Monday, October 24, 2011

October Horror Movie Challenge 10/23


Jigoku (1960)
(1st viewing) d. Nakagawa, Nobuo (Japan) 101min
After timid fiancé Shigeru Amachi runs down a gangster with his car and flees the scene, he enters a downward spiral of bad luck, with everyone around him meeting with horrible accidental deaths. Eventually, he meets his own demise and in the Underworld the film gearshifts into a 40-minute fever-dream visuals extravaganza, complete with pits of fiery despair, rivers of excrement, fields of human limbs, and horned demons doling out crime-fitting punishments. Certainly not for all tastes, but unquestionably original and boldly experimental, even a half century later.

Finale (2009) (1st viewing) d. Elfers, John Michael (USA) 93min
Impressive and well-polished microbudget effort from Ohio-based writer/director Elfers and his merry band of collaborators. When Carolyn von Hauck’s family is targeted by demon-worshipping cult members (headed by a double amputee priest and a vicious high school drama teacher!), she scrambles to save her kin’s skin, despite skepticism and outright defiance on their parts. Superb performances and creative cinematic solutions belie the meager coffers, leaving one doubly impressed at how little forgiveness and/or generosity is required of the audience. (Aspiring horrormeisters should sneak a peek at the behind-the-scenes DVD featurette to see true bleeding-celluloid ingenuity and determination at work.) Well worth checking out.

Automatons (2006) (1st viewing) d. McKenney, James Felix (USA) 83min
Bleak, low-rent, black and white vision of a post-WWIII dystopia, where decidedly analog robot warriors venture onto wastelands to do daily battle. McKenney’s titular troops are comprised of what appear to be – depending on the shot – plastic wind-up toys, hand-manipulated puppets or good ol’ fashioned guys in metal suits, and this nuts-n’-bolts approach manifests a certain charm, as does Angus Scrimm’s presence via recorded video journal entries. Even so, the enterprise feels a bit boggy (even with its brief 83-minute runtime) and the non-Scrimm human performances are amateurish and unconvincing. A shorter and less talky format would’ve been preferable, but still admirable on its own terms. Larry Fessenden executive-produced and cameos as a freedom fighter.

First Time Views: 47
Repeats: 46
Total Films: 93

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