Author Topic: October Marathon: Horror!  (Read 29743 times)

Najemikon

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October Marathon: Horror!
« on: October 02, 2008, 12:53:54 AM »
No way will I get remotely close to Pete's tally, nor even the rest of you pulling for one a day. But I'll try and pick off a handful for October! Proper review posts below, but this will form an index:

01/10/08            I Am Legend                             3/5
02/10/08            Leopard Man*                           4/5
03/10/08            Ghost Ship*                              3/5
04/10/08            28 Weeks Later                         4/5
05/10/08            The 7th Victim*                         4/5
06/10/08            Isle of the Dead*                       3/5
07/10/08            From Dusk Till Dawn                    4/5
08/10/08            The Orphanage                          4/5
09/10/08            Mr. Brooks                                 4/5
10/10/08            Mindripper                                 2/5
12/10/08            Rec                                          4/5
13/10/08            Bedlam*                                    4/5
14/10/08            The Texas Chainsaw Massacre      5/5
15/10/08            Road Games                               3/5
16/10/08            An American Werewolf in London    5/5
18/10/08            Alien                                         5/5
19/10/08            Shutter                                     3/5
20/10/08            Aliens                                       5/5
21/10/08            Alien3                                       3/5
22/10/08            Suspiria                                     5/5
23/10/08            The Cars That Ate Paris               2/5
25/10/08            The Omen                                 4/5
26/10/08            Wait Until Dark                           4/5
27/10/08            Very Bad Things                          3/5
27/10/08            Dead Set, Part 1 (TV)                  3/5
28/10/08            The Evil Dead                             4/5
28/10/08            Dead Set, Part 2 (TV)                  3/5
29/10/08            Evil Dead II                                5/5
29/10/08            Dead Set, Part 3 (TV)                  4/5
30/10/08            Alien: Resurrection                       2/5
30/10/08            Dead Set, Part 4 (TV)                  4/4
31/10/08            Dead Set, part 5 (TV)                  5/4
31/10/08            Cabin Fever                                2/5

*Reviewed in the Val Lewton marathon thread.   
« Last Edit: November 01, 2008, 02:42:06 AM by Jon »

Najemikon

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I Am Legend ***
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2008, 12:59:51 AM »
I Am Legend (2007)
3 out of 5



Bloody Hollywood.

I've always said that it doesn't matter if they change a story from a well-known book, as long as they keep the spirit. They were so close here, but bottled it. It just falls apart right in front of you! It's like watching a star runner collapse with an asthma attack a foot off the finish line!

First off, let me say, overall I enjoyed I Am Legend a great deal. It's a fast paced action/horror with a few genuinely unnerving moments. Plus the overall story is a corker: everyone is dead from a virus, apart from Robert Neville (Will Smith) who is immune and trying to find a cure. The story follows his daily routine with Sam, his dog (amazing performance!), and his friends (the mannequins) and his not-so-friends (the vampires).

Smith is fantastic as probably the last man alive showing us both an action man and a very vulnerable, grieving man. An empty, ruined New York is creepy. And the sequences with the infected were great. What really wins it is director Francis Lawrence's understanding of silence and using a handheld camera every now and again. Along with scenes willing to show a broken, fallible hero, It makes for an unusual blockbuster. He proves he's the man to bring the classic novel to the screen with the story intact. That is, up until the third act where all is abandoned to Hollywood convention. Particularly frustrating to those who know the book and could see the threads forming early on.

The DVD features an alternate version with the original ending on before it was hacked and reshot for the theatrical release. It was a brave attempt at the books more powerful coda. However for it to have worked properly, they needed better villains.

(click to show/hide)

Instead, they stick with convention. Ironically a convention the book created! It is a sci-fi milestone that inspired modern vampire/zombie myth, but none of it's pretenders have ever quite pulled off the same idea. This proved they could do it.  It could have easily been more powerful than the average blockbuster and it's only real crime is playing safe, stuffing up the reason for the title, and handing us a fun movie rather than a horror classic. Maybe next time.

Bloody Hollywood.

