Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top Ten Films of the Decade

Top Ten Films of the Decade

Well, the decade is coming to an end. And, with that, everyone is doing top ten lists of the decade. I guess it fills some kind of need we have to wrap everything up into tidy little packages. Anyway, here is my obligatory, TOP TEN FILMS OF THE DECADE list.

1. Mulholland Dr. (2001) - Dark, enigmatic, and a complete mindfuck, Mulholland Dr. David Lynch's best work since Blue Velvet. I get a lot of flack for praising Lynch, and particularly this film, so much, but for some reason I find it to be the most engrossing movie I've ever seen. Lynch is back to the same tricks that he used in Lost Highway to give us a new puzzle to construct (and deconstruct) in our minds, but Mulholland Dr. resonates a lot more than Lost Highway to me - it feels much more intriguing on every level than that film did. Figuring out the Diane/Betty characters is an exciting puzzle that may or may not end in a eureka! moment. Don't be fooled, there is a lot of thinking required when you view this one. So bring your thinking hats with you.

2. No Country for Old Men (2007) - My second favorite Coen Brothers flick (right after Barton Fink), No Country is a serious film (possibly their most serious film, short of Blood Simple) with pulp aspects. The reinvention of Josh Brolin is great to see, but obviously Javier Bardem steals the show as one of the greatest bad guys in the history of film, Anton Chigurh. I'm sure that everyone has seen it, there was a lot of hubub when the film came out (Oscar nods and what-not), and rightly so. But, and this kind of surprised me, there is a lot of rewatchability built in to this movie. Go ahead, check it out again next time it's on cable - you'll be hooked again.

3. Inglourious Basterds (2009) - Absolutely the best film of 2009, Inglourious Basterds is a superb film that works on many levels. All of the praise for Tarantino as the new wunderkind, and also the cries from the wild accusing him of plagiarism have levelled off (though I still think they are merited, considering his early work) and he's able to work unfettered. With Inglourious Basterds, he elevates himself - going from excellent retro craftsman of fanboy favorite homage films to a stand-on-his-own filmmaker.

4. The Departed (2006) - Likely Marty's best film since Goodfellas, The Departed takes the remake phenomenon of the last few years and really makes you rethink your stance on it. Could there actually be some good coming out of the seemingly uncreative cespool that is the Hollywood remake machine? Scorsese shows us that it is possible, though still incredibly rare. Perhaps it just takes someone as skilled as Scorsese (who claims to have not seen Infernal Affairs before filming his version) behind the camera. Regardless, the intricate story of treachery, intrigue, and deceit is one of the best cops and robbers films since the seventies and put Scorsese back on the financial map as a viable filmmaker.

5. Unbreakable (2000) - Who knew that my favorite comic book flick would be one that wasn't licensed from a comic book company? Bruno gives us the performance of his life as the unwitting superhuman David Dunn in this story about an everyman who one day realizes that his life is something more than ordinary. I really believe we were seeing lightning in a bottle from Shyamalan in 2000 with this one, as he's never been able to reach these heights again. I don't know how the film did financially, but it seems that for some reason or another M. Night turned his back on this type of filmmaking (with the possible exception of The Happening - which I actually liked, by the by).

6. Knocked Up (2007) - The Apatow crew was such a wonderful breath of fresh air to me. It kicked off with The 40 Year Old Virgin, but really grabbed hold of me with Knocked Up. Seth Rogen comes into his own as a leading comic actor that may be one dimensional, but is still captivating. The best thing about Knocked Up? It's the antedote to silly, over the top star-driven comedies that rely on gimmicks (read: Adam Sandler comedies). Or maybe I just like it so much because the guys in it remind me a little bit of me and my friends. There is definitely something to be said about relatability in movies that really makes them stick out to you. Maybe that's what Knocked Up does better than any other movie - it captures the paradigm of my generation and makes it really fucking funny.

