Sunday, 3 November 2013

October Horror 2013 - Chapter 5

Is she winking, squinting or wincing? Or all three? Whatever the case, I'm continuing my October horror posts into November.

Visiting Hours (Jean-Claude Lord - 1982) - You can only suspend belief for so long, you know? I can forgive much of the silliness in the plot of this killer-stalks-hospital slasher - especially when it handles several early scenes with pretty decent tension - but the last 30-40 minutes so obviously contrives a final showdown that you can't help but throw your hands up (several times). It's sheer laziness really - I get why they wanted to have Lee Grant run through long empty hospital corridors with the relentless Michael Ironside chasing her, but couldn't they be even slightly creative in figuring out how to clear out other people? With all the commotion that had been going on in the busy hospital and with it crawling with cops, the film (without any explanations or reasons) has the killer chase his intended victim across 3 separate floors without running into a single person. Well, except for the nurse he recently wounded who was lying on a cart completely unattended (even though she was moments earlier hurriedly wheeled in due to him stabbing her). Even William Shatner couldn't make me forget that.

We Are What We Are (Jorge Michel Grau - 2010) - Though I saw Jim Mickle's remake of this Spanish film a week or so beforehand, it didn't lessen a single thing about the original. Both take their time with their story and keep gore to a minimum in the early goings, but each stands alone and takes a different path towards expressing its title. While Mickle uses 2 teenage girls and a very young boy as the children of a cannibal family, Grau builds his family unit through 3 teenagers (2 boys and a girl). Each of the three has a different approach and reaction to the death of one of their parents, but they all know that they must now take on a much greater role in keeping the family fed - which means sourcing and bringing "food" back to their home. The situation is chilling enough, so when violence does occur, it's quite shocking. It's rare to find a remake made so soon after its original be in the same league, but both these films complement each other wonderfully well.

The Omen IV: The Awakening (Jorge Montesi, Dominique Othenin-Girard - 1991) - Of all the horror films I've yet to see - many of which are right at my fingertips due to the disparate methods of finding and watching them - I had to go and choose The Omen IV. I was actually pleasantly surprised by both the second and third films in the series (neither of which are "all-timers" but progressed the story well and provided some memorable moments), so I figured I should get closure with the fourth when I discovered its existence at my neighbourhood video store. Only later did I realize that this was a made-for-TV affair which made it pretty obvious that no one was interested in turning this rather pointless continuation of the story into a feature film. This time around, a baby girl is adopted by a wealthy couple from a convent and slowly shows signs of increasing evil. Well, actually my main feeling towards the girl was simply one of annoyance - likely a combination of the acting and the poorly realized character. Her father gets into politics and quickly proves to be a strong contender for a future run at president, but the story bounces from one short cut to another in such bland fashion as to never give things a chance to build up to anything sinister. When you use crutches like a boy peeing his pants because he's scared or a woman fainting on the spot, you simply have nothing imaginative to say. Couldn't wait for this thing to end.

Basket Case (Frank Henenlotter - 1982) - In comparison to the lame Omen IV, Henenlotter's super low-budget attempt at exploitative gore is even worse on many fronts (acting, dialogue, consistency...Oh, I could go on...), but it beats it hands down where it counts: it allows you to accept the movie for what it is. This, in turn, actually makes it kind of entertaining. The concept of a man carrying his twin brother (amputated from his right side at 12 years old) in a picnic basket as they seek revenge on three doctors for the operation is quite ridiculous - especially when you see what's left of the twin brother - but it's not like the film doesn't realize that. By using stop-motion animation for the blob-like remnants of the twin, blinding bright red for the blood and guts, and tight close-ups to reinforce some of the facial contortions of the cast, Basket Case plays up its shortcomings. I don't quite understand the cult following that has grown around the movie (though with a crowd, it could be a hoot), but short of some, ahem, dialogue sections that drag somewhat, it made me laugh and cringe a couple of times. Which is exactly what I think it wanted to do.

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