Tuesday, October 28, 2014
OCTOBER MOVIE CHALLENGE (10/27)
Challenge Totals to Date:
Movies Watched Today: 2
Total Movies Watched: 68
Total First Time Views: 17
Amount raised: $625.60
Today's showcased SCARE-A-THON Charity:
SEASON OF CONCERN, sponsored by Dan Kiggins
To showcase your charity, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your pledge amount and the charity's website!
Dust Devil (1992) Stanley, Richard (South Africa) (2nd viewing) 103 min
Gorgeously conceived and executed by an expert technical team, writer/director Stanley (Hardware) returned to his native South Africa to shoot this dense, lyrical horror tale of a wandering demonic spirit (Robert John Burke, decked out in the world’s coolest leather duster) preying upon travelers of the lonely Namib Desert roads. But Stanley had more on his mind than just another supernatural slasher, as the film tackles such weighty issues as racism, sexism, domestic violence, police brutality, poverty, and the “progress” of Westernized civilization. Assigned to a brutal ritualized murder case, Detective Ben Mukurob (a never-better Zakes Mokae) uncovers the titular killer’s bloody past, stretching back much further than a normal human’s lifespan; at the same time, Wendy Robinson (Chelsea Field, rendering an impressive South African accent) is fleeing her abusive husband (Rufus Swart), trekking across the Namib in her red VW bug toward a seemingly predestined encounter with Burke’s cold, steely blade. Simon Boswell’s haunting score is an unquestioned highlight among many, and Stanley’s script delves deep into African myth and mysticism but is never less than accessible. Miramax’s bungled trim job and lackluster distribution rendered the film toothless and senseless, confusing viewers and condemning it to obscurity; all praise to the tenacious Stanley who eventually regained the rights to his passion project, and to Subversive Cinema for releasing the restored director’s cut (as well as the 115-minute “Workprint” version) to DVD in the late 2000s.
Prison (1988) d. Harlin, Renny (USA) (2nd viewing) 104 min
Substantially more dark and atmospheric than much of Empire Pictures’ output, it’s easy to see how Finnish-born Harlin landed his Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Master gig based on the nightmare logic and gore gags of this bizarre little supernatural entry, but there’s also a welcome amount of attention given to the large ensemble of characters inhabiting a decrepit old penitentiary recently re-opened to accommodate the overwhelming incarceration rate. Lane Smith dominates the film with his energetic turn as an over-the-hill hardass warden, glowering from under his beetle brows or bugging his eyes in surprise, and he’s well matched by supercool fresh meat Viggo Mortensen (in his first lead role), who just happens to bear an unsettling resemblance to a prisoner Smith helped send to the chair 30 years prior. John Buechler handled many of the gruesome effects, with famed cinematographer Mac Ahlberg creating impressive mood on a budget. Chelsea Field represents the lone female in a sea of testosterone, playing a thankless (and ultimately pointless) role as a steamrolled prison board official, but at least she’s no screaming mimi.