7. Oldboy (2003) - Chan Wook-Park's violent master work has been able to draw me back several times, and that's really saying something for a movie based around a twist ending. I saw it once in the theater, and multiple times on DVD and it just gets better with every spin. A classic tale of vengeance (slotted neatly in the middle of Park's Vengeance trilogy), Oldboy works on you in a way that few movies do. It's a tense, funny, violent, exhillirating mystery movie that keeps you glued to the screen trying, barely even realizing that there is a puzzle to put together right in front of you.

8. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) - This movie is getting a lot more play recently, and really gaining some steam to become a bonadfide cult classic. If you haven't seen it, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a twist on that staple, the buddy cop movie (and written/directed by Shane Black of Lethal Weapon fame, no less!) only minus the cops. It pairs up a gay private eye and a bumbling thief to solve a murder. Only it's funny. Really funny. The film stars Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer in some of the quirkiest roles they've ever had to play. Sidenote: Kilmer's career is so intriguing - I think I kind of love the direction he is going in.

9. Downfall (2004) - Bruno Ganz performance as Adolf Hitler is nothing short of amazing. In this German film, we follow Hitler during his last days in the bunker. I know that the movie has been parodied to death on YouTube, but if you have not seen it, please do yourself a favor and watch this thing. It is one of the best World War II movies you will ever see. Hey, what are the odds that I would have two WWII movies on my list? Ah, but I digress, it really is one of the better character pieces I've ever seen, and Ganz completely drives the film.

10. Let the Right One In (2008) - Earlier this year, I ranked The Wrestler as the best film of last year. On rewatch, I would have to swap it and LTROI as number one and two. This movie is absolutely the single best vampire movie I've ever seen. It is a wonderful little Swedish masterpiece, full of all the things horror movies never contain. The movie is rather sweet, has endearing characters, features young romance, and all of the things you never knew you wanted in a horror movie. Luckily, the craftsmanship behind this cold beauty carries everything, it's an absolutely breathtaking film, the cinematography is spectacular, and the direction is sometimes inspired, and always good.

RIP Dan O'Bannon

RIP Dan O'Bannon:

I had no idea that Dan O'Bannon passed away on December 17th. Saddening news, to be sure. This post is in memorium to him.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Now That's Art!

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians - 1964
(watch it here)

Jason Lytle - Merry X-Mas 2009

Former lead singer of the band Grandaddy has put out a free downloadable album called Merry X-Mas 2009. It's 7 tracks of improvisational piano that Jason recorded at his house.

Go to his website and download it now!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Clip of the Week

Charlotte Gainsbourg & Beck - Heaven Can Wait

Monday, December 14, 2009

Films from the Crypt: Episode 10 - Elves (1989)

Films from the Crypt: Episode Ten - Elves (1989)

Director: Jeffery Mandel

Tagline: "They Don't Work for Santa Anymore!"

View a CLIP

Starring: Dan Haggerty


Tis the season, so let's take a look at a holiday-oriented horror flick. Elves is pretty much a clusterfuck from the very beginning. The plot is a mess that's really hard to decipher, but I'll try.

Our young heroine Kristin and her friends hold a ceremony in the woods (using her grandfather's ancient book!) and unwittingly awaken a long dormant elf from his slumber. Of course, the elf isn't one of Santa's helpers, but instead it's some kind of retarded, pint-sized troglodyte bent on killin'!

From there, the elf (yes, there's just one in the whole picture - even though the damn title is ELVES) begins his shitty bloodbath beginning with a department store Santa. Somewhere after that we become privy to the exceptionally ludicrous plot that has something to do with Nazis creating the elf in order to breed with a pure virgin in order to kick start the Aryan nation. There's also an odd revelation when we realize that Kristin's grandfather is also her father! I swear to God.

And, we can't forget about the chain-smoking, tough-as-nails, do-gooder Mike (played by mountain man, Dan Haggerty). He takes over as the mall Santa after the original one is mauled by the elf. When Kristin and her friends decide to sleep over at the local mall, and some old Nazis and the elf show up, Mike jumps at the opportunity to be her knight in woolly armor.

