Saturday, October 3, 2015
OCTOBER HORROR MOVIE CHALLENGE (10/2)
Challenge Totals to Date:
Movies Watched Today: 4
Total Movies Watched: 7
Total First Time Views: 3
Scare-A-Thon Donations: $98.35
Remember, if you would like to make a pledge toward Scare-A-Thon 2015 (benefitting PLANNED PARENTHOOD and GREENHOUSE SHELTER) at any time, drop me an email at email@example.com to say how much you would like to pledge. Your donation is tax deductible and, seriously, even a penny per film helps.
Resident Evil (2002) d. Anderson, Paul W.S. (UK) (2nd viewing) 100 min
Credited – alongside that same year’s 28 Days Later – with spawning the modern zombie renaissance, this screen adaptation of the bestselling videogame (which I admittedly have not played nor seen) never really seems invested in being anything more than a bit of escapist action/horror but it clears that bar handily. When uber-conglomerate Umbrella Corporation’s biochemical division sustains a breach, the entirety of the staff is killed and resurrected as undead, and a crack paramilitary team is sent in to rectify the situation. The generic techno-industrial soundtrack and so-so CGI effects/zombie makeup are a little off-putting, but Fifth Element star Milla Jovovich is a delight to watch and the Bourne Identity touches with her Alice character discovering latent fighting/killing powers following a bout of amnesia are enjoyable in their gradual unveiling. Colin Salmon (aka the cool British black guy from the Pierce Brosnan Bond flicks) lends his capable gravitas, while Michelle Rodriguez delivers her patented scowl and mannered badass line readings. Impossible to criticize too harshly, because once Jovovich drop-kicks a slimy undead Doberman, logic and grounded storytelling go right out the window. There are also some pretty terrible CGI monster effects in the final reel (I’m looking at you, Hunters).
Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004) d. Witt, Alexander (Germany/UK) (2nd viewing) 94 min
The first of the franchise’s many sequels takes us outside the walls of the experimental Hive facility into the streets of post-outbreak Raccoon City. Paul W.S. Anderson’s script is pretty painful in the dialogue department, but the Umbrella Corporation’s ever-expanding mythology and Milla Jovovich’s “Alice” character are impressive nonetheless. (Again, not knowing the videogame, I’m not sure where credit is to be given for this.) Jovovich’s deadpan asskicking has its own appeals, though Sienna Guillory is far too Hollywood pretty as a gunslinging cop in a short skirt and tight top. But it’s all part and parcel with the clichéd avatars parading about in lieu of characters – it’s hard to invest in anything or anyone. As far as I can tell, this is where things started to devolve, where the plot feels like mere padding between action set-pieces, making it feel even more like watching a videogame than before. But hey, there are plenty of amusing casting choices, from a Russian-accented Zack Ward (aka Scut Farkus from A Christmas Story) to Iain Glenn to Thomas Kretschmann to Oded Fehr to Jared Harris to Mike Epps. Exponentially boosted body count, capped by a ridiculous MMA-style punchout between the giant mutant Nemesis and Alice. And yes, the CGI’d Hunters are just as crappy two years later.
Resident Evil: Extinction (2007) d. Mulcahy, Russell (France/UK) (2nd viewing) 94 min
Highlander director Mulcahy takes the reins, delivering a whole new look from the previous installments (set in the desert wastelands of post-apocalyptic Las Vegas and Utah), with Milla Jovovich still smokin’ hot and kickin’ butt. It’s still pretty thin soup. Mike Epps and Oded Fehr are back as their same characters from RE: Apocalypse, but it’s unclear as to how they hooked up with Ali Larter’s truckin’ caravan of survivors. (Equally unclear is how Larter and pop star Ashanti maintain their cover model-ready looks in said wasteland.) Iain Glenn’s nefarious scientist, introduced in the final act of the previous installment, plays a much bigger role here, cultivating Alice clones and zombie antivirus. The undead crows are a nice touch, and Alice’s psychic powers are a new twist, but there is also a lot of talk in between the pedestrian action sequences. The underground Umbrella lair and the attempts to domesticate the undead can’t help but draw comparisons to Day of the Dead and, not to be a total nerd, but when you’ve established that headshots are the only way to kill your zombies, it doesn’t really do to have Jovovich slashing their throats, no matter how deliciously balletic she is whilst pulling it off.
The Amazing Transparent Man (1960) d. Ulmer, Edgar G. (USA) (1st viewing) 58 min
Convicted safecracker Joey Faust (Douglas Kennedy) gets busted out of jail by moll Laura (Marguerite Chapman) to assist sadistic retired army major Paul Krenner (James Griffith) in breaking into a government nuclear facility. But since his face is easily recognizable from the many Wanted posters bearing his name, the decision is made to eliminate his face – and the rest of his body – from view! Using patented 1960s gobbledegook science, Faust becomes a man unseen, but since he’s a bit of a sociopath, he naturally turns this newfound gift against his partners. Lots of tough talk and unlikeable characters, no surprise from the director who gave us that blackest of independent film noirs, 1945’s Detour.