EDIT: Dropped the rating after sleeping on it. The decision to use full CGI for the infected is fundamentally flawed and therefore stupid. It undermines all the other (very) good work. Though the film came close to making a fair, modern telling of the book, it was never going to convince. They look ridiculous and such a basic flaw cannot be ignored.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2010, 09:11:08 PM by Jon »

Najemikon

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28 Weeks Later ****
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2008, 03:14:38 AM »
28 Weeks Later
4 out of 5



A devastated Britain is being repopulated now that the Rage virus is under control. But a family coming back together proves disastrous and it's on the move again.

28 Weeks Later starts with an incredible sequence featuring survivors in a farmhouse coming under a vicious attack. Dom (Robert Carlyle) is the only survivor, leaving his wife for dead, running from what can only be described as a swarm of infected. The shot of them sweeping down the hill is incredible.

The missus pops up later on surviving because she is a carrier; unaffected by the virus but still contagious. Her son is the same and 28 weeks after the outbreak, he and his older sister return to Britain and their dad, now living and working in the green zone. This family is the films focus and strength. While they expand the story logically and present a terrifyingly feasible Britain completely broken, the story stays grounded by sticking with the family.

It's incredibly bleak and gory. A sequence with a helicopter and field full of infected should go down as a horror classic! This visceral, in-your-face style in unrelenting, an improvement on the original I feel. There are holes in the story if you want to be picky, but first and foremost this is entertainment.

28 Days Later and the remake of Dawn of the Dead caused debate amongst horror fans about what type of zombie they thought was correct: runners or shufflers. I prefer the latter, but I think the full speed zombies can be excused here because they aren't dead. They're poorly.  :P

But regardless of your opinion, this compares rather too well with its contemporaries. I liked Diary of the Dead, but what that film gains in social commentary it loses in sheer entertainment value against this. Romero needs to step up a gear and show his slow zombies are still a viable threat in cinema. His touch of humour was desperately needed here. And in the previous post I've dropped the rating of I Am Legend. 28 Weeks Later is relatively low budget, but handles everything better in a fundamentally similar story. Ironically, according to the making of interview with Robert Carlyle, he says the infected actors were told to behave like there was still some humanity left. A cynic might say on a film like this that only his character needed that heart, yet I Am Legend demanded it and they didn't even use actors!

This is a great sequel. It takes what made the original great and expands on it. And the end is still open so maybe a franchise beckons.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2010, 09:10:47 PM by Jon »

Najemikon

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From Dusk Till Dawn ****
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2008, 01:28:21 AM »
From Dusk Till Dawn
4 out of 5



I love this movie. One of my favourite horrors. And after the last few days of the elegant brilliance of Val lewton, I felt I needed to cut loose with some balls-out action vampire killing!

I wish I could have seen it without knowing what it actually was, because the shock of the switch from thriller to horror would have been great fun. It's great that Rodriguez put full effort into that first half to give us well rounded characters, because a problem with a lot of horror films is the thin characters. What's also lacking is a sense of humour, but last section is full of laughs, especially Tom Savini trying to hide his new teeth! Or the vamp that disintegrates on a pool table and his eyes roll into the pockets!

Speaking of which, the gore never gets boring. So many gags, you could watch this several times and still see something new and disgusting. The script is fantastic, full of quotable lines, some of which I've been able to get into everyday conversation... like "I might be a bastard, but I'm not a f***ing bastard!" or the speech about pussy. Actually, I wish I'd not tried that last one. I'm still not welcome in Asda... :bag:

It's alright having a good script, but you need a good cast to deliver it and this lot are perfect. Even Tarantino, working to his, erm, strengths. Juliette Lewis I thought would be wrong, but she strikes a good tone between schoolgirl and temptress to Richie's nightmare. Harvey Kietel is as dependable as ever and Clooney is obviously having a riot. Well, I say "obviously", but the outtakes show him frequently pissed off and without his usual humour, so maybe it just proves what a good actor he actually is. And it does no harm to have room for cult favourites like the afore mentioned Tom Savini and Fred Williamson.

Everything oozes confidences in this movie. All the scenes have that little extra they didn't actually need, but looks cool anyway. It will possibly always stand as Rodriguez' best film because it's the most perfect fit for his seat of the pants directing style and there aren't many stories that can stand such a change in tone and still work fully committed to both styles.

