Showing posts with label horror. Show all posts
Showing posts with label horror. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Vamp Watch: Slay (2024)

Watched:  06/11/2024
Format:  Tubi
Viewing:  First
Director:  Jem Garrad

It's Pride Month, and so I guess (1) Google TV thought I should watch Slay (2024) and (2) Tubi is apparently releasing original comedy horror movies now.  So, thanks, Google TV and Tubi.

This movie is exactly what you think it will be, and that's not a complaint.  It's a horror-comedy about four drag queens who accidentally book into a biker bar in the middle of nowhere.  Meanwhile, it turns out vampires are real, and they're going to decide this bar, on this night, is where they need to be.

If you're expecting excellent puns, double-entendres and camp, yes, this movie will deliver.  Also a pretty boiler-plate Night of the Living Dead-style set up, yes, that's what you're getting.  But that's...  exactly what this movie wants to be and it's what it delivers on what I'm guessing was not the world's largest budget.

I don't personally follow drag, but my understanding is that Trinity Tuck, Hiedi N. Closet, Crystal Methyd and Cara Melle are stars in the drag world, and I'm not shocked.  They're funny and watchable.  What I didn't expect was the supporting cast of bikers, tough guys, bar flies and locals absolutely understands the assignment and is solid.   

A local pair of LGBQT+ folks toughing it out here in red-neck land has shown up for something they can't believe is coming to their bar, and the aging bartender is maybe more delighted to have them the show there than he wants to let on.   Anyway, these actors had to do a lot and sharing the spotlight with our four leads is tough, but everyone does it.

In the end, *unlike* Night of the Living Dead, the movie is really about overcoming differences and working together to... kill a bunch of vampires.  And accept who each other are.  There's also a nice tag about accepting each other as we change, and that having some decency and love in your heart can save the day.  And along the way, we're going to see some blood and use pool cues to dispatch the undead.

I would love to see what this group and Jem Garrad could have done with $10-20 million more than what hey had.  I bet it would be great.  For now, this one is a Tubi original (who knew?) and free to watch with a few ads.

So, happy Pride, y'all.  

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Angry Animal Watch: Alligator (1980)

Watched:  06/06/2024
Format:  Peacock
Viewing:  First
Director:  Lewis Teague

I very much remember, sometime in elementary school, a week or so when Alligator (1980) was going to show as a movie on TV.  Possibly even just late after I was going to bed.  But the commercials looked terrifying, and I found out about the urban myth of the sewer alligator.  

Anyway, somehow, I'd never seen this one.  Which is odd.  Y'all know alligators eating people is a favorite theme around here.  And this is maybe one of the first all-alligators/ all-human buffet movies.  

If you're me, you'll also be delighted to learn John Sayles wrote this.  Like, John Sayles...   you mad genius.  (I currently have a shiny new copy of Lone Star sitting on my table waiting to be watched.)

Director Lewis Teague has a checkered history of films, but this is from one of his better periods, and launched him from TV to features for a bit, where he'd go on to do Cujo and other pics before returning to TV and TV movies.

This movie *is* a horror film, but it also knows: this is insane, let's treat it that way.  It occasionally delves into comedy and camp, and even moments of "terror" are pretty wacky (thinking of our scaly pal bursting out of the sewer into the game of stickball).  The only scare I got out of the film was when Forester and his partner go into the sewers and a flashlight falls briefly on the giant croc in what was a shadow.  Like - man, that worked.  

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Angry Animal Watch: Under Paris (2024)

Watched:  06/05/2024
Format:  Netflix
Viewing:  First
Director:  Xavier Gens

It is summer, and, thusly, it is time for me to watch movies about animals attacking/ eating people.

As of last night, I knew what my first two films would be, and who am I to say *no* to a movie about sharks in the Seine?  Yes, this is a French shark movie, and, ooo la la..! vive la difference!

Under Paris (2024) seems to be a not-good movie for most of its 1:45 or so runtime.  There's a pretty great scene around the 56 minute mark, and then it slows down again.  And then the ending is absolutely baller, and that's where the budget went.  

Here's the thing: the ending honestly surprised me - in a good way.  If you can hang in there, I think there's an interesting movie here, but it's not the one you're watching for the first 85 minutes or so.  

The basic deal is an intensely tropey set-up if you've ever seen a monster movie or shark movie.  

