Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fool's Views (5/21 – 5/27)

Welcome back, fans of the flickers,

A much lighter load this time around, comparatively speaking, but admirable Scares were Shared in spite of limited opportunities. (Blame it on the nice weather and the long-awaited launch of Inherit the Wind rehearsals.) Even so, we managed to persuade a few fellow fiends to squander an hour or two before the mystical magic flat-screen window, not least of which in celebration of our last remaining old-school horror icon’s 90t birthday. Considering the breadth of work that Sir Christopher Lee has left in his wake, picking a double feature to honor him was no easy task, but I think we did all right. (For a full tilt-boogie retrospective of the man’s genre labors by yours truly, seek out the March/April 2012 issue of HorrorHound, #34)

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.



Dead Weight (2012) d. Pata, John/Bartlett, Adam (USA) (5th viewing)

What can I say? People just keep wanting to watch this crazy flick (recently selected as a finalist in the Fright Fest Film Festival in Louisville, KY June 29 – July 1) with us. Read a couple of these reviews and you might feel the same…

Rabies (2010) d. Keshales, Aharon/Papushado, Navot (Israel) (2nd viewing)

The title is a bit of a distraction, but I certainly went mad for this flick, billed as Israel’s first horror effort. (If this is any indication of the blood-blasting instincts of the Promised Land’s population, I say hand over the checkbook and let these kids rock the house.) In serving a superbly twisted screenplay in all senses of the word, a wealth of memorable stock characters are tossed together and, through an Altman-like series of close encounters, proceed to slice, dice, hack, shoot and smash each other to bits. Sure there are more than a few scenarios that we’ve seen before in Western horror efforts, but to my mind, half the fun is watching Keshales and Papushado put their own particular stamp on the clichés. Highly recommended.

Office Killer (1997) d. Sherman, Cindy (USA) (1st viewing)

After having been memorably terrorized two decades prior in the superb 1979 babysitter freakout When a Stranger Calls, Carol Kane gets her chance to play the other side of the knife in this deliciously dark comedy. As a mousy cubicle jockey who slowly becomes unhinged during a wave of corporate downsizing, Kane is a joy to behold, her artfully misapplied eyebrow pencil and tremulous giggle accenting an ever-growing dark side. For a woman whose job is her life, dispatching one’s rivals seems the logical recourse, and director Sherman (who also conceived the screen story) has a ball in the creative offings department, with a surprisingly name-brand cast serving as cannon fodder: Jeanne Tripplehorne, Molly Ringwald, Michael Imperioli, David Thornton and Fassbinder protégé Barbara Sukowa. Not a game-changer, but a more-than-serviceable time-waster.


Wicker Man, The (1973) d. Hardy, Robin (UK) (5th viewing)

In this classic cult chiller, Christopher Lee turns in one of his finest performances (his personal favorite – good thing, since he reportedly did the role for free). Edward Woodward stars as a hard-as-nails Christian cop searching for a missing child on the remote island community of Summerisle, though his investigations turn up something far more sinister. Director Hardy skillfully crafts an atmosphere-drenched mystery, with Paul Giovanni’s songs and music adding an unexpected high-spirited frolic to the dread proceedings. Extraordinary support provided by lovelies Britt Ekland, Ingrid Pitt and Diane Cilento. Loosely adapted by Anthony Shaffer from David Pinner's 1967 novel Ritual (who oddly enough receives no onscreen credit), this is must-see material for any horror fan.

Horror Hotel (aka The City of the Dead) (1960)  d. Moxey, John Llewellyn (UK) (2nd viewing)

Three months after Psycho hit cinemas, this effective, fog-drenched Satanist feature pulled a similar magic trick, doing away with one of its main characters halfway through the film. When young co-ed Venetia Stevenson proposes a paper on New England witchcraft, professor Christopher Lee directs her to the small village of Whitewood…where she quickly finds herself a target of the resident coven. Lee is reassuring and menacing in equal measure, but Patricia Jessel deserves equal attention for her riveting dual role as elder witch and reincarnated modern counterpart. American producers Milton Subotsky (who wrote the screen story with George Baxt scripting) and Max Rosenberg’s first horror effort; its success would lead directly to the creation of Amicus Pictures, the challenger to Hammer’s UK horror crown.


Red (2010) d. Schwentke, Robert (USA) (1st viewing)

After dabbling in thriller fantasies (Flightplan) and romantic drama fantasies (The Time Traveler’s Wife), German-born director Schwentke sets his sight on the “action fantasy” playing field, with Bruce Willis starring as a former black-ops agent who reassembles his old team (consisting of the inimitable talents of Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich and Brian Cox) in order to learn why the CIA now wants him permanently retired. Plenty of saucy set-pieces, but the real fun is watching the veteran thespians ricocheting ham-fisted zingers and meaningful glances off one another. Mary Louise Parker and Karl Urban head up the younger set, matching their elders at every wink-n-nod turn. Next up for Schwentke: the undead fantasy, R.I.P.D., which sounds like a hoot on paper.

2012 Totals to date: 230 films, 195 1st time views, 126 horror, 67 cinema

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