Archive for 2007

Rabid and Fast Company

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

I always wanted to watch all of Dave Cronenberg’s movies in order, or at least the ones I haven’t seen or don’t remember very well, and I’m finally giving that mission a shot. This is only #2 and #3 here though so don’t start congratulating me yet. But here’s a look at some early Cronenberg.

RABID is typical of Cronenberg’s early work, because it’s about a girl who gets all worked up and bites people to death with the vagina she has in her armpit. FAST COMPANY is the least typical of all Cronenberg movies because it’s about funny car racing. That wouldn’t be a surprise if they were funny cars shaped like vaginas, but these are just regular funny cars with wheels and seats and everything. Driving fast. On race tracks. Etc. (read the rest of this shit…)

Blade Runner (2007 Director’s Cut)

Monday, November 5th, 2007

BLADE RUNNER: SUPER DIRECTOR’S CUT FOR REAL THIS TIME GUYS SERIOUSLY I’M DONE NOW, SIGNED RIDLEY SCOTT

BLADE RUNNER is an amazing work of sight and sound, a groundbreaking depiction of future worlds, a gloomy cinematic nightmare, a unique approach to science fiction, and a complete fucking bore. Watching it on the big screen for the limited theatrical engagement of this “definitive cut” I was struck by how beautiful it looked and sounded, and also I wanted to take a nap. It’s like watching the greatest ant farm ever constructed.

Well, shit. I can’t believe I’m writing this. I know I’m only one paragraph in but I would like to extend my sincerest apologies. This is what you call a guilty un-pleasure. It’s easier for me to picture myself reading this review, written by somebody else, and pulling my hair out, than me sitting here writing it. But here I am. I always dug this movie. Never got why anybody would consider it Ridley Scott’s best (Motherfucker directed ALIEN. ALIEN! That’s his masterpiece, people. Let’s get this straight) and thought it was a little slow. But I always dug it and I was excited to see it on the big screen here. But facts are facts. I am a journalist, or whatever. I have to admit: this one time anyway, BLADE RUNNER bored the shit out of me. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Friends of Eddie Coyle

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

So there I was minding my own business, listening to an interview with Elmore Leonard. Suddenly out of the blue Elmore mentions this book I didn’t know about, The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins. He says it was a revelation to him, showed him that you could use profanity in a book and that you didn’t have to tell a straight forward story. And he calls it the best crime novel ever written.

So, through the miracle of opening another window, I ordered a used copy of the book before the interview was even over. Much later it arrived, then I read it, then I loaned it to somebody and his car was stolen with it inside and later they found his car and the car thieves didn’t take the book with them. Their loss, my gain, because Elmore Leonard was right, it’s a hell of a book. Pretty much the first half of the book is all conversations, almost no description. Later some robberies start happening and it turns more into a traditional book. But it doesn’t have your normal type of a story here. It’s more a portrait of these characters and it kind of shows the complexity of a network of criminals, snitches and cops. And it has a great ear for the dialogue. Higgins I guess was a lawyer before he became a writer, maybe he was around some of these guys. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Town That Dreaded Sundown

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

This is the true story of a series of murders in Texarkana shortly after World War II. So it could also be called THE TOWN THAT COMBINED THE NAMES OF TEXAS AND ARKANSAS INTO ONE NAME AND THAT ALSO DREADED SUNDOWN. That doesn’t have the same rhythm to it though, I think they made the right decision.

This is a weird movie. It starts clunkily with corny narration about “the story you are about to see,” and the narrator pops up throughout the movie as if it’s an educational film. The actors in the small roles are obviously not actors, some of them are terrible. The filmatism is what you would call “crude and workmanlike” or maybe “serviceable” – although of course it’s a faded, full frame out of print VHS so maybe some day if they give it the Blue Underground or Dark Sky treatment it will turn out to be a fuckin masterpiece of photographical genius. (read the rest of this shit…)

Shivers

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

I cannot in good conscience recommend SHIVERS to everybody. In fact, I saw it a long time ago and didn’t get into it, but recently I felt like watching the early Cronenbergs again and this time around I enjoyed it. It’s Cronenberg’s first feature film and it is also known as THEY CAME FROM WITHIN, but should be called ZOMBIE PERVERTS or even FUCKED BY ZOMBIES.

Well, they’re not technically zombies. It’s about a sexually transmitted disease. I didn’t do this on purpose, but this is yet another apartment complex based horror. It takes place at this upscale complex called Starliner Estates, which is actually on an island so it’s isolated and has its own medical facilities and armed security. The lead is not your typical horror movie lead. He’s a middle aged doctor, head of the Starliner Medical Department, and he has some of the mannerisms of Gary Shandling. When the movie starts the infection in the apartments has already began: a former teacher of the doctor is attacking a woman in a school girl outfit. And he kills her and burns her with acid. Not cool. (read the rest of this shit…)

Jigsaw Needs to Study Up on Vincent Price

Friday, October 26th, 2007

The 2000s have seen plenty of horror movies, remakes, sequels, remake prequels, etc. But no 21st century horror series has set up shop like Saw, out of which part IV opens this weekend. Few series gets past part II these days, so having a part IV makes Saw‘s antagonist Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) the closest thing today’s little horror fans have to a Freddy or a Jason.

