Monday, December 31, 2012

Fool's Views (12/17 - 12/23)

‘Twas the Week Before Christmas
With a Film Every Night
Trading off Civilian Flicks
With Those Designed for Fright

Howdy folks,

This week’s Views were brought to you by HH101, OCP, CPL, and good ol’ JC.

(That would be HIDDEN HORROR 101, my Obsessive Compulsive Personality i.e. needing to watch films by certain directors in order to increase 2012’s tally, the Chicago Public Library, and He Who Was Born in a Manger, Thus Spawning a Million Christmas-themed Movies.)

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



Dark Waters (aka Dead Waters) (1993) (2nd viewing) d. Baino, Mariano (Russia/Italy)

Skillfully executed chiller with Lovecraftian overtones, following lovely young Louise Salter to a island populated by a mysterious sisterhood of nuns literally hellbent on keeping their secret sect safe from prying eyes. Reaping rich benefits from its wonderful dreamlike imagery and an uncanny sense of dread throughout, this woefully neglected gem has eluded its due recognition for two decades, despite a devoted following and admiration by anyone who crosses its path. May you be next.

Django Kill…If You Live, Shoot! (1967) (1st viewing) d. Questi, Giulio (Italy)

Any film that kicks off with the hand of (is he or isn’t he?) dead cowboy Tomas Milan clawing its way to the surface is off to a solid start, but this spaghetti western isn’t preoccupied with cheap thrills and bloody kills (though there are plenty of both on display) – instead it’s a darker, more metaphysical examination of the human condition where life and death are often indistinguishable from one another, especially for those of low moral holding (which is just about everyone here). From gold bullets being greedily ripped from a still-living torso to a literal dynamite/horse combo, Questi serves up a number of visual treats not seen before or since. Note: Not related in any way to the 1966 Sergio Corbucci film - in fact, there's not even a character named Django!

Spiral (2007) (2nd viewing) d. Moore, Joel David/Green, Adam (USA)

The director of Hatchet, Adam Green, and that film’s star, Joel David Moore, reunite to co-direct a psychological thriller that turns out to be far removed from the old-school slasher vibe of their previous collaboration. Moore shines as an awkward office geek who sketches and paints in his off hours, well-matched by Amber Tamblyn, a quirky and attractive lass who responds to the kicked-puppy energy of her hapless co-worker. The two strike up a tenuous relationship, but it isn’t long before suspicions arise concerning the fates of Moore’s previous “models.” While the deliberate pace and jagged jazz score may not appeal to all tastes, Spiral remains a worthy effort, if not an unqualified success.

Suicide Club (2001) (2nd viewing) d. Sono, Shion (Japan)

With his opening mass-suicide salvo of fifty Japanese schoolgirls throwing themselves under the wheels of a speeding express train, Sono accomplishes the enviable goal of every horror filmmaker: creating an unforgettable “moment.” Unfortunately, he also creates the conundrum of not being able to match or top it for the remainder of the running time (despite several noble attempts). Losing steam as the plot unravels and introducing bizarre peripheral characters whose arc leads down blind alleys, there are several other memorable horror moments, but they seem to exist unto themselves rather than in service of the shocking curtain raiser. Worthwhile but frustrating when considering what might have been.


Intolerable Cruelty (2003) (1st viewing) d. Coen, Joel (USA)

Breezy Coen brothers comedy with George Clooney mugging it up as an unbeatable divorce lawyer squaring off against gold-digging maneater Catherine Zeta-Jones. Not quite as subversive as their later Burn After Reading, but still mighty enjoyable and unduly dismissed upon its initial release.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947) (2nd viewing) d. Seaton, George (USA)

The beloved femalien had never seen this holiday classic (I had only seen it once prior) and, well, ‘tis the season. But really, in perusing my preliminary 2012 stats, I realized that I had seen a film from every year dating back all the way to 1938 with the exception of 1947 and 1952. A quick search of popular 1947 flicks conjured Edmund Gwenn’s Oscar-winning twinkle, and the rest is now history. Plus, you gotta admit, it’s a pretty charming little fable and Natalie Wood is just cute as a button as the disbelieving precocious one.

Pusher II: With Blood on My Hands (2004) (1st viewing) d. Refn, Nicolas Winding (Denmark)

Well, The Winding Year of the Winding has finally reached its conclusion, as the good ol’ CPL finally came through with my missing chapter in the Pusher trilogy. That said, this was probably my least favorite of the bunch. Even though I enjoyed seeing yet another facet of protean Mads Mikkelsen’s talents, his ne’er-do-well luckless loser is just too much of a natural born f*ckup to elicit much empathy. I’ll be honest, my sympathies were with his druglord father (Leif Sylvester) who can’t believe this worthless wastrel sprung from his loins.

2012 Totals to date: 594 films, 511 1st time views, 357 horror, 161 cinema


  1. Intolerable Cruelty took a while to grow on me, but it eventually did. That means The Ladykillers is the only film in their oeuvre that seems to be grossly out of place.

  2. LADYKILLERS is also the only Coen Bros film I have yet to experience firsthand. And boy howdy, am I not looking forward to it.