"And I don't want to hear anything about "I don't believe in vampires" because I don't believe in vampires, but I believe in my own two eyes, and what I saw is fucking vampires!"
« Last Edit: October 26, 2008, 04:35:09 PM by Jon »

Offline Achim

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Re: October Marathon: Horror!
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2008, 06:10:41 AM »
"Psychos don't explode when sunlight hits them" :hysterical:

"Everybody be cool. You..., be cool." used to be on my answering machine.

There was rumor the Blu-ray would be coming this year, a sure double-dip for me, but it seems to be postponed. :weep:

Najemikon

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Re: October Marathon: Horror!
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2008, 12:49:01 AM »
"Everybody be cool. You..., be cool." used to be on my answering machine.

What a great idea! :laugh:

When giving directions I do tend to tell people to "turn that big bastard left", which strikes them as odd when they aren't actually driving what could feasibly be described as a "big bastard". :whistle:

Najemikon

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The Orphanage ****
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2008, 01:35:19 AM »
The Orphange (El Olfanato)
4 out of 5



Laura (Belén Rueda) returns to the abandoned orphanage where she spent her childhood, intending to reopen it with her husband and young son, Simon. Simon has several imaginary friends, but are they so make-believe? Or in fact, former residents? Soon after, he disappears and in desperation Laura tries to believe in his stories in the hope they will lead her to him.

The Orphanage is a good old fashioned ghost story. Produced by Guillermo del Toro, this is a perfect companion to Pan's Labyrinth or his earlier Devil's Backbone. The story is detailed and in fact, director Juan Antonio Bayona spends as much time on the back story as on the scares, both combining to make one very memorable film. Nothing original really, but ghost films like this are few and far between, especially ones that get it so right.

It is frequently and genuinely scary, though not gory (except for one brief moment), relying instead on suggestion and sound. The DVD mix is superb with the creaky old building groaning so much you'll think someone is crawling around your own house. As with a lot of stories of this type, it perhaps loses a little pace in the third act as it has to start to tie everything up, however, tie up it does and in the most beautiful fashion. Maybe you'll guess the outcome, but you should still find it a moving conclusion. The story is clever enough to offer a variety of interpretations and as such I expect it will keep coming back to me. One scene in particular with the sinister, masked Tomas is very ambiguous. It's got a great cast and Belén Rueda's brilliant and intense performance as Laura unravels especially holds it all together.

Elegantly written and the photography is wonderful throughout varied weather and seasons. Inside, the house always seems warm, but with scary potential. That can't have been straightforward because after all, for the story to work, we have to believe it can be a welcoming home for children, not just a hell mouth, so to speak. However, it is foreboding, especially in a greenish night vision sequence that will have you biting your finger nails down to nothing!

If you haven't tried foreign films before, this and Del Toro's others are an excellent place to start. Hollywood forgot how to make scary yet substantial films ages ago and so you're selling yourself short by ignoring Spanish and Asian releases.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2010, 09:11:36 PM by Jon »

Offline Jimmy

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Re: October Marathon: Horror!
« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2008, 02:08:26 AM »
If you haven't tried foreign films before, this and Del Toro's others are an excellent place to start. Hollywood forgot how to make scary yet substantial films ages ago and so you're selling yourself short by ignoring Spanish and Asian releases.
Does my Italian movies count as foreign horror? I hope so, I don't want to watch another Japanese grey ghost movie  :laugh:

Najemikon

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Re: October Marathon: Horror!
« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2008, 09:30:33 AM »
If you haven't tried foreign films before, this and Del Toro's others are an excellent place to start. Hollywood forgot how to make scary yet substantial films ages ago and so you're selling yourself short by ignoring Spanish and Asian releases.
Does my Italian movies count as foreign horror? I hope so, I don't want to watch another Japanese grey ghost movie  :laugh:

Of course!  :D

Offline goodguy

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Re: October Marathon: Horror!
« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2008, 01:40:14 PM »
If you haven't tried foreign films before, this and Del Toro's others are an excellent place to start. Hollywood forgot how to make scary yet substantial films ages ago and so you're selling yourself short by ignoring Spanish and Asian releases.