A scientific expedition at the Pacific Garbage Patch which is looking for a particular shark goes sideways when it turns out there are many sharks, and they are hangry.  Sophia, our lead, is one of two survivors, and, gang, it will surprise you to find out she is haunted by what happened.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Robo Watch: Five Nights at Freddy's (2023)

Watched:  05/17/2024
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  First
Director:  Emma Tammi
Selection:  Dug and K

I have no children.  Thus, I have mostly managed to live my life without having to know anything about the phenomenon that is Five Nights at Freddy's as video game, toys, or - now - a major motion picture.  So, yes, I have not competed for my hypothetical child's attention over watching some emotionally stunted dipshit game streamer hoot and woo at this game.  Nor did anyone in my house get excited about this movie coming out.

It also means I will not ever respond to a movie when asked my opinion by saying "my kids loved it!"  Look, love your kids, and use your own criteria for what is good or not - but my personal opinion is not filtered through the sugar-fueled viewing of entertainment by people whose brains are still gelling.  

Also - If you ever want to know why the accountants and actuaries now running Hollywood want for everything to be based on existing IP, look no further than this movie, which had a built in audience and managed to take in $291 million on what looked to be about a $20 million budget. 

At the blog, you'll see me imply many a movie is pretty bad, but normally I want to leave room for the idea that something was not to my taste, or I may have had challenges as a viewer - and certainly want to acknowledge that movies tend to have fans, even if I am not one. 

But proving that something being popular or lucrative is kind of meaningless when it comes to how *good* a movie is...  friends, straight up: Five Nights at Freddy's is an awful movie. A successful, money-making, widely seen movie that was, honestly, a steaming pile.*  

So, here we are.

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Horror Watch: Ghostwatch (1992)

Watched:  04/28/2024
Format:  AMC+/ Shudder trial
Viewing:  First
Director:  Lesley Manning

So, I was watching the Half In the Bag guys discuss Late Night With the Devil, and they brought up a BBC TV special (that for our purposes I'm calling a movie) from 1992.   I'd heard of Ghostwatch and seen it cited multiple places over the years, but I couldn't say exactly where or when.  What I recalled was that, much like the Mercury Theatre's famed War of the Worlds Halloween radio play that emulated a real broadcast, Ghostwatch did same on BBC, but with video, presaging both found footage movies like The Blair Witch Project, and the frenzy for supernatural investigation reality TV shows that I feel started with Ghost Hunters (which I watched, and there's a whole arc there).  

If I took Late Night With the Devil to task for not sticking with the bit, and it making things not work as a movie (and keep it from ever feeling scary) I'm doubling down on that idea.  Ghostwatch is clearly staged - the line delivery is too smooth, things are happening quickly and conveniently, etc...  But, dammit, they commit to the bit.  And they hired presenters instead of actors in key roles.

A few things that make this work:  the show originally ran on BBC on Halloween night 1992.  We were only a few years away from TV stunts like Al Capone's Vault at this time, wherein cameras would go live to some extraordinary event (although as someone who watched the vault business live, I can say - it could be a tremendous bust).  The show was hosted by Michael Parkinson, a legitimate television presenter.  This would have been a bit like having Barbara Walters host your made up Halloween special here in the US.  And they also have real presenters Mike Smith in studio and Sarah Greene as their reporter in the field - and Smith and Greene were well known TV presenters/ personalities already in 1992. 

Friday, April 26, 2024

Horror Watch: Late Night With The Devil (2023)

Watched:  04/25/2024
Format:  AMC+/ Shudder on Amazon (free trial)
Viewing:  First
Director:  Cameron Cairnes/ Colin Cairnes

When I saw the trailer for Late Night With The Devil (2023) I was pretty jazzed, or as jazzed as I get about trailers for horror films.  Most horror trailers just look to me like "here are people who are in a place where they do not feel safe, and, indeed, they will now be murdered, but the good part is how and why".  And I could not be more bored seeing a group of people trapped and about to be murdered.  Unless it is death by angry animal.

But the trailer for Late Night With the Devil was something novel - a period piece about a latenight talk show and then stuff gets out of control because they are messing with forces they do not understand.  On TV.

So, two things struck me before the movie began.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Franken Watch: Lisa Frankenstein (2024)

Watched:  04/23/2024
Format:  Peacock
Viewing:  First
Director:  Zelda Williams
Selection:  Joint household

First, it was someone on social media who pointed out the title to Lisa Frankenstein (2024) is less random than it appears and is maybe a reference to Lisa Frank products, and I think it's great, and maybe part of the winky "we're not going to explain everything to you dummies" vibe this movie has.

One thing social media has accomplished is that you've shoved generations of people together who normally would not have opportunity to speak to one another about pop culture minutia.  And through this, I've become acutely aware of how media and a few other artifacts can give a very peculiar idea to subsequent generations about what things were really like.

