Wednesday 3 June 2009

Basking In The Cesspool Of Filth #10

Journey To The Seventh Planet (1962 - Sid Pink) - My first foray into the oeuvre of Sid Pink. It's goofy, barely cognizant of scientific principles, doesn't flow very well and has poor acting, dialog and dubbing. And it's a lot of fun. A U.N. mission lands on Uranus and as the astronauts explore, they find that their own personal thoughts are turning into reality. Women from their past, memories of their old houses and, unfortunately for them, frightening monsters all become part of their new world (sort of like a low-rent "Solaris" - made a year after the novel was published). The scariest thing about it, though, might be some of the opening narration:

"The year is 2001. Life is changed now. The planet Earth is no longer racked by wars and threats of annihilation. Man has learned to live with himself."

Sigh...Fortunately some levity is kept by the narrator pronouncing annihilation as "anne-ni-la-tion".

Them (2006 - David Moreau, Xaview Palud) - A French suspense thriller (its real title is "Ils"), the film does a pretty decent job of keeping things moving while only having the two main characters in peril. Great use of lighting, sound and sudden motion, but I have to say that I never quite hopped on board and, though it is said to be based on a true story, I didn't quite buy into the ending. It's a horrible thought, but it seemed to undercut much of the spookiness and invincibility of "Them".

The Last Winter (2006 - Larry Fessenden) - Less a full out horror film than a parable about humanity's destruction of the environment. It's not a full-on screed about how we're destroying the planet, but there's little doubt about its point about the dangers of global warming. It's a great looking film and also pretty good at keeping you intrigued about what is happening to the rag tag team of scientists stranded in the frozen North. It's not overly scary (except for a pretty spiffy jump scare), but I don't think that was really the intent of the film.

Deadly Friend (1986 - Wes Craven) - Cheap and made-for-TV like (except for the scenes of copious blood), Wes Craven brings more lame dialog and pretty poor acting to the screen in a very silly and not overly scary film (except that kid in the third screenshot who kinda freaks me out). And yet...And yet I watched the whole thing quite easily and laughed a number of times. Well, OK, I rolled my eyes during several early scenes. I truly don't know if Craven was yucking it up with us or not, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least somewhat entertained by the robot, Kristy Swanson and then of course Kristy Swanson AS the robot. And the basketball scene. Definitely the basketball scene...

The Grudge 3 (2009 - Toby Wilkins) - I was very much looking forward to "The Grudge 3" (likely one of the very few who was) because I found all the original Japanese Ju-On films and even the two American Grudge ones to be enjoyably creepy. Takashi Shimizu, director of all of those films, was only involved on the production end of this straight to video affair and it shows - there's not much fun going on and even less of the tense atmosphere and feeling of dread. Part of it is the rather lame attempt to do more with the characters (1. if you are going to focus on characters, make them interesting; 2. it's a film about creepy, long haired, pale skinned Japanese ghosts - stop showing me "relationship" moments!), but it's really just that the film doesn't know how to pull you from one set piece to another. There's a couple of decent moments, but even the set pieces don't pay off that well.

That's a shame, but all is not lost. Shimizu is producing two further Japanese Grudge films in 2009: "The Grudge: Girl In Black" and "The Grudge: Old Lady In White". And I can't wait for either of 'em.

The Hypnotist (1999 - Masayuki Ochiai) - Ochiai's later "Infection" was a quite solid J-Horror entry with great use of colour and sound, but this earlier suspense/thriller/horror film is a pretty large mess. I've reviewed it here, but suffice it to say that the film just couldn't make its mind up about what it wanted to be.


Peter Nellhaus said...

I didn't like The Hypnotist either. If you haven't seen it, check out this older (1969) Japanese film, Portrait of Hell. Not a horror film in the traditional sense, but it has elements.

Bob Turnbull said...

Thanks for the pointer...Into the queue it went!

I hadn't realized until checking Ochiai's filmography that he also did the remake of "Shutter" (which I haven't seen). Reports are that I shouldn't bother. His "Parasite Eve" wasn't exactly a winner either (spiffy concept, but not very well realized), so I'm not sure how he sneaked "Infection" in there...