Tales Of Terror (1962)

SEPTEMBER 30, 2010


Two anthologies in one week? Must be a first. Luckily that's about the only similarity between The Telling and Tales Of Terror, since one's a woeful bore and the other has no less than 4 different Vincent Price characters. Want to guess which one I prefer? I'll give you a minute.

I actually didn't know Price appeared in all three stories (plus acted as narrator); I figured he'd be in one juicy role and then let the other guys in the cast (Peter Lorre, Basil Rathbone) take over in the other two. But no, he's a pivotal figure in all three, which is great because it allows him to show his range back to back. One can watch something like The Fly and then maybe a Phibes film and see two entirely different performances, but they'd most likely be days apart at best. Here, we see him play a depressed jerk in the first story, a goofy nobleman in the 2nd, and finally a bed-ridden dying man in the 3rd. It's a terrific showcase for his talents.

I just wish the stories were a bit more evenly balanced. The first and third are only 20 minutes each, and thus left with rather thin stories (the first) or way too undeveloped characters (the third). They're enjoyable, and since this was part of Corman's "golden" era, they have good production values and are shot beautifully (in scope no less!), but they are slightly lacking when compared to the middle story.

This one (which is the one with Peter Lorre, who looks like he's on his way to an audition for The Penguin) takes up half the movie, and wisely combines two Poe tales into one, namely "The Cask Of Amontillado" and "The Black Cat". It changes some of the details, sure, but it's a very fun, well developed tale, and actually provides a better explanation for why he's so angry at Fortunato (Price), taking a brief bit from the story about wine-tasting and turning it into a full-blown contest between the two men, and then having Fortunato bang his wife after bringing him home in a drunken stupor. In the story we never really know what Fortunato did to piss him off, so I liked this expanded setup. Plus it's great to see Lorre and Price face off against each other - is this the first time they appeared together onscreen? They actually probably could have made this a whole movie.

It's also the most fun Price gets to have in the movie, making goofy faces and detailing the proper way to drink wine (with a bunch of sniffing and sipping, whereas Lorre just chugs the stuff like a MAN). A lot of Price roles are very funny, but in a dry way - this is the rare time I've seen him being broad and mugging about. And it's the only really active of the three roles; he gets some action in the first one once he begins being menaced by his wife's ghost, but in the 3rd he's just in bed the whole time.

Speaking of the third, in that one he gets hypnotized by this spinning color light thing, which casts the appropriate color over his entire body as it spins. But I guess it didn't really work, because the light hitting him never really matches up to the one that we see on the spinning box. It drove me insane. Another annoyance was the frequent zooms and fade outs (mostly during the 2nd story), which looked more like "this is the end" or maybe "we're going to commercial" segments, not scene transitions. The whole finale of that one is filmed in some skewed, under-water vision too, another annoyance. It's like they learned some new tricks and wanted to use them regardless of whether or not it made sense.

But that's nitpicking. Overall, it's one of the better Poe/Corman "team ups" in my opinion. It's never boring, has some great scenery chewing from the big guns, and more importantly, didn't have to expand on a short story to make it into a feature, something that diminished the impact of a few others (The Tomb of Ligeia comes to mind).

What say you?


Let Me In (2010)

SEPTEMBER 29, 2010


To me, the best covers are the ones that sound like the singer's regular songs. Since I don't think he gets enough attention, I'll use David Gray's "Say Hello, Wave Goodbye" as an example. Apart from the length, one probably wouldn't be able to tell it was a cover, because it sounds so much like his usual melancholy singer-songwriter stuff. But it's a cover of a song by Soft Cell, of all bands, and theirs is very much a typical Soft Cell song. One isn't necessarily better than the other, because it comes down to what style of music you prefer. Let Me In is sort of like that - it's a good film, but whether it's "better" or "worse" comes down to a matter of preference... and I prefer the original.

Note - this review is spoiler heavy, because I assume you have seen the original. If you haven't, please go do that. But if you are unable to read, then I guess go see the remake. But then, I guess you can't read my telling you that.

Since the original is inarguably one of the best horror films of the decade (at the very least), I guess you can't really blame Matt Reeves for taking a "if it ain't broke..." approach to the material. All your favorite moments are there (unless you're a fan of neutered children - Abby says she's a boy but we are spared the visual proof this time around), and the beats are pretty much the same. The key differences are in the structure of the first act - we begin with Hakan (or just The Father here) in the hospital with acid burns, and then go back a couple of weeks to see how he got that way. The only thing this really succeeds in doing is momentarily giving folks the impression that maybe this won't be such a close copy after all. But before long we're in very (too?) familiar territory, and as the movie goes on it becomes more and more identical - the ice skating scene is practically shot for shot the same, for example.

The other sort of big change is that the angry drunk guy has been replaced with a cop, played by Elias Koteas (I got my wish! He has many scenes in this horror movie!). His final scene is just a straight copy of the drunk guy in the original, but otherwise he's doing different stuff, and adding a realistic police element that was largely missing from the original. I'm baffled why the death of a high school graduate would mean that he had to go speak to grade schoolers about being safe, but at least they were trying new things every now and then. But it's a bit awkward that he goes through the exact same motions as the original character - does he not have any other cops to talk to? And even though he is not in any way linked to the girl who starts to become a vampire and eventually burns to death (via sunlight) in the hospital, he's there when it happens, as the drunk guy was in the original. So even when things are changed, they're still pretty much the same.

The other changes are strictly visual based, such as the manner Abby attacks people, which is one of the movie's two big blunders. I get the idea of wanting to make her look like a force of nature when she attacks, but the overly digital "Abby" actually just looks like Yoda when he fought Dooku in Attack of the Clones, i.e. ridiculous. There's a scene in a tunnel that is downright hilarious (it's not supposed to be), and digital Abby also seems to grow about a foot taller when she climbs a tree later on. Didn't this girl just dive around kicking the shit out of fully grown men in Kick-Ass? And they over-do her vampire appearance - the makeup and eye color are silly looking (as is her Exorcist-esque "mad" voice, also ramped up from the subtly masculine voice in the original to a full blown, obviously male demon-sounding thing here).

Speaking of the visuals, Reeves also beats us over the head with the period setting - it's not enough for a Rubik's Cube and a few soundtrack choices to do it, now we have Ms. Pac-Man, candy store clerks dressed like Boy George, Reagan on the TV, etc. He also pulls a reverse Spielberg - you see all of the adults' faces just fine, but never once do we see Owen's mother clearly (and his father is limited to a voice on the phone this time).

