Blue Velvet (1986)

Blue Velvet (1986)

Blue Velvet is the fourth feature film by infamous writer/ director David Lynch. While I’ve seen Lynch’s film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s epic Sci-Fi novel Dune (which our new writer Matt is in complete and total love with), this marks the first proper Lynch film to cross my eyes.

Blue Velvet is about a young man named Jeffery (Kyle MacLachlan) who returns from college to his home town of Lumberton after his father is hospitalized from a stroke. While walking through a field near his house, Jeffery stumbles upon a severed human ear. He brings it to a local detective, as one does, but then decides to do his own amateur snooping and sleuthing. He befriends the detective’s daughter Sandy (Laura Dern), a decidedly ’50s ho-hum-gee-willikers type gal, and after she provides him information on the severed ear case, Jeffery convinces her to help him break into the apartment of Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini), a nightclub singer that has gotten herself associated with some very, very bad people. Heading these bad people is the perverted and psychotic Frank Booth (a supremely coked up Dennis Hopper), who has kidnapped Dorothy’s husband and child and now forces her to perform sexual acts against her will. Jeffery, now exposed to the disgusting underworld of his otherwise idyllic hometown, feels the need to further investigate these mysterious and dangerous goings-ons in Lumberton.

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Ichi the Killer (2001)

Ichi the Killer (2001)

Ichi the Killer is Takashi Miike’s 40-somethingth (no, really) film and the only one people seem to talk about other than Audition. Since I liked Audition so much, I figured Ichi would be right up my alley. I knew next to nothing about it going in to it other than it was a Miike flick, so I had a hunch that it was going to be wild to say the least. Ichi the Killer follows a sadomasochistic Yakuza thug named Kakihara as he searches for his missing boss. One thing leads to another, and he discovers his boss and colleagues are being hunted down by a disgustingly violent and relentless killer named Ichi. Being roughly Hellraiser levels into the whole pleasure-pain thing, Kakihara develops a sort of obsession with this legendary killer and begins seeking him out more out of curiosity than to find out what happened to his employer.

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Half-Assed Movie Roundup Extravaganza!

Half-Assed Movie Roundup Extravaganza!

I’ve seen a few movies since the last time I posted, and I’ve started writing about a bunch more that I saw in  2017/ early/ mid/ late 2018 but for the life of me I can’t get to completing a full write up for any of them. So. I’m just going to blast through each movie I haven’t gotten around to posting about with two sentences each because using only one sentence is too much of a hack gimmick, right? Whatever. My blog, my rules. Strap in kids for the first ever HALF-ASSED MOVIE ROUNDUP EXTRAVAGANZA.

The Devil’s Candy (2015): Horror and heavy metal is never a bad combo in my books. Fun, creepy, and full of heart.
Seven (1995): Had a good time watching it, but it was ultimately forgettable. Don’t @ me, Fincher fanboys.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017): My favorite movie of 2017, by far. Not better than In Bruges, though.
Spiderman: Homecoming (2017): It was fine. I think?
Paddington (2014): Way better than a movie about a talking bear that eats marmalade and gets into zany antics deserves to be. I sincerely think almost anyone can find something they like in this movie.
Paddington 2 (2017): More of the same. Not as good as the first, but still better than it deserves to be.
The Babadook (2014): I really wanted to like this movie. I was pretty engaged throughout most of the runtime because the cinematography is great and the acting is superb, but ultimately the stumbling third act and very end pulled me right out of it.

Tenebrae (1982): My first Dario Argento movie (really!), and I remember almost nothing. I’m not throwing Argento away yet though, because I do still really want to see (and I have very high hopes for) Suspiria.
Casablanca (1942): I always thought this was just a boring movie for old people about old people. Boy, was I wrong.
El Mariachi (1992): Not as good as Desperado. Ultimately forgettable, though.
Desperado (1995): I remember having a blast watching this. Ultimately forgettable, though.
Once Upon A Time In Mexico (2003): Not as good as Desperado. Ultimately forgettable, though.
I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore (2017): Brilliant and relevant dark comedy with a huge heart. It felt like a cross between a Jeremy Saulnier and Martin McDonagh flick.
The Fall (2006): This is the best looking movie I’ve ever seen. And I only cried a little bit while watching it.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992): A super fun spooOOOoooky Halloween-time movie. The cinematography and visual effects are on a whole other level.
Eraserhead (1977): Genuinely unsettling, and totally deserving of all of it’s hype. Lynch solidified himself as a filmmaker that I need to explore the filmography of fully.