I'm thinking about buying this one, which recently had a new and improved UK release. I'm not a horror fan, but then it probably isn't horror in the strictest sense and it sounds just weird enough that I may like it. Do you know it by chance?
Matthias

Najemikon

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Re: October Marathon: Horror!
« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2008, 08:36:39 PM »
I don't know it, but it looks interesting to say the least!

Najemikon

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Mr. Brooks ****
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2008, 03:28:16 AM »
Mr. Brooks
4 out of 5




Kevin Costner plays Earl Brooks, a successful business man who's just won a Man of the Year award, has a beautiful house, a great wife and a gorgeous daughter. Everything is perfect. Except Mr. Brooks has an addiction to killing and he's constantly fighting temptation to give in. Two years have passed since his last kill and Marshall (who the hell is Marshall, you say!) thinks they deserve a treat.

I took a risk here. Being a serial killer film, there was half a chance I'd have to exclude it from this horror marathon, but Thriller was born from Horror and it doesn't take much to count (e.g.: Silence of the Lambs, Seven). Luckily Mr. Brooks has enough perversions to join them.

It's a great film that unashamedly revels in it's subject and is darkly funny. It should easily appeal to Dexter fans being from the killers point of view and making the bastard likeable! But there's no cosy way out here. Brooks will kill anyone he takes a fancy to. It's Costner's best role for years, easily, and he seems to have a lot of fun with it, letting his guard down to show Earl is, like any addict, prone to obsessive emotions. Marshall both tempts and calms him luckily. His double-act with William Hurt is a joy.

Hold on... I've gotten ahead of myself. A double-act? Two killers? No. This is Fight Club style, embodied conscience territory and it's very well written. Marshall pops up at all sorts of awkward moments and Earl talks to him, though this is only for the viewers benefit as other characters don't even suspect Earl may be barking. Repeat viewings should reveal all sorts about the character that is easy to miss first time around. It's not so much a split personality as a partnership. They make independent decisions and congratulate each other, or argue. Marshall even comforts Earl in one moment and has a mardy fit in another! Of course, it's all Earl which just makes the sick depths of his mind all the more fascinating.

His killings are meticulous and perfect down to the last detail. Well, they should be. He's a little out of practice and a voyeur captures his endeavours on camera and blackmails him. But actually he just wants to join in. Marshall isn't happy, but Earl has a plan. To further complicate matters, millionaire Det. Atwood (Demi Moore, actually quite good. I know, it's just vulgar. "Demi Moore" and "good" in the same sentence) is getting closer to catching the notorious Thumbprint Killer (Brooks) through the same voyeur. Meanwhile an escaped convict is after her, while she's dealing with a messy divorce.

Complicated? Not really, but the film does rather have a lot of plates to keep spinning. And I haven't even mentioned the daughter, dropping out of school because of a secret. Marshall thinks she's lying... just how far does the secret go?

Towards the end all the threads crash together and annoyingly cripple the film for a good period of time. Thankfully the last act takes the threads and ties them up beautifully with much relish, so much so, you may find yourself cheering him on. Before you feel guilty, you'll also be cheering for Atwood, who gives the film a good kick up the arse a couple of times, just as it becomes too much about Earl and Marshall. She has two major action sequences and they are very well staged, especially a gunfight neat the end.

I sat watching the entire thing with a huge grin. Highly recommended. It isn't going to set the world on fire, but it has enough ideas to carve it's own niche in a busy genre.

The R1 DVD has a DTS sound mix and for the most part, being a drama, there's nothing to test your speakers. Except for the gunfight I mentioned which has incredible punch.

(click to show/hide)

« Last Edit: October 26, 2008, 04:35:53 PM by Jon »

Najemikon

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Mind Ripper (aka The Outpost) **
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2008, 01:46:09 PM »
Mind Ripper (aka The Oupost)
2 out of 5


Scientists have created a virus in an underground lab and find some guy dying in the mountains so inject him with it. Months later he starts to mutate and picks off the staff. Meanwhile Lance Henriksen's doctor had resigned and is looking forward to a camping trip with his son, daughter and her boyfriend, but after a distressed call from his old colleague he decides to check on the facility.