The other big blunder is the score by the usually reliable Michael Giacchino. One of the greatest things about the original was how unnervingly QUIET it was, but it seems like the score is on almost nonstop throughout the movie, breaking only for the 80s songs (and I still don't get why either film has the period setting). The rare quiet moments are much appreciated, and unsurprisingly rank among the best moments in the film. The scene between Abby and Father before he goes out on that fateful botched kill is wonderfully handled, with Richard Jenkins delivering several pages' worth of information just with a look and a few words. I almost wish the movie was a prequel about him and her, because Jenkins is so damn haunting and powerful in those few scenes in which he appears (I'd have to go back to check for sure, but it seems like the character's role has been reduced). I also actually like his serial killer scenes - they're actually scary and tense, unlike the sort of black comic styled ones in the original (i.e. the dog sniffing around him).

The stuff between the two kids is wonderful as well. Even the annoying score can't ruin the touching and charming "bonding" scenes, such as when Owen explains Rubik's Cubes to her, or when she joins him in bed after Father's sacrifice. Both Chloe Moretz and Kody Smit-McPhee (The Road) are terrific, and they actually succeed in their acting where Reeves failed in his story-telling - they fully make the roles their own instead of mimicking with some occasional personal touches. This Abby is less introverted than the original's Eli, trying harder to be normal when she's with Owen. And Owen isn't as overly pathetic as Oskar was, though he is creepier with his American Psycho mask and telescope. It's weird to think, but this is the rare horror movie that actually works better as a "romance" than a horror film. Most of the vampire parts are botched in some way or other (though the climax at the pool is ramped up in a way I mostly enjoyed), but the bonding scenes complement and occasionally improve on the original.

One major exception, oddly enough, is the "Let me in" scene, which doesn't play nearly as effective here. Abby doesn't seem as hurt by Owen's refusal to say the words as the original Eli was, but instead sort of annoyed, and thus what was one of the more heartbreaking moments in the original just becomes an almost angry face-off here.

Another nice little touch was the idea that Conny (I forget the new bully's name) is clearly bullied by his own older brother. In the original, the brother gave him a little grief but it was just typical older brother playfulness, with Conny not really minding. Here we see the brother really picking on the Conny character, and he gets noticeably angry/embarrassed - much to Owen's delight. I wasn't too big on the fact that these guys were bigger than Owen, however. In the original they were all kind of the same size, which I think worked better.

At this point I'm kind of sick of comparing. Overall, I think the original is a better film, but the story is so good, the things they changed for the worse aren't enough to make this a bad movie (and honestly, for the most part I prefer the acting here). So again, if you really cannot fathom the idea of "reading" a movie, or dealing with a dub, then by all means you should be watching this, because you shouldn't be deprived of a wonderful tale. It could have been a disaster, and with minor exceptions, my only issues with it stem from a comparison with the original. It's not like Nightmare on Elm St where the movie is just a piece of shit regardless of how it compared to its predecessor - this IS a good movie, remake or not. I, like many others, was on the "F THIS MOVIE, IT'S POINTLESS" bandwagon when it was first announced, but a few early positive reviews got me to reconsider and give it a chance. I still don't QUITE see the point (even Reeves admits he didn't understand why they wanted to remake it), but like a good cover song, sometimes it's nice to experience something all over again. I dunno. Anyway, you should be going to see Hatchet II, so it doesn't matter.

What say you?

P.S. I was so happy to see a Hammer logo at the top of the film. It takes a cue from Marvel's film logos, but with old Hammer images forming the letters. So cool. Welcome back!


A Haunting In Georgia (2002)

SEPTEMBER 28, 2010


Well, if the folks behind the feature version of A Haunting In Georgia can’t improve on it, then they are the worst filmmakers in the world, because this is one of the dullest “haunting” stories I’ve ever seen dramatized. I felt that the feature of A Haunting In Connecticut was an improvement, but at least that one had an interesting ghost story at its center and a few scares, plus the family’s actions were believable. Not the case here.

For starters, why don’t they just move away? It’s a question I would ask even if this was a flat out fictional story, but at least there we can chalk it up to “good drama”. But here it just makes no sense. We eventually learn that an earthquake created some magnetic fields, which are interrupting with the little girl’s brain function and causing her to see the ghosts – so why not just move away, somewhere, you know, NOT on a fault line (which is a good idea whether you are seeing ghosts or not). Granted it’s a combination of several factors, which means she’d probably still see ghosts no matter where they go, but they could at least cut down on the number of sightings if they weren’t in a hot spot. It’s like, maybe you love sweets, but you certainly don’t eat an entire bag of candy if there’s a history of diabetes in the family.

The one nice thing is that we can almost guarantee that Discovery didn’t embellish anything to make it more exciting (at least, I hope – if this IS the “exciting” version, the real story must be coma-inducing). Apart from their boneheaded decision not to move away, I believed everything about the movie, and I like that they offered a scientific explanation for her ghost-seeing abilities. But it doesn’t quite make for an interesting narrative. For starters it’s very awkwardly structured; the first 20 minutes or so deal exclusively with Mr. Gordy, who is phased out of the movie during the 2nd act. Mediums come to investigate and not much happens, the kid grows older and joins a church... it’s sort of like "The Lovely Bones" (the book), where it’s not so much a story but a sequence of things happening to some folks. Look for Mr. Gordy to be a bigger part of the eventual movie version.

There are a couple of decent scary moments though. Children’s voices coming from nowhere are always creepy, and there’s a nice bit of Mr. Gordy pushing the girl on a swing, which is framed in a way that her mother (us) cannot see if he’s actually there or not (this is the earlier, best part of the movie, when they’re still trying to figure out if Gordy is real or imaginary). I also liked the moment where Heidi asks her mom if she’ll be mad if she tells her that someone is standing beside her (guaranteed that’s either the closing moment of the trailer, or the one about 2/3 the way thru, the last line of dialogue we hear before some current-ish rock song kicks in over a montage of money shots - and I know this because pretty much all studio horror trailers are cut exactly the same).

I think the movie would have worked better as a whole if they had told it out of order, from Heidi’s point of view. We start with the parents, with Heidi being the usual sort of kid seeing ghosts character, but she’s the main character of the 2nd half, with her parents more or less sidelined. It’s an awkward transition that could have been rectified if it started with Heidi today, recounting her story. They also should have just made up a reason for Mr. Gordy’s eventual disappearance, because fact or fiction, you don’t just let your creepy old ghost character exit the movie without saying why. It’s rude.

What say you?