The Shape Of Water (2017): Not as good as everyone said it was. Not as bad as everyone else said it was.
Ringu (1998): Spooky and atmospheric the whole way through with some interesting characters and creepy moments. Haven’t seen the American remake, so I can’t compare unfortunately.
Terrifier (2018): Good gore, fantastic villain, terrible everything else. I hope the inevitable onslaught of sequels will be better.
Coco (2017): “Remember me!” Sorry, but I honestly don’t.
Akira (1988): There is way more stuff crammed in this movie than I first thought. Absolutely beautiful hand-drawn animation and a crazy, inimitable style.
Isle of Dogs (2018):  Very Wes Anderson, and a lot of fun despite how dark it gets occasionally. I don’t get the controversy behind it though.
Mom And Dad (2018): It’s called a Sawzall. That means it saws all.

So, voila! Here’s uhh, something. Happy Halloween weekend, go stay in eating shawarma and watching weird Japanese movies while everyone else is getting blackout drunk.

-David

House of 1000 Corpses (2003)

House of 1000 Corpses (2003)

I wish there was a way to write a long, exasperated, conflicted sigh.

House of 1000 Corpses is Rob Zombie’s debut film, known for being provocative, disturbing, and kind of awful. It kicked off his Firefly trilogy (of which the third movie is being filmed now) and while the second entry, The Devil’s Rejects, is relatively well known and acclaimed, House of 1000 Corpses seems to have a much more, uhh, niche, cult following. It’s about a group of four college-ish aged kids who, while on a roadtrip to visit and explore America’s weird and wild roadside attractions, fall victim to the Firefly family: a cult of sadistic and psychotic hillbillies who capture, torture, and kill anybody they come across.

Before House of 1000 Corpses, I’ve never seen a Rob Zombie movie. I figured that while half drunk on a Friday afternoon, I wanted to watch something kind of fucked up, and while I’m not ready for Cannibal Holocaust (no matter how many times I tell my friends that I am), I thought hey why not watch a crazy movie and my first Rob Zombie flick at the same time? So, here I am an hour and forty five minutes later, scratching my head, and just a smidge drunker than I was before I queued up the movie.

I have to give Rob Zombie credit where credit is due: House of 1000 Corpses is unlike anything else I’ve seen before. Sure, it helped pave the way for movies is Martyrs and Saw,  but past the shock value of the gore, there isn’t anything in this movie that resembles those other two. House of 1000 Corpses is capital “W” wild, and I think that’s about one of the only reasons I can say that I liked it. Surreal and trippy transitions flash across the screen between and even in the middle of scenes, from using the negative color of the current scene to cutting to seemingly unrelated footage of characters talking to the camera almost like a talking heads segment meeting a serial killer’s manifesto video, House of 1000 Corpses is constantly shoving something into your eyes for the entire duration of the film. Filling the space between transitions lies all the scenes which are equally as extreme and difficult to digest. Zombie doesn’t shy away from the gore, and as the movie ramps up, he leans hard into the ’70s grindhouse aesthetic, letting some even crazier shit unfold on screen. Now, don’t get me wrong. Even though House of 1000 Corpses can be brutal at times doesn’t mean it’s devoid of any other substance.

House of 1000 Corpses

This poor soul is rather full of, uhhh, substance.

It’s rather funny, for instance. I never thought I would say that about this film, but after watching it I can safely say that House of 1000 Corpses partially rests on it’s kind-of-crude-but-mostly-absurdist humour. I wouldn’t say there are any jokes here, but when you see Grandpa Firefly walking through the mist with his menacing murder family wearing Edo-era Japanese samurai armor, you can’t help but laugh to yourself. Even the climax of the film has some moments where all you can do is uncomfortably laugh under your breath. They’re too overt for me to think they were unintentional, and I think Rob Zombie, while a huge fan of schlocky, gonzo horror flicks, is kind of “in on the joke” of how over the top they can be. I believe that Rob Zombie made House of 1000 Corpses with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.

