Author Topic: Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009  (Read 27467 times)

Offline Achim

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Re: Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009
« Reply #60 on: October 29, 2009, 05:16:25 AM »
I find Peckinpah to be a rather fasciniating director, both in his body of work as well as the person shown in the documentaries on the DVDs.

I must have gotten one of the last few disc of Straw Dogs before it went OOP. I'll admit I may have concentrated too much on Dustin Hoffmann as the good guy that I overlooked some of the things pointed in the review; like him being the actual villain. Wasn't the guy he protected played by David Warner?


I very much agree that Peckinpah didn't bring us the gore, he brought us realism in violence. Peole don't just get shot and fall over, they squirm in pain and bleed, sometimes a lot.

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Re: Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009
« Reply #61 on: October 29, 2009, 11:24:00 AM »
I love Straw Dogs!

Dustin Hoffman is a great actor, and I think his performance was great here!

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Re: Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009
« Reply #62 on: October 29, 2009, 09:48:22 PM »
I must have gotten one of the last few disc of Straw Dogs before it went OOP. I'll admit I may have concentrated too much on Dustin Hoffmann as the good guy that I overlooked some of the things pointed in the review; like him being the actual villain. Wasn't the guy he protected played by David Warner?

It's a great disc and one of my favourite covers. Yes, it was David Warner. Excellent actor, though probably will always be best known for the fantastic Omen moment... :laugh:

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Don't Look Now *****
« Reply #63 on: November 01, 2009, 12:22:30 PM »
Don’t Look Now
5 out of 5




Following the death of their daughter, John and Laura Baxter (Sutherland and Christie) move to Venice in an attempt to forget what has happened. However, they soon meet a pair of elderly sisters, one of whom claim to be psychic and insists that she can see the spirit of their daughter.

Don’t Look Now is a fascinating film, typical of the 70s, with ambition, confidence and skill in equal measure. It would be impossible to make it today and make it so effective. Nicholas Roeg is a director who has strangely fallen into obscurity, but this at least will be a timeless and enduring film.

Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie are the heart of what is an essentially a very emotional story, and they are superb. The much talked about sex scene is possibly more effective than any other because we’ve been allowed to understand them so much more than an average screen couple. Roeg also cleverly intercuts with them simply preparing for an evening meal, so despite how explicit it is, it also feels natural.

It also comes deep into the story, long after the most devastating opening of any film; the death of their daughter, Christine. Sutherland is especially heartbreaking, especially when it’s already been made clear that he had an idea something was wrong moments before it happened. Later, a psychic will tell Laura (Julie Christie) that her husband has “the gift”.

If it feels like I’m reviewing this film backwards, then that’s only fitting! It is a triumph of editing that creates a strange atmosphere. It uses metaphors rather than strict time to progress. It is neither inaccessible, nor a gimmick as there is definitely a beginning, a middle and then an end in the correct order, but a strict sense of time is very hard to pin down. This makes Venice all the more enigmatic, because it is almost like they are trapped in some sort of hell (John at least, with his sense of Déjà Vu, haunting visions and relations with religious iconography), especially as the city has probably never been photographed quite like this, a decaying, grimy and dangerous place.

While the heart of the film is a powerful and realistic study of grief, there is a serial killer on the loose too and here the film has more of a horror bent. There still isn’t explicit gore or murders, but you can guarantee being seriously creeped out by the little red mac that is occasionally glimpsed. The psychic is convinced that John and Laura’s daughter is trying to warn them to leave, but is this who John keeps seeing? Unfortunately while Laura believes, John is the one getting the visions and he is confused by them, adding to his, and ours, torment.

Even if you already know the ending (and it has been parodied many times), I think it will still be a haunting shock, just by the way it is done. It is a film that you may find hard to watch, but impossible to stop. Multiple viewings are recommended to unlock it’s intricacies and that shock ending will never dull.