The Telling (2009)

SEPTEMBER 27, 2010


The most interesting thing about The Telling is that none of its three stories have any real twist at the end of them, which is unusual for an anthology. Not that the movie is any better (in fact it’s much worse) than the average modern anthology movie, but at least they were consistent with the characters when it came to the stories being told, as the gimmick was that they were all being told by sorority pledges, who probably wouldn’t be able to concoct Saw-level narratives even when they had time to think, let alone when being put on the spot to tell a story as they are here.

So it’s actually kind of fitting that the stories are simple, pointless, and not very interesting/scary, because they are essentially being made up as the teller goes along. But for all I know that wasn’t even an intention of the writer, and even if it was, it doesn’t make the movie any better.

Another problem is that the wraparound segments start with a typical “outcast girl gets picked on” story that results in the poor girl (who, as I usually find with these things, is better looking than any of the “pretty” ones, but whatever) committing suicide. So we know the end of the movie will result in the girls getting their just desserts, and that pun is intentional because they get poisoned by cookies. Clever. So basically the only mystery is whether or not one of the stories will play into the wraparound (like in Tales From The Hood), and which of the girls is the one who plans to get revenge. Spoiler: it’s the one whose story involves (different) bitchy sorority girls getting killed.

The first story is probably the weakest, despite a setup that could have produced the best one. Basically, a girl and her boyfriend are living together and his out of town ex comes to stay with them while she looks for a place of her own. At the same time, he gets a talking doll, and the girlfriend starts to crack up, thinking that the doll is trying to take her place. OR IS IT REALLY ALIVE? Honestly I didn’t care, because I wanted all three of them to die, since they were so annoying. And the actress playing the girlfriend was woefully bad, which didn’t help.

The 2nd one’s a bit better, because it involved a little midget DP named Foot Candle, which is about the wittiest thing in the entire movie. But it also applied a sort of "Dorian Gray" tale to an actress who was getting past her prime, and was shot/lit like a gothic horror film from the 50s, so it at least looked interesting. And there’s a cool absinthe-tinged nightmare scene that comes out of nowhere, which is always nice. The only real flaw was a pair of 30 Seconds To Mars-esque modern rock songs that played over the big horror scenes. They’re not bad tunes, really, but they were horribly out of place, and totally killed the mood. It’d be like putting a My Chemical Romance song in the middle of The Wolfman or something.

The 3rd one is OK, mainly because it’s hilariously anticlimactic. It’s the old “prank call turns deadly” story, and our girls are visited by both a creepy cable guy and a cop who arrived alone and rather quickly. Guess which one’s the killer! Um... neither of them. I have no idea who he is. One of the girls kills the cop (thinking he’s the bad guy), and the cable guy is tied up, and then the real killer shows up out of nowhere and kills the last girl. What a twist? But again, it fits the idea of someone making something up as she goes along. Also, one of the girls is killed by getting a coaxial cable wrapped around her throat, which I believe is the first for a horror movie. As much as I hate them getting tangled (and getting eaten by my cat), I have an odd affection toward AV cables, so this delighted me. One of my dream Halloween costumes is “A/V Mummy”, where I’d wrap myself in cables of every sort (I have a big foot locker full of them), but I suspect it would be damn near impossible to move.

The main girl in the wraparounds is Holly Madison, the Girls Next Door star who was Hugh Hefner’s girlfriend (Hef is thanked at the end). Ew. As with most reality show stars, she can’t act worth a shit, so thankfully her role is limited to sitting around and being a bitch. Wikipedia also tells me that the wraparounds were directed by Jeff Burr, though IMDb says otherwise. Hopefully they are right; Jeff deserves a hell of a lot better than this (he has used pseudonyms in the past so I can’t be sure if it’s just wiki nonsense), though I guess I can’t blame him (or anyone) for signing on to direct a bunch of attractive bimbos looking to further their acting career. There’s only like 3 dudes in this entire movie.

Well, whatever. The movie probably exists only to provide Girls Next Door fans with something to watch in between seasons, and those folks were probably entertained. Who cares what I think with such things?

What say you?


Babysitter Wanted (2008)

SEPTEMBER 26, 2010


It's bad enough that we have trailers or horror website/magazine articles that contain major spoilers for the film you're about to see, but Babysitter Wanted goes above and beyond, giving a major twist away on the goddamn DVD front image! That other stuff you can avoid (as I did; the film was recommended by HMAD reader Emily C but otherwise I had no knowledge of its existence), but how can you avoid seeing the DVD itself? Come on folks, put a little thought into your work.

Luckily, you'd have to be kind of dumb to not see the twist coming. I won't spoil it (however, I will say that there's a missing genre tag), but within the first reel they pretty much flat out tell you who the film's real villain is. Hell, the first scene gives away the back-story right off the bat - it really should have been deleted from the final cut. It's also somewhat spoiled by the mere existence of another film: House of the Devil. This one was shot first, but unfortunately released later, so there is a sense of deja vu to the proceedings that would have effected the other film had they been released "in order". Both films concern a girl (one with roommate issues no less) who takes on a babysitter job in a remote part of the area, and ends up fighting for her life against Satanic types.

The key difference, of course, is that something happens before the 70 minute mark in this one. Even if the twists were obvious, the film admirably shifts gears several times without ever feeling jarring. The pacing can be a little awkward (a little too much of our heroine being tied up and threatened with death - sorry, the telegraphing on this movie was too simple-minded for me to believe that you have the balls to pull a Psycho), but it's rarely boring.

There is one successful surprise, however, and of course I'm going to spoil it (sorry). Bill Moseley pops up as a sheriff who doesn't really believe the main girl's stories about disappearing roommates and strange sounds. But since it's Moseley, I just assumed he was trying to cover the fact that he was in on it too. But no! He's actually a good guy for a change, coming to the rescue in the climax and such. It's a nice change of pace, and I hope he gets a few more hero/sympathetic roles soon.

Another nice surprise was that the film was shot on actual film. Ironically, it was supposed to be HD, but the Panasonic company they were working with screwed up, and they ended up getting the 35mm for the same price, apparently. It's kind of sad that this is the sort of thing that has to be considered a "nice surprise", though.

I have a note that says either Batman or Pulman. Either way I don't know what it's referring to. I also wrote LSD, but that is not what you think. It actually stands for Language, Sex, and Drugs, which is what the MPAA rating (of R) is for. Which is odd, because it doesn't mention the violence, of which there is plenty in the film. Stabbings, torture, shovels to the head... not sure how it didn't get an R for its violence alone.