Anyway, from there it gets sillier and sillier until finally it ends in true shitty movie, anticlimactic fashion. There's more that could be said about the plot, convoluted mess that it is, but I'm going to keep this one short. The bottom line is that you need to get your hands on a copy of this flick this Christmas season. A word to the wise, however, you may want to have some punched-up egg nog around while you do.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009

Upcoming Film Preview: Until The Light Takes Us

Upcoming Film Preview: Until the Light Takes Us
Directed By: Aaron Aites/Audrey Ewell
Starring: Harmony Korine, Varg Vikernes, Hellhammer
Country: USA
Release Date: Winter 2009
View the TRAILER

Plot Synopsis: Documentary "chronicling the history, ideology and aesthetic of Norwegian black metal". It looks like a better, Norwegian-focused version of Metal: A Headbanger's Journey. Hopefully someone from Gorgoroth shows up to make it a real party! In all honesty, this should be a really good picture because there is a great story built-in from the start. From church burnings, to murder, the black metal scene is pretty notorious for being insanely violent and just a little on the crazy side. Looking forward to it.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Holiday Horror - A Top Five List

I know it's been a while since I've posted, things have been a little hectic at the Warfreak househould. Anyway, who cares? There's a nip in the air, and it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. December is just one day away, so what better way to ring in the season than to list off my five favorite Holiday Horror Flicks!

1. Gremlins (1984) - Joe Dante shows off his love for classic creature features with this family-friendly horror flick. I say family friendly, but I do rememeber getting many a nightmare from watching this and its sequel. Our young protagonist Billy doesn't obey the rules laid out for him for his new exotic pets, and he pays the price for it. The creature effects are fantastic, the story is fun, and it's a definite product of the 1980s. I imagine that most of you have seen Gremlins, so I don't think I need to expound much more. Oh, and don't forget Phoebe Cates. Nice.

2. Black Christmas (1974) - Often cited as the first modern slasher, Black Christmas is the story of a murderous little bastard that sneaks into a Canadaian sorority house just before Christmas break and wreaks havoc on unsuspecting co-eds! Bob Clark, who would later direct A Christmas Story, is behind the camera on this holiday classic. Interesting trivia: originally John Carpenter's Halloween was conceived as a sequel to Black Christmas. It was to be the start of a "holiday themed" horror series - each movie focusing on a different holiday.

3. Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) - After his parents are slain, and he is abused in an orphanage, a teenage boy dons a Santa suit and ensues on a blood-drenched rampage. The first one in the Silent Night series is nowhere near as silly as the sequels, and it's actually pretty decent, but you'll still be able to get a few laughs it and some of the crazy antics (I mean, it is a killer in a Santa suit, after all). The one thing that would have really put it over the top, would have been some really excellent grue, but beggers can't be choosers. I heard there was a remake in the pipeline, so maybe they can work that in there.

4. Christmas Evil (1980) - Played straight, Christmas Evil is the story of a young kid who loves Christmas a bit too much. Upon finding out that there's no such thing as Santa (sorry, should've put a spoiler alert there, kiddies), the boy is scarred for the rest of his life. Obviously from there, things go from bad to worse and bad things start to happen. Not a bad little film - defintely worth a watch this holiday season, and Synapse has recently released a pretty stellar DVD edition of the film that would make for a wonderful Christmas gift.

5. Jack Frost (1996) - No, not the one with Michael Keaton, this is a Full Moon type picture - straight to video, B grade all around. The story is something about a serial killer dying and coming back as a snowman, obviously this isn't Oscar material. As bad and silly as the picture is, it has a certain charm that begs to be watched with a group of people. If you watch it and you hate it, don't blame me. It all depends upon your sensibility. You've got to like bumbling crap to enjoy this one.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Clip of the Week

Seikima II - Big Time Changes

This bands wikipedia page reads like this...

(聖飢魔II Seikimatsu?) is a popular Japanese heavy metal band formed by Damian Hamada in 1982. They disbanded on December 31, 1999.