(click to show/hide)

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009
« Reply #64 on: November 01, 2009, 12:24:06 PM »
Like Marie, I've a little catching up to do before I put this marathon to bed. Disappointed I didn't find much to complain about! I've almost ran out of stars as I keep spending five at a time...  ::)

Najemikon

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Hellboy ****
« Reply #65 on: November 01, 2009, 12:52:55 PM »
Hellboy
4 out of 5




When a Nazi mystical experiment goes awry in 1944, the target of a wizard's spell, the child of Satan, Hellboy, is wrenched from his home, and adopted by the U.S. agents who intercept his arrival.

Hellboy is a wonderfully inventive and entertaining film, though it’s a hard sell and many novice viewers will be left scratching their heads. You have to “get” this film to have any chance of liking it! For me, I was familiar with the marvellous comics by Mike Mignola and he was heavily involved in the films development, so it’s all good.

It’s madder than a box of frogs and Guillermo Del Toro is the perfect director for something akin to Men In Black on drugs. It’s visually dazzling, but exciting too, as he is an accomplished action director. It’s more fantasy than anything else, but its tale of prophecies and demons makes it a bona fide horror too and Del Toro has a better understanding of classic horror than any other director working at the moment (one of his many upcoming films is a remake of Frankenstein).

The story is typical comic book stuff. The Nazi’s are messing with the occult and summon a demon. Unfortunately for them, said demon is a just a kid and is raised by the Government (specifically John Hurt’s kindly professor) as a member of a special task force to deal with paranormal. The problem is, Hellboy is part of a prophecy and his effective stone right hand is actually a key that could end the world!

Phew. What makes the film and comic so entertaining are the incredible characters, who are very human despite their appearance. The bruising unstoppable hulk that is Hellboy (Ron Perlman, having the time of his life), is actually a petulant, overgrown lovesick teenager, always in trouble with his “Dad” and pining after Selma Blair’s fiery (literally) Liz. It’s very much a sitcom at heart and it works very well indeed. So long as you are already on its wavelength! So the moment a corpse is resurrected to get directions and ends up in a hilarious argument with our hero will either be the moment you become a fully paid-up member of the Hellboy fan-club or you scream in frustration!

The villains are just as fantastic as the heroes, especially the clockwork assassin, and the ending is suitably serious, so far as something like this can be. The film is let down by concessions to making it marketable, such as the very human new-comer to the team (although the long-suffering boss is great). It’s a lazy plot device that hampers the film, but overall, it’s big and funny, just like its lead character.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2009, 12:55:50 PM by Jon »

Najemikon

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Hellboy II: The Golden Army ***
« Reply #66 on: November 01, 2009, 02:04:55 PM »
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
3 out of 5




From the visionary director of Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy II: The Golden Army takes you into fantastical worlds with imaginative creatures and thrilling fight sequences unlike anything you've ever seen before!

That overview is taken from the cover and unfortunately reveals more of the film than it may appear. Hellboy II is rather lazy overall and if not a cash-in, lacks the drive of the first film. I've always enjoyed Del Toro's "one for me, one for you" approach, but I'm not sure who this one was for exactly.

I likened Hellboy to a sitcom in certain moments and that was a good thing, humanizing the fantastic characters. Here it is even more like a sitcom and not in a good way. It's the One where Hellboy gets drunk! It's the One where he argues with Liz! It is funny and entertaining, but there's none of the weight the first one had. Still, this is the role Ron Perlman surely looks forward to the most because he is brilliant. Doug Jones takes full control of Abe (amongst others!) this time around for an expanded role and the relationship with Hellboy is great.

Maybe it would have still worked had the overall plot not have been so massive. For those of you who need more than the cover offers, it concerns a prince of the Underworld (Luke Goss) declaring war on our world and it's up to the paranormal team to stop it. As I said, big stuff, but crucially, it doesn't centre on Big Red like the first one did. In fact, there's an obvious plot-line where he is poisoned and this seems like a shoe-horned in attempt at bringing him in direct line of the main story.