You might’ve noticed by now that I haven’t made any comments on the plot or the characters. That’s because there are none. The majority of the plot is summed up in that second paragraph and the characters are so paper thin that I wouldn’t be surprised if Rob Zombie wrote his script on them. Now obviously this is a flaw of the movie, but does it even matter? House of 1000 Corpses is such an assault on the senses right from minute one that I feel like if he spent more time than he already did with our characters (whether our unsuspecting 20-somethings or the Firefly family), the movie would feel bloated and overwritten. I don’t know how it works the way that it does, but it does. House of 1000 Corpses feels like Zombie watched the last half hour of 1974’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and wanted to remake it, but with the insanity turned up to 11.

I can, however, comment on the acting. It’s kind of all over the place. Bill Moseley solidified himself as a horror icon to for the modern age as Otis, and Sid Haig absolutely floored me as Captain Spaulding. I knew horror fiends loved Haig from this movie, but I didn’t fully understand why until I watched this. Haig is simultaneously terrifying and hilarious as Spaulding, and despite there being no shortage of actors who can pull off crazy eyes, I can’t imagine anybody else filling this role. Everybody else ranges from piss poor to passable, but again, it doesn’t really matter. Rarely is the acting so bar it’s distracting and if anything, the bad acting adds to that grindhouse feel House of 1000 Corpses seems to capture so well.

House of 1000 Corpses

So, is House of 1000 Corpses good? I dunno. I think I said I liked it about 400 words ago and said it was awful 500 words ago, but I’m too deep into this case of Alpine to double check right now. Sober Saturday Morning Editor’s Note: I did, and they were 522 and 787 words ago respectively. If you like weird cinema, or are in to movies that are unapologetically different and stylized for better or worse, you should give this film a shot. It definitely got me interested in Zombie’s other films, and while I don’t know if I’ll like them (especially his contribution to the Halloween franchise), I think they’ll be interesting to say the least. To be boring is the worst crime a movie can commit. I would rather watch ten interesting movies that I disliked than one that was truly and completely boring. If it’s one thing, House of 1000 Corpses is not boring.

-David

Audition (1999)

Audition (1999)

It’s been far too long since I last watched a horror movie. It’s been even longer since I’ve watched a horror movie for the first time. The amount of times I fire up Netflix of Shudder before just watching a movie I’ve seen for the millionth time is almost immeasurable at this point (Editor’s Note: to give perspective on my glacial posting pace, I’ve watched three horror flicks and the entirety of Shudder’s The Core since I wrote those sentences). But alas, motivation (if you want to call it that) struck me and I felt the need to watch something extreme, gory, uncomfortable, and most importantly, new. So obviously, I chose a movie that came out almost two decades ago.

Audition is one of the movies that launched long-time weirdo and ultra prolific filmmaker Takashi Miike career in the Western world. It follows Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi), who after his wife died, is looking for companionship again. Working for a video production company with his friend Yoshikawa (Jun Kunimura), they decide to stage auditions to find a lead heroine for fake movie so that Aoyama can take his pick from the hundreds of ladies who come out to meet with them. He ends up falling for a very shy ex-ballerina, Asami (Eihi Shiina), but Japanese horror movie do as Japanese horror movie like, and things start getting pretty, uhh, wild, to say the least.

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The Birdcage (1996)

The Birdcage (1996)

As the opening credits of The Birdcage came and passed on screen I had a realization: I haven’t seen very many Robin Williams movies. Thinking back on the handful that I have seen (many of them seen a very long time ago), I remember them fondly. I don’t really have a segue or continuation to this thought other than I think I’d like to try and watch more of the late Mr. Williams’ films this year.

Despite having many moving parts, the basic premise of The Birdcage is very simple. Gay father and his uber-flamboyant partner need to act like a traditional Reaganistic family for a night when they meet their son’s wife-to-be and her hard right wing conservative parents. Goofs ensue.

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