- easy: in both cases, everyone leaps into the air and it freeze frames. Or it’s revealed that they were all aliens. Or ghosts. Or maybe it was all a dream, or someone else’s dream.

    Naw, in seriousness, I can’t tell you some perfect ending that would have made everything right — but I guess I’d argue that responsibility is with the people telling the story. In some ways, it makes you sort of ask, “why tell us this story and ask us to invest in these characters if all you’re interested in is some goofy postmodern joke”? I can totally dig postmodern avant-garde nonsense, but it seems kinda sad to build up characters and story and then change directions just as we were most invested. I’m saying this more in a general way than I am actually criticizing either Sopranos or NO COUNTRY, both of which I enjoyed. I’m not really one to be mad about what something wasn’t, I’d rather find things to like about what it is — but I do have mixed feelings about the emotional and narrative blueballs those films leave you with. ADAPTATION is probably a worse offender, because IMHO it has a little less to say with its postmodern jibba-jabber.

  332. The actual events in the endings aren’t so much a problem for me as the way they’re handled. To me, it’s the narrative equivalent of slamming on the brakes and letting the audience fly through the front windshield…which would be really funny if Luis Bunuel or Brian De Palma did it (e.g. Raising Cain), because they can make a joke out of how susceptible an audience is to manipulation, but in No Country and The Sopranos, it just struck me as pompous and, at the same time, kind of crude and half-assed.

    I will say that I think No Country for Old Men is a great movie anyway. (And, really, one of the few movies that’s actually better than the book it’s based on).

  333. While I wouldn’t begin to tell David Chase or Cormac McCarthy what they should write – I think it’s bad form (although I did once read an essay where the author pointed out that if the twist ending of Unbreakable had happened in the middle of the movie it would be considered a classic; which struck me as being true) – I sort of have RRA’s reaction to people who didn’t like the ending of There Will Be Blood; not that I want them to provide an alternate ending, just that I’m not quite sure what they were expecting or wanted when they complain about it.

  334. W.S./Mr. S – No offense guys, but your complaints about those endings seem to say more about you guys than it does about the filmmakers.

    Its like expecting a great movie, but only getting a decent one and calling it a piece of shit. Or the reverse.

    THE SOPRANOS ending was great for many reasons. That story indicated that nothing was gonna change or change for the better, a little hell of purgatory. Tony is still gonna sweat out the Feds breathing down on him, his wife is still a materialistic bitch, the daughter is still a dunce, and his son is still….well, his son.

    Even then the future seemed not so promising: Tony may rub out Paulie, or Paulie takes him out to save himself. The Feds will eventually take him down, so Tony’s future ultimately will be jail or murder. And you know, that quick jump to black…wouldn’t that suggest he got capped in the cafe? Just a thought.

    Chase didn’t want GOODFELLAS 2 or GODFATHER 4, and I think he made the concious effort to do shit his way. And I liked it. Because also quite frankly, all the other alternatives (Tony dies, Tony jailed, Tony in witness protection) just doesn’t sound all that appealing.

    As for NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, well fuck it without that 3rd Act it would just be a pretty good thriller and nothing more right?

  335. RRA: This is gonna blow your mind, but I am with you 100% on all your points.

  336. Mr. Majestyk – ……………………………”He blew his mind out in a car/He didn’t notice that the lights had changed/A crowd of people stood and stared…”

    Sorry, did you just 100% agree with me?

  337. RRA – as I said, Im talking about the general concept more than the actual execution in those peices. There is certainly a very good arguement for both those endings, and I don’t know that I’d necessarily want them to be different. Still, I don’t know if a twist postmodern ending will ever really hit me on a gut level the way a more conventional narrative ending, well handled, would. Especially after getting us hooked with a narrative, it seems a bit like a bait-and-switch (which is sorta the point, I know, but that doesn’t exactly lesson the slight dissapointment that we’re robbed of actual emotional closure in favor of more cerebral metaphysical musings). But, sometimes its more interesting to not get what you want and to think about what that means, so I’m not going to second guess Chase, much less the Coens.

  338. Sometimes conventional endings do work, but only if the said movie has earned them. Not all of them, in fact most of them probably don’t.

    Two movies for example that did earn them: STAR WARS and SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION. Fucking satisfying in both points.

  339. I agree that that’s what those endings were saying but (because I’m not a masochist, and I try to be honest about my reactions rather than deluding myself into thinking something is good) I will never agree that those things were all that well said.

  340. Your first impression was right. End of Days is so-so. Not bad, not good.

    When Cane was hired as the security detail for the banker, wasn’t the banker the guy the Devil was inhabiting? Wasn’t the security detail to (unknowingly) protect the Devil from Vatican assassins? (Not including Charlie Sheen.)

    Kevin Pollack rules. He must have eased into acting by playing one of the comic relief elves in Willow, then moved on to the more challenging role of a Navy lawyer in A Few Good Men. He’s not someone you’d automatically think of casting as a cop but remember that Schwarzenegger was praised for casting a comedian as his sidekick in True Lies.