Seikima-II (seikimatsu) translates to "End of the Century". According to the mythology created by the band to promote their music, the band members are a group of demons preaching a religion in order to propagate Satan through the use of Heavy Metal. Each member is a demon of a different hierarchical class with His Excellency Demon Kogure being leader of demons and His Majesty Damian Hamada being crown prince of hell. In accordance to the prophecy and after completing the world conquest, the band would disband at the end of the century on December 31, 1999 at 23:59:59.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Night of the Creeps Directors Cut

In the immortal words of Han Solo, "Woo Hoo!!!"

Night of the Creeps: The Director's Cut is out on Blu-Ray and DVD!!!

Features Include: Separate audio commentaries from Dekker and the cast, deleted scenes, an alternate ending, and a battery of behind-the-scenes featurettes.

I'm pretty stoked about the alternate ending that's included, if any of you have seen it I know you will know why! If you haven't seen it... watch it now...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Now that's art!!!

Connected (2009)

This is a movie poster for a short film written and directed by Jens Raunkjær Christensen & Jonas Drotner Mouritsen. Sorry I don't have much information about this movie but I do have a link to the official website here...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween - 2009

Happy Halloween from The O'Choke!

May it be filled with the macabre, demons, blood sacrafices, and candy!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

The October Horror Movie Gauntlet

The Next Five Days

Oct. 24 - Hocus Pocus (1993) - It had been years since I had seen this one, and it's actually a sort of fun ride. It's a fairly fun kids movie with some kind of funny sequence, but it is totally scare-free. You notice I'm not using in real definitive terms here. That's because the movie left me really teetering on the edge. It's not good, really, but it's not bad, completely anyway. It's just sort of there and might be worth a watch if there's nothing else on. When I was a kid I remeber really enjoying the movie, but watching as an adult I guess any magic that the film had is really kind of lost. Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the fact that Sarah Jessica Parker looks pretty nice in her bodice, but I digress. Overall, the film gets a very mediocore 5/10

Oct. 23 - The Addams Family (1991) - I'm a very big fan of The Addams Family. Ever since I was a kid, I dreamed of being in such a macabre familial setting, surround by loving, yet sinister family members. Obviously the show was fantastic as well, but I was really glad that they took it one step further in the film. It's a dark and hilarious film filled with some amazing gags and great choices in every role. Raul Julia really becomes his own Gomez, not really taking up where John Astin left off, but really creating a new character for himself. One thing that I have always wanted to see, in some alternate reality, would have been Tim Burton doing The Addams Family. I think that's tailor-made. And I could actually see him casting Johnny Depp in the Gomez role, to boot! 7.5/10

Oct. 22 - The Burning (1981) - I was kind of late to the party when it came to The Burning, only having seen it once it (finally) hit DVD. But, even with that being the case it has quickly become one of my favorite slashers of all time. There is certainly something about slashers from the early eighties that really pique my interest. There's a real DIY innocence to these films that is both endearing and ballsy that really makes me appreciate them on a level all their own. By now, I think everyone knows the story of how Tom Savini turned down Friday the 13th to work on this picture, and his expertise really benefitted the picture (especially in the raft scene - you know the one). Cropsy, while not as compelling as the Jason character, is a decent enough villain, the kills are great, and it's just a fun ride. In a genre where the majority of the films are poorly made, it's refreshing to find one that can stand on its own as a good movie. 6.5/10

Oct. 21 - A Nightmare on Elm St. (1984) - Looking back at the original film, it's easy to see how different the franchise could have been if it had stayed the course with the darker tone. In the first film, Freddy does act a little snarky, but he's nowhere near the Loki-esque prankster that he turns into in the subsequent films (especially Part Three and on). It would have been even more interesting to play him as an even darker character - maybe focusing on the atrocities he commited with the children whilst alive. I think the remake is actually supposed to address that while keeping the black mood alive. I hope so. I can honestly say that the ANOES remake is the only one that I would pay money to see. Not that I think Haley will be better than Englund, but it will be intersting to see a different take on the character. 8/10

Friday, October 23, 2009

Texas Frightmare Weekend

April 30 - May 2, 2010 - Dallas, TX

For the last couple of years I've made it out to Texas Frightmare Weekend. I enjoyed the first one that I attended, because I got my swag signed by both Tom Savini and George A. Romero. Last year was a little lack luster, with Tobe Hooper being the biggest draw. But I was looking at the guest list this year and I am super stoked.

