Archive for October, 2011

Halloween Horror Movie Marathon: ‘The Curse of Frankenstein’

Posted in Halloween Horror Movie Marathon, Movies with tags on October 31, 2011 by Justin T.

The Curse of FrankensteinThe Curse of Frankenstein (1957) Directed by Terence Fisher. Starring Peter Cushing, Robert Urquhart, Hazel Court, Cristopher Lee, Valerie Gaunt.

I have some serious catching up to do when it comes to horror films produced by Hammer Films. Might as well get caught up by watching the film that started Hammer’s legendary run of films throughout the ’50s and ’60s, The Curse of Frankenstein.

I’ll keep this short: it is superb, of course. The Gothic sets are fantastic, Peter Cushing is great as the arrogant Victor Frankenstein, and Christopher Lee shambles through a physically intimidating performance that only hints at the sorrow of the creature demonstrated in the 1931 film. I also appreciated the “twist” at the end that is revealed in the film’s framing device, though I suppose the ensuing sequels reveal the answer to the question raised.

Well, sorry to cut this one short but let’s see if I can squeeze in one more film before I prepare for an evening of trick or treating with my son.

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Halloween Horror Movie Marathon: ‘Kairo (Pulse)’

Posted in Halloween Horror Movie Marathon, Movies with tags on October 31, 2011 by Justin T.

KairoKairo (Pulse) (2001) Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Starring Haruhiko Katô, Kumiko Aso, Koyuki, Masatoshi Matsuo, Kurume Arisaka, Kenji Mizuhashi.

Boy, this one’s a downer. Kairo is a slow moving film from Japan about ghosts using computers to reach into the real world and drag the living into loneliness and despair.

It took me a while to fall into the crawling pace early on, probably because I was still reeling from the action of the previous film. Had I known, I might have chosen to watch this one first.

I can’t get into the details of this one right now; it affected me far too much. It’s themes of loneliness and isolation as a result of technology got to me, particularly considering I watched the movie alone… on a computer…

That said there’s an inherent irony anytime someone uses technology to relay an anti-technology message that makes me take the whole affair with a grain of salt. At least upon reflection. Not that the point Kairo makes is necessarily less relevant because of the chosen medium.

I am curious, though, what the the director, who also wrote the film, thinks about the state of technology today and the proliferation of social interaction on the Internet today– Facebook, IM, texting, blogging… He might have it wrong; the Internet is not called a ‘network’ for nothing! … but while I was here, alone, watching Kairo on a computer… the dark tone of isolation the film strives for struck me hard.

All right, time to move on…

Halloween Horror Movie Marathon: ‘[REC2]’

Posted in Halloween Horror Movie Marathon, Movies with tags on October 31, 2011 by Justin T.

[REC2][REC2] (2009) Directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza. Starring Jonathan Mellor, Óscar Sanchez Zafra, Ariel Casas, Alejandro Casaseca, Pablo Rosso, Andrea Ros, Àlex Batllori, Pau Poch, Manuela Velasco.

Starting Halloween off with a bang! on this roller-coaster ride of a movie. [REC2] is the sequel to one of my favorite flicks from last year’s marathon, [REC]. That one started off slow, in a good way, and ended with pure insanity. The sequel picks up right where the last one ended and maintains the same intensity throughout with just enough lulls to allow us to catch our breath.

This time we follow a Grupo Especial de Operaciones (GEO) team, the Spanish version of SWAT, into the quarantined building.  They are led by Owen (Jonathan Mellor), a member of the Ministry of Health who has a mission and just happens to be the team’s only way out once they’re inside. Cameras are brought along to record important information, and to, you know, give the audience a movie to watch.

I’ve said before, I’m a sucker for the “found footage” genre; when it’s done well, it can be pretty effective. No problems here. The plot may have its obvious contrivances to keep the characters in the claustrophobic setting, but I can forgive the film that minor issue. The pacing is exciting, the effects are great overall, this one’s a winner. It’s every bit as awesome as the last film. One of my favorites of the marathon so far.