If the set-piece nature of the story is less subtle this time around with half-arsed links between the fights, then at least those set-pieces are marvellous fun, especially the market place and the swarm. Plus the banter, sitcom or not, is very assured and funny. Johann is particularly brilliant and the all-too human agent from the first movie is missing, so we're fully immersed in fantasy land and it works better for it. Plus that makes Jeffrey Tambor's long-suffering boss even funnier. Luke Goss might feel like the odd-one out, but he is excellent, building on his superb performance in Del Toro's Blade II and it's a log way since Bros!

Roger Corman famously hijacked sets that were due to be demolished to churn out very fast b-movies. I can't help feel Del Toro has done the digital equivalent and found a bunch of models he forgot to use in Pan's Labyrinth and has cobbled together a sequel. Still, I can't quite be that cynical as there is too much evidence that he still has a great deal of love for the character and that does come through the screen, making for a wonderful piece of escapism at least. It's still much better than most of his peers. Perhaps it's fairer to say that after Pan's, he got a bit carried away and over-confident and forgot to make sure the central plot was rock solid.

Najemikon

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Pitch Black ***
« Reply #67 on: November 01, 2009, 02:21:50 PM »
Pitch Black
3 out of 5




A group of marooned space travelers struggle for survival on a seemingly lifeless sun-scorched world

You can't have a horror marathon without an Alien rip-off! On release this gained a lot of respect and Diesel's Riddick has continued into other admirably different directions. But this is a standard haunted house in space set-up and little more.

So we have the starship that runs into trouble while its passengers are in hypersleep and is forced to crash land on a deserted planet, lit by three suns. The only time there is darkness is every 22 years, when there is an eclipse. Guess what their just in time for? The darkness brings forth the planets other inhabitants- viscous flying aliens.

The first problem with this film is the people. The one surviving crewmember and the eight or so passengers are all walking cardboard cutout clichés. We even have the cowardly English professor! Most have something to hide, which makes them instantly unlikeable to each other and to us. The few that don't have anything to hide, also have nothing to do, except get in the way, act as bait, etc. They also have the frustrating habit of being incredibly stupid.

The one redeeming feature, character wise, is Riddick. An escaped convict who has been recaptured by Johns, a cop. Vin Diesel plays Riddick brilliantly. A nasty piece of work, capable of great terror, yet does the worst thing possible- treats everyone with indifference and this makes him the strongest. They have to decide to trust him, putting him in a very powerful position. While the others struggle to be anything at all interesting, Diesel steals every scene he's in.

When darkness falls, the aliens come out from hiding and start picking off the humans. They are held at bay with various forms of light, which makes for some great effects. We see the creatures more clearly from Riddicks eyes, because he can see in the dark. The low budget is used well, with the scariest elements being the ones we can’t see. Shadows tease and the noise of these scavengers grates on the nerves.

Though never truly scary, the suspense is strong and it’s a fast pace, but in the end, the film ultimately fails. The aliens aren’t quite the relentless force they are made out to be (they have to give the stupids a bit of a chance, I suppose!) and a poorly judged ending ruins the last chance for a bit of originality. It’s all down to a lack of substance, which guarantees that it will run out of steam.

Najemikon

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Hollow Man ***
« Reply #68 on: November 01, 2009, 03:44:09 PM »
Hollow Man
3 out of 5




When power-hungry scientist Dr Sebastian Caine (Kevin Bacon) and his team develop a serum that induces complete invisibility, they can't wait to put it to the test. Having successfully performed the procedure on animals, Caine is determined to attempt the ultimate challenge...human experimentation. Using himself as the first subject, the invisible Caine finds himself free to do the unthinkable. But Caine´s experiment takes an unexpected turn when his team fail to return him to normal. Growing more and more out of control, Caine is doomed to a future without flesh as the Hollow Man.