Then again, the filmmakers seem to have forgotten about the violence as well, as they note minor things as what got them the R rating (couldn't tell if they were joking or not, but they seemingly wanted a PG-13). Their commentary is pretty annoying though, as the three participants frequently talk over each other, and the audio levels are all over the place - one guy is too loud, the other two are too low (and the film itself isn't turned down, so dialogue/music will drown out the person commenting). Then again, I guess expecting decent audio would be silly, considering that the Blu-ray has 2.0 and 5.1 options, but only 2.0 works. They also didn't bother allowing the use of the pop-up menu, and the video transfer is suspiciously lo-fi, so if you're in the market for this movie, I urge you not to spend the extra money on the Blu-ray.

The other extras are decent; mostly just interviews with the cast and crew, some annoying "viral" ads that are just quick bits from the film accompanied by text (I don't think they know what a viral campaign is), and a "Never before seen trailer", whatever that means (the "seen" trailer is also included). Oh and a music video, but I skipped it, since I couldn't recall a single song in the movie as being memorable.

So if you haven't seen House of the Devil yet, and prefer a little more action in your horror movies, this would be the one to go with. House is definitely a more accomplished and suspenseful film, however - the obvious telegraphing in this one really hurt it in those departments. Good try though.

What say you?


Blu-Ray Review: Frozen (2010)

SEPTEMBER 26, 2010


It's no secret I'm a big fan of Adam Green's films, so this is a terrific week, as the long-awaited Hatchet II hits theaters just a few days after the DVD/Blu-Ray release of Frozen, which is his best film yet, and comes with a bonus features collection that puts most big-studio "special editions" to shame. Add that to Anchor Bay's usual top-notch transfer, and you have an easy purchase on either format (though the Blu is preferred, of course).

Much has been said/praised about the film, so no need to go into that in too much detail. The seemingly too simple "3 kids are stuck on a chairlift" concept makes for an incredibly effective nail-biter as well as a surprisingly moving character drama. Sure, the would-be escape attempts and wolf threats are the visually exciting, nerve-wracking bits that everyone came to see, but the movie really shines in those smaller moments when the characters attempt to cheer each other up with stories, or break down over very human realizations. I admit to tears the first (...and second, you got me) time(s) I saw the scene where Parker (the excellent Emma Bell, soon to be seen in the Walking Dead TV series) hysterically realizes that her puppy is going to starve to death and do so thinking she abandoned him and he won't understand why. I can take the frostbite and other injuries, but man, that just completely wrecked me.

But as good as she is, Shawn Ashmore totally owns the movie. He's got the biggest arc and the best lines, but he takes what could have been an enjoyable comic relief character and turns him into a true hero and fully realized character. Unlike too many of his peers, Green seemingly understood that in order for the "action" to work, you actually have to believe that these folks are real people, not movie characters. Nothing they do/say in the movie feels unrealistic. Sure they make a few dumb choices (smoking kills... your hand), but that's human, not contrived. And since the characterization is so good, you will instantly forgive some of their bone-headed decisions because you can almost see yourself doing the same thing.

And it's funny, one of those decisions (which I won't spoil, but it involves Ashmore shaking his hands as if to relieve them) was actually the choice of his stunt double during one of the more dangerous moments, something I learned on one of the two commentary tracks. One is with Green and the three actors, and they discuss their casting (Ashmore and Kevin Zegers are actually close friends in real life, which helped the chemistry immensely), the dangers of their shooting (despite stunt doubles, they did do the majority of the "action", including working with real wolves), and some amusing production anecdotes, including a story about a Q&A where an audience member thought Emma was the actual character she played, and asked her how long it took for her frostbite to heal (amongst other, even sillier but sadly more spoiler-y questions).

The other track is with Green, DP Will Barratt, and editor Ed Marx. As expected, this one is more technical, as they discuss the difficulties of shooting on a real mountain on a real chair lift, as opposed to a soundstage. Every shot in this movie, even closeups that could have easily been faked on the ground, was shot with the actors really 40-50 feet in the air, on a working chair lift. Special rigs for the camera had to be built, the actors were up there for hours on end (without any way to send coffee up or anything along those lines), and even when they wrapped shooting, they'd have to ride the chair all the way up and back down again, which took 40 minutes. Both tracks are quite enjoyable and informative, and Green admirably repeats very little information (unlike say, Mr. Eli Roth, who tells the exact same stories, verbatim, across his multiple tracks for his movies).

There is some overlap with the 90 minutes' worth of behind the scenes documentary features, however, but that in no way should discourage you from watching them. If anything, it just proves/reinforces the stuff they alluded to on the commentaries. Don't believe that they were really up there? Here's dozens of shots proving it. Think the wolves were CGI (as one moronic major publication reviewer did)? Watch the very real beasts circle around Kevin Zegers with very little to protect him. This isn't some "everyone was great to work with"/"this is the best time I've ever had making a movie" bullshit fluff piece, this is a real, detailed, comprehensive look at what it takes to make a movie with limited means and in less than ideal circumstances. It's broken into four parts, but other than the credits/thank yous at the end of each one, you can really just watch it as one long documentary about the film's making, from concept to the end of production (a 5th part, on the film's post, is available online). The 1st and 2nd are about the writing and casting, but it's the 3rd and 4th where it really shines, the type of things that they should show in film schools (not to mention to DVD producers who think their 20 minute "let's cover everything" pieces are real knockouts). Production design, 2nd unit, stunt work, camera rig problem-solving... all of these things are covered in enough detail where you can actually LEARN something from watching them. And like the commentaries, there's enough pure entertainment value to keep them enjoyable while you learn (the segment on "Schneiderman" is a wonderful little break from the norm, and Ashmore has a funny story about one of the "wolves"). The collection (done by Adam Barnick, who also did the way-above-average docs for the Grace disc) is absolutely essential viewing for fans of the film or for would-be filmmakers who aren't sure if they have what it takes to go the extra mile in order to pull off the best possible version of their film. A few deleted scenes (with optional Green commentary), the too-spoilery trailer, and a very easy to find easter egg round things out. The deleteds are all worth a look; one further explains why they have no cell phones (though I thought it was explained perfectly in the film itself, though some reviews actually claimed the movie didn't explain it at all!), and another shows a scene that they had to film just in case foreign distributors demanded more gore.

