Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fool's Views (5/31 – 6/6) (Part 1 of 2)

My friends, my friends...welcome to my nightmare.

Yes, it’s true. After being away from the tube for nearly a full month, I dived in deep this week, taking in no less than 17 flicks. As a result, I’ll break this installment up into a two-parter, with the more random Views first and the mini-festivals to follow. The first section is composed almost entirely of recent releases that had been holding court on the “to watch” shelf for a while, as well as me digging through my old no-box VHS pile to finally watch titles which had sat idle for literally decades (as well as a big-screen viewing of Jack Hill's Spider Baby, hosted by our good friend Jason Coffman). I think you’ll enjoy the mix.

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


Battle Royale (2000)
(2nd viewing) d. Fukasaku, Kinji
Due to its taboo subject matter (organized competition featuring kids killing kids killing kids), it’s unlikely we’ll see a legit release of Fukasaku’s astounding futuristic vision anytime soon in North America. Which is too bad, because it’s a stellar thriller and arterial spray flick, as well as a haunting social satire.

Blood Creek (2009) (1st viewing) d. Schumacher, Joel
Dominic Purcell stars in surprisingly original spin on those evil Nazis and their quest for supernatural power to conquer the world. The undead horse scene alone is worth the price of admission.

Curse II: The Bite (1989) (1st viewing) d. Prosperi, Frederico
Killer snake movie goes beyond the call of duty, turning a guy’s hand into a biting, frothing snake head. Seriously. Screaming Mad George provides the gore-rific f/x work.

Left Bank (2008) (1st viewing) d. Van Hees, Pieter
Though it co-ops themes used in numerous other genre films (Blood on Satan’s Claw, Rosemary’s Baby, and The Wicker Man), this Belgian horror effort is so well shot and features such a winning lead performance by Eline Kuppens that one hardly cares. One of my faves of the year thus far.

Lesbian Vampire Killers (2009) (1st viewing) d. Claydon, Phil
Silly Brit fun featuring two goofy London mates on holiday in the boonies, where they encounter a wealth of the (ahem) tit-ular tongue-lashing mamm-and-clam-slammers out for blood. Though it never quite reaches the Shaun of the Dead horror/comedy heights to which it aspires, it’s still pretty darn funny.

Mutant (aka Night Shadows) (1984) (1st viewing) d. Cardos, John "Bud"
Wings Hauser and Lee H. Montgomery (yes, the annoying child actor from Ben and Burnt Offerings, all grown up and ab-tastic) star as a couple of brothers trapped in Smalltown, U.S.A. on the very night that a toxic waste-inspired infection turns half the populace into acidic zombies. Fun, low-budget stuff.

Nesting, The (1981) (1st viewing) d. Weston, Armand
Unfairly underrated and unsung haunted house story that deserves more attention. Robin Groves is terrific as an agoraphobic novelist who retires to a country estate to deal with her condition, only to discover the spirits of the house are more active than one would expect. Genre vet John Carradine shines as an aging proprietor with personal connections to the property, and Gloria Grahame lends a bittersweet quality to her final screen role.

[Rec] 2 (2009) (1st viewing) d. Balagueró, Jaume/Plaza, Paco
The rare sequel that manages to recapture the original’s flavor perfectly, while also building and incorporating new story elements that make it its own story. While it occasionally falters in the logic department, there’s a lot to like here and fans of the first film shouldn’t be disappointed.

Spider Baby (1964) (4th viewing) d. Hill, Jack
Horror fans only familiar with Sid Haig from his recent Rob Zombie flicks or with Lon Chaney, Jr. from his hairy heyday of The Wolf Man should do themselves the favor of experiencing these two genre legends at the beginning and the end of their respective careers. Writer/director Jack Hill’s fascinating blend of macabre humor and bizarre chills revolves around the Merrye family, stricken with a “progressive age regression” disease that leads to childlike behavior and cannibalism. The three remaining members of the Merrye family, played by Haig, Beverly Washburn and Jill Banner, are cared for by family chauffeur Chaney who is constantly covering up for their less socially acceptable ways. Carol Ohmart (Vincent Price’s wife from House on Haunted Hill) heads up a group of distant relatives seeking the family inheritance unwittingly drawn into the “children’s” games. Great performances all around combined with Hill’s dementedly dizzy dialogue add up to a delicious combo of shock and satire, with a justly famous dinner table scene providing one of many highlights. That’s Chaney singing the oogy-boogy title song.


  1. Have you seen BATTLE ROYALE II? Truly stunning in it's awfulness. Not content to be one of the worst sequels in the history of film in the most traditional sense, but it's also a totally blatant post-911, anti-America, pro-terrorism propaganda film.

  2. I got to see Spider Baby courtesy of TCM Underground and enjoyed it immensely. It raised one question, though: Did Sid Haig ever have hair?

  3. Tom: I have not seen BR2, and man, you kinda killed my urge to. Honestly, I didn't see the point of a sequel anyway, since it makes all its points and concludes in a very satisfying manner. (Not that this has ever stopped studios in the past.) That said, I'm sure if BR2 ever crosses my path, I'll give it my 2 hours. I'm just that kinda sicko.

  4. Craig: You do gotta wonder, don't ya? Although he was 25 at that point - I suppose he could have been going bald already... We'll have to ask him at the next convention. And then run.