Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fool's Views (5/17 – 5/30)

Hey kids,

While the time stamp covers a two week period, these six Views actually took place during a one-day Share the Scare with my trusty comrade Jon Kitley, who knows how to welcome a fellow blood brother home from two weeks on the road (although I gotta admit, none of the flicks we viddied can compare to the natural beauty of Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon, The Grand Canyon, Bandelier National Park, Great Sand Dunes National Park… You get the picture.) Glad to be back, but I was glad to be where I was (see above) and with whom (hey, sweetie!)

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

Baby's Room, The (2006)
(1st viewing) d. de la Iglesia, Alex
Great little ghost story from Spain’s version of Masters of Horror entitled Películas Para No Dormer (Six Films to Keep You Awake). Sports journalist Javier Gutierrez moves into a grand fixer-upper with wife Leonor Watling and their newborn child, only to discover that mysterious happenings are a-toddlin’ around. While many of the classic haunted house twists are incorporated, de la Iglesia keeps you guessing throughout and his more-than-able cast sells the goods.

Cold Prey 2 (2008) (1st viewing) d. Stenberg, Mats
While I concede that Roar Uthaug’s 2006 Norwegian slasher flick was proficiently made and executed, the only truly distinctive aspect seemed to be its country of origin. However, despite a few amusing plot contrivances, I freely admit to enjoying Stenberg’s continuation of the story much more than its predecessor. The characters are more likeable, the kills more vicious and the hospital setting (oh yes, there’s more than a nod to Halloween II here) are alternately expansive and claustrophobic. CP screenwriter Thomas Moldestad is back, as is scrappy final girl Ingrid Bolsø Berdal. Well worth checking out.

Colour from the Dark (2008) (1st viewing) d. Zuccon, Ivan
Video Junkie extraordinaire Thomas Simmons recommended this Lovecraftian shot-on-video (SOV) period piece via his terrific blog review, which I highly recommend reading HERE. While there is very little in Tom's review that I disagree with, I did not share his enthusiasm for the film itself, which was an odd sensation. It's a heck of a thing trying to shoot a period piece on video – nothing has a period feel to it, it just feels weird and off. As a result, it never really worked for me. I admired director Zuccon’s moxie, but wish he would have realized his limitations and worked within them rather than forcing his audience to do the compensatory/forgiving work for him. And the battle of the accents didn't help (a simple line of dialogue explaining what this Irishman and his English granddaughter were doing in Italy would have saved a lot of suspension-of-disbelief calories).

Darkness: The Vampire Version (1993) (1st viewing) d. Jonker, Leif
Speaking of ambitious SOV projects… As long as the characters aren’t talking and the gore is flying, writer-director-editor-sound-DP Jonker’s DIY (seriously, the guy did everything) vampire mini-epic succeeds beyond anyone’s microbudget expectations. However, his slipshod use of bright and obvious daylight scenes contrasted with supertitles like “15 minutes until sunrise” are more than a little jarring. But it’s in the character and acting departments that the roof really caves in, leading me to question whether this deserved to be released as a legitimate film as opposed to a makeup f/x reel. Not taking anything away from Jonker’s achievements, because they are impressive without question. But is it too dramatically and technically shoddy to qualify as a “real” film? I’m not sure.

Stendahl Syndrome, The (1996) (2nd viewing) d. Argento, Dario
For the first stylish 30 minutes, it feels like the murder mystery maestro might have recovered his footing after 1993’s bigger budgeted stumble, Trauma. Unfortunately, it then devolves into a profoundly misogynistic (and for Dario, that’s saying something) exercise, further hampered by his daughter Asia’s shrill and unsympathetic performance. (Sweetie, stop acting for dad. John and Angelica Huston, you are not.)

Vampire (1979) (1st viewing) d. Swackhamer, E. W.
Engaging TV-movie features The Exorcist's Jason Miller and Creepshow's E.G. Marshall as vampire hunters squaring off against suave 800-year-old fangboy Richard Lynch in San Francisco. Well paced by Swackhammer and co-written by TV stalwart Steven Bochco, this was to serve as a pilot for an ongoing series, but sadly it was never picked up. This is, according to the star himself, Lynch’s personal favorite genre film.

2010 Totals to date: 120 films, 91 1st time views, 66 horrors, 11 cinema

Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade by Kurt Vonnegut


  1. Haven't heard of any of these apart from The Stendahl Syndrome and I still haven't seen any of Argento's post-Two Evil Eyes work, largely because I never hear anything good about it. (Even Two Evil Eyes was pushing it, but I saw that mostly for Romero's part.)

    As for me, here's what I saw during the comparable time period (first-timers marked with an asterisk):

    Mystery of the Wax Museum* (Michael Curtiz, 1933)
    The Boy With Green Hair* (Joseph Losey, 1948)
    House of Wax* (Andre de Toth, 1953)
    Wild at Heart (David Lynch, 1990)
    Putney Swope* (Robert Downey Sr., 1969)
    Greaser's Palace* (Robert Downey Sr., 1972)
    Slashed Dreams* (James Polakof, 1975)
    Macbeth* (Béla Tarr, 1982)
    Sátántangó* (Béla Tarr, 1994)
    The Limits of Control* (Jim Jarmusch, 2009)
    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Garth Jennings, 2005)
    Horror of Dracula (Terence Fisher, 1958)
    The Brides of Dracula* (Terence Fisher, 1960)
    The Curse of the Werewolf (Terence Fisher, 1961)
    Magnificent Obsession* (Douglas Sirk, 1954)
    Bigger Than Life* (Nicholas Ray, 1956)
    Mother* (Bong Joon-ho, 2009)
    Curse of the Crimson Altar* (Vernon Sewell, 1968)
    The Satanic Rites of Dracula* (Alan Gibson, 1974)
    The Loveless* (Kathryn Bigelow & Monty Montgomery, 1982)
    What Have I Done to Deserve This?* (Pedro Almodóvar, 1984)
    Down and Out in Beverly Hills (Paul Mazursky, 1986)
    Ruthless People (Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker, 1986)
    The Big Red One (Samuel Fuller, 1980)

  2. Yeah, this was a dip into a strange pool, so don't feel bad. I had only seen ads for DARKNESS when the restored "vampire version" came out a couple years ago, was completely unaware of it prior to that. I had not heard of VAMPIRE except for Kitley talking about it when we met Richard Lynch at HorrorHound Indy this year.

    COLD PREY was a lot of fun. That and THE BABY'S ROOM would probably be my picks for the week, with VAMPIRE not far behind.

    The only "recent" Argento I can really recommend is SLEEPLESS (2001), which is a conscious throwback to his giallo heyday and which he apparently only did in response to all the griping that he had lost his touch. "Eef thees ees whatta they want, thees is whatta they get..." It's not amazing, but it's pretty darn good, which is more than you can say for the rest of his output.