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I Saw the Dead - The Villagers

 

Lo

Lo is a independent film, shot in one room only, about a woman who has been dragged off to hell by demons. We open with Justin, lighting candles around his body and sitting in a carefully painted pentagram with many symbols and a gigantic demon eye in the middle. We realize this is going to be a funny film when he starts reading the pictured instructions to summon the demon Lo and realizes he's forgotten a knife, at which point he springs from the circle and knocks over several candles before coming back to clumsily finish the age old summoning spell. After some blood letting and a stabbing of the painted eye, Lo comes forth, dragging it's lower half behind it. It's made clear soon into the film that demons are neither male or female, that that's merely a human 'cage'.

After some mild threats and changing our hero's name from Justin to Dinner, Lo begins the work of trying to find Dinner's best girl April. He asks him for details about their relationship and displays in front of them a stage where two actors, Justin and April, act our scenes of their relationship for Lo and Dinner, sitting below. Lo questions him relentlessly about whether he really knows all that much about this girl, and it becomes clear very soon that there's more to April than meets the eye.

Occasionally Lo is interrupted by another demon, Jeez, the one who captured April and drug her to hell. He occasionally tells stories through song, backed up by zombied looking band mates, and serves as another venue to cast doubt into Dinner's mind about April. Dinner is too smart for that, however, steadfastly refusing to leave his circle until he can see April.

It's an interesting and funny film over all. I laughed quite a bit and found myself amused throughout the entire thing. The scenes 'on-stage' are purposefully dramatically over acted with various 'extras' who come in to fill in important parts, like waiter or bar tender, while the scenes down below are for the most part a tad more muted, though often quite funny and sometimes even tender. It's obviously low budget, but the make up work they did for it was really quite outstanding, and the camera they used was very good, so they must have gotten some funding somewhere. It's on insta-queue now on Netflix, so if you're looking for something a little spoofy and fun, you should check it out.
 

Love/Hate: 7/10 Sometimes a tad overacted, but definitely worth the watch.
Squick Factor: 210 The make up effects are great, but there's nothing too scary about this.
Thrills Meter: 1/10 Think romantic comedy with demons.

The Grither

At the beginning of my stay down here, the husband and I discussed all manner of things. Of course, for me, I was always interested in what scared him as a kid. Aliens was a big one, and this seasonal ditty, the Grither.

I sat down to watch it after he told me about and grinned my way through it. It's fairly hokey by today's standard, but even with that, I could tell why it scared him. Just try not to say its name too often after you see it, it seems it doesn't like that.
 
 
 
 
Read the rest of the article here.

It's really unfortunately, especially from such an amazing band.

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The Machinist

This is a movie that I've been wanting to sit down and watch for some years, always passing it in the rental aisle when I worked for a video store and thinking it looked very interesting. Turns out I should have watched it a long time ago. It stars Christian Bale, of Batman groggy yelling voice fame, as the skinniest guy on the planet who is still actually living. Trevor Reznik hasn't slept in a year, and at this point he's not quite sure why. We think it may be because at the opening of the movie he's rolling up a body into a ten-foot roll of his carpet, but who knows! In these type of movies, it's never that uncomplicated.

Trevor's a nice enough guy. He works hard making various doo-hickies and thingamabobs at his factory with a bunch of other guys who screw off and play poker after work. They invite him, goad him to come along with them for their merry-making, but he always says no. In their disappointment one tells him he used to be alright, our first clue that there was a time before Trevor decided that he needed a 16 inch waist. He only smiles bemusedly and goes about his day, wandering off to see his hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold, Stevie, before settling down for an evening at a airport cafe for a slice of always untouched pie and a cup of coffee. There he harmlessly flirts with working single mom Maria in his always pristine nice-guy style. And far from thinking this walking skeleton who's always smiling, though his eyes are hallow, is creepy, both women actually really like him, blossoming towards love.

Things start to fall apart when Ivan comes into the picture. Ivan is a wide-grinning, dressed in black leather sort of guy, bald headed and looking like he'd be quite at home in a motorcycle gang or being hired out as a hit man. Trevor starts to feel a little paranoid, that this guy might be following him around.