This makes for an interesting companion to The Fly, another modern take on the mad scientist tale, both by controversial directors (who could be confused with mad scientists themselves) and both explore the mind as much as the body. Paul Verhoeven though isn't as assured as David Cronenberg, but his slightly perverted nature that often threatens to overwhelm his work (Showgirls!) helps this one.

The Invisible Man was always supposed to be a nutter and the director perhaps has found a kindred spirit in the character! So it is Kevin Bacon has a lot of fun exploring the nitty gritty of his dark side for once. Far better than the bloodless version in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. An odd comparison that may be, but Alan Moore's book built on the original H.G. Wells version to create a homicidal maniac that was neutered for the film. No such worries here.

The story, you already know and if you don't you'll catch on quick because it's the story of every experiment-gone-wrong b-movie since the 50s. It feels a little cheap, but by the second half the plot is concentrating on a typical serial killer routine in a locked down location. It's a lot of fun with plenty of violence in a claustrophobic atmosphere, but it also doesn't stretch the effects as much as if Bacon was allowed to rampage outdoors.

He does do a bit though, in between perfecting the experiment and going completely nuts, and this is the most interesting part of the film, especially the attack on Elizabeth Shue. It's a bit more invasive than your average serial killer flick.

The effects hold up very well and are equal to the plot. Kevin Bacon is very good as Sebastian Caine, developing from big-head, to prankster, to full on psychopath. He is fantastic in the part, considering we can't see him for most of it- unless you count the flashes in smoke, water and blood, even! The rest of the cast, including Elizabeth Shue, are also very good as they realise they're losing control of a potentially dangerous situation. They're not disappointed as soon as old Kev finds his wrench and starts flinging it about all over the place. Of course, they’re predictably stupid at this point and we have to surrender and admit it's turned into the usual hack and slash Alien wannabe, but that's not to say it still isn't wonderfully entertaining. There’s a sense of perverse enjoyment when a film like this becomes predictable.
 
Paul Verhoeven has a habit for going over the top, ruining some of his past films, but he keeps the reins on this time. There are some very nasty scenes, but they have a sense of realism. You can't dismiss it as easily as the cartoon style of Starship Troopers and so it makes his lead all the more sinister. His direction is very well paced, going from biology lesson, suspense, horror and then solid action very confidently. While the second half is especially derivative, the scenes in the tunnels make for great suspense, with no idea where the villain is. The finale in the lift shaft is obvious and betrays that for the most part, it's entertaining popcorn blockbuster material. But it does have a brain. Course, you can’t see it, but it is there!

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009
« Reply #69 on: November 01, 2009, 03:46:59 PM »
Right, that's me done! Horror Marathon 2009 is over. Didn't do as many as before, but I like to pretend I have a life outside of watching movies.  :tease:

Yeah, right.  :bag:

Offline goodguy

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Re: Don't Look Now *****
« Reply #70 on: November 02, 2009, 09:39:10 AM »
Don’t Look Now is a fascinating film, typical of the 70s, with ambition, confidence and skill in equal measure. It would be impossible to make it today and make it so effective. Nicholas Roeg is a director who has strangely fallen into obscurity, but this at least will be a timeless and enduring film.

Interesting tidbit from the Wicker Man documentaries: Apparently this was initially shown in the UK as the A feature of a double bill together with The Wicker Man. I haven't seen it in a long time, but I do remember liking it very well. I'm not sure your general praise of those 70s movies is warranted though. They aren't "impossible to make today". They certainly weren't the mainstream movies of their time, yet you seem to somewhat ignore anything with arthouse affiliation that is made today.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2009, 09:41:33 AM by goodguy »
Matthias

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Re: Don't Look Now *****
« Reply #71 on: November 02, 2009, 03:34:01 PM »
Don’t Look Now is a fascinating film, typical of the 70s, with ambition, confidence and skill in equal measure. It would be impossible to make it today and make it so effective. Nicholas Roeg is a director who has strangely fallen into obscurity, but this at least will be a timeless and enduring film.

