Author Topic: Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009  (Read 27946 times)

snowcat

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Re: Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009
« Reply #45 on: October 13, 2009, 08:36:47 PM »
Scooby Doo Lost in Space! what a brilliant idea!
(click to show/hide)

:p

Najemikon

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Re: Event Horizon ***
« Reply #46 on: October 14, 2009, 08:00:41 PM »
Scooby Doo: Lost In Space
Now this is something I would like to watch. Of course in its cartoon form...



Love it!  :hysterical:

Najemikon

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Tenebre ****
« Reply #47 on: October 14, 2009, 08:51:04 PM »
Tenebre
4 out of 5




Anthony Franciosa stars as an American mystery novelist on a promotional tour in Rome who finds that his most recent book has inspired a copycat serial killer.

My first taste of Dario Argento's films was the magnificent Suspiria and in comparison, Tenebre comes across a bit flat, with a washed out quality and looks far too grey for my liking. Apparently Argento was going for an "ice cold" look and all the costumes are dull colours for consistency, but they are also real locations. Suspiria was pouring with colour on a set that could easily be manipulated and I much prefer that. I was reminded of a 1980s British TV drama and it is so much more than that.

The story is a fairly straightforward whodunnit, but it's a great pulpy plot that will interest anyone who likes a good thriller, especially with the audacious twist at the end. There are a couple of holes in the logic, but it's good fun while also having something to say about perversion and obsession. There are several murders as you'd hope in a Giallo; the one that opens the film I found weak, but the others are brilliantly staged. Not too much gore, but well placed enough to make you gasp. There's a wonderful theatrical element to how the victims are despatched (especially one with an arc of blood spraying across the wall!). The female victims are by and large played by awful actresses, probably hired from a modelling agency going by their looks! Interestingly though that says something about the killer and maybe the director, when you consider the soft-focus framing of gruesome murders. One girl in particular is so much a cliché lesbian, it had to be on purpose.

It's Argento's superb direction in those sequences and others that really make the film. I'd have preferred some Hitchcockian discipline as sometimes the good jars with the mundane, but touches like the killers point of view (Peeping Tom style) and the long tracking shot couldn't be better. It has its demented side too, with enigmatic dream sequences, a dog attack that doesn't quite deliver (but is still very much against convention) and a great soundtrack by what was left of Goblin (responsible for Dawn of the Dead and Suspiria). The characters are well set up, especially the funny female detective (Carola Stagnaro). Anthony Franciosa and John Saxon give great value too. It's just a shame the dubbing frequently distracts.

It's flawed but well worth seeing because thrillers like this are ten-a-penny now, but usually lack the passion. It could be mistaken for being gratuitous, but Argento, while possibly revealing something of his own dark-side, manipulates the viewer into the same perversions as his killer. What you think about the film by the end, may say more about you than it does of it...  :devil:

Najemikon

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Dog Soldiers ****
« Reply #48 on: October 18, 2009, 09:08:27 PM »
Dog Soldiers
4 out of 5




Soldiers on an exercise in Scotland come up against werewolves...

This is a great debut from director Neil Marshall, working from his own superb screenplay that turns unavoidable weaknesses (namely the budget) into strengths. He knows exactly what he can get away with and brings the audience in on the joke. We're scared when we should be scared and laugh when we should too.

The story takes its lead from Predator, with soldiers banter giving way to a mad dash for safety when they're attacked by werewolves, and it becomes more akin to Night of the Living Dead once the survivors are in a deserted farmhouse, complete with suicide missions and the wounded turning into the creatures. The script balances the jokes, the gore and the scares without any awkwardness. Not long into the film there's a Predator camp-fire moment that easily qualifies for all three! A fine cast led by Sean Pertwee and Kevin McKidd find their jobs all the easier for the solid writing. The film relies on McKidd as Cooper, but most of the best lines go to Pertwee's memorable Sergeant. Everyone finds just the right tone, even for some corny jokes ("there is no spoon!").

But good writing and acting aren't enough in a horror film; we need action and gore as well! Marshall does well to disguise his men-in-suit effects, using editing and shadows to create old fashioned scares and proving that CGI is often a crutch for lazy film-makers. There's only a couple of cheap moments and they are normally supported by a well placed scare, like the unfortunate soldier who becomes a kebab or Pertwee's hilarious gut-problems! Within the farmhouse, the creatures stand a few close-ups and some of the imagery is fantastic, especially the moment in a garage.