Ivan is kind of creepy all of the time.

Cracks in Reznik's nice guy facade start to give way as he begins to find strange notes in his home, a game of hang-man sticking on his fridge, written below '_ _ _ _ E R'. Never mind there's blood pooling around his fridge now, for some reason. All good old Trev sees is this strange note, completely ignoring the red liquid pouring down fridge door. It's safe to say Trev's lack of sleep isn't doing him any good by now, and though he keeps trying to be a nice guy, more and more shit keeps happening to ruin his hallow-eyed smile. We're no longer able to tell what might be him dreaming awake or what might be really happening.


The film is excellent. Somewhere in the middle I realized that I couldn't think of a flaw in the film...Again, I'm no film student or expert or critic or anything, but usually something here or there catches my eye as annoying or badly done. Here, not so. The acting is great, the shots are very good, often displaying in sickening effect just how thin Christian Bale had become for this role. Apparently he did this on his own, without the help of a doctor or trainer other than a initial doctor's visit to tell him about the vitamins and supplements he would need. The director himself was shocked, he hadn't asked Bale to loose the weight for the role, Christian merely thought it would help him look as though he hadn't slept in a year. He certainly took good advantage of it, however, in the way he shot his body. The ending, as well, is nicely handled. A lot of these types of films seem to like to leave you unsatisfied, but it's not the case here. I fully recommend it.


Love/Hate: 10/10 This film was extremely well acted and engrossing.
Squick Factor: 4/10 There were a few scenes that had me cringing. Seriously, machines can squick me out more than serial killers with butcher knives.
Thrills Meter: 3/10 Not particularly scary save for a few scenes that made me want to cover my eyes.

The Company of Wolves

I recently sat down and watched a movie that had a profound effect on my childhood, The Company of Wolves. As you might guess from the movie cover, it's a adaptation of the Little Red Riding Hood, based on the book of short stories The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter, where the wolves are of the were variety. In this story Grandmother, played by Angela Landsbury, bids Rosaleen to beware of wolves who were 'hairy on the inside', and to never trust a man whose brows meet in the middle, as it's a sure mark of a man who'd meet the devil in the woods. I first saw parts of it when I was around five, flipping through channels as I always did. It came to a scene, early in the movie, where a husband had returned home to find his wife being attacked by a wolf. He cut off his head and it flew, falling into a large barrel of milk. As it came up the wolves head turned from beast to man. It frightened my awfully as a child, but after a few years I constantly looked for it in the horror section, determined to see the movie that had scared me so much.

It's been years since I've watched it, so I only remembered bits and pieces. It starts out in modern times with a girl asleep in her bed, her lips covered in glossy red lipstick, being tormented through the door by her older sister who's trying to wake her up for her parents. From there it goes into a drawn out dream sequence, where we see the older sister, Alice, running through the woods surrounded by over sized creepy child's toys and being chased by wolves, who eventually overtake her.


 
 
About ten minutes into the story we finally come to the real story, which is the girls dream of growing up in a small village in a long off ago time. She's attending her sisters funeral and is told by her father to stay with her grandmother for the evening, to give her mother some time to rest. It is there Grandmother tells the girl of things she needs to know about growing up, of wolves who are more than what they seem, or do not look like wolves. She's not a real fan of men, that Grandmother, thinking in the end that they are all beasts in one way or another, after they've had their way with you.


This is the part I came into as a 5 year old. Terrifying puppet action.
 
The movie in itself, like the story, is a coming of age story. She's on the cusp of adulthood and is shifting from tormenting the other village boys and being given frogs as 'presents' to being given bouquets and taking walks through the woods with said village boys. She thinks them all fools, however, and it is at this point that she meets the wolf. His brows meet in the middle and his eyes are wild yellow, but he looks otherwise an attractive, wealthy young man of french origin and they picnic in the woods, where he tries to seduce a kiss out of her. Finally they settle on a bet, if he can get to her grandmothers house before her, she'll give him a kiss. From there it takes the traditional bent of the story, with a few sexual twists.


Rosaleen meeting the wolf.