Interesting tidbit from the Wicker Man documentaries: Apparently this was initially shown in the UK as the A feature of a double bill together with The Wicker Man. I haven't seen it in a long time, but I do remember liking it very well. I'm not sure your general praise of those 70s movies is warranted though. They aren't "impossible to make today". They certainly weren't the mainstream movies of their time, yet you seem to somewhat ignore anything with arthouse affiliation that is made today.

Yes, I meant to mention that. Someone like yourself didn't understand The Wicker Man and made it run as a b-movie...  :tease:

But hey, what a double-bill. And that's what I mean about the 70s. Those two films got a cinema run together, in the UK at least. Remember I'm talking purely from a local perspective. We spoke about Bug the other day, but I never had the opportunity to see it. Straw Dogs was released theatrically before it was banned. Same with Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Exorcist, etc. That's all I mean. Now we get Hostel and Saw, which miss the point.

Continue with Friedkin. Where there was once The French Connection, there is now Bad Boys. A fairer a much better comparison would be Narc, but blink and you missed it theatrically.

We live in a demanding time; what audience asks for they get. Pre-Jaws, you got what you were given. A better time for cinema as an art overall.

Offline Jimmy

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Re: Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009
« Reply #72 on: November 02, 2009, 03:57:00 PM »
We live in a demanding time; what audience asks for they get. Pre-Jaws, you got what you were given. A better time for cinema as an art overall.
For one I won't blame Jaws or Star Wars, but the death of 3 important factors that many tend to forget.

The drive-in cinemas doesn't exist anymore. So no more independant movies get a wide theatrical released, just imagine by exemple that all the Corman's movies were drive-in folder, so no drive-in no Corman...

The independant theater doesn't exist anymore. A theater owner doesn't decide what he will show anymore, the studio (Fox, MGM,...) decide what will be at the theatre and what we will see.

The Disneylisation of the New-York 42th street who had made it impossible for all the weird European, Asian or, even, Canadian movies to get a release in the United States.

BTW the audience doesn't get what it want but what the studios want them to want...       

Offline Achim

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Re: Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009
« Reply #73 on: November 02, 2009, 06:12:46 PM »
BTW the audience doesn't get what it want but what the studios want them to want...       
Or what the studios think they want.

I heard somebody say the other day, that he knew quite a few people who saw Transformers 2 but everybody hated it. Yet, the film makes boat loads of money. Who is the studio to believe? Some "word of mouth" they probably don't even hear or the hard cash they have in they register...?

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Marathon of Horror! 2009
« Reply #74 on: November 02, 2009, 07:31:39 PM »
BTW the audience doesn't get what it want but what the studios want them to want...       
Or what the studios think they want.

I heard somebody say the other day, that he knew quite a few people who saw Transformers 2 but everybody hated it. Yet, the film makes boat loads of money. Who is the studio to believe? Some "word of mouth" they probably don't even hear or the hard cash they have in they register...?

It's sad. I've always been against the idea of test screenings where essentially a director is willing to alter his work because a random bunch of strangers didn't get it, but now I'm especially concerned about the current trend of listening to the Internet! Spider-Man 3, X-Men 3 and Wolverine were all compromised by fan-boys arguing for characters to be included, ultimately at the detriment of the film.

I only just noticed this comment now I've re-read the posts...

...yet you seem to somewhat ignore anything with arthouse affiliation that is made today.

I don't ignore anything when it comes to film (unless it's a musical!) and some of it depends on your definition of "arthouse". I never watch anything for the sake of it and it has to interest me. I tend to stick to genre films and while that doesn't limit the term, it certainly isn't the obvious direction for a lot these days. I like to keep up with Shane Meadows work... would he count?