Sunday 13 October 2013

October Horror 2013 - Chapter #3

Work with me Linda, work with me!

Exorcist II: The Heretic (John Boorman - 1977) - There are some great elements to this jumbled mess of a movie, but none of them ever quite fit together enough to bring even one great scene to bear. Moments, shots and ideas pop out, but then get ground down and trampled with remarkably silly and inconsistent plot points (usually involving religious flapdoodle, terrible "scientific" theories or ancient myths). Also of an inconsistent nature is the acting (though Richard Burton does stay reasonably consistent as the priest investigating what happened years ago), which can shift from moments of subtlety to awkward line readings - within the very same scene. Now that I think of it, nothing is consistent in this movie - even the special effects at times could provide an impressive set or shot, but then fall into almost laugh-out-loud goofiness (just because you can almost replicate a man falling down a chasm, doesn't mean you should do it). No one gets away with their reputation intact.

Ravenous (Antonia Bird - 1999) - I now understand why a number of people kept recommending I catch up with this film - it's pretty damn fantastic. Set in the mid-1800s, the story follows the members of a remote post in Northern California as they trek through the mountains to help rescue a woman from a man turned cannibal. However, things get turned around on them and the victims start piling up. It's more than just a "who-gets-it-next" style film though, as the Indian legend of the Windingo gets weaved into the story and it weighs courage, morality and the survival instinct all against each other. The cast is great (Robert Carlyle is the stand out), Bird's direction is strong & confident and Damon Albarn's score is the final element to bring just the right amount of extra something to every scene (whether it's more tension, humour or mystery).

Possession (Andrzej Zulawski - 1981) - Zulawski's allegory about divorce (and a bad divorce at that) is not just intense, but simply overwhelming at times. As we see how the different aspects of being married and parents possess this couple, the choices are never clear nor does any one of them come without consequences. The actors spin and flail almost as much as the camera does (some seriously fantastic work behind the lens throughout) and go far beyond standard melodramatic flair to bring a commitment to their roles that's rather astonishing. Isabelle Adjani is breathtaking at times - in particular her breakdown and "miscarriage" in a subway tunnel. It's not just bracing, it's downright terrifying. This film is thick with layers of meaning and strikes me as something around which an entire film school curriculum could be based, but it's also an unnerving wonderful work of art showing two characters losing control and destroying themselves and each other.

The Devils (Ken Russell - 1971) - Even though Russell himself doesn't think his controversial 1971 screed against the dangers of organized religion abusing power is a horror film, it absolutely contains both subject matter and images which are most definitely horrific. Especially when you consider it is based on actual events from the pre-Renaissance era in France. With sets designed by Derek Jarman and brutally forceful performances from both Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave (on par with Adjani's no holds barred acting in Possession), the film is hypnotizing in how it excoriates the power hungry and those who help them (either actively or passively). It's also wickedly funny at times, but still retains a core of (at least for me) horror. If only during moments like when the Cardinal Richelieu speaks and states how he firmly intends to bring church and state together as one. Now that's terrifying...

No comments: