Saturday, April 27, 2013
THE HORROR SHOW needs to go back to "short, sweet and to the sharp and scary point" with these reviews. That way we can get more reviews in. Of course, that means watching more movies...hmmm...
So, THE PACT almost didn't get watched, honestly. I saw the image for it on Netflix and it looked like it was going to be some cheesy, ghostly toss away. However, the folks over at the Horror Etc Podcast mentioned it on a podcast and I gave it a shot, thankfully.
The Pact ticks all the boxes. It's a fun mystery wrapped in dread and despair in such a fantastic way. And the topper - ghosts helping the main character solve the mystery. Perfect storm for me - I love these films. The story meanders a bit, taking it's time to let things unfold. It worked on a creepy level as well, playing up the bumps in the night without a dependance on special effects or faux-tech visuals. No night vision. No recordings of creepy voices. But, there are some cool visuals and interesting tricks here and there and move things along nicely.
The film has a tight story with an independent feel to it - it works really well. Nicholas McCarthy's Direction is solid and screen writing is grand. It's his first feature film and I can't wait to see more from him.
Caity Lotz knocks it out of the park. She's such a beauty and she plays along the line of scared and wanting to run and driven to find out the truth very well. ( You may remember her from her small role in MAD MEN. ) In some of thee films, this is a fail point. I find myself saying, "Why don't you just...walk away from there?" It breaks the film entirely. This has none of that - it works perfectly.
Now, the film is a little rough around the edges at points, but I think the overall take away is well worth a viewing. Especially late in the eve...in the dark...alone.
Love mystery? Love ghosts? You need to take a look at The Pact and let me know what you think.
This is only a short and at a scant 7 minutes long, it's a testament to great story writing.
Horror fans and story fans alike will love this grand effort. Fantastic. As a parent...wow.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Sunday, April 7, 2013
Ok...letting the spoilers fly. Be warned!
I've been doing a lot of thinking about EVIL DEAD and the more I think about it the more I like it. No...love it.
The movie had me right out of the gate. The opening scene set the whole tone for the film. We know what we're going to see - something familiar, but different enough to be interesting. Thank you. Honestly, people hate on film remakes when they are shot for shot, right? They moan and piss on about how they are just seeing the same movie redone and they hate it. However, they are doing the same with EVIL DEAD for being different from the original. "They changed things!" Yes, they did and they did it well!
We have a familiar setup - five twenty-somethings go to a cabin. However, they go for different reasons than the original film. They are trying to help their friend kick a drug habit. Interesting stuff. Just the right amount of new. Again, thank you. It was believable and interesting.
This creates additional interesting interactions and situations. The cold turkey intervention has Mia's friends thinking that she's just going through withdrawals...not fighting off demons. This was added interest to me. A little added tension. And right when people start catching on, it's too late. The shit is already connection with the fan.
Fede Alvarez, Diablo Cody and Rodo Sayagues along with Sam Raimi came up with a great new take on the script without drifting too far off the beaten path. (SEE: THE FOG remake) The gimmick about the book showing the various, nastiness we're going to see unfold was a fun change. They had Lou Taylor Pucci take on the body bashing endured by Bruce Campbell in the original. And there were no useless characters or silly plot twists that lead to silly actions.
No...this isn't CITIZEN KANE. I've heard several people talking about character development and dialog. I strongly believe that the only reason people are mentioning this for a gore filled horror fest is it's connection to the original film. It's a horror film. It's being horrific. It's not My Dinner With Andre. I wanted scares, gore and evil dead and I got 'em. And the dead were so....very evil.
We get a nasty bit of swamp assault, face slicing with a mirror shard, needles in the face and eye, an arm sliced off with a carving knife, multiple nail gun injuries and more...culminating in a chainsaw shoved into a mouth with blood spraying and raining from the sky!