And like I mentioned, the transfer is amazing. I don't know who does Anchor Bay's releases, but they're almost always demo quality (ironic since just about all of their films are low-budget, non-studio productions), and Frozen is no exception. You might notice some crushed (grey-ish) blacks, but that was an intentional choice that is discussed on the technical commentary. Otherwise, you won't have anything to complain about here - grain levels are accurate, the colors pop when necessary, and the sharpness is impeccable - it seems like you can pause on a frame and determine whether or not that whole "no two snowflakes are the same" thing is true, because it's crystal clear enough to inspect. The audio is also top notch, in addition to Andy Garfield's terrific score (release this on CD!!!), the nature sounds will almost never stop emanating from your surrounds, but it never drowns out or even slightly obscures the dialogue. An exemplary transfer.

The "It will do for (whatever) what Jaws did for swimming" line gets thrown around a lot, but this is the rare exception where it's actually founded. It just took a minor (but still scary) injury for me to swear off skiing ever again - this movie made me wonder how I was ever able to do it in the first place. The manner in which they get stuck seems very plausible to me (in fact it DID happen, albeit not to as tragic a conclusion, in Germany just after the movie opened), and the film details what would happen as the result of every single thing I would think of in order to get down (i.e. jump). So it's a terrific movie anyway, and then you get the bonus features, which are practically worth the cost on their own. Enjoy your purchase.

MOVIE: 9/10
EXTRAS: 9/10 (docked a point for AB not including the 5th part)


Giallo (2009)

SEPTEMBER 25, 2010


Sometimes I wonder if the people who dismiss Dario Argento’s later films have ever actually watched his older ones, or at least recently. The main criticisms aimed at Mother of Tears and now Giallo seem to be that they were “goofy”, with ridiculous plot elements, bad acting, etc. Um, does any Argento film NOT have silly plotting? Going back to 1971’s Four Flies on Grey Velvet (a machine that can record the last moment of someone’s life), Dario and real world logic aren’t exactly the best of pals. And I’ll take Adrien Brody over most actors anyway, let alone the ones from the average Argento movie.

That said, I think Giallo is one of the best things he’s done since I was old enough to know who he was (mid 90s). Sure, it’s got problems, and Byron Deidra* probably would have been more impressive if Adrien Brody wasn’t in it as well, but it’s never boring, which automatically puts it above Card Player, Do You Like Hitchcock, etc., and unlike Mother of Tears (which I also like more than most), doesn’t carry the baggage of being thematically tied to two of his most beloved films.

It certainly doesn’t quite work as a Giallo though, oddly enough. The killer isn’t hidden, and he doesn’t even wear gloves most of the time! Brody’s detective character is the one with the mystery back-story to reveal – the killer is just striking after pretty girls because he is ugly due to his skin condition (and unfortunate wardrobe – why’s he dressed like early 80s Bruce Springsteen?). And the kill scenes aren’t particularly stylish or “set-piece”-y, he actually tortures them for a bit beforehand.

Of course, the movie does have an interesting back-story – it was written as an homage to the style of 60s/70s Italian movies that the writers loved, not just the Giallos. But Argento took an interest in it, so the homage aspect was sort of lost. Also, to be fair, the title seems more of a meta-joke, as Giallo means “yellow”, and the killer is jaundiced, or, has yellow skin. GET IT? So it might not even be fair to claim it doesn’t work as a Giallo, because that might not have ever been the intention. It’s like claiming Meet Joe Black doesn’t work as an action movie.

What it DOES work as, however, is an entertaining detective/serial killer thriller. Brody is terrific as the insomniac detective who is determined to find the killer, if not necessarily save the girl. There’s a bit of a Saw-esque “if only they had done what they were told” angle to the film’s climax that’s really ballsy, and Brody’s one of the few guys who can pull off that sort of balance; on one hand he’s the hero, but on the other, he basically causes an innocent person to die because of his determination. And I liked the detective angle, which had its fair share of unusual quirks, such as when he bribes a guy for information by giving him rare western novels instead of money. Plus he’s just a flat out dick (another connection to Four Flies) – I love that he tosses the killer’s medicine down the drain for little to no reason.

The killer (Deidra) is also endlessly amusing. He looks sort of like Mel Smith’s albino character from The Princess Bride dressed as an early 80’s Bruce Springsteen, and speaks in a garbled mutter, offering things like “Fuck you fuck you fuck you” and “Ugly!” as he does his thing. He also at one point puts a pacifier in his mouth and jerks off to a photo he took of one of his blood-covered victims. So there’s something.

As for Argento’s usual directorial flourishes (primary colors, strange set designs, monkeys), they’re not really there. With the exception of Mother of Tears, none of his recent films have really had that sort of touch, but you can say the same for Carpenter. Perhaps people are dismissing the film for that as well, but maybe he understands something that fans perhaps do not: not every movie he makes has to follow a template. The old Argento probably would have spent more time with the female lead, telling the story from her point of view instead of Brody’s (and she’d be a suspect), but I don’t think it’s fair to compare the work (with well-known producer interference, budget issues, and the fact that it was written by Americans with a sense of humor that wasn’t translated to Italian to boot) of a guy in his prime to a guy who has been beaten up by censors, critics, and studios for the past four decades. Based on crap like Phantom of the Opera, I’m just happy he can pull together a watchable movie at all anymore. It’d be interesting to see what he could have done with a blank check and no interference, but in a way it’s even more impressive that it’s as entertaining as it is when you consider everything that was stacked against him.

What say you?

*Yes, I am aware.


Infection: The Invasion Begins (2010)

SEPTEMBER 24, 2010


I screw titles up every now and then, but I can usually get them right, and for good, after a few corrections. But I’ll probably never remember if this movie is called Infection: The Invasion Begins, or Invasion: The Infection Begins, because who the hell is going to correct me? The IMDb messageboard has one post, and there are only two reviews (no user ones). Hell I can’t even remember how I heard about it in the first place.

Luckily, it’s not that bad of a movie, really. I was more or less engaged throughout, despite several factors that worked to point me in the opposite direction. I liked how it took elements from a lot of great 50s/60s monster/paranoia movies and played them straight instead of for camp, and even if the visuals are laughably bad, the idea of starting it in the future with a survivor telling the story is a pretty decent one. Plus the movie is essentially a hybrid of Body Snatchers and Night of the Living Dead (the infected folks act like zombies, even staggering about as if slowed by rigor mortis, which makes no sense but let's just go with it), and there ain’t nothing wrong with that.

