Monday, May 23, 2011

Fool's Views (5/2 – 5/15)

Greetings, Boils and Ghouls,

Representing the period of time prior to and during my visit with Mom & the dogs out in Colorado, the Views here represent various influences. Rue Morgue magazine guided my hand on a couple, expiring Netflix streaming options dictated a few more, and the opportunity to expose a group of impressionable minds to a master class in why horror remakes are often a bad idea rounded out the program. (Although, now that I think of it, I would love to see a Crawling Eye remake. Someone get on that, will you?) However, the rationale behind watching Water Power is still beyond my understanding. The best I can say is, after owning it for five years, it was simply time.

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


Bone Sickness (2004)
(1st viewing) d. Paulin, Brian
Okay, this is not a “great” movie, even for being a DIY zombies-in-the-backyard flick. The plotline (guy with degenerative bone disease gets fed ground-up corpse fodder courtesy of his med school buddy, resulting in an undead outbreak ) is not the strongest narrative ever conceived, and the film fails in pretty much every technical arena possible (lighting, sound, camera movement, acting…wait, what acting?). However, that all said, writer/director/actor/ Savini-school grad Paulin manages to dish out stellar goo and grue at an astonishing rate, as well as convincing his neighborhood cast of gal pals – every single one – to lose their shirts at some point. And stages an effing armed forces siege and car crashes in the final reel? All this on a reported budget of $3000? I love this guy!

Crawling Eye, The (aka The Trollenberg Terror) (1958) (2nd viewing) d. Lawrence, Quentin
Mountaineering expedition in the Alps goes absolutely batty when a remote mountain resort is shrouded by a mysterious, radioactive cloud that conceals a horde of decapitation-happy space aliens disguised as giant, tentacled eyeballs. Because, you know, they want to blend in. Forrest Tucker and Janet Munro (Caroline’s mom) lead the intrepid cast, whilst Hammer scribe Jimmy Sangster provides the wacky script. (One can easily picture Jim giggling over his typewriter the entire time – “Oh, yes, and they’re telepathic! That’s good...”)

Mulberry Street (2006)
(2nd viewing) d. Mickle, Jim
Stake Land (2010) (1st viewing) d. Mickle, Jim
Shot on budgets that wouldn’t cover most Hollywood productions’ craft services, Mickle’s two features take bizarre apocalyptic premises (bloodthirsty mutant man/rat creatures in the former, roving bands of mutated vampires in the latter) and then infuse them with superlative camerawork, astonishing makeup effects and remarkably well-drawn characters, resulting in two of the finest indie horror releases of the past decade. Both films were co-written by Mickle and lead actor Nick Damici (who is terrific), and consistently surprise us with their nimble combination of humanity and horror. Whereas MS is creepy and claustrophobic within its NYC locations (nearly all the interiors were redressed versions of Damici’s own apartment and building), SL takes the reverse tack, placing its roving band of survivors out in the open roads and fields of rural Americana. The director also displays a gift with actors, as nary a false note is struck from unknowns and screen veterans alike. Two incredible independent efforts that should be required viewing for any budding horrormeisters who think it impossible to create a worthwhile end product with limited financial resources. Both are Highly Recommended.

Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The (1974)
(5th viewing) d. Hooper, Tobe
Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The (2003) (3rd viewing) d. Nispel, Marcus
Watched these as a Share the Scare with my buddy’s group of teens, and was pleasantly surprised at how much they enjoyed the aesthetics of Hooper’s groundbreaking drive-in smash. With every subsequent viewing, I’m awestruck by how it feels like no other film ever made, how effective it is in delivering the scares, how bizarre and original the production design, how brilliantly selected and executed the editing of sound and image, and the effortless insanity of the nefarious bad ‘uns trio, Gunnar Hansen, Jim Siedow and Edwin Neal. By contrast, Nispel’s slicked-up remake – which many believe launched the aughts’ torture porn movement – deserves points for screenwriter Scott Kosar’s not completely aping the original, to the point of being barely a remake at all. But aside from that, R. Lee Ermey’s joyously satanic lawman and Jessica Biel’s white tank top, I have very little love for it. However, as familiarity set in on this, my third viddy, I found it less offensive to my sensibilities than on previous encounters – and that’s what really scared me.


Cropsey (2009)
(1st viewing) d. Brancaccio, Barbara/Zeman, Joshua
Meandering and disappointing documentary about the titular Staten Island boogeyman, as nascent filmmakers attempt to tie real-life crimes and kidnappings into the accompanying urban legend. So little done with so little, with no conclusions drawn and no concrete point of view expressed. Bleah.

Act of Vengeance (aka Rape Squad) (1974)
(1st viewing) d. Kelljan, Bob
The director of Count Yorga, Vampire, its sequel and Scream Blacula Scream delves into the real-life horrors of sexual assault and murder as a hockey-masked serial rapist terrorizes a city, leading his victims to unite together, learn kung fu defense tactics and ensnare the bastard. A skillfully crafted exploitation effort, reveling in prurient criminal acts before unleashing hellish comeuppance upon their perpetrator.

Water Power (1977) (1st viewing) d. Costello, Shaun
Legendary (and infamous) pornographic effort, featuring 70s mainstay Jamie Gillis as a twisted voyeur who, after a fateful visit to a specialty bordello, develops a kink for administering high colonics to unwilling participants. “The Enema Bandit” (one of the films alternate titles) soon has backdoors spewing brown water like rusty spigots – not a sight easily forgotten, I assure you. WTF and WOW.

2011 totals to date: 203 films, 119 1st time views, 100 horror, 14 cinema

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