Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Udlug Spleenripper

I post this again, as I did on Facebook earlier, because this short documentary his been on my mind all day. I came home, described it to Rebecca, knowing full well that she would never be able to watch it without crumpling into a ball of tears, and I found myself crying in the process. That's the power of cinema ladies and gentleman.

Last Minutes with ODEN from phos pictures on Vimeo.

Trick 'r Treat - For what ever reason, I completely missed watching this when it made that rounds, but thanks to Trevor I finally watched it, and was quite pleased. This Michael Dougherty fella knows how to make an entertaining horror film.

I'm really slacking on this watching a horror film a night thing. I'm trying my best, honestly. On the plus slide, I'm working more on Bluebird again as things are moving along again, I'm getting into some good shape, and I saw Reign of Assassins.

Reign of Assassins - Damn, I need to see this in theatres. It was pretty spectacular. Definitely one of the best martial arts films of 2010, along with Ip Man 2 and the Ip Man prequel. Its really well done, and some of the action is spectacular. A good old fashioned wuxia without any political flag waving.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Shaman of Aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh!

I had every intention of going to see A Serbian Film at the Bloor tonite, but I am zonked. My body, aching from my recent re-start of the physically fit Matt program, and tired from lack of sleep and recovery, is telling me stay home, rest, and watch Reign of Assassins. So that's what I did. Here's what I was missing.

My body will thank me for it. And Reign of Assassins was amazing enough to warrant the change.

Pin - A grand fine piece of Canadiana with a very young David Hewlett, about a family and their relationship with Pin, a life sized, anatomically correct dummy the father keeps as a prop at his family practice. The father, a doctor and also a ventriloquist, uses Pin as a means of education and entertainment for the youngsters, using his ventriloquism skills to have an engaging conversation with the dummy. Of course the doctors children, particularly his son, develop a strange relationship with Pin. A strange relationship indeed. Also a strange but engaging film that I liked a lot.

Voodoo Island - A silly b-horror film from the 50's featuring the acting stylings of Boris Karloff, it features some really bad excuses for killer plants and a rather abrupt and anti-climatic end. But it on the plus side, it features some great dialogue and Boris Karloff!

The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake - Another 50's horror film, incidentally released by MGM as a double feature along with Voodoo Island, this film is the much better of the two. The story is far more interesting, the special effects are far better, and it has this guy with these weird catfish mouth barbs dangling over his lips and he walks around in silence, poisoning people with a long dart.

The Manson Family - This film took 10 years to make! And its great. Disturbing, and crazily psychedelic, this film is probably takes you as close as you can get to visualizing the state of mind the family must have been in during their time of love and then death. Its frickin' trippy, but oh so good.

Karla - This was interesting. It had the appearance and feel of a made for TV movie, and whilst the approach to the narrative was interesting, presenting Karla's view of events and then letting you know at the end she was probably lying the entire time, it doesn't really use that route to its advantage. Its a bland film. Not in the least bit offensive, but not really engaging either. It just sort of exists.

The Collector - From Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, the writers of Saw 4, 5, 6 and the upcoming 3-D incarnation, comes a film that's basically Saw but in a house with a man dressed as gimp instead of jigsaw. At heart the film has some interesting ideas, a decent story, and some solid cinematic execution, however the insistence on using gratuitous violence and even more gratuitous means of death in this film is taken to levels that are borderline loony tunes. There is physically no way in hell this guy was able to rig that house the way he did without Arkin ever realizing. I laughed. Which is sad, because it did excite me for the first 1/2 hour to 45 minutes, until it descended into mindless, pointless and ultimately meaningless and ineffective gore. Plus, Arkin's decisions get more ridiculous as the film progresses. If your suspension of disbelief level is so high that you think you can fly in real life, then you will probably enjoy this film. Otherwise, you'll get frustrated.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Thanksgiving has come and gone, and I continued my quest of 31 horror films over the month of October. Not as easy as you think. I am 2 days behind

Ju-on (V-cinema) - Takashi Shimizu's original v-cinema sensation, this sort of breaks my rules as I had seen this, just not with subtitles. You can read a review I wrote for it here. I have a theory that some films are scarier when you are absorbed by the visuals and not so much the narrative. This happened with this film, which I found haunting the first time I watched it sans subtitles, although not so much this time. The same thing happened the second time I saw Ringu. The first time was in the middle of the, and the film had subtitles, and while it was still frickin' amazing and oozed dread, it was far more a frightening experience the second time I watched it, late one night on TV in Korea, with no subtitles to save me. Maybe its the fact that glancing down to subtitles breaks the ever building sense of despair these films exude. I don't know. All I know is, it was scarier when I wasn't wrapped up in the narrative.