This year Romero's back and we get John mothereffin' Carpenter. John Carpenter is the catalyst for my love of horror and all things camp. He is in my top five favorite directors and I love the majority of his pictures. Anyway, I was just so happy that I had to share the news.

For those interested, other guests include:

Doug Bradley
Sid Haig
Keir Dullea
Meg Foster
Lance Henriksen
Kane Hodder
William Katt
Margot Kidder
Bill Moseley
Betsy Palmer

That's a pretty good group! Henriksen and Bradley are definite must meet and greets. Here's the link to the site: Texas Frightmare Weekend

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Clip of the Week

Girls - Lust For Life (live on Pitchfork's Don't Look Down)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The October Horror Movie Gauntlet - 2009

The October Horror Movie Gauntlet - Five More Days

Oct. 20 - The Boogeyman (1980) - Utterly boring and scare-less, 1980's The Boogeyman was really hard for me to sit through. It's the story of a little boy who kills his mother's abusive boyfriend and then grows up a mute that's afraid of mirrors. His sister, a little frazzled herself, goes back to the house that they grew up in and breaks a mirror releasing unspeakable evil unto the world. Or something like that. You know when the Boogeyman is coming when a sliver of the broken mirror starts to glow red - red with EVIL! Yeah, it's stupid, but there is one fun seen of self-mutilation that will capture your interest. 2/10

Oct. 19 - My Best Friend is a Vampire (1987) - (review soon)

Oct. 18 - Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) - "Hey, you wanna see something really scary?" What a great prologue to the film. I'm a fan of anthology flicks, and this is one of the best. Of course, some of the best episodes from the series are represented here in the form of remakes and everything is taken care of by very capable people (Landis, Dante, Spielberg, Miller). There are four segments for you to enjoy here, each one being very entertaining. The movie is actually really fun, in the same that Creepshow is. There's a playful tone, even in the more serious stories (aside from the first segement - which Vic Morrow was tragically killed while shooting). That's something that may not have been present in the original series, but is certainly appreciated in the movie. I'm not sure what else actually needs to be said about the film, as most of you have probably already seen it. If you haven't, know that it is better than the 6.3 that it gets on the IMDb. My score: 7/10.

Oct. 17 - Missed yet another day. I've definitely failed.

Oct. 16 - Re-Animator (1985) - I am of the opinion that Stuart Gordon's Re-Animator is still the best horror comedy out there. All the elements collide to make one fantastic and ghoulish "splat-stick" comedy. You take a story by Lovecraft, mix in great gags, the beautiful Barbara Crampton, Stuart Gordon, and the campy delight that is Jeffrey Combs and you've got one fine picture. For the uninitiated, Re-Animator is the story of young Herbert West, a brilliant medical student who continues his former master's research into re-animating dead tissue. Of course, things go awry and the blood starts flowing.I don't know what else needs to be said about the film, but you would be hard pressed to find a more fun horror flick. 8/10

Monday, October 19, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

The October Horror Movie Gauntlet - 2009

The Next, Next Five Days

Oct. 15 - Laid to Rest* - Earlier this year I went to a panel discussion of this films that included director Robert Hall, and a handful of cast members. It wasn't particularly enlightening, but it was pretty fun. The only problem was that we had missed the screening of the film that they were talking about. When I finally watched it, I realized I hadn't really "missed" that much. Pretty generic little slasher here, played without any irony (which is usually good) but completely devoid of atmosphere, which is a clear sign of incompetence behind the camera. And the story. Wait...what story? Who needs a story when you've got some truly excellent gore effects? At least that's what the thinking seemed to be when making this film. I will emphasise that the special effects are particularly nasty and may make it worth a watch for you gore hounds out there. But even the best grue can't save a meandering film like this from being anything more than mediocre. And, honestly, do we really think that Chrome Skull is "totally sweet fuh realz!" (to paraphrase from some message boards)? To sum up, mediocre is the word of the day for Laid to Rest. 5/10