But good lord does it have issues. Almost all of the actors suck, including the two male leads (one of whom is also the writer). They’re both incredibly stiff and make every line sound forced, which is fine for exposition that’s clunky anyway, but not so much when it’s supposed to be a jokey one-liner or a profession of love. And their acting is matched by the lousy direction/editing. Entire scenes play in master shots that aren’t particularly great to begin with, and everything feels like a soap opera. The editing of the climax is hilariously botched, as it’s supposed to be one of those “guy sets off an explosion and gets caught inside” deals, but the time from him lighting it (outside no less!) and when it actually blows up is like 30 seconds, because the editor keeps cutting to the survivors gathering around and gawking. Christ, the guy had time to crawl away from danger.

It’s also another movie that tries to make us believe actor Lochlyn Munro as a cop. Look, nothing against the guy, but how can anyone buy him as a law enforcement type after Dead Man On Campus? Whenever he tries to act tough, all I can think of is “I got some beers, let’s drink em!!!” I should watch that movie again, I remember thinking it was underrated. Also the love interest was a pre-Without A Trace Poppy Montgomery. Mmmm.

But the movie’s biggest offense is the outright theft of the Broken Arrow score. The actual music was licensed for use in Scream 2, so that was OK, but this is clearly just a re-recorded steal. I wouldn’t care for this sort of thing for ANY score, but the Broken Arrow score is one of the finest movie scores in the past 20 years, in my opinion, and you can’t just toss it in your cheapo Body Snatchers ripoff without even tossing a thank you to Hans Zimmer in the end credits. I hope he rounds up Trevor Rabin and Harry Gregson Williams and they kick these dudes’ asses. And that they play their music over the fight, to make it more epic.

Also, while I didn’t mind the future scenes (where everyone drives Smart cars or Segways, though presumably not off of cliffs), I don’t know why they needed to bother going so overboard with the “IN THE FUTURE!” backgrounds, since they look like shit (as does everything in this movie that requires an effect of any sort). It’s only 50 years later, and yet they have the same sort of “flying car and skyscrapers everywhere” visual motif that “future” movies of the 1960s had when depicting the year 2000. Obviously, these things are just not going to happen. I bet 2059 looks a lot like the world now, but with more Pinkberry locations. A title card and maybe some clever editing could have been a far more successful way of depicting the future.

The only two bonus features are a collection of cast and crew interviews. Like the movie itself, the effects work is terrible – they are seemingly in front of a white-screen? How else to explain the white halos around their heads as they talk about how they got cast or whatever? They also scale the actors down when they want to show a “relevant” film clip behind them, and so you’ll see someone raise their hands to make a point and the fingers will just disappear in the middle of the screen. And I say relevant in quotes because that’s not always the case; one of the crew guys says something like “Being on a low budget production forces you to be more creative”, and behind him is a shot of a guy with a camera on a tripod. Wow, you genius! This will save us millions!

The editor of the piece also has a tendency to just cut away from people mid-sentence, which I found hilarious. One guy says “On low budgets, the money you have, either you spent it or-”, and then he is replaced by a woman, also in mid-sentence, saying something about being efficient. It’s like watching someone else’s channel surfing. “Hey, I wanted to hear what he had to say!”

But you know, A for effort and all that. The film’s problems are mostly due to the budget; the script is decent (apart from a curiously inert 3rd act - the action’s pretty fast for the first hour, and then they all to go a house and sit around doing almost nothing for a while) and there’s an obvious love of movies like the original Blob, plus the ones I already mentioned. Forgettable, but enjoyable all the same.

What say you?


Dismal (2009)

SEPTEMBER 23, 2010


Looking at this year’s reviews, I’ve only labeled 7 movies “Crap” all year, which is a record low (there are 96 total, for under four years). Dismal is number 8, and one of the worst of the worst, because at least some of these other movies provided an iota of creativity: Trunk at least had a fairly unique concept, Vampires Suck got a couple laughs out of me, Creature of Darkness had that cool “Predator collector” thing... but Dismal offers absolutely nothing, with each scene being a direct steal from another movie, except without those other films’ engaging characters, professional camerawork, or decent effects.

Christ, this movie even rips off Hatchet, as it opens identically – two rednecks in a swamp, hunting gators, only to be killed by the local backwoods brute. And the structure is curiously similar – our killer makes his presence known to the entire group from pretty much his first kill, unlike most slashers where the bulk of the characters are ignorant of the danger until its too late. But it also rips off Wrong Turn, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hills Have Eyes, and any other number of films in that “family” of horror movies. If there is a single original idea in the entire movie, I must have missed it.

Now, a wholly unoriginal film can work as long as it’s made well and the characters are enjoyable, but the film falters just as bad if not worse in this regard. The teens are a woefully generic lot, I literally couldn’t even tell two of the girls apart in some scenes. They speak either in broad strokes (“I like you... but not just as a friend...” “I know. I like you too.”) or in painfully bad attempts at humor, such as when the black dude (who, yes, dies first) returns from a bout of sex with his girlfriend, and when the others inquire about her screaming (from orgasm), he says “She saw a snake. A big black snake.” OH NO YOU DIDN’T! And the joke is terrible as it is, but they actually pause, as if they were giving the audience time to laugh heartily at this delightful bon mot and then catch their breath. The only exception is the guy playing the teacher's assistant, because it's sort of charming how they try to pretend he's not part of the cannibal family, by having him act weird (we're supposed to chalk it up to him being nervous around the Final Girl, who he wants to bone) and "killing" him off halfway through in the most obvious fake death this side of the April Fool's Day remake.

And the effects are shit as well. Enjoy a girl being sliced in half horizontally, as her top half just sort of freezes and slides away like Poochie returning to his home planet. Or the various spurts of CGI blood that I swear is SUPPOSED to look like a cartoon, because it’s among the worst I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen The Expendables). And Michael Bay would probably weep at the sight of this movie’s “explosion”, which is just a blurry orange thing in the middle of the screen. According to the IMDb, the budget for this film was 130,000 dollars – maybe try a few practical blood squirts or cutting up a mannequin? Why go the CGI route when anyone in the world can tell you that even big budget movies can’t always pull it off? They obviously saw Hatchet – were they under the impression that those kills were CGI? News flash – they weren’t. And an explosion has to be the lamest way to kill off a villain in a horror movie, so even if it was the best looking explosion of all time, it would still be a sore spot for the movie.

Someone on Twitter asked me if this was a Mike Feifer movie. It’s not, but it might as well be. Like his non-serial killer movies like The Graveyard and The Butcher, there isn’t a single thing in the movie that suggests anyone involved actually had an interesting story to tell. Instead, it looks EXACTLY like the result of a few folks seeing that movies like Wrong Turn 2 are profitable, and figuring they can turn one buck into two by making their own. So they write a script based on ideas taken from Netflix plot summaries of the top rented low budget horror movies, hire a bunch of local actors who look nice, and figure out the rest as they go along. As a result, the movie has zero personality, zero depth, and zero chance of even being remembered, let alone enjoyed. It's the cinematic equivalent of a guy at a party who makes the same joke someone else made 5 minutes before in an attempt to fit in.