Occasionally the movie interrupts the general story to remind you that it's a dream. In the middle it cuts back to the girl, still resting in bed, as though you might have forgotten the first ten minutes of the story. Rosaleen also climbs a tree to find birds hatching from eggs, but instead of birds they are small human babies. I tried googling the significance of that in myth, but I didn't come up with much, and other than a symbolic gesture of her coming womanhood I'm not sure what it added to the film.

There is another scene where a young lad is walking through the woods, again removed from the story proper, and spots something that looks like wolves eyes lit by moonlight in the brush. The eyes grow larger and get closer until you can see it is a car, driven by a young blond girl, who opens the back door to reveal a very dapper, non-horned or hoofed devil. He gives a vial to the lad, whose brows meet in the middle like Grandmothers warning, and reminds him to use it wisely. There's nothing explaining what the vial is, but the lad opens his shirt to reveal a hairless chest and begins slathering the liquid on, growing hair on his chest. The scene ends as the hair keeps growing and vines wrap around his ankles, binding him to the woods and his curse as a wolf-man. Again, it didn't add much to the movie, but the stories that Grandmother and Rosaleen tell throughout the film do add quite a bit.

The first is told by Grandmother, of a beautiful girl who marries a traveling man, only to be left for many years on their honeymoon as he answers the 'call of nature' and never returns until much later. Rosaleen tells two stories, one of a witch scorned by a man, who looks very much like the young french wolf we see courting Rosaleen herself. The witch, heavily pregnant, interrupts the wedding party of the french groom who left her in such a state, cursing all of the guests at the party to become like the heartless wolves they are.
 


The heartless French nobles getting their just due.

The finally story, spun by Rosaleen again, is sympathetic to the wolves. She tells of a lonely wolf girl who comes up from the underworld and is shot by a hunter, only to be nursed back to health by a priests who decides he cares not whether she's from the devil or God himself. It points to the fact that she doesn't think that wolves are quite evil...They only are what they are, majestic, though dangerous.These stories within the story are beautifully told and add to the mythology of the film nicely.

This version of Little Red Riding Hood draws from the darker stories told of the girl, before the Grimms brothers cleaned it up. It was often told with a sexual twist, such as the girl strip teasing for the wolf clothing item by clothing item, or sharing in the meal of the Grandmotherly leftovers unwittingly. Once you get past the first ten minutes of dream time the story draws you in and the men transforming to wolves is especially bloody, all done through puppets. It's not perfect, but it's close.

Love/Hate: 9/10 One of my favorites growing up, and despite a few slow parts, I still really love it.
Squick Factor: 6/10 Though dated, the shifting from man to werewolf is quite gruesome.
Thrills Meter: 1/10 Not meant to be scary, this is a retelling of a well known tale.

May

May is a strange little film written and directed by Lucky McKee, a bit of an indie flick. I was mostly interested in seeing it because my favorite actor from Six Feet Under, Jeremy Sisto, was the co-star. And he's really cute.

Moving on, it begins with a blond girl who is forced by her mother to wear an eyepatch because of her extreme condition of lazy eye. When she informs her classmate that she is indeed Not a pirate all of her future ability to make friends is taken away and she spends the rest of her childhood alone. Except, that is, for the dolls her mother gave her, including one very special doll in a glass case. As her mother tells her, if you can't find a friend, make one, and the doll itself was the first doll her mother had ever made.

Switching to May as an adult, she's reclusive and utterly inept at being normal and works as a Vet tech. Her movements are awkward, she talks only to her doll, and she can't meet any boys friendly enough to want to talk to her for more than five minutes, especially when she takes her glasses off, causing her lazy eye to pull sharply to the right. Jeremy Sisto plays Adam Stubbs, a mechanic with 'beautiful hands' that May meets one afternoon, someone she thinks will understand her as he's a fan of slasher films and she finds the sicker parts of her job, like dogs loosing their guts all over a back patio after her entirely stupid Vet boss uses the wrong stitches on it and calls it good enough, absolutely fascinating. Match made in heaven, right? Not so much.

Anna Faris, of Scary Movie fame, also makes an appearance as a fairly sexy lipstick lesbian who tries to lure May in as well, all while May is dealing with the rejection of Adam. It was definitely fun watching her.

