Masters of Horror: Dance of the Dead (2005)

Masters of Horror: Dance of the Dead (2005)

We’re on to our second episode of Masters of Horror, the 2005 anthology show where famous and acclaimed horror directors get to direct one story per season. Each episode is pretty much a short movie considering they’re all around an hour long. The first episode I watched was John Carpenter’s amazing throwback to his late ’80s and early ’90s work, Cigarette Burns. For my next episode I decided to go with another director whom has made one of my favourite movies: Tobe Hooper.

Tobe Hooper may not be as prolific as John Carpenter, but he’s definitely a heavyweight in the horror genre. Hooper was responsible for the greatest horror movie ever made, his 1974 masterpiece, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Hooper also helmed the cult classic sequel, the classic ’80s haunted house flick Poltergeist (although there are rumors that Steven Spielberg unofficially directed it, everything is credited to Hooper, so as far as I’m concerned he’s still the director), and the absolutely bonkers sci-fi movie, Lifeforce. Hooper’s post ’80s output has been mostly directing the occasional episode in a TV show or making direct to TV movies, so he’s definitely fallen pretty far from the spotlight in recent decades.

Dance of the Dead takes place in a semi-post-apocalyptic world after one of the combatants in World War 3 unleashed some kind of chemical or biological weather weapon. The time period is a little while after the end of war, but is a pretty different interpretation of most post-apocalyptic settings. It’s similar to the first Mad Max film (yes kids, Mad Max: Fury Road is not the only Mad Max movie) where there’s been a worldwide crisis that has destabilized a large portion of the world, but a majority of civilized society has kept on spinning. Dance of the Dead shows both sides of humanity after it’s been devastated by global war. We get to see how a portion of the population that tries to keep it’s civility interacts with the crazy, savage punks (these guys are more like the people in Mad Max: Fury Road) that have risen up out of the war torn parts of the world and are either just trying to survive or trying to drag the rest of the world down with them.

The story follows Peggy, a young woman who works in her mother’s diner who meets some of these deplorable punks and takes a liking to one of them. He convinces her to join him and his friends for a night out on the town, and as she gets thrust into an evening of stranger and darker events, she finds out more than she wants to know about the consequences of World War 3 and the twisted history of her family. (more…)

Masters of Horror: Cigarette Burns (2005)

Masters of Horror: Cigarette Burns (2005)

The Halloween spookiness continues here at Coffee and Illithids, and what better way is there to celebrate the scariest month of the year than by looking at some of the works of horror’s greatest writers and directors? I recently picked up a copy of the first season of Masters of Horror, an anthology show where each episode is directed by a different famous horror director, including Takashi Miike, Tobe Hooper, and Dario Argento. For my first foray into the series I decided to start with the one I was most excited to check out: John Carpenter’s Cigarette Burns.

Cigarette Burns stars Norman Reedus as Kirby, a man who owns a theater and is paid to track down incredibly rare film reels for private collectors. Naturally, he’s hired to track down an incredibly rare film reel for Bellinger, a private collector of extreme cinema (played by real life adorable weirdo, Udo Kier). Kirby dives down the rabbit hole looking for the last remaining print of the infamous French horror film La Fin Absolue Du Monde, a movie so extreme, so disturbing on a fundamental level, that upon viewing it audiences are driven into a bloody, homicidal rage. This extreme reaction is not out of disgust or disdain for the film, but rather from becoming so deeply broken spiritually and emotionally that the only thing they can resort to is depraved acts of violence. Kirby begins connecting the dots and immerses himself into the culture of people who have witnessed La Fin Absolue Du Monde first hand and he begins seeing cigarette burns in real life (it’s the little circle you see in old films in the top right hand corner that signifies that a reel needs to be changed for the film to continue), and as he continues to press onward anyways, he finds himself slowly slipping into a world of madness beyond his control. (more…)

Snowpiercer (2013)

Snowpiercer (2013)

I’ve written about certain movies on this blog that I think I’m going to call Arthouse Lite (I’m waiting for the copyright to come through so I can name a shitty adjunct beer – marketed as craft – after it). Arthouse Lite movies are the movies you show your friends to get them to realize there are more movies out there than the big hundred million dollar superhero blockbusters. Movies that are original and fresh and that can provide some extra entertainment value in that you are rewarded for thinking about them a little more in depth than usual. They’re usually very stylistic and a little on the weird side but not so over the top that they would alienate somebody who would have no reference to it. Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain is not Arthouse Lite. Harmony Korine’s Trash Humpers (yes, that is a real movie) is not Arthouse Lite. Movies like Enemy, Donnie Darko, or Under the Skin are Arthouse Lite. They’re just offbeat enough to grab the attention and imagination of the average person, but won’t make them walk out of the theatre in disgust or boredom.