It really only stumbles in the final act. There's an obvious twist, but in a film like this, second-guessing doesn't matter, but it unexpectedly undoes the good work of a previous scene and it leaves the film feeling laboured for a short-while. However, the final scenes are fantastic building up to a nicely done end. All-in-all, one of the best horrors of recent years and the budget probably couldn't have paid for the catering on disappointments like I Am Legend.  
« Last Edit: October 18, 2009, 09:17:55 PM by Jon »

snowcat

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Re: Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009
« Reply #49 on: October 18, 2009, 09:23:26 PM »
I really like Dog Soldiers, I thought it was a film that was criticised for no reason, It does have some great imagery! and I agree about the garage scene.

Najemikon

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Monsters, Inc. ****
« Reply #50 on: October 18, 2009, 10:14:36 PM »
Monsters, Inc.
4 out of 5




Who knew that the monster in your closet was just doing his job? Monsters, Inc. is where Sulley (John Goodman) and Mike (Billy Crystal) work, good naturedly scaring kids in the human world to provide energy for their own. But actually, the monsters are more scared of the kids, which are toxic to them. So when Boo gets trapped on the other side of her closet, Mike and Sulley have to get her back while fending off the villainous Randall (Steve Buscemi)...

What a wonderful world of cinema we're in that can accurately call a fantastic film like this merely average, but thanks to Pixar, the best studio working today, that's exactly what we can do. Monsters, Inc. is less ambitious or subtle than most of their others, yet it's still better than most other children's films since. So, average it is then!

It's great fun from start to finish, very funny and quite clever in its own way. The broader target of the story means everyone has wider margins they can stretch into, so it becomes quite extravagant, with even the background monsters getting their own gags. Like many of Pixar's stories though, it still comes down to a double act and this is one of the best oddest of odd couples. Mike Wachowski, Billy Crystal has a perfect match for his stand-up brand of humour and in turn, the banter with John Goodman works beautifully. Steve Buscemi as the slimy Randall and James Coburn as Waternoose are similarly well cast. The film could die on the Boo character, but in a brilliant move, she's voiced by just recording one of crews daughters and using the resulting gurgles, giggles and screams, so she's cute and believable when compared to a typical Disney child, and that goes for live action too!

I watched the Blu-Ray version and after the incredible quality of WALL.E and Ratatouille, I was expecting it to be, well, average. However, whereas there have been undeniable advances, this film is jaw-droppingly gorgeous. I think it's simply because the monsters are all sorts of weird shapes and primary colours, they contrast even in their own world (which actually appears a bit like New York anyway). Normally, the figures would suit and to some extend, blend into their environment, but here they dazzle in the differences and you can really pick out the detail, especially texture in the slimier characters! Randall is particularly fanatastic, changing colour all the time, but the real star is Sulley. I remember the articles at the time saying how they were animating the individual hairs of his fur. Now for the first time, I can actually see it properly and it is astonishing. Add in beautiful moments like when he emerges into a dark, red-lit tunnel, and trying to justify calling this film average gets harder by the second.

Oh, yeah. I suppose the kids will like it too...  ;)

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009
« Reply #51 on: October 18, 2009, 10:16:00 PM »
I really like Dog Soldiers, I thought it was a film that was criticised for no reason, It does have some great imagery! and I agree about the garage scene.

I know what you mean. In The Descent I think he really made his mark, but he deserved more praise for this too.

snowcat

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Re: Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009
« Reply #52 on: October 18, 2009, 10:20:22 PM »
I really like Dog Soldiers, I thought it was a film that was criticised for no reason, It does have some great imagery! and I agree about the garage scene.

I know what you mean. In The Descent I think he really made his mark, but he deserved more praise for this too.

:p im one of the weird people that thought Dog Soldiers was better then the Descent :p

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009
« Reply #53 on: October 18, 2009, 10:25:55 PM »
Nothing weird about it, but it's certainly smoother so there's less room for people to criticise. :) Personally, Dog Soldiers I find more fun, but I'm proud that The Descent is a properly scary film and comes from a British director. It's better than anything out of America for about 15 years and can hold its own against the Asian films too.