Oct. 14 - Curtains (1983)* - When I popped my DVD of Curtains (ripped from a Vestron Video VHS) into the ol' DVD player I was really hoping I was about to watch an undiscovered (at least by me) gem. What I got was a tame, somewhat interesting, but nigh bloodless slasher. The story revolves around a group of actresses that are all invited to a house to audition for the role of a lifetime. But someone is unhappy with this arrangement and begins to knock them off - one by one. Not a terrible premise by any means, and the story actually plays out pretty well. There's also a pivotal part of the story involving Samantha Eggar, but I'll spare you the not-so-gory details. Overall, it's just a little south of par - the actors do a good job, and the story is fairly decent, but there is little to no excitement in the picture at all. The kills are almost are terrible, uninventive, and without tension. And that happens to be a big part of a slasher. Most second and third tier slashers from the eighties fall in one of two categories: terrible and a waste of time or really bad, but still fun to watch. Curtains falls somewhere in the middle. 4/10

Oct. 13 - I've failed you yet again, and didn't get one watched.

Oct. 12 - Trick 'r Treat (2008)* - I was really going to try to wait until Halloween night to watch this one, but I just couldn't wait any longer. I mean, come on, if you're up on your horror you've been waiting at least a year for this one. Was it worth the wait? For the most part, yeah, it was. It's not going to take the place of John Carpenter's seminal Halloween as the must watch flick on Halloween night, mainly because there aren't a lot of actual scares, but it is going to be a fun piece of October film watching for the rest of my life. The movie is stunningly shot, well acted, and often really funny. Full disclosure here; I have a soft spot for Dylan Baker and Anna Paquin (for different reasons, however). The best thing about the film? The film-makers ability to capture the essence of Halloween. It's been said before, but I'm not sure that there are any films that more accurately portray the Halloween vibe. That aside, the movie to best compare it is Creepshow, obviously because they are both anthology films. There are other reasons I think they compare as well. For instance, they are both supposed to be comic books come to life and they both feature their own brand of gruesome comedy. The biggest difference in the two is the way they are formatted - instead of each segment being a standalone story (ala Creepshow) the tales in Trick 'r Treat all piece together as part of the same world on the same night. 7.5/10

Oct. 11 - Dark Floors (2008)* - Dark Floors is a pretty stupid movie, but it's not stupid in the way I thought it would be. You see, Dark Floors is sometimes dubbed as "The Lordi Motion Picture" because it stars the dark glam metal band (that's what I call them - think Kiss in Gwar's garb) Lordi. And the concept is also credited to the band. So, going into it, what could you expect but a mindless slaughterfest? If that's what you are looking for, look elsewhere, because Dark Floors attempts to be far more cerebral than that. I think that it fails on a lot of levels, but it's not an entirely terrible effort. The film is about a group of people in a hospital that appears to fall into some terrible, demonic state of limbo, led by a young, autistic girl who seems to know more than she lets on. I won't give away the ending or the main plot twists or anything, but let's just say you don't see it coming, but you've seen it before - even if it makes less sense this time. There's also a surprising lack of grue that is disheartening to say the least. 4/10

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The October Horror Movie Gauntlet - 2009