But in truth Jigsaw’s shtick is not like any of the ’80s slashers. He’s more reminiscent of two characters played by Vincent Price: Dr. Anton Phibes (The Abominable Dr. Phibes and Dr. Phibes Rises Again) and Edward Lionheart (Theater of Blood). These guys are all bitter, arrogant old men who believe they have been wronged. They have a knack for setting up elaborate, sadistic traps, for eluding the authorities, for giving away clues without being caught. (read the rest of this shit…)

Pass the Torture Porn, Please

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

When critics talk about drawing a line… what are they talking about?

In 1974, Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales described The Texas Chain Saw Massacre as “the latest discouraging entry in a horror movie subgenre that might be called gorenography–films that strive not so much to shock or frighten as merely to sicken.” He wrote that “The Exorcist brought the cheap shocks to the mass movie market” and described a “post ‘Exorcist‘ era” where horror movies have “no characters of any depth to identify with or cheer on as the monster approaches; there is little if any cleverly contrived suspense; and the film quickly becomes not a who-dun-it but a who-gets-it-next.”

Thirty-three years later, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is still one of the best horror movies ever made. It was even selected for preservation in the Library of Congress. And The Exorcist‘s reputation isn’t too shabby either. Yet somehow the sky has not fallen. Civilization continues unabated. The innocence of children and puppies remains intact. Horror movies still frighten as well as sicken and have characters to cheer on as they face cleverly contrived suspense, like Sally in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. In short, Tom Shales didn’t know what the hell he was talking about, and he was wrong. (read the rest of this shit…)

Vern Calls URBAN JUSTICE A Masterpiece!

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here.

I can’t believe my weekend includes a brand-new Vern review for a brand-new Steven Seagal film. And, no, he doesn’t actually call it a masterpiece. But he does seem somewhat excited… and with good reason. He’s got something to announce. Something… oh, you’ll see.

I must have done something really right this week to deserve this, eh?

URBAN JUSTICE
starring Steven Seagal

PREAMBLE

You know, there are movies, and then there are Steven Seagal movies. And you know what else? There are Steven Seagal movies, and then there are direct-to-video Steven Seagal movies. Seagal has made 13 DTV movies since his last theatrical, HALF PAST DEAD, came out in 2002. In 2003, 2006 and 2007 he was able to release three movies a year. For 2008 he already has three in progress. In 2005 he actually did four. So this is a guy who shows up in your video store almost as often as the seasons change. Which makes his DTV Era a god damn force of nature. Almost. (read the rest of this shit…)

30 Days of Night

Friday, October 19th, 2007

You know that part of Alaska you always hear about where the sun stops coming up for a month every year? Well, wouldn’t it suck if a bunch of vampires tried to take advantage of that? That is the question posed by 30 DAYS OF NIGHT. And the answer quickly becomes clear: yes, it would suck if they did that. Fuckin vampires. Basically this is a remake of that Paul Walker movie 8 BELOW except instead of sled dogs stranded in the snow it’s people, and instead of a killer sea lion there’s vampires.

Although this has some of the weaknesses that are common in modern horror, it’s by no means your average horror movie that you would expect to come out these days. The tone is much more serious. The soundtrack is quieter. It is more about atmosphere and dread than they usually bother with anymore. (read the rest of this shit…)

Rest Stop

Sunday, October 14th, 2007

What better location could there possibly be for a horror movie than a rest stop? I mean obviously when people think of scary places for a horror movie they think of old spooky houses, haunted mansions and castles, dark caves and tunnels, cabins in the woods, woods in general, hospitals and asylums, abandoned amusement parks, wax museums, slaughter houses, seemingly normal suburban neighborhoods, backwards rural towns, rusty sheds, dilapidated huts, eerie villages, summer camps, ordinary high schools, old boarding houses and conservatories, orphanages, hotels, churches, curiosity shops, opera houses, abandoned mannequin factories, deserts, Antarctic outposts, laboratories, graveyards, tombs, morgues, farmhouses, mysterious islands, dungeons, torture chambers, basements, carnivals and circuses, movie theaters, libraries, malls, grocery stores, dirty warehouses, last houses on the left, etc. to name a few.

But what is the one thing that most of those places have in common? You are not there right now. So you would have to travel to get there. And with the exception of (arguably) the mysterious island you would most likely have to drive there. And if it was a long way from where you are now you might have to stop and pee at some point before you get there. BAM! That’s where the rest stop comes in. I feel I have just proven that a rest stop is more of a threat to you than a torture chamber. So be careful. (read the rest of this shit…)