Snowpiercer is an Arthouse Lite Lite sci-fi action film and is the latest project directed by South Korea’s Bong Joon Ho, the same guy who gave us the critically acclaimed and still-on-my-To-Watch List movies Mother (2009) and Memories of Murder (2003). The movie is based on a dystopian sci-fi graffic novel from 1982 by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette called Le Transperceneige. Snowpiercer received a very small limited release before word of mouth gave it the momentum to warrant a much larger one. I’ve been excited about this movie since I heard about it a year or so ago. It has a rock solid cast, and I’ve got a soft spot for movies about rebellions and uprisings as well as movies that take place in one location. In case you didn’t know, the assembly of acting talent here includes Ed Harris, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt(!), and real life pretty boy Chris Evans. The basic plot of Snowpiercer is simple: In a post-apocalyptic frozen world, a train running on on a perpetual engine houses the last remaining dregs of humanity. The passengers on the train have been segregated Hunger Games style and the oppressed lower class folk in the rear of the train launch an assault lead by Curtis and Gilliam (Evans and Hurt respectively) to try and take over the front where the upper crust live. It’s your standard feel good story about the 99% toppling the 1%.

Except it isn’t. (more…)

Shin Godzilla (2016)

Shin Godzilla (2016)

Shin Godzilla, a.k.a. Shin Gojira, a.k.a. Godzilla Resurgence (not to be confused with Independence Day: Resurgence) is the latest Godzilla movie to stomp its way into the box office. You may be a little confused about this film since you probably haven’t heard of it. There’s a bit of a special reason for that. Toho Co. Ltd. is the company that started it all over sixty years ago with 1954’s Godzilla and finally, after the Americans’ shaky run with the series, the reins have been passed back over to the masters to continue the Godzilla franchise they way it was intended. Shin Godzilla is currently under limited release in the United States and Canada, showing on less than 500 screens for one week only. I don’t know if Toho plans on making a full wide release in North America or not, but for the time being, you’ve only got a couple more days if you’re interested in seeing this newest slab of kaiju cinema.

(more…)

Sinister (2012) & The Witch (2016)

Sometimes I don’t want to write 1000 words on one movie, so I’m going to start a new series of posts called Rapid Rambles where I’ll rattle off about a couple movies just to get my thoughts on intangible internet paper. Since it’s October it’s time for spooky movies. Now, because my friends and I are nerds we’ve been having horror movie dates every weekend for a few weeks now, but now that Halloween season is officially upon us it’s time to ramp up the scares and dive head first into the macabre. Today, I’ll be babbling about a movie I really liked, and a movie I really didn’t. (more…)

The Conjuring 2 (2016)

The Conjuring 2 (2016)

Sequels to successful horror movies are strange beasts. We’ve been trained to wince at horror movies that have ever increasing numbers at the end of their titles. We complain that they’re all cheap cash grabs and rehashes of the movies that came before it, but we always secretly hope that they live up to the original or manage to capture the same proverbial lightning in a bottle. The more impressive the original film the more volatile people’s reactions will be when its inevitable sequel comes out. So when a sequel to one of the best horror movies of the last 15 years comes out, you bet people are going to get divisive about it.

The Conjuring 2 is the newest project from horror master James Wan. He’s really becoming a household name in horror directing over the last few years, especially after the massive critical and financial success of the first Conjuring movie. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are back as the adorable demon slaying power couple Ed and Lorraine Warren, and in this movie they’re sent off to England on behalf of the church to investigate a potential haunting. A down on their luck, lower-middle class family have noticed strange things happening to them and their house; their daughter teleports in her sleep, furniture is moving around on its own, and some of the kids are seeing some suspicious things. Sound familiar? It probably does, because the setup is pretty much the same as the first Conjuring. Luckily that’s where the unnecessary similarities end. (more…)

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