Forging ahead!

Halloween Horror Movie Marathon: ‘The Innocents’

Posted in Halloween Horror Movie Marathon, Movies with tags on October 31, 2011 by Justin T.

The InnocentsThe Innocents (1961) Directed by Jack Clayton. Starring Deborah Kerr, Megs Jenkins, Pamela Franklin, Martin Stephens, Michael Redgrave, Peter Wyngarde, Clytie Jessop.

The Innocents is listed in that book I mentioned in my last post. I also seem to recall it appearing in some ‘best of horror’ lists, including Scorsese’s. Well, seemed like it was time to give it look. Considering my reaction to the number one pick on his list, The Haunting, I went into it with lowered expectations but found myself pleasantly surprised by this tremendously effective ghost story. Continue reading

Halloween Horror Movie Marathon: ‘Turistas’

Posted in Halloween Horror Movie Marathon, Movies with tags on October 30, 2011 by Justin T.

TuristasTuristas (2006) Directed by John Stockwell. Starring Josh Duhamel, Melissa George, Olivia Wilde, Desmond Askew, Beau Garrett, Max Brown. 

My mother-in-law gave me a great book for Christmas last year called Horror! 333 Films to Scare You to Death. It provides a chronological list of films as well as a written introduction for each decade describing the important themes and styles of horror films released during those years. I keep it by my bedside and just flip the book open to read about some great horror flick. I’ve only seen about half of the films listed and, of course, I’d love to get all three hundred and thirty-three under my belt.

I picked Turistas because it’s one of the films listed. I don’t get why it’s there. They call it a guilty pleasure but I found it a boring, run of the mill entry in the “urbanoia” horror sub-genre, with its misleading portrayal of the locale and natives firmly intact. Continue reading

Halloween Horror Movie Marathon: ‘The Last Man on Earth’

Posted in Halloween Horror Movie Marathon, Movies with tags on October 27, 2011 by Justin T.

The Last Man on EarthThe Last Man on Earth (1963) Directed by Ubaldo Ragona and Sidney Salkow. Starring Vincent Price, Emma Danieli, Franca Bettoia, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart.

After the intensity of the last film I reached for something a bit older and tamer. And after watching House of Wax I realized that, for a horror fan, I have not seen nearly enough Vincent Price films. So I picked up the DVD of The Last Man on Earth that I’ve had sitting around for a while.

Robert Morgan (Price) is the eponymous last man on earth. The world has succumbed to a plague that has turned the rest of humanity into vampires. Well, not literally vampires but the infected are repulsed by garlic and Morgan uses wooden stakes to kill them…. something about the wound staying open keeping the organism from replicating… and while their reflections are visible they cannot stand to see themselves in mirrors. Morgan spends his days maintaining a dreary existence and protecting his home from the angry, shambling undead. He hangs garlic and a mirror on his front door, takes dead bodies to a pit for burning, and dwells on the fate of the world and his failure to save it and his family. If only there were something to live for… perhaps if there were someone else in left in the world… someone to help take off of his mind the horrible fate of his family… Continue reading

Halloween Horror Movie Marathon: ‘Funny Games (2007)’

Posted in Halloween Horror Movie Marathon, Movies with tags on October 26, 2011 by Justin T.

Funny Games (2007)

‘Why don’t you just kill us?’

‘You shouldn’t forget the importance of entertainment.’

Funny Games (2007) Directed by Michael Haneke. Starring Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Michael Pitt, Brady Corbet, Devon Gearhart.

Some of the movies I appreciate most are those that elicit a strong emotion from me. It’s one of the reasons I love film so much. I value the chance for intense emotional experiences that are disconnected from my real life, whether it’s happiness, sorrow, excitement, fear, or even horror and revulsion. It’s a part of my fascination with this genre. For reasons I don’t yet understand I am drawn towards challenging, visceral movies that most people avoid. I may not say that I like such movies but I appreciate and hold a strange fondness for them. Funny Games is one of those types of films. Continue reading