We follow May slowly loosing her mind as she tries desperately to fit in. To mirror this, the glass case her most special doll lives in slowly cracks and eventually breaks, at which point she completely looses her shit. She suddenly gains confidence and is quite fun to watch at this point as she methodically makes her friend, loosing all of her previous awkwardness and becoming an entirely new woman.

The movie is a very, very slow burn. It pays off in the end, but you have to have patience. If you're expecting a slasher film with good action, this is definitely not for you. If you like your occasional interesting indie flick with a lot of dialogue and a bit of slice and dice at the very end, a film that's built more around character development instead of action, then this may indeed be your cup of tea. I enjoyed it, the acting is very good, almost hard to watch at points because the actress gets so into being this sad, lonely woman. Very interesting film, I recommend seeing it if you're into that sort of thing.

Love/Hate: 7/10 Interesting film movies a little slow, but otherwise good.
Squick Factor: 5/10 Really not too bad in general.
Thrills Meter: 1/10 It's not a scary film and isn't really meant to be scary. This is the breakdown of a mind.

In defense of Freddy

I didn't think I was going to be able, but because of a stroke of luck, I was able to go see the new Nightmare on Elm Street remake last Saturday. The husband came along with me, sitting in bored silence most of the time, but at least I didn't have to sit alone in the midst of snickering teenagers and jocks who had to show off to their girlfriends (and the rest of the theater). I suppose I could have waited to see it, but I was too curious not to go as soon as I was able.

I've read the reviews, all of the negative ones, and for the most part I think they've been unfair. I'm not going to go on too long on this post, I don't want to give anything away, but the critics that have been saying it's basically copypasta of the original scrip, making you think nothing was changed, they're dead wrong. Yes, the story line has stayed much the same, but only one quintessential death scene was kept mostly the same. The characters are mostly similar to their original concept, but you spend much more time with Kris (the renamed Tina) and the other characters before they get the slice. And not everyone you expect to die or live does. Overall the story has been much more fleshed out, with interesting new parts and other characters added.

The movie starts off quite serious...These are not cheesy 80's teens we're used to seeing, they start off looking like they're in a war and there isn't any slutty blond or dumb jock that you think probably deserves to die. They're just normal teens, flawed but not annoyingly so. The parents are less hopelessly inept, but they are distant. None of the teens run off to get help from their parents, it's like they're already in their 20s, they research and do everything themselves from almost the get-go. This seems a little unrealistic, and in truth the actors all are older, so that's a bit of a downside.

The characters themselves were all likable enough. I was waiting most of the movie for Kris to get out of the way so Nancy (the only teen that didn't get a rename) could take over the show, but I liked Kris as much. New Nancy lacked some of the fire of the original Nancy, but she wasn't bad. I liked and the changes to her character were interesting, making her a reclusive artist rather than an outgoing teen with a close knit group of friends. But it's hard to replace Nancy, I'm not going to hold that against her.

Now on to the main point....Jackie did a fucking fantastic job as the new Freddy. I love Robert Englund, don't get me wrong. Love him to death, but I don't think anyone could have done a better job taking his shoes than Jackie Earle Haley. He hit all the right notes for me, he made Freddy completely terrifying and disgusting. He had a few 'funny' lines, but they were sickly sadistic and pointed to his abuses of children in all the wrong ways. 'I'm your boyfriend now' takes a whole new context with the story taking the way it was originally intended...As most of us know, Freddy Krueger wasn't just a child murderer in the original films. He was meant to be a pedophile, but at the time when the movie was being made there was a slue of real cases in the news about actual pedophiles, so they decided to pull that part out and make him a 'child murderer'. In this new story, he's not getting revenge on the parents. He's getting revenge on the children who ruined his fun. This, to me, makes him ultimately more terrifying, even though it was never mentioned that he actually killed a child in life. Every child who's ever had to tell an adult that they'd been sexually abused has lived in terror of being harmed for it, either their family or themselves, that revenge would be handed out for telling. This is every abused child's worst nightmare, and Jackie, as bad as this sounds, encompassed that nightmare perfectly.