    I never knew Peter Hyams wasn’t the first director on End of Days. Maybe that’s why this doesn’t feel like a Peter Hyams movie, such as Outland or 2010 or even Timecop.

    On the plus side I think I got to see this movie for free. When it came out on video, it was at a time when Blockbuster had a policy that if you couldn’t find a copy of a popular movie they had multiple copies of, it would be free next time or you could rent a different movie free right then. Either I got Hot Dog: The Movie free right then or I got End of Days free the next time; I forget which but it amounts to about the same thing. So I’ve always cut End of Days a little slack just for that.

    I’d agree that Eraser was the last real “Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.” I have a soft spot for The Sixth Day because it was filmed here but it’s not a classic Schwarzenegger-style movie.

    And Last Action Hero was under-rated.

    Recently I re-saw The Prophecy on TV and it was better than I remembered it being. I’d forgotten that Elias Koteas was in it, for one thing, and I like him. A pre-stardom Viggo Mortensen played a very attractive Devil. Probably the problem when I saw it the first time was that Gabriel tormenting the nearly-dead humans he forced to work for him really upset me to the point of not being able to enjoy the rest of the movie. This time I was bracing myself.

    Re: Gilmore: Udo Kier is great. Re: Bob Vila: Stone Cold is great. It’s the third of the three great Craig R. Baxley movies: Action Jackson, “I” Come in Peace, and Stone Cold.

    Re: Skani: Cop Land is good and Sylvester Stallone is good in it. Oscar is not good. When it was my friend’s birthday that year he wanted all of us to go see it with him. Maybe it was a fine entry in that genre of comedy and I just don’t enjoy that genre of comedy, or maybe it wasn’t done very well, but it was a chore to get through. That friend is a good person, though, so I don’t hold it against him.

    Over the Top is OK but would have been better without the kid. Cobra is classic. Another two names I used to get confused were George P. Cosmatos and Costa-Gavras. Leviathan was too stressful for me.

    I keep thinking I’ve seen The Mist, but actually I’m thinking of Storm of the Century (which I liked).

    Prince of Darkness is never quite as good as I’m rooting for it to be. It’s got some awesome parts and a cool premise and good atmosphere and a cool ending and Alice Cooper but a lot of it is padding, and it’s kind of depressing. There’s enough there that I’ll keep re-watching it though.

    Memoirs of an Invisible Man is John Carpenter B-canon, like Black Moon Rising. You can see Carpenteresque touches but it’s not full Carpenter. At least it made Carpenter aware of Sam Neill, inspiring him to write the character of John Trent for him in the much better In the Mouth of Madness.

    Mouth of Madness and Escape from LA were the last full Carpenter movies, with Vampires being another quasi-Carpenter movie. After that, nothing had the feel of a John Carpenter movie.

    Too late now, but I also recommend Carnivàle.

    The only thing I’ve seen Dieter Laser in was The Inside Man, but what a cool name! Dieter Laser.

    Watchmen was too modern-looking to be a good adaptation of the graphic novel but it’s still a fun movie to watch.

    Re: Gwai Lo: Dagon was OK. It doesn’t have the look and feel of 1980s Stuart Gordon, but it had atmosphere and scariness and beautiful sets and locations. I loved Ezequiel. A DVD of Dagon was a gift from a friend so it has sentimental value.

    eXistenZ is imperfect David Cronenberg and would have been better in the 1980s, but you could say that about everything, and I liked it anyway.

    For a Republican, Schwarzenegger has turned out to be one of the good ones. He’s anti-Trump, and anti-alt-right. That’s a huge relief because I like a lot of his movies.

    RRA: Yes, that Sopranos ending suggests to me that Tony died. He’s our viewpoint character so when his consciousness ends there’s no new sensory information forthcoming.

    Goodfellas 2 is My Blue Heaven!

  341. I didn’t like this at the time, but I do now, it’s just so delightfully silly. Can’t not love a movie that has a POV shot of the Devil going into a bathroom at a fancy restaurant to possess Gabriel Byrne, or has ripped-as-ever Arnie playing a “slob who has given up” and eats a blendered Pizza for breakfast.

    I kind of group this one with THE SIXTH DAY, thought conversely I liked that one quite a bit at the time, but not now.

    (“At the time” in these cases is a generously applied “within the first half decade of its release”, acceptable for the slower world of the late 90s/early 00s I dare say)

    I was thinking my pre-2.0 self would have said something I’d have to walk back here, but no, just takes on THE EXORCIST and THE MIST I pretty much stand by. Good job 2010 me!

  342. That was a cool shot, the POV shot of the spirit of the Devil flying into the bathroom at Gabriel Byrne. I forgot that Jericho Cane put pizza in a blender. :-) Remember when Marion Cobretti cut up pizza with a pair of scissors?

  343. Of course! And apparently that’s legit

    A Convincing Case For Cutting Your Pizza With Scissors

    In America, where we favor the pizza wheel, slicing pizza with scissors seems strange. But it’s a common practice in Rome.

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