The October Horror Movie Gauntlet 2009:
The Next Five Days

Oct. 10
- The Signal (2007)* - With a plot pretty much hijacked from Stephen King's Cell (although they may have been written around the same time), The Signal is a halfway decent coming out party for newcomers Dan Bush and David Bruckner. The story revolves around a search for a missing girl in a world that has been thrown completely into chaos as the result of a telecommunications signal. The actors do a fine job in convincing us they are strattling the line between sanity and murderous lunacy and the story progresses fairly well as the directors employ a time manipulation technique similar to Pulp Fiction to advance the plot. It would have been nice to see the bigger picture here. I wanted to know whether this one a confined phenomenon (doubtful) or if the whole world had gone mad? And, if so, let's see some large scale violence! Of course, budget constraints may play a role in not being able to show such grandiose bloodletting, but it would have definitely kept me more interested than the leads incessantly going on about "Mya" (the lost girl). It's a fun movie, with lots of great gags and some fantastic grue and a possibly lifted plot. What else do you want from it? 6/10

Oct. 9 - Paranormal Activity (2007)* - I'm a little torn when it comes to the phenomenon that is Paranormal Activity. I went and watched it in a packed house in Dallas, the place was sold completely out. The most interesting thing about the film is how it is has become such a phenomenon, coming from out of nowhere with a grass roots, internet viral-marketing campaign to become the most talked about film of the season - that's no small feat! Of course, as is usually the case with films that have done the "found footage - true story" thing (Blair Witch, Cannibal Holocaust), the marketing behind it is better, and more interesting, than the film itself. That's not to say Paranormal Activity is a bad movie, it's not, it's jut not a terrific film. There is a rather engrossing story (once it builds steam), the effects are effective, if cheap, and there is a very tense atmosphere sustained throughout. On the other hand, the first twenty minutes are fairly boring, the story, while it works, is trite, the scares are easy and too sparse, and the ending is a bit of a let down. Overall the experience of Paranormal Activity (and being part of the phenomenon) overshadows the film itself, but the film alone still has enough merit to make it requisite viewing material for anyone looking for theatrical horror this year. But, if you want to check out a similar type of film that is truly great, watch Spain's [rec] as soon as you can. 6.5/10

Oct. 8 - Them (Ils) (2006)* - Them presents an interesting dichotomy. On the one hand the major problem with Them is common with most horror films, at least in those films that attempt to evoke empathy from the audience, you just don't care. This is almost inherent in movies of this nature because of the constraints in time. With horror you have to deliver the goods in a timely manner that constitutes the majority of the run time. So what gets short shrift? Character development and exposition. Now sometimes we are able to see an arc of a character through growth which is perpetuated by the trauma, but this is rare. On the other hand directors David Moreau and Xavier Palud are able to maintain a very palpable sense of tension throughout their film, in spite of or because of this fact. Perhaps it is easier to transpose ourselves onto the characters and vicariously experience the events of the film if they are fairly faceless and therefore it's easy to replace them with us. This may be less a review, and more a commentary, but it is an interesting aspect to horror film making. In all truth, Them is an easy film to make. It's effective for what it is, but never attempts to reach beyond the limitations that hinder it. 6/10

Oct. 7 - Prom Night (2008) * - I knew this one would be pretty bad when it started out with a terrible cover of The Zombies "Time of the Season". This movie is pretty much a waste of time. Saccharin scares, bad acting, recycled (though not necessarily from Prom Night) plot, and forgettable characters all kind of add up to a muddled mess of a movie. The whole thing feels obscenely rushed. And I know that it was PG-13, but I watched the unrated cut and there was nary any flesh to be seen! A fatal flaw with all the nubile young "talent" that was in this train wreck. That leads me to problem number two; if you aren't going to have a story at least show us some grue! But this film is nigh bloodless. The story is something about an obsessed teacher who kills his students family after she becomes the object of his affection, gets caught, breaks out, and finds her all over again. Not exactly treading any new ground here, but it is interesting for a remake to completely ignore the plot of its source material. No big loss there, I'm not too big on the first one anyway. Now Prom Night 2: Hello Mary Lou is another story. 2/10

Oct. 6 - Missed this day due to a work function. Will watch two on another day to make up for it.

* denotes first time viewing

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Warfreak on Kindertrauma

Hey, gang, I just wanted to mention that yours truly was featured on one of my favorite websites out there - Kindertrauma. Check out my submission here and leave a comment.
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