Monday 7 September 2009

Basking In The Cesspool Of Filth #12

One Missed Call 2 (2005 - Renpei Tsukamoto) - What does it say about a movie when it isn't until way past the halfway mark that you realize you've actually seen it before? I know what it says about me (I really need to keep better track of what I'm watching), but you would think that something would've tweaked in my brain much earlier in the film - a character, a situation, a shock...Something. It wasn't until the ridiculous moment of one character stumbling across a necklace dropped earlier by another person (in a field) that I finally thought, "Hey, this is just a bit too familiar...Stupid, but familiar...". Tsukamoto's sequel to Takashi Miike's straight-up J-Horror entry from 2003 starts like many typical horror sequels - a certain amount of time has passed since the events of the first film, there's some discussion about what happened and then it all starts up again. Tsukamoto tries to juggle not only the last film's story (and back story), but also a new thread, its own back story, several small love stories, a fistful of jump scares and a thriller component. It's all too much and none of it really works. Main character Kyoko has three days to figure things out (the time stamp of her death call), but the jumbling of the different stories removes any tension or excitement from how things will play out. The story elements are all too familiar to really cause much interest (there's even a scene with a well...), so there's a dependency on the scares and nervy tension to make the rest of the film worthwhile. Unfortunately, there isn't much of either.

Ringu 2 (1999 - Hideo Nakata) - When Hideo Nakata's "Ringu" was first released to theatres in Japan it was double-billed with its sequel - a film by Joji Iida called "Rasen" (or "Spiral"). While "Ringu" did well, its sibling did not. So a scant year later Nakata was brought in to re-imagine a "proper" sequel. Where "Rasen" was talky and too "scientific" for some, "Ringu 2" was supposed to bring back the horror. Even though the story does actually have some intriguing aspects and frightening ramifications, Nakata dances around the many plot threads so much that he actually forgets to build up the tension and create any of the expected horror. There's a strange "dry" feeling to the whole film. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there just doesn't seem to be a great deal of enthusiasm invested into it. The direction is fine, though somewhat flat and static, and the performances are OK. The very muted colour palette doesn't seem to add much and aside from a single scene in Sadako's old house where part of the video "comes to life", there wasn't much to make you sit back and exclaim "Wow". Nakata does introduce little bits of interesting framing and the editing is occasionally dynamic, but it just doesn't lead to much. "Ringu 2" is not a bad film, but as a horror movie it likely won't thrill, scare or even creep you out.

The Earth Dies Screaming (1964 - Terence Fisher) - I've been in a mindset recently that prefers shorter films - partially as a counter to the strange phenomenon of recent Hollywood movies "needing" to be over 2 hours (even comedies), but mostly because films under 90 minutes tend to be tightly constructed, have little padding and move briskly. At 62 minutes, "The Earth Dies Screaming" fits right into that zone and has the added bonus of being directed by Terence Fisher (helmer of a number of fine Hammer films), but in the end I actually wanted it to be longer. It looks simply great and indeed moves briskly without pausing to sit and explain every reason for the alien attack that has left most everyone dead, but I just wanted more. I guess that's a compliment and I really don't mind being left hanging with questions, but I did want to know why that one guy wouldn't reveal how he managed to stay alive (everyone had a good reason for being isolated when the "attack" hit) and why some people became zombies and so on and so on...Actually, the one thing they probably should have left open was the aliens themselves (the robot like things didn't completely work for me). Why am I complaining though? This was a great deal of fun and cements my requirement to see more from Fisher.

Mansion Of Madness (1973 - Juan Lopez Moctezuma) - This adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's "The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Feather", though very washed out on the current DVD, looked great with all of its off kilter angles, usage of the run down environs of the "asylum" and its overall hallucinatory feel. Unfortunately there's too much lengthy and poorly delivered dialog that adds nothing extra to the story. All the strange happenings around the visitor to the asylum don't need all that blathering - he's come to experience the "system of soothing" and it would've played out better if we had experienced it slowly with him. The bits of humour are way too broad as well and just don't really belong. The nice visuals just can't counteract the rest.

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