fredag 22 oktober 2010

The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)

Not really the type of movie that should be on this blog, but what the hell - lets give it a sentence and a word:

WHY did they have to change the ending?!?! Apes!

The haunting in Connecticut (2008)

Why do I watch horrormovies? Back in the early days, watching a really scary movie could make me totally freaked out and I couldnt not go to sleep for many years without listening to music, a habit that I really didnt let go until I was somewhere between 20-25. And still I watched and watched. There is truly something special about being scared out of your wits. Problem is, after having watched thousands upon thousands of horrormovies, good and bad, you tend to be somewhat hardened and nowadays there are very few movies that give me anything near those chills that I used to get. The only genre that does give me goosebumps nowadays are ghostmovies. No, I dont believe in ghosts or anything paranormal but as a storypoint, there is always nice having something evil, barely glimpsed. One related fetish is Discovery channels documentary series A haunting, which is basically four seasons of dramatized "true stories" of hauntings. Perfectly shrunk into about fourty 45 minutemovies, this is great viewing that has the same set that is redressed for every episode. Believe me, there are truly a hundred ways you can decorate the same corridor over and over again. Then there is that great overly serious narration that goes something like this:
"The McBukkakis had recently started a family and was looking for their dreamhouse. After looking a long time for something that fit their budget, they finally found a house in northern Wisconsin/New York/Dala-Floda. Little did they know that something(enter any variation of the word Dark. Evil. Haunted.) was (waiting/lurking/sleeping/playing nintendo) there and it would try to (tear the family apart/kill them all/make them read The Watchtower). Well, you get the point. I kid you not, 35 out of 39 episodes starts like this. But after watching a couple of episodes you turned your brain off and just enjoyed the fleeting glimpes of satanic evil that wants to destroy the wholesome american families. Truly recommended if you like movies about evil ghosts.

So, why am I talking about a Discovery channel series in a The Haunting in connecticut review? A haunting also featured two longer episodes, one of which was based on the same supposedly true case as the movie. So, how is the movie? Not bad actually...

"The Campbell family moves into a new house to be closer to the hospital where young Matthew has his experimental cancer treatments. Little do they know that the house has a dark past and yadayada. The basement used to be a mortuary and when Matthew takes this as his room, nasty things start to happen. You know. Sounds. Fleeting images of humanoid shapes. Not so fleeting images of dead humans with their eyelids sewn shut. Eeeevil."

The narration would of course have sounded something like that, I'm sure. The haunting in Connecticut is a rather average haunted house movie. There is nothing you havent seen before, but you could do a lot worse. The actors are better than the movie deserves with Virginia Madsen as the mother of the family and Elias Koteas as a priest being the more known names. The scares are good, the backstory fairly interesting and there's a shitload of nice visuals concerning those dead people who cant see. If you get the unrated version there is actually even a bit of nasty gore. Did this movie scare me? A little. A goosebump or two which is more than I can say for a lot of similar movies. The haunting in Connecticut is perhaps more suited for horromovienovices but will also be a decent timewaster for most horromoviefans.

A decent horrormovie, yes. If you've gotten this far and find yourself interested I also would recommend you to get the dvdbox with all four seasons of A haunting. There is even a possible drinkinggame to be made - spot the moved around furniture in the same corridor in all the episodes.

I will finish this review with something completely irrelevant. Connecticut. What kinda name is that? Connecti-cut. Connect and cut? Yes, I am aware that the name comes from anglicized version of the Algonquian word "quinatucquet", but come on. Lazy explorers.

Mutants (2009)

Yes, the zombieapocalypse is upon us yet again!

The difference between french movie Mutants and your average american zombiemovie is the way they treat plotpoints. French movie Mutants doesnt really offer up anything new, it is a movie about a couple trying to find a safe haven during your typical zombie (and/or really angry people) epidemic. They hear a radiobroadcast from a governmentoperation and head into the mountains to try to find it. Problem is, he has been bitten and she is pregnant. And here is the difference: Your average crapmovie would have glossed over this as a minor plotpoint while Mutants makes that the main story. Sonia, our heroine, desperately tries to keep the infection from consuming her spouse Marco, while hiding in some sort of abandoned factory/officebuilding in the mountains and trying to keep zombies and armed rednecks away.

Unfortunately Mutants never goes in a way that is really satisfactory, instead opting for a more generic ending which is a shame. It doesnt destroy the movie, just lowers the score slightly. But other than that you can do a lot worse as far as zombiemovies go. Mutants is completely set in a snowy mountain landscape and the filmmakers has really gone for the visuals, with excellent cinematography and environments. There is a fair amount of gory violence and the tension is great, up until the dissapointing ending. The actors are decent and all in all, an above average zombieflick that at least tries something different, even if it fails slightly.

onsdag 20 oktober 2010

Charley Varrick (1973)

If there is one thing that I almost like as much as a decent rubbermonster, that would be gritty 70s thriller and by Gamera, Charley Varrick is one of best there is out there. It is also a perfect example of seventies PG movieviolence, starting with a bankrobbery where several people are killed including a policeofficer who gets a bullet in the forehead. Loving it.