There were a few downsides. The dialogue was a little wooden in places, it seemed, but the characters were also all sleep deprived. People complained of feeling 'bored', and it is dialogue heavy, but it was overall an interesting movie. The scares weren't quite there...It was done in very classic style, all sound and jumps. This is great for someone who loves classic horror, but it also meant you saw exactly where the scares were coming from and could anticipate them and what might happen almost by the second it happened. There were only a few places were the anticipation was allowed to build in the scene.

Despite this, I left the theater completely jazzed about the new Freddy. I think Jackie Earle is a great actor, and if they decide to continue the series, I hope he continues with it.

 
Love/Hate: 7/10 Very much enjoyed it after all, there were just a few sour notes.
Squick Factor: 7/10 Pretty standard, there's only one part that's really gross.
Thrills Meter: 3/10 It could have stood some better directing in this area...Almost every scare was completely obvious.

Hellraiser

I finally settled down to watch Hellraiser the other night as the husband went to bed early. Unfortunately he doesn't understand the elaborate rituals involved in sitting down to watch a horror movie. It's a commitment. There is no "getting up" during this, you're locked in for a good hour and a half. Anything less breaks the immersion. And the ritual, for me, has remain unchanged. First and foremost, all of the doors must be locked, to make sure while I'm engrossed with my movie no serial murders come in to skin me and make me into a woman suit. Second, every single light Must be turned off. Third, and most importantly, the trusted security grade bear must be at hand (saving me from evil demons since 1988) and a force shield blanket to make sure my feet aren't grabbed. That's a favorite of spooks, you see.

Somehow, the husband doesn't see the importance in all this, but he's not a horror fan.

So then, we open mostly the same way as we did in the book. I was disappointed to see the cute, if overly husky voiced Frank, was not naked, sitting by a jar of urine, or displaying a silver tray of birdhead bonbons for the Cenobites.

The cenobites arrive, our first real look at them, and they are impressive. Besides Pinhead, of course, I especially like the strange aesthetic of Female Cenobite. Chatterbox also has some interesting bits of action in the movie that made him more interesting. Fatso, or whatever his name is, not as much, other than tearing his sunglasses off David Caruso style at the end of the movie.


So who ordered the party balloons?
 
Frank is still, of course, a gianormous asshat, and after summoning the Cenobites he's ripped to shreds by his new best friends, in glorious off-camera style, besides the initial metal hooks grabbing into plastic-like 1980's make-up effects skin. Enter Julia and Larry, who was renamed for some reason, and who I'm convinced at some point played a creepy evangelical priest. I might be making that up, but he looks way creepier than Frank even sans skin. Due to an unfortunate accident, Larry ends up bleeding all over the spot where Frank was ripped to bits, and via sucking up this vital energy Frank is able to pull himself together. It's actually one of the better scenes I've seen.


Come to Daddy.

There were a few other character adjustments. Kirsty is now the daughter, which over all works much better. She also has a entirely forgettable boyfriend who only serves to get in her way during the last bit of the film and adds absolutely zero to the film. Kirsty herself is much more likable this time around, and over all the story works very well in film format, almost better than the short story itself. It was such a visual book, sometimes it helps to see it on the slightly smaller than big screen to really get your brain around everything that's going on. Except for missing a few things, the Engineer especially, I enjoyed the film more than the short story. Though it could have had a whole hell of a lot more Cenobite action, I know it'll be their gig to carry the films in the upcoming renditions. Can't wait to see the next one.

My childhood idols are awesome.

 
Love/Hate: 8/10 Great start to the series overall.
Squick Factor: 7/10 Mostly similar to the book, but this time with visuals! Yay!
Thrills Meter: 4/10 If there were more cenobites, it might be more scary. They added in a few parts and monsters to up the thrills, but I wouldn't say I was overly jumpy at any one point.
 
 
 

Splice trailer

 

 
This looks pretty interesting, not to mention the fact I really admire Brody as an actor. Read the rest of the article about the film here.

*Edit: Though I will say it struck a bit too close to home to Species...at least she doesn't look cuddly.

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