Finally! I was getting worried that this whole marathon was going to be of a high standard. You should always have a few stinkers and this little gem delivers big time!

Mind Ripper? The only ripping going on is off better films: the basic story of a mutant getting even more mutanty and a trapped facility is The Thing; the facility and staff (bonkers general, action woman) is Day of the Dead; but the absolute cream comes from Aliens. The sound is the same for a start! The gentle hum in the background, echoed random drum beats, motion sensor blip-blip, sudden blares of trumpets... it's so blatant I bet you could listen to Aliens, watch this and it would fit!

That's not all they take from Aliens though. The creature (with a spike for a tongue, like a second jaw from you-know-what) sneaks around the ducting (oh, that's more Alien... but he's got a Bruce Willis Die Hard vest. Whatever, stick 'em on the list! Picky? You bet I bloody am.), they manage to fit in multi-camera P.O.V. and a facility in lockdown. There was even a bit where they realise the thing is above them, and past victims are still alive, hung on a wall in a "nest" of cabling until it chooses to eat their brains.

Urgh. It's all joined together by inane dialogue and a childish plot. Early on an alarm goes off as the comatose experiment starts to go wrong and they ring Lance immediately! I mean, they barely even check why the pissing alarm is going off. They just pick up the phone. And he comes! What the...

Ok, good points. Erm... hold on. Let me think. Oh, the make-up on Barney isn't bad. That's the creature. They call him THOR (Transmuted Human Or-Ganism), but I preferred to call him Barney. It made it funny.

And there's a brief moment toward the end where I couldn't think where they'd stolen that bit from, so I have to concede they came up with it all on their own. They even switched off the Aliens soundtrack, bless them. Then they almost redeemed the whole thing with a really sick joke, but... no. They prefer a happy bonding moment instead. They definitely screw it up at the finale when they escape the facility, but so does Barney. How he got out, fuck knows.

Thank goodness for Lance Henriksen and Giovanni Ribisi, who are predictably good. To be fair the others aren't terrible, but if you're given shit to say you may be accused of being shit yourself. There is the father/son bonding sub-plot which is just cringeworthy, but not as much as the shoehorned in teen angst.

Avoid, avoid, avoid, avoid. This was a Wes Craven production so I should have known. By produced I think he handed over a pile of his favourite movies to a 12 year old kid (we'll call him "director") and told him to re-enact the best bits.

The DVD is hilarious from the normally dependable Anchor Bay. Bad framing, grainy quality, but somehow they thought it was worth DTS. But the best bit are the film notes. They make it sound like a classic! They called the script "elegant". :hysterical: And it "recalls The Thing and Hollow Man".  ??? I see the link with Hollow Man, but that came out five years later.

Whatever.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2008, 04:36:26 PM by Jon »

Offline Achim

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Re: October Marathon: Horror!
« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2008, 11:11:34 PM »
[...] This was a Wes Craven production so I should have known. By produced I think he handed over a pile of his favourite movies to a 12 year old kid (we'll call him "director") and told him to re-enact the best bits.
In Wes' defense, and we know he needs defense from you (despite his better films; he lost you at "Last House on the Left"... :laugh:), he did not actively produce this. I think his son did produce and Craven's name was only attached to attract attention.

Najemikon

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Re: October Marathon: Horror!
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2008, 02:58:15 AM »
[...] This was a Wes Craven production so I should have known. By produced I think he handed over a pile of his favourite movies to a 12 year old kid (we'll call him "director") and told him to re-enact the best bits.
In Wes' defense, and we know he needs defense from you (despite his better films; he lost you at "Last House on the Left"... :laugh:), he did not actively produce this. I think his son did produce and Craven's name was only attached to attract attention.

Your defence is noted, but flawed! For starters, it's in my Wes Craven boxset, so he's willing to go that far (maybe they couldn't find anything better that was actually his!). His son wrote it as well as produced it. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree! He also wrote The Hills Have Eyes 2, which was pretty bad as well.