Offline Achim

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Re: Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009
« Reply #54 on: October 19, 2009, 02:15:14 PM »
I also couldn't say which is better. Dog Soldiers is way more fun but The Descent is the better horror flick.

Najemikon

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Phenomena ****
« Reply #55 on: October 23, 2009, 10:07:28 PM »
Phenomena
4 out of 5




Jennifer Connelly plays her name-sake, actors daughter Jennifer Corvino, who travels to a school in Sweden. The area has become notorious for girls going missing and Jennifer is drawn into the killers world by insects. She has an empathy with them, fascinating Scottish professor Donald Pleasence and he helps her try to uncover the murderers identity.

Dario Argento returns to the dark fairytale world of Suspiria with a similar premise and plot to that earlier film, but forgoing the supernatural in favour of a more down-to-earth serial killer. Jennifer's bizarre control over insects could feel shoe-horned in; a hint of fantasy for fantasy sake, but the film as a whole is so completely nuts, it works!

Compared directly with Tenebre, it is a much better film. It looks better and has some powerful set-pieces. The murders are slicker and more brutal for the most part, especially the audacious opener with Dario's own daughter playing the victim. But what is it with him and putting heads through glass windows? In Suspiria, I thought it was a metaphor for the dark reflection of the real world versus the fairy-tale, but now I think that was just film-nerd bollocks (sorry) and actually, he probably does it because it looks really cool! Really he overdoes it, but using a special camera to capture the first one demonstrates his Hitchcock like creativity. If only he shared the Master's discipline, as I said before, it could be superb.

The opening sets up a tasty foreboding atmosphere at the school, but the obvious plot-line of home-sickness and bullying plays out quickly and leads into a new direction with Pleasence as a professor of insects and his assistant, a well-trained chimp. You read that right. A chimp! Maybe more pet or even friend than assistant, but regardless, she is marvellous and absolutely convincing. The main thing here is setting up Jennifer's power over insects, which is a strange conceit stretched to the limit but looks impressive, either summoning clouds of flies, or following single creatures to remains of victims. The two plots of sleepwalking insect queen versus serial killer rampage doesn't quite click, but Argento is so committed to both it's impossible to say which is the after-thought!

As it is the middle of the film goes nowhere and is tedious. The typically stilted acting means the players do little to liven up the film. Donald Pleasence is as you would expect is far and away the best, but he highlights the more amateurish members of the cast and the mundane dialogue. Jennifer Connelly isn't bad, playing with the part with some unexpected attitude, but she's hardly off-screen and it's a big responsibility.

But then we have the final act which is a tour de force as all the elements come together. Again similar to Suspiria's ending of hidden doors and nightmarish traps, but the effects are more grown-up and disturbing as hell. The final confrontation leading from a torturous bath of maggoty remains and insane prisoners to a beautifully filmed underwater sequence, with a truly disgusting foe is mindbending stuff and I can't recommend it enough. And I can't begin to tell you the bloody chimp's role in all of this. Honestly, I've never seen anything quite like that. It's madder than a box a frogs!

I do think the best horror films should contain elements so bizarre that they to some degree alienate the viewer. Even before the scenes with the chimp, there's a lot to take on board with the insects. But convention sets up a safety net, so when you're watching a film you feel could literally go anywhere while still holding onto some sort of logic, there's more trepidation. Take The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the dinner scene, which creates repulsion. Or Psycho's earlier take on the same story with twists designed to put the viewer in a spin. Most recently, The Mist took no prisoners with it's ending. It's a fine line though and I think Phenomena is ultimately successful and able to stand alongside those.

Conflicting and unresolved ideas cripple the film, but overall it's pacey and so utterly bonkers, it's essential viewing for any horror fan and worth a dozen Screams.  ;)

Najemikon

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Let The Right One In *****
« Reply #56 on: October 24, 2009, 07:07:36 PM »
Let The Right One In
5 out of 5




Twelve year old Oskar is an outsider, struggling to fit in at school and left alone to fend for himself at home whilst his mother works nights. One evening he meets the mysterious Eli. As a sweet romance blossoms between them, Oskar learns to overcome his tormentors and discovers Eli's dark secret and the connections to the gruesome events occuring across town. Together they must help Eli be gone and live, or stay and die.

