Monday, 5 October 2009

October Horror 2009 #2

Yes, that is in fact a severed head munching down on that young girl's posterior...One of the many joys of Nobuhiko Obayashi's House. Wait for it though, because first up is:

The Car (1977 - Elliot Silverstein) - Somewhere between bad TV movie and small indie film lies The Car. An evil, driverless car wrecks havoc in a small Utah town and randomly kills numerous people - until it starts to target those who have tried to stop it. The, ahem, character development at the beginning of the film is occasionally painful (in particular the "playful" scene between James Brolin's cop and his girlfriend) as are several moments with secondary characters. It gets down right cheesy in some of the car chases - if you can't afford real stunt drivers to drive your cars fast, speeding up the film does NOT help matters if it ends up looking like Keystone Cops. There were still some pretty solid moments in the film though - unnerving one might even say. Especially in several of the long shots where the car is approaching from a distance (a small dust cloud, a glint of sunshine, a small set of headlights) or in some of the sudden appearances. The lack of any kind of bloodshed takes away from the already poorly done attack sequences, but there's something strangely watchable about the whole movie.

My Bloody Valentine (1981 - George Mihalka) - The only reason I can think as to why this is sometimes referred to as one of the best slasher films of the 80s is that it was known for having its bloodiest sequences removed for its theatrical release. On the DVD, you can watch those scenes spliced back into the film and they are indeed graphic (though not really compared to much of today's fare), but two minutes of bloody footage does not a movie make. It is of interest to note that the story takes place in a working class town and uses a real mining company and mine shaft, but the characters aren't much different than standard slasher films and certainly no more interesting. Geez, it can't be that difficult to give your characters something unique to say, can it? The kills are interesting (though only with that additional footage thrown in), but there's no real scares and not a whole lot of tension. The end title song is pretty awe-inspiring though since it sounds vaguely like Gordon Lightfoot's "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" with lyrics that pretty much just restate the story line. I can only guess they thought it was appropriate because it was filmed in Nova Scotia? One bright spot - seeing an early performance by Canada's Cynthia Dale.

House (1977 - Nobuhiko Obayashi) - I don't think I can possibly do this film justice. It's absolutely one of the most amazing films I've ever seen. The trailer gives a hint:

It's gloriously insane. You can't actually take your eyes off the screen for a single second for fear you will miss something. The piano death scene, the killer lampshade, the painted backdrops, the quick editing, the use of irises, the sparkling kitty eyes, etc. It's a brilliant and insane piece of art wrapped around the "story" of seven young school girls who visit an old mansion house during the summer holidays (belonging to the aunt of one of them) and one by one meet their dooms. Janus films apparently has the rights and according to some reports out of Fantastic Fest, Criterion is planning on releasing this next year. I can't wait. Not just to see it again (in a hopefully pristine transfer), but also because more people will be able to experience it. I just hope they have an option to use the creatively translated subtitles I saw...

Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003 - Victor Salva) - "Every 23rd Spring for 23 days, it gets to eat." Beginning shortly after the first in the series, the sequel opens on Day 22 as the feasting continues...After snapping up a farmboy, it moves on to its main course - a bus load of basketball players returning from the State championships. The "it" in question is a kind of man-bat with an interesting ability to regenerate portions of itself - which, of course, makes it slightly difficult to stop. It's a bit silly (OK, a lot) and they don't go to great lengths to ingratiate any of the people on the bus with the audience, but it does some basic horror things very well: it sets up a scenario, puts people into danger and then keeps you on edge wondering who, how and when. And like the first one, this is an extremely good looking film with some beautiful night time shots. I also was quite happy to see that this was not the typical case of a sequel feeling it really needed to dive into the "back story" of the creature. The damn thing just exists - so deal with it.

Boogeyman (2005 - Stephen T. Kay) - Yeesh...A few interesting ideas, but nothing concrete or even consistent comes from them. The idea of a real Boogeyman in a young boy's closet is still ripe for a good modern day interpretation. So is the idea of a young boy's real life problems (split of family, etc.) being interpreted by himself as being caused by a Boogeyman. It felt like the filmmakers couldn't quite decide which way to go and tried to have it both ways at the same time. As well, the scares are typically handled using way too many quick edits and jerky film speeds. That can occasionally effectively create a sense of confusion and annoyance, but that may not be what they were after. Also, I found it a huge mistake to show the damn Boogeyman. It just didn't work.


Vulnavia Morbius said...

Wow. You're kickin ass with the horror movies this month. I need to kick it up a notch to keep up.

Now I HAVE to see House.

Joe Baker said...

I need to see "House" right now. And you know, for a modern horror movie, I have all kinds of respect for "Jeepers Creepers" and the second installation. There are some GREAT set pieces in both films and Salvo clearly understands the importance of using the whole frame to creep you out.

Bob Turnbull said...

Everyone needs to see "House".

OK, I suppose I shouldn't hype it up too much, but it sure was a whole whack of fun.

I agree about both Jeepers films Joseph. There are some fine moments of stretching out tension and staying with a scene - he doesn't feel the need to go for the quick kill every time.