Ju-on: Shiroi Roujo - This year marked the 10th anniversary of the release of the original v-cinema Ju-on (see above) and so Takashi Shimizu 'oversaw' the production of two sequels, Ju-on: Shiroi Roujo aka Ju-on: White Ghost and Kuroi Shoujo aka Black Ghost. White Ghost definitely had its moments. I won't go into too much detail as I will be reviewing it shortly at the J-Film Pow-Wow, but needless to say, what it lacked in SFX and scary ghosts, it made up for with tension and a few creepy moments.

A Nightmare on Elm Street - This is another terrible remake by Platinum Dunes, and by the most pretentious music video director on earth, Samuel Bayer. I have issues with this man and his anal retentive Kodak film ads. Moving on, the film lacked any kind of tension, or character development. Its just a series of quick scares that have no build at all, and that are always combined with a loud boom of bass and loud noise, to let you know what just happened was suppose to be frightening. This is a piece of shit, the Paul Haggis version of a horror film.

30 Days of Night: Dark Days - I loved 30 Days of Night, and I love Ben Templesmith's art. This film obviously lacks the budget the first one has, and because of that it suffers. Its not a bad film, its actually fairly well executed. The problem is that the vampires, who are suppose to be feral and animalistic, don't look nearly as good as they should, like in the original. It also comes off sort of daft, because there are only a handful of vampires in the film. They send 30 or so to butcher Barrow in the first film, but here the queen Lilith only has 6 of them on her giant freighter? A bit silly.

Frozen - Adam Green is really becoming a force to be reckoned with. I loved this film. Very tense, and it had moments that made me cringe. Its also refreshing to see a film like this, that is simple in concept, and based around some great performances by the actors. And some of the camera work is pretty amazing. Adam Green's got some balls to make a film like this.

Monday, October 04, 2010


Some wonderful things happened. First, it was Nuit Blanche. Yes, it felt more like a street party for University kids towards the end of the night, but I experienced a few wonderful things:

1) Grindbox: Colin Geddes picked a wonderful bunch of trailers and other junk. Some I had seen and some I had never heard of. But one touched my heart. Orca!

I have fond memories of watching this film on TV as a wee lad in England whilst slumbering at my cousin Andrews.

2) Alice Guy-Blache - The first female director in the motion picture industry, and one of the first narrative fiction film directors ever, the short films playing in cinema 3 circa 1906-1907. Tableau in style, they proved one thing: dogs and sausages are still funny 100 years later. Wow, its crazy to think those films were 104 years old. They have a documentary about her at the NFB Mediatheque.

3) Polly - Voyeuristic, somewhat uncomfortable, beautiful and upsetting, I Cried For You, a video installation utilizing performance art in the form of crying, Polly was the only person I saw that actually cried. Sure most after there allotted 10 minutes shed a tear, but after 5 minutes, she was sobbing. It was a wonderfully strange experience for me as a viewer, and I'm sure for her as the performer. It moved many people watching, some who found it incredibly sad and disturbing. Which is strange, that despite the 'desensitization' of a culture, something as simple as a person crying, someone we don't know and have no connection too, can still evoke such a reaction. On the bad side, the cast of Jersey Shore seemed to be in the area, and during every performance, some drunk person stopped to perform performance art of their own on the massive TV screen, usually in the form of picking a gigantic nose.

4) Drum Party - There was a drum party at the AGO. The atmosphere was terrific. Moments like that make events like Nuit Blanche worthwhile. Yes, there were drunks later on in the evening, but having a communal environment like that with such a hive-mind kind of attitude is something all communities need.

I'm also trying to succeed in watching 31 horror movies over the course of October, one per day. I have a few rules. The first, which is making this difficult, is watching a film I haven't seen or don't remember seeing. The second, is that I can watch more than one in a day, so long as my count is 31 at the end of the month. So far, so good.

Rob Zombies Halloween 2 - This film reminded me a lot of House of 1000 Corpses, where its really just a mishmash of ideas with no real coherent narrative. Sure Zombie has some good ideas, and on occasion he achieves some semblance of cinematic marvel, but mostly its just a mess. Its trying to hard to be edgy and extreme, and instead, its pretty bad. Two rules he should learn. One is to stop casting his wife because she is an awful actor. The second he should stop with the cheeseball musical montages.

Don't Kill a Duckling - One of Fulci's first horror films from 1972, this is by far one of my favourites, with Zombie, City of the Living Dead and New York Ripper. Less atmospheric than The Beyond but far more coherent, its slightly disturbing because of the content, not just the bloody mayhem, which is restrained here compared to his later films.

Big Bad Wolf - Trevor bought me this in retaliation for getting him Happy Birthday to Me for his birthday. It was a bad film yes, but still surprisingly entertaining, mostly because it had a trashtalking werewolf and a good level of gore. Oh, and Clint Howard and David Naughton have cameos.