Come on, Horror Fans, we should rejoice that this film not only made it out to a major release, but is topping box office charts all over the place. Huzza for horror! I understand, you love the original. You might have watched it like we did - over and over committing scenes and dialog to memory. I get it. But, that was 1981and, while fun and cool and GRAND as a film, even Sam Raimi himself remade it, really. It's not sacred. Let it go already and support good, nasty horror with some truly nasty and mean spirited bloody goodness in it.
Saturday, April 6, 2013
As I've said before, when the news came that THE EVIL DEAD was going to be remade, I was wholeheartedly against it. I shook my angry fist and said my "How Dare They" statements right along with all the others.
However, when I saw the dark and nasty trailer, I was cheering and could not wait to see it. The original movie came out in 1981 and we watched it over...and over...and over again. We knew what was coming from the steering wheel being jerked out of the drivers hands in the beginning to the final frame and credit roll. But, it's been 32 years. That's a good amount of time to occupy the limelight by yourself. It was time to take another pass at this epic. And, the pass was well worth seeing.
As usual, there will be no plot spoilers here, though if you've seen the original you pretty much know the drill.
EVIL DEAD 1981
I recently re-watched EVIL DEAD and what a great film it was. Raimi and his team did a fantastic job with what they had to work with. There's a flow to things that are fun and by the book. In this case, that's a good thing. The actors (Insert "BRRRRRRUUUUUUUUCE!" chant here) hold up their end of things really well. This is a classic "old dark house" story that really helped to lock the cabin in the woods storyline into genre history.
There were some very cool things being done in the original EVIL DEAD. Crazy edit cuts, wild angles and kinetic camera work helps fuel this film's creep factor and high energy. You can tell it's a budget challenged film, but that just adds to it's charms. Raimi has a lot of fun with the camera in this film. You can see that he's trying to bring his A Game to the table and it works. The camera really becomes another character in the film.
Another refreshing aspect is that you actually care about the five cabin occupants. They are not just pawns to be used up during the course of the film. Theresa Tilly, Betsy Baker, Richard DeManincor, and Ellen Sandweiss do a fine job, but this film's true star is the horror icon Bruce Campbell. He takes so much abuse in this film that it really does become comical. He's the main recipient of most of the fake blood and gore.
I had to look up what the term FAKE SHEMP meant - they have eighteen listed in the films credits. It was an interesting little factoid that carried over into the new film as well, though possibly only in homage.
"Fake Shemp" is a term that refers to the final four "Moe-Larry-Shemp" Columbia short subjects made by the Three Stooges, completed after Shemp Howard's death. Fake Shemps are usually actors filling in for missing or absent actors who have left the shoot, been injured, died or whose roles were never cast in the first place. The phrase was popularized by the "Evil Dead" filmmakers who were only able to finish filming with the prodigious use of Fake Shemps.
Now, part of the low budget nature of the original is that there are some rather funny cuts and scenes as well. I'm not 100% sure they were MEANT to be funny, but they play as funny and so very entertaining. People pressed up against windows during near miss car accidents, "Ash" getting helplessly stuck in not one but TWO bookcases when creatures attack him and some lines of dialog that had us rolling every time we heard them.
"Maybe it was an animal."
"An animal? And ANIMAL?! HA! HA! HA! HA! That's the STUPIDEST thing I've HEARD! An ANIMAL. Jesus Christ..."
The film is genuinely creepy and scary. And the gore had us howling for more when we saw it. Blood flows in buckets and body parts fly...and wiggle...all over the place. Everything - even the crazy, stop action clay effects work - still holds up pretty well today.
As I re-watched, I was somewhat surprised at how much good stuff was in this film. It had been a while since I saw it, but as it played through I kept saying, "Oh yeah...I forgot about that part." The 85 or so minutes fly along and the movie ramps up to insane levels. There are great moments of tension and some really nasty moments that helped raise the horror genre bar to a very high level. The level has been held up to this very day as something to strive for.
I'm not sure the remake made it to the original's level, but it gave it a great go.