Oh, one final note – the title wasn’t an admittance of the film’s quality, but it’s actually the name of the swamp where it takes place. And there’s another horror movie called Dismal that seemingly takes place in the same location. Let’s hope that one’s better.

What say you?


The Food Of The Gods (1976)

SEPTEMBER 22, 2010


The great thing about The Food Of The Gods is that it doesn’t waste any time getting to what we’re there for – giant killer animals and insects killing people. While (admittedly better) movies like Kingdom of the Spiders and Day Of The Animals took a while to get to get going, FOTG gives us a death by giant wasp and a giant chicken attack in the first 10 minutes or so! And from then on, we never have to go more than 10 minutes without another attack of some sort.

The only problem with this is that I thought it would be like Frogs, with each death being caused by some other creature, but after this, and a brief attack (a bite, really) by giant maggots, it’s pretty much all rats. The wasps show up again later on, but the effects are so bad (and the scene plays completely without consequence) we might as well forget that one. Nothing against giant killer rats, mind you, but I liked the idea of variety, and we don’t get any of that after this first reel.

But it’s still a lot of goofy 70s fun, with the rats gorily killing a couple of guys and constantly swarming around houses and motorhomes and such. The effects won’t win any Oscars, but they’re still pretty good – the forced perspective and composite shots work quite well, for the most part. The models – not so much; there’s a kill at a little red car, the first one we see via rat, and it’s just laughably bad when they cut from the guy in the car being attacked by a giant rat head, to a little Matchbox (one that’s not even the same shade of red) with a few rats sniffing around it. But the gore delivers – I was actually pretty surprised how bloody this and two of the other kills got, considering the film’s PG rating and pre-splatter existence.

I also like that the hero was kind of a jackass. There’s a bit of a nod to Night of the Living Dead, with the hero constantly bickering with one of the other folks who have holed up in an isolated house, and like that film, it turns out the guy was right about some stuff, and had our hero not been so stubborn, there might have been a few more survivors. Ordinarily I don’t like this sort of thing, but since he was introduced as a football player despite the fact that he looks 40 years old (he was actually only 32 – guy doesn’t age very well) and not very built, I sort of became fascinated by the guy. THIS is our hero? But I just went with it. I particularly liked when one of the female survivors, out of nowhere, asks him to make love to her. Instead he just gives her some tongue and tells her that they will discuss it later. Again, this is not the sort of behavior I’m used to from my heroes. Tom Atkins would have punched this guy in the gut and then nailed that broad right then and there, killer rat or no.

I also didn’t care for the ending, but this is the fault of the sequel (Gnaw), not Bert I. Gordon or anyone else involved with the movie. See, the sequel is just another killer rat movie, which is fine – but the ending of THIS one promises giant cows and possibly giant schoolchildren (they are drinking tainted milk from cows who drank the same stuff that caused the rats/wasps/chickens to mutate). Where’s that movie? Has there ever been a giant killer cow movie? Christ we’ve had like 19 different giant killer insect movies, but no cow. Apparently, the HG Wells book on which this film is based does feature giant children, so there’s something.

This is actually my first Bert I. Gordon movie, not counting a couple MST3k episodes. I definitely want to see Empire of the Ants and Earth Vs The Spider, but what others do you fine people recommend (in the horror genre of course)? How do they compare to this? Also, I’d love to see a big budget modern day giant ____ movie, provided they don’t use CGI the entire time. The only one in the past decade that I can think of is Eight Legged Freaks, and I don’t want to think about that movie. And before people chime in – no water movies (Piranha), because we’ve had too many of those. Nor does Snakes On A Plane count, because they were normal snakes. I’m talking movies that take place on land, featuring giant versions of common animals/birds/insects. Come on Hollywood, let’s make this happen!

What say you?


La Llorona (The Cry) (2007)

SEPTEMBER 21, 2010


The nice thing about short movies is that even if they’re not very good, I can’t say they wasted too much of my time. La Llorona (aka The Cry) is under 80 minutes with credit sequences (meaning the actual movie is about 70), which meant I had time to do something else after it was done. Thanks, movie! Sorry you weren’t very good, but no harm no foul and all that.

It also helped that I’ve never heard of the titular myth before. I’m guessing if I was a big fan of the legend, I’d be pretty pissed that the movie was so underdeveloped and lacking in full-on La Llorona scenes, but it sort of worked as an introduction, using it as a backdrop to a police thriller about the disappearance/deaths of many children. It’s also the rare film of this type to be set in New York City, which gave it a bit of a unique flair. But as the length might suggest, there’s just not a lot here. Our hero is a cop who is haunted by his wife murdering his son, and our heroine is a mother who is trying to protect her kid from the spirit. And that’s about it. It’s one of the most straight-forward modern horror movies I can recall, which is odd when you consider it’s using a 500 year old myth as its central point.

And we know it’s 500 years old because the movie opens in “Mexico, 1500 A.D.”. But we just see a quick flash of a kid in the water, and some mountains, and then they go to present day New York. It’s the least helpful and most pointless flashback opening I’ve ever seen, especially since we find out more about it from dialogue later in the movie anyway.

Speaking of dialogue, I did like one scene, where the cop and his Spanish speaking partner (who looks like Christopher Lee) visit a medium who tells them (us) the whole backstory and what they have to do. Usually in these sort of scenes, the non-English speaking person will suddenly speak the most crucial lines in English, or the English person will suddenly be able to understand the other language. But they don’t do either here, the partner translates everything she says. It’s probably just another way to pad the running time, but it’s also a bit more realistic and less corny.

Also, the myth is too damn confusing. The basic story goes, a woman found out her husband was cheating on her, so she drowned her kids out of spite, and now her spirit wanders around seeking for her children. So why aren’t her kids the angry spirits? She seems to have screwed herself over on that one. And why can’t she find them? As a result, it becomes sort of an all-purpose ghost story – kids that misbehave are told that they will be taken away by La Llorona; women scorned invoke her to get revenge, etc. Making matters worse, she goes after dudes in the movie, killing the partner and a couple of bums, all of whom have less than healthy attitudes toward women, sure, but as far as we know, La Llorona never went after the guy who cheated on her, so why did she add this sort of “defender of wronged women” thing to her repertoire? It gives the movie a random feel, like the deaths are just there to spice up the proceedings even though they don’t really have much to do with what we are told about the myth.