Let the Right One In is the most original yet traditional horror film for years, even if it’s about a vampire, which along with zombies have been done to un-death. LTROI reworks the accepted lore into something fresh and definitive.  I’m not sure any film before it has quite captured the essence of the legendary creature as well as this. If The Wicker Man is the Citizen Kane of Horror, then this could be the Citizen Kane of Vampires. There are enough of them now to warrant a genuine sub-genre! It is a benchmark to judge others by, along with Dracula, Nosferatu and... well, that’s probably it.
 
Vampires have become more like rock stars in superb movies like The Lost Boys and Blade, not to mention Buffy, but they play with the idea of secret societies, prophecies and conspiracies. This gets back to the idea of the vampire as an elemental, lone creature, obeying its nature. The twists on the classic rules are so good, you feel this is how it should always have been, especially resting places, inviting one into your home (and more importantly your life), plus there’s no silly Interview With the Vampire style soul searching when it comes to turning someone, even if it does happen by accident.

A lot happens by accident actually. Per Ragnor plays Eli’s faithful guardian (Igor? ;)), but has no luck. Almost as if his efforts to keep her hidden are simply denying her nature, because when she kills for herself, it’s messily efficient. The effects are sparse, but used perfectly, particularly Eli’s subtle changes and noises (stomach rumblings to snarls!). Director Tomas Alfredson is at pains to show the violence as awful as it would really be. And let me assure you, this is powerful stuff at times even if the nature of the story might lead you to think punches are pulled.

In that sense, and aesthetically, it is probably closest to Romero’s Martin, but its proud genre roots means it’s far more watchable despite the cold and melancholy story that unfolds slowly with meticulous attention to detail, supported by Johan Söderqvist’s beautiful score, ranging from delicate piano to something akin to Bach. The screenplay is disciplined in an old fashioned way that Hollywood forgot how to do and it understands drama properly, never resorting to hyperbole. As Goodguy has commented before, Alfredson builds wonderful visuals out of a very bland setting (perhaps what Argento tried and failed to do in Tenebre).
 
We still have the glamour and seduction, but delivered so sweetly and naturally. (Thanks to Achim, I hadn't spotted the real meaning of the wonderful moment with the Rubik's cube!) It doesn't matter that Eli (beautifully played by Lina Leandersson) is even aware of what she is doing because the story is about the relationship. Is she conscious of the veneer? She certainly knows she isn’t a “girl” as such and there has been a lot of discussion about her sexuality, but the film is perhaps stressing that Eli is a Thing. I’ve said recently that Horror should always have something the viewer can’t rationalise and this may be relevant here. Like Oskar, we’re drawn into sympathising with Eli, even though we can’t work out what she is or if she deserves it. Actually of course, Oskar doesn’t care because he’s smitten.

There are other changes from the book, reducing the role of Håkan to something more straightforward and making readers gnash their fangs!  But John Ajvide Lindqvist has shown maturity in streamlining his own story to suit a more aesthetic, focused film. That’s the sign of a good adaptation. A book has room to explore characters more deeply, but a screenplay needs to find an audiences emotion and hold it consistently.

Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant, another note-perfect performance in a great cast) is that focus, the real story, and playing it out with children is a masterstroke because you can understand his innocence and desire to believe in fairytales. People are dying, but he’s a bullied outcast,  a loner excluded by his peers and even his parents (there’s a heartbreaking moment with his beloved father, showing there is even a gap there), so no matter what he learns about Eli or what they may do together, she is giving him a purpose. (Note how he never reacts to the bullies, even when they really hurt him).
 
The final scenes continue to challenge the viewer without resorting to a cheap twist and it’s been dismissed by some as that awful term “tacked on”, demonstrating they don’t understand how narrative works! Actually it is a superb sequence. Essentially the story was complete, except for understanding how Oskar will move forward.