The always excellent Walter Matthau plays Charley Varrick, a cropduster who has decided that robbing banks in small towns is a better way to make money. When the movie begins his crew robs a bank, killing and wounding several policeofficers and getting away with a LOT more money than expected. Oh, and his wife gets killed in the process. It turns out that this particular bank held a shitload of mobmoney. What happens when you steal mobmoney? The mob get mad at you. What happens when the mob get mad at you? They send Joe Don Baker. You dont fuck with Joe Don Baker. So, the rest of the movie is about Charley and his surviving robberpal (Andrew Robinson) as they try to outwit the nicely psychopatic mobman sent after them. Oh, And John Vernon is in it too, as a nice bonus.

Charley Varrick is a classic 70s thriller, full of violence and thrills, greatly helped by an awesome cast. Walther Matthau is as excellent as he always was, cool as ice, not letting you on if he is afraid of the mobs wrath or not. Andrew Robinson is great as the rather nervy sidekick who isnt as smart as he should be in a situation like this. And then there is Joe Don Baker, a man born to play mob hitmen. Add to this a small role for John Vernon and you have an great cast, all well directed by Don siegel, a man that made thrillers like this in his sleep. The pace is perfect, the story is well written with a mild twist or two, just like we want them. You cant really go wrong with this. Get it. Own it. Watch it. Now.

Necromentia (2009)

Pearry Reginald Teo, the director of Necromentia, said in an interview that he wasnt influenced by Clive Barker when making the movie, other than "The only thing that Clive Barker inspired me to do was not be afraid of using metaphors to reflect on the darker aspects of life"

I'm not so sure I believe him. Just look at the cover where we have a very Cenobiteish creature and the story is full of pain vs pleasure where demonic creatures are luring people to hell. Then again, Necromentia is no ripoff. It tells it's own story and although it probably wouldnt have existed in the same way without the Barkerinfluences, it's still an ambitious piece of low budget filmmaking. The story is perhaps the weakest part, an anthology about three different people linked together in attempts to open up a portal to hell with ouijaboardlike tattoos painfully carved unto backs of people. The characters are rather bland and weird (in ways that are just overdone and silly. One of the characters job is torturing masochistic people but he is later on shown to be rather queasy) and the story never gives us any surprises. In fact, you realize fairly quick that it's all design here, plotpoints designed by industrial/goth fetishists. Not all of it works, hell itself is kind of a dissapointment but the rundown apartments, costumes and weird suicidegameshows are fairly inspired when you think of the budget. What really works though are the makeupeffects. The creature on the cover of the dvd may be unoriginal, but it is truly a looker walking through the corridors of hell on hooved feet. There is a fair amount of gore and violence, all impeccably designed. Really nice stuff. The movie also features a decent industrial soundtrack (duh) which works fine to the proceedings. Acting? Yes, there is acting. Fairly decent too. All in all, if you like darker horror and can overlook some cheeze, this might be for you.

The filmmakers clearly set out to be a bit indie and avantgarde, but all in all, it's just horror and not particulary original. Goodlooking horror though.

måndag 11 oktober 2010

Bermude: la fossa maledetta aka Cave of the sharks (1978)

As many horrormoviefans out there, I was a proud owner of Phil Hardys giant tome of snobby moviereviews, The Encyclopedia of horror movies. Many days were spent memorizing the damn thing and still today there are movies in it that I have never seen, longing for a nice dvd. One of those movies were Tonino Riccis Bermude: la fossa maledetta aka Cave of the sharks, a rather odd movie that has a fun and intriguing concept, but a low budget that hampers the fun a bit. Still, as corny exploitation this works just fine.

Hunky Andrés Garcia plays Andres montoya, a fisherman that was lost at sea for six months, not even having any recollection of where he has been. He gets together with his old girlfriend (Janet Ågren), causing friction with his brother who is in love with her but really, this doesnt have anything to do with the plot. Andres is hired by an american businessman (Arthur Kennedy)to recover valuables from an airplane that supposedly sunk in the bermuda triangle and when he and a friend goes on a dive they discover a mysterious cave full of sleeping sharks and Andres starts to get flashbacks to what may have happened to him earlier. When the american doublecrosses them, even weirder things start to happen. His friend is sucked into some sort of underwater portal for starters, there is a shitload of really poor underwater miniatures and the sleeping sharks awake, where we get a rather cool sequence when our hero tries to make it back to his boat by feeding the sharks with the bodies of the americans henchmen.