Then again, maybe the director just couldn’t pick a path to go by. As we learn in the extra features, the myth has many contradictory versions; we see “man on the street” interviews with folks, and one will say “she’s very pretty, and all in white”, and the next will remark on her ugly features and black clothing. But this shouldn’t have given her free reign to reflect all of these ideas in her film (maybe that’s why we never see Llorona in the film – it would be impossible to depict all of her different appearances, unless they did some sort of Scanner Darkly effect). We also hear more about the different ways the story can be used to scare people, which just drives home the most ironic thing about the whole movie – it’s a ghost that will go after pretty much anyone, and yet it’s still not effective or scary at any given moment. It’s well made, and like I said, too short to really get anyone riled up, but it’s just weightless. I just watched it and I’m already having trouble remembering the first 20 minutes or so.

My advice – if you really want to see a movie involving mothers that kill their kids (Andrea Yates and some others are name-checked in this movie), stick with Baby Blues. That movie is gold. This one’s, I dunno, a nice bronze.

What say you?


Forest Of Death (2007)

SEPTEMBER 20, 2010


The nice thing about horror movies is that you can pretty much come up with or do anything, because it doesn’t have to follow real world logic, nor does any part of the plot have to be based in reality. But sometimes folks take that a little too far – there’s creative thinking and then there’s just plain silly. Forest Of Death definitely belongs to the latter category, as a giant chunk of the film revolves around whether or not a “plant based lie detector” will work. Worse, it does.

I found the plot (plant?) points in Little Shop Of Horrors and The Happening easier to swallow than the ones Danny Pang (pretty much sans Oxide, which I guess is not something that they should do too often) and frequent collaborator Cub Chin came up with. We are expected to believe that plants can not only sense that we are going to hurt them, but also when we’re just PRETENDING to want to hurt them. And that they can help us solve murders (with the aforementioned lie detector). While I appreciate that this line of thinking results in lines like “I’m a botanist, not an exorcist!”, it just doesn’t quite fit the actual plot of the movie, which involves suicides, rapes, and murders.

And also what makes a good television show. As with many Pang films, the whole movie is just an excuse to deliver a fairly simple message (such as Re-Cycle’s “Don’t abandon your children.”). Here it’s “Support your girlfriend”, as our botanist hero keeps giving his girlfriend grief about the content of her crappy tabloid TV show, and refuses to help her “lie” to the public about ghosts and what not. But he does help another woman, a cop who wants his plant lie detector to help her solve the murder she is investigating. And all of this basically comes down to the girlfriend becoming despondent and possibly suicidal, thinking the guy will leave her for the cop. And this is crucial, because the forest of death only takes people who want to die.

Seriously, what the hell are these dudes smoking? This is the type of stuff that barely passes for coherency in a Final Fantasy game, and at least there once everyone shuts up you can ride a Chocobo around and maybe kill a dragon or one of those little cactus dudes. I wanted to like the movie, and at times I did, but the blending of such goofy plot concepts and the over-reaching rape/suicide stuff just doesn’t work.

Plus it’s just too damn slow. I don’t mind a slow-burn, or even a lot of talking, but there’s no real sense of danger to any of the proceedings until the very last reel. Maybe if there was a serial killer in the forest or something, it could play that up to create suspense, but the murder our lady cop is investigating seems to be an isolated incident, and the killer has been caught anyway (though he claims innocence – so of course her first idea is to prove he’s lying with a goddamn plant lie detector). I can put up with silly plot devices as long as I’m caught up in the mystery or suspense, but not if the plot is otherwise revolving around whether or not some kind of unlikable botanist will hook up with a cop named CC Ha (awesome name) or remain with his overly sensitive TV reporter girlfriend.

At least it looks nice. Some of the effects during the climax are a bit questionable, but Pang manages to make the movie visually interesting despite the fact that it all takes place either in non-descript apartments or the same patch of forest (of death). And he can definitely build scenes from very little – I liked the bit where the cop was spray painting numbers on the trees in order to count her way back out, only to get lost anyway as the trees began seemingly moving around. The buildup to the climax, set during a rainstorm, is also quite good, as you still don’t know if the trees are causing people to commit suicide or not (p.s. this movie predates The Happening), so there is some minor concern for the girlfriend, who has finally broken down after hearing that her boyfriend was off with CC Ha again (and she inexplicably has a box cutter with her).

The sound is questionable though. I hope it was just the Netflix transfer, but it seems to have been mixed very poorly. I had to crank my receiver up to 50 (it’s usually 40 at most) to hear it and it was still low for all the dialogue, yet music and a few sound effects sounded fine (or now, too loud). The picture was fine, and I don’t recall this being an issue with any other Netflix streams, so perhaps it was a problem with their original source? Either way, I kept chuckling, because I’d be turning it up to hear dialogue that I couldn’t understand anyway (it was subtitled), and 90% of the movie is just people talking.

One thing about the ending (spoiler ahead) – it’s ambiguous, but it seems to be suggesting that it’s not ghosts or anything supernatural, but aliens that are causing all of the strange occurrences in the forest. This is much easier to swallow than the plants having ESP thing, but I wish they had explored it a bit more, because the theory (that they are studying humans to see why they put so much weight on matters of the heart) is interesting, and the type of “silly” that works in these sort of films. It’s not every day you see a horror movie asking “Why do we love?” But an interesting idea cannot save a movie unless its adequately explored; if anything it just makes it that much more of a failure. I’d rather they were just running around the forest for no reason than knowing they had something unique worth exploring and failed to exploit it.

I really dug Re-Cycle and The Eye 2, but I’m still not sure if the Pang brothers are one (well, two) trick ponies or if they keep getting screwed over. I can buy that there was interference on The Messengers, and they seemingly didn’t want to do Eye 3 at all, but how many times can they give excuses? At this point they have more misses than hits, and they also go all over the place with alarming frequency (in the past 3 years they have made crime, comedy, romance, horror, and war films), suggesting that they’re just trying everything and seeing what works. Oxide’s film Diary sounds kind of interesting, so I’ll give that one a look, but if it’s lousy I think I’m going to have to give up on these guys. I mean, they’d have to make a dozen films as good or better than Re-Cycle for me to forgive them for Bangkok Dangerous, which holds the distinction of being my least favorite Nicolas Cage film (which is saying quite a bit – the guy was in Trapped In Paradise for Christ’s sake).

What say you?


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