EVIL DEAD 2013
The original EVIL DEAD had a campy quality that came from the low budget and small group effort. That particular aspect is missing entirely from the remake, of course, but it still has an edge that separates it from the flock. Director Fede Alvarez does a fantastic job remaking the film - paying homage to the original, but not copying it scene by scene. Alvarez, Diablo Cody and Rodo Sayagues reworked Raimi's script expertly. They added a level of detail that really helped the story along. It was still the cabin in the woods classic, but the reason for them being there made sense and there were reasons why the horrors that unfolded happened the way they did. I want to examine these aspects of the film at greater length. It seemed to strike a few cords and were a metaphor for something a little bigger than the sum of it's parts.
As things devolve, the characters act like like you'd expect them to act and don't resort to silly moves and actions. The acting was above average for sure, not your run of the mill genre schlock. While the cast was solid, Jane Levy and Lou Taylor Pucci were the centerpieces and they helped to push this film beyond being just another "scary movie".
The camera work wasn't as over the top as Raimi's, but it had me thinking about it for sure. Aaron Morton's cinematography was intriguing. The shadows, light and focus pushed the film into a creepy place. Things were out of focus at times and I found myself straining against the darkness to see what was there under the surface. The tension was fantastic.
There were great callbacks to the original film. They had to be in there - everyone wants them there either to hate on them or to praise their difference. While these callbacks made it difficult to separate this from the original, the 2013 DEAD had a darker and more mean spirited edge that gave it a very different feel.
And the gore. Jebus. The gore and violence in this film had me shaking my head from time to time. It all made sense in the course of the film, but...wow...it was so over the top it had me giggling. If you blended Italian and Japanese gore and mixed in a little Rob Zombie grit for texture, you might come close to this film if you added a little steroids into the mix as well. The dead are truly evil in this film. Several people bolted as the events washed over the screen - done with the madness it presented and longing for fresh air! hehehe
Both films need to be seen if you love horror. If you've already seen the original, you might want to re-watch it if you have not seen it for a while.
I, for one, want to take films out of their sacred boxes. I'm done thinking that there are films that shouldn't be touched. It takes too much effort and they keep doing it anyway, so why fight it. Especially if it's done right. EVIL DEAD 2013 stands by itself and is a film I'll be returning to from time to time.
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
I'll admit it, I'm a COMPLETE sucker for these movies. Give me EVERY DAMN TROPE IN THE BOOK and I'll eat it up like a glutton! Feed me the bumps in the night. Feel me the jump scares. Pull people, shove people and send things flying across the room and I'm so very happy.
So, it's not shocking that this trailer makes me happy. :)
James "GOT YA!" Wan is serving up more of his ghostly goodness with THE CONJURING. The man excels at this genre, freaking people out with everything listed above and more. I love his work. Even the original SAW was rather smart and well played. Insidious? "Fo-get a 'bout it!" So good! The films are slick and well shot and rich with color, atmosphere and scares.
The thing that has me a BIT worried is seeing Chad and Carey Hayes (Whiteout and House of Wax) listed as the writers. To be honest, I have not seen any of their work, but many of the people who have...didn't dig it. ( House of Wax - 41/100 and Whiteout a SAD 28/100 on Metacritic Ouch. ) I only hope that Mr. Wan can steer them into the seas of righteousness and help them on their way to greatness with Conjuring! :)
In this "Based on True Events" tale, Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson play ghost investigators who are "lucky" enough to find Lili Taylor and her haunted houseful. But, will they live to tell the tale?!
Like I said, it's not necessarily "new ground" being broken here, but who cares if Wan does it right. (No, not trying to be funny - just worked out that way...) The man knows how to set the scene and set things up for real haunted house fun, so I'm all in on this one even if life might call for me seeing it on Netflix instead of the big screen at the moment.
Ok...I need to hunt this down. It looks like it's going to be fantastic.
Again, the BBC is presenting some quality programming (even though it is another zombie undertaking...so to speak. :::grin:::) with it's series IN THE FLESH .
If you've seen COLIN, you might dig it. It has a very cool look and feel with a post-human sadness to it.
Stay tuned for reviews!