No, nothing really makes any sense. The bermudatriangle seems to be about a kilometer outside whatever tourist resort Tonino Ricci chose to film this at (you see the shore all the time), there is a long sequence where a bunch of hippies on a boat stare at a weird doll that starts to ooze blood through its mouth, upon which all of them commit suicide by drowning (a rather atmospheric sequence that really doesnt have anything to do with the rest of the movie) and then there are those fishtank miniatures... But the story in itself is fairly intriguing, the dreamlike visuals are atmospheric (a lot thanks to Stelvio Ciprianis bleeps and bloops) and although the miniatures are awful, they do bring a certain weird something into the story as long as you are in the right mood. This isnt a Jaws clone, it is a weird scifimovie with sharks and although nothing really gels into a coherent experience, it is still weird enough to warrant a watch.

tisdag 5 oktober 2010

Humains (2009)

Hows this for a concept?

We take the usual Backwoodsstory with a number of people being stranded in a hostile environment and let them face the stupidest, goofiest antagonists since Harry and the Hendersons. I mean, it started so well. Just by setting the thing in the Swiss alps makes for an exceptionally picturesque setting, made for this type of movie. Put a couple of good actors in there and then spoil it all with bloodless kills and a general aura of Made for Disney tv. I was half expecting Kurt Russel or Lindsay Lohan pop up.

What a waste of celluloid. And yet, it isnt actually awful, just... bland. PG. The filmmakers clearly have a lot of potential so let us hope they grow a spine and give us some nasty gore next time around.

Telefon (1977)

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep

This little poem by Robert Frost is one of the things that makes this excellent Charles Bronson vehicle so fun. The story is simple, yet so lovely Cold war that you cant do anything but enjoy it. You, back in the fifties those evil satanic communists in Russia planted 50 plus secret agents in the good ole´ Usa, people that werent even aware that they were agents. When hearing the codeword (the nice little poem) they revert to a druginduced programming to become suicide bombers, blowing up army depots and phone exchanges, all in the beginning of some sort of invasion. Now, things never got this far but some of the more communist communists dont like the way things are going in their country and one of the escapes to Usa, to phone some people and tell them a bit of fine poetry. Ok, the russians cant have this so what do they do? They send Charles Bronson of course!

Yes, the scenario is a bit preposterous but in that nice cozy way that was the seventies. Don Siegel is the perfect man for this kind of movie, moving along at a good pace letting Bronson and Donald Pleasence as the bad guy shine, while Lee Remick has that constant glamcam on her as soon as she is alone on the screen. So, we get 100 minutes of Bronson looking grim, Pleasence making people kill themselves in superbly over the top fireworks, the same hotel as in Mel Broosk High Anxiety and Helsinki standing in for Russia, complete with Åke Lindman as a russian lieutenant. Awesome. Really. If they just had trimmed that goof of an extended ending which plainly sucks. Not enough though. Get this.

måndag 4 oktober 2010

The Sender (1982)

Here is a another fine little flick that deserves way more attention than it got. The Sender (For some reason called Nattens sång in Swedish, which means Song of the night.) stars the excellent Zeljko Ivanek as John Doe #83, a rather troubled young man who starts the movie by waking up in a ditch and then going to a lake, filling his pockets with stones and trying to drown himself as holidaygoers watch his every move. He survives but is taken to a mental hospital and named John Doe #83 as he doesnt remember his name or why he was trying to kill himself. Soon strange things starts to happen around him, doctors and patients see things that arent there and his doctor is visited by a woman who claims to be his mother, asking them to release him in his care. And they start to give the young man shock therapy, all hell breaks loose.

It is always nice to watch a movie that relies on a good script instead of how powerful images the crew can bring upon the screen, not that The Sender isnt full of great stuff to look at - for example the sequences with shock therapy and a later try at a lobotomy. But the movie goes forward in an excellent pace, revealing as much to the audience as it needs to know toward a awesome ending sequence when secrets are revealed and hell is paid. The only complaint I have is the totally unnecessary "twist ending" which just about undoes all the fun we've had. Other than that, this is great horror low on excess (but some fine violence) but with great acting, good tension and an all out fine time in front of the television. Very recommended.

But... Song of the night?

Shaun of the dead (2004)

Ok, what hasnt been said about this fabulous little movie that is not only a great homage to the zombiemoviegenre, but also an excellent little movie in itself, surpassing most attempts for the last 15 years. Good stuff. It has an awesome cast and a shitload of fun cameos. And Gore! No nudity though. Damn.

What else can I say? If you havent seen it already, get the fuck out of your sofa and get it! NOW!