Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fool's Views (5/16 – 5/22)

My friends, you are witness to an unheard of event. Believe it or not, I’m all caught up. (Granted, I’m still technically a couple days late, but still.) Now we’ll just see how long this lasts. I’m almost tempted to stop watching movies for a while, just so…

Almost got through that sentence with a straight face. Almost.

This week’s horror Views were brought to you exclusively via the good people (okay, person) at Kitley’s Krypt. For those still not bitten by the Kryptic Army bug, you really should join the party. Each month, a theme is unveiled and the assignment is to watch two films that you have not seen before within that subgenre/theme, then report back. The reports can be as simple as “Saw it, hated it” or you can elucidate further. Bottom line, it’s a lot of fun and a great way to discover new flicks and interact with your fellow fiends. Here’s the link: Head over to the Krypt, sign up for the Army and Discover the Horror!

(We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.)

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


From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
(5th viewing) d. Rodriguez, Robert
Viewed (with Rodriguez’s and writer/co-star Quentin Tarantino’s commentary) in order to properly prepare myself to engage in worthy discussion with my fellow Cinematic Crossroads companions, coming soon to a website (with the initials KK) near you. There’ll be a LOT more discussion to be had at that time, but suffice to say, I’m a fan.


Grimm Love (2006)
(1st viewing) d. Weisz, Martin
Okay, first off, despite being released by Fangoria, this brings up the notion of what can legitimately be called a horror film. Yes, it’s about admittedly twisted subject matter, which is then approached in such a way as to attempt to create empathy for all its characters, rendering any attempts to “scare” or “terrify” completely beside the point. The true-life story of aspiring cannibal Oliver Hartwin and willing victim Simon Grombeck, who crossed paths in an internet chat room and later met in person to mutually fulfill the other’s fantasy, is definitely squirm-worthy, but director Weisz presents them as sad, emotionally stunted and pathetic individuals seeking solace in one another. Is this truly horror? Or just a film that couldn’t get sold to Lifetime or HBO? Both Thomas Kretschmann and Thomas Huber inhabit their roles perfectly, and the material is handled in a very straightforward manner – their story, that is. By contrast, the framing device of Keri Russell’s graduate student “fascinated” by the case, allowing the filmmakers to pad out the running time and comment on the case, is unbelievably hackneyed and uninspired. And what the hell is Russell doing in this film anyway? Not only don’t we need her character, we don’t need stunt casting as our conduit to the story. The central narrative contains a well-done, realistic cannibal movie, but best to approach it as a docudrama rather than a joyfully depraved gut-munching gorefest.

Terror at Red Wolf Inn (1972) (1st viewing) d. Townsend, Bud
Discovered via John Kenneth Muir’s awesome tome Horror Films of the 1970s, and while I don’t share his same adulatory reaction, this Australian effort delivers enjoyable if predictable indie horror fare. When bubbly young co-ed Linda Gillin wins a mysterious free bed n’ breakfast package, she is promptly whisked away via private jet to a bucolic seaside estate. Upon arrival, she and two other attractive females are wined and dined to bursting by a kindly eccentric old couple and their slightly-off offspring. However, after each feast, the table’s head count seems to diminish by one… Where do the guests go and how does the walk-in refrigerator stay so well stocked? It doesn’t take much to see where things are going, but shock and surprise are not what are on Townsend and screenwriter Allen Actor’s minds; rather their seeming agenda is to revel in bizarre character tics and conspicuous culinary consumption. To that end, success is achieved, since John Nielson’s arrested adolescent careens from docile mama’s boy to shark-pummeling madman (a truly remarkable and memorable sequence) and the endless close-ups of lips smacking and belly rubbing definitely work up an appetite. Ironically, all the characters are pretty thin – both literally and figuratively – but in a Hansel & Gretel retelling such as this, not much “fleshing out” is required, and all the performers serve the turn admirably. Bottom line, it’s not exactly filling, but it’s worth a taste. Available on the Mill Creek NIGHTMARE WORLDS 50Pack.

Iceman Cometh, The (1973)
(1st viewing) d. Frankenheimer, John
A stellar cast (Fredric March, Bradford Dillman, Jeff Bridges, Robert Ryan, Sorrell Booke) enlivens Eugene O’Neill’s classic stage play about a community of barflies and lowlifes who keep “pipe dreams” alive so as to avoid dealing with their failed existences. Lee Marvin gives a towering performance as Hickey, the fast-talking salesman with hidden motives behind his many motivational speeches. A fascinating, four-hour long epic that never fails to engage the mind and ear.

Red White & Blue (2010) (1st viewing) d. Rumley, Simon
Rumley, who delivered the captivating The Living and the Dead a few years back, unleashes another crushing character study, this time following the intersecting lives of a damaged & promiscuous party girl, a grizzled Army veteran, a young rock n’ roller and his cancer-afflicted mother, all residents of a small Texas community. Gotta say, this is going to be the one to beat for “end of year” AC honors. Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Ensemble... What's truly sad is that mainstream America will likely never hear about it. While not a horror movie, per se, it definitely contains some disturbing imagery, and I’m tempted to say that including said imagery may have been a mistake, because these elements will be what keeps the film out of the public eye, and honestly, they’re not integral to this great, emotionally accessible piece of art. Not saying I don’t appreciate Rumley's vision en toto – I do. It just means that I can't recommend the picture wholesale to everyone I know. It's going to be one of those "endorsements with qualifiers,” i.e. if you can’t handle explicit sex and violence, keep on moving.

Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price (2005) (1st viewing) d. Greenwald, Robert
Underpay workers, pay off public officials, gobble up subsidies, undercut communities, destroy family businesses, pollute the environment, shirk social/moral responsibilities, bust unions, utilize cheap foreign labor and you too can become the most successful corporation in the world. We have a choice and a voice, people, and wallet-speak is the only language that makes a difference. Your move.

Armour of God (1987)
(1st viewing) d. Chan, Jackie
Operation Condor (1991) (1st viewing) d. Chan, Jackie
The director/star delivers the comic/action goods, introducing an archeological soldier of fortune character for two stand-alone features. Breathtaking stunts interlaced with rib-tickling, bone-shattering set-pieces, lovely ladies and comic book villains are the standing house orders. More, please.

2011 totals to date: 211 films, 126 1st time views, 103 horror, 14 cinema


Arrested Development – 1 episode

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