Challenge Totals to Date:
Movies Watched Today: 4
Total Movies Watched: 76
Total First Time Views: 17
Amount raised: $718.20
Today's showcased SCARE-A-THON Charity:
ALZHEIMER'S ASSOCIATION, sponsored by Adam Rockoff
To showcase your charity, send an email to email@example.com with your pledge amount and the charity's website!
House of 1000 Corpses (2003) d. Zombie, Rob (USA) (3rd viewing) 89 min
Four young road-trippers (Rainn Wilson, Jennifer Jostyn, Erin Daniels, Chris Hardwick) encounter an off-the-beaten-track gas station/chicken shack/monster museum, only to discover that “The Murder Ride” lives up to its malevolent title. The writer/director’s breakout debut is, to my mind, his most satisfying, in that it provides a whirlwind of savage imagery, as well as keeping his antagonists in their proper roles of repellent sadists without asking the audience to identify with them. We also are able to operate under the faint hope that our young quartet of potential young victims stands a chance of surviving their horrific ordeal. Zombie’s gift’s for lively visuals are a foregone conclusion at this stage of the game, but a decade ago, his music video sensibilities provided fresh and exciting ways of playing haunted house for moviegoers. Like Texas Chain Saw Massacre – an obvious inspiration – the sensory overload perfectly complements the emotionally hysterical narrative, and the sense of underlying dread and uncomfortable humor is palpable throughout. The film revived the careers of longtime character men Bill Moseley and Sid Haig, turning them into overnight horror con superstars, and they are well supported by the likes of Karen Black, Robert Mukes, Tom Towles, Dennis Fimple, Matthew McGrory, Harrison Yong, and Sherri Moon, who wed the director shortly thereafter.
The Devil's Rejects (2005) d. Zombie, Rob (USA) (3rd viewing) 109 min
Though it met with a surprising amount of critical acclaim upon its initial release (including yours truly), I find TDR hasn’t aged as well as its more bonkers older brother. Continuing the murderous exploits of the Firefly clan but changing the aesthetic from that of a haunted house to a 70s road movie, there are plenty of vivid characters (without a likeable one in the bunch), but the attempts at comedy are clumsy at best and aggressively offensive at worst. But in what would soon become identifiable as Zombie’s aesthetic, we are given no one with whom to ally ourselves, left to stand on the sidelines and watch reprehensible acts of violence perpetrated by both the Fireflys (led again by Haig, Moseley, and Moon Zombie, with an overripe Leslie Easterbrook stepping in for Karen Black) and William Forsythe’s sadistic lawman, bent on revenge against his brother’s murderers. There’s not much in the way of suspense, and humanizing the villains only makes them psychopathic degenerates as opposed to the soulless boogeymen of two years prior. Still, Zombie’s growth as a filmmaker is apparent, and the slow-mo, blood-splattered finale enlivens that old Skynard chestnut “Freebird” in a whole new way.
Halloween (2007) d. Zombie, Rob (USA) (2nd viewing) 109 min
The dust has long since settled, with horror fans across the globe agreeing to disagree, but I figured having already revisited the first two Zombie films, I’d take a trip back to Haddonfield 2.0. Nope, still don’t like it, and I’ve got a laundry list of reasons why (which I will detail in a future post, but it’s nothing you haven’t heard before on a million message boards in the past seven years). Bottom line, even without comparing it to Carpenter’s original, this is not a good horror flick. It's not a good flick, period. It's a not-bad slasher, and for a studio-released blockbuster remake from a major horror player, we deserved better. Is it the worst movie I've ever seen? No. Did it disappoint? Absolutely. If you liked it, great. I’m happy for you. In fact, I wish that I could have been in the same boat, because I really wanted to like it. But I didn’t and I don’t.
For more eloquent Zombie-related rantings, visit last year's The Lords of Salem write-up.
Kill List (2011) d. Wheatley, Ben (UK) (2nd viewing) 95 min
This wild little Brit flick takes one of the more extraordinary third-act left turns in recent memory – even though the actions are more or less justified, you’ll never see it coming. Needing to pay the bills, hit man Jay (Neil Maskell) comes out of his shell-shocked semi-retirement for a new assignment that proves to be a dark Pandora’s Box that threatens to consume him completely. The viewer is immediately drawn into Maskell’s plight and presenting the assassin as a regular family guy with everyday problems (paying the rent, arguing with the wife, picking up their kid from school) allows us to connect with our protagonist in spite of the thick accents and frequent emotional outbursts. Our doughy lead is not a typical badass, which is why when his violent side explodes to the surface – which it does in several vivid blood-soaked sequences – it proves doubly shocking. While the WTF factor of the last reel may alienate some, director/co-writer Wheatley has earned our respect to that point and there’s no denying its bold narrative gutpunch. Highly Recommended.