(click to show/hide)

I know I’ve gone on.  A bit. :bag: But I think this is very important and special film. Anyone interested in Horror, or the now acceptable Vampire genre in particular, should experience. Heck, anyone interested in film should see it. It is beautiful and poetic, and plays out with assured confidence by all involved.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2009, 07:09:18 PM by Jon »

richierich

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Re: Let The Right One In *****
« Reply #57 on: October 25, 2009, 11:48:35 AM »
Let The Right One In
5 out of 5



Just found this here at £5.93 delivered, much cheaper than elsewhere; http://www.thehut.com/dvd/let-the-right-one-in/10044157.html

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009
« Reply #58 on: October 25, 2009, 11:51:23 AM »
Thank you, Rich, that's an excellent price! My Blu-Ray was 10.99 which was pretty good.

Najemikon

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Straw Dogs ****
« Reply #59 on: October 28, 2009, 11:02:14 PM »
Straw Dogs ****
4 out of 5




A young American mathematician, David Sumner (Dustin Hoffman), and his English wife, Amy (Susan George), move to a Cornish village, seeking the quiet life. But beneath the seemingly peaceful isolation of the pastoral village lies a savagery and violence that threatens to destroy the couple, culminating in a brutal test of Sumner's manhood and a bloody battle to the death. Sam Peckinpah's "Straw Dogs" is a harrowing and masterful investigation of masculinity and the nature of violence.

While Straw Dogs is not a Horror, it is an ambitious and relentlessly bleak film that may leave you an exhausted wreck. It isn't fun to watch and it isn't supposed to be. Sam Peckinpah has attracted a lot of criticism because of the violent nature of his films, but what those critics fail to appreciate is his deep understanding of the nature of violence and death. It is never glamorised or gratuitous, but hard, with consequences.

It starts as several of his films do, with children teasing an animal (here, a dog; The Wild Bunch, a scorpion, and even in The Getaway, kids gather around a corpse) which immediately sets the mood. What's fascinating about this particular one though is setting it in a sleepy Cornish village. It's unusual to see such action outside the American West, not that it's exactly an rollercoaster. Very little happens for some time, just characters circling each other and emotions starting to boil.

Dustin Hoffman turns in another typically superb performance as David, an American writer (read, intellectual who doesn't get his hands dirty) who has moved into his young wifes childhood home. It's a complicated role in a  Susan George plays the alluring Amy in the performance of her career. To comment on her performance seems cheap. Few actresses go as deep as this, even if you ignore the several topless scenes. You may already know that Straw Dogs centres on a dreadfully convincing rape sequence. What makes it really tough in this uncut version of the often banned film, is Amy is shown to briefly enjoy the attack. This is challenging stuff.

Be in no doubt though that Amy suffers real trauma. Peckinpah follows the scene with a clever sequence juxtaposing Amy's memories against images of her trying to tolerate a village party. Kids playing party games are interrupted by frames from the earlier attack. Masterpiece of editing. In fact, this is one of the first films I watched some years ago where I learned how well crafted films could be. There is one particular moment that demonstrates how much thought is spent going into what could be dismissed as an accident.

(click to show/hide)

The last sequence is where it all kicks off with The Siege of Trencher's Farm (the title of the book that inspired the film). A messy, desperate and violent defence of what David believes is right; he's given refuge to a man with obvious learning difficulties who is suspected of killing a child and a lynch mob is determined to get to him. We know the man is guilty, but David and the mob don't know for sure. And while we've been waiting for David to grow a spine, he really picks his moments!

This is the brilliant ironic conceit of the film. David, the mild-mannered focus of the story, is the villain of the plot. His earlier inability to deal with several difficult situations properly has formed the catalyst for the violence, even the rape (he left her alone out of spite to go hunting with the very men who double-back to attack her). Can we even blame the mob for them wanting revenge? They are ignorant and vulgar, but could happily co-exist until the American arrived.

Ultimately the film has a problem because it is so bleak and relentlessly undermines the viewers perception to the point that you feel battered rather than enlightened. Still, as far as notorious examples of such films go, I find it far superior to A Clockwork Orange. It is an incredible film that I recommend... carefully. I keep returning to it and apart from the before-mentioned technical brilliance, I'm not sure what keeps drawing me back.

"I didn't want you to enjoy the film. I wanted you to look very close at your own soul."
Sam Peckinpah