As someone born squarely in the mid-70's, the 1980's loom large in my head.  And of the things made in the years since the 1980's that tried to recall that era - this one may have actually stuck the landing in ways that I have to assume were incredibly off-putting to The Kids(tm).  This is not their dad making them watch their greatest hits of the 1980's.  

The movie is hovering in the mid-40's on Metacritic and over at RT a 51% critical score, with a 42% with top critics.  I'm not exactly sure how or why, but the people giving this movie bad reviews kind of uniformly seem to have missed the gag of 1980's trash/ underground cinema.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Christmas Zombie Apocalypse Watch: Night of the Comet (1984)

Watched:  03/14/2024
Format:  Criterion
Viewing:  First
Director:  Thom Eberhardt
Selection:  me

Apparently this one is a bit of an 80's horror-kid cult classic.  I can see why - it has a good mid-80's trash cinema vibe, and pits the teens against the adults in a sort of classic 1950's manner but with a Valley Girl-meets-punk vibe.  

The movie stars two people I like off the bat:  Catherine Mary Stewart, who may have the best 80's-hair of anyone who ever 80's.  And Mary Woronov as a scientist who cannot believe this shit is the end of the world (you will know her from Eating Raoul, her time with Andy Warhol and/ or possibly as Mike's mom who would not give him a Pepsi).  It's also got fellow Eating Raoul alum Richard Beltran as Hector, the last eligible dude in LA.  

I don't actually have much to say about the movie.  It's... fine?  I liked it well enough.  It's definitely got some funny bits in a dry, 1980's indie vein.  Catherine Mary Stewart is actually really good in this, riding the line between camp and not dipping into a schtick, while still managing to remain a young adult with other priorities than the end of the world.

There's something about this movie that it's fine on it's own, but feels like connective tissue between something like Return of the Living Dead and something punkier like Repo Man.  And certainly part of the continuum of youth-oriented horror flicks of the 1980's, including stuff like Night of the Creeps.  Anyway, fun horror-comedy!

Monday, October 30, 2023

HalloWatch: Werewolf of London (1935)

Watched:  10/29/2023
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  First
Director:  Stuart Walker

Every year, Jamie and I each carve a jack 'o lantern.  Usually we put on a movie something we've seen before, often a comedy or horror-comedy.  But this year I squeezed in one of my Halloween bucket movies for the year, but I can only say I *partially* watched this one, because I was also carving a pumpkin and then cleaning up the aftermath.

this year's effort.  Jamie's Dracula on the left, my ghoul on the right

I had just never gotten around to Werewolf of London (1935), which is a bit of a surprise even to me.  I am a fan of Lon Chaney's take on The Wolfman that would pop up 5 years later, but I never make it through the rest of the werewolf films in the box set.  I'm trying to get a picture of 1930's and 40's horror, one Halloween at a time, and have tried to watch offerings from Universal and RKO.  Also, I exist in the same world as Warren Zevon, so you'd think I'd eventually just be curious to see the damn movie.

The plot is nowhere near as tight as The Wolfman, and the performances not as punctuated.  But that doesn't mean it doesn't have anything to offer.  I liked the make-up, the transformation FX, and the general idea of the story.  

Scientists visit Tibet to find a flower they've heard only blooms in moonlight, and while securing the plant, are attacked by a werewolf.  Returned home, renowned biologist, Wilfred Glendon, begins acting anti-social and ignoring his wife (played by Bride of Frankenstein's Valerie Hobson), who just happens to have her childhood boyfriend show up at the same time.  A doctor Yogami appears and is also looking for the flower, which he says alleviates the symptoms of werewolfery.  

Anyway, mayhem ensues, the doctors both are werewolves, etc...

All in all, it's really not bad, but the lead - unlike most Universal films - doesn't really have a sympathetic motivation in the same way we see Larry Talbot - a victim of chance.  There's a dash more Jekyll and Hyde to the story than in the case of The Wolfman, but not enough to get hung up on thinking it's borrowing too heavily.   

In general, it's an okay movie.  I didn't dislike it, and will watch it again with my full attention.  A highlight was seeing Valerie Hobson in another movie shot at literally the same time as Bride of Frankenstein, but given far more to do.  She's good!  

But, yeah, I need to watch it again next year to say much more.  But I've 100% seen far worse.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

HalloWatch: The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Watched:  10/28/2023
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  James Whale

Some of my pals were over Saturday night, and I made them watch Bride of Frankenstein (1935).  It's no secret it's one of my favorite movies (easily top 10, perhaps top 5), and it was a delight to share it with folks who would otherwise likely never see it.  

Anyway, we kind of talked over the movie, so they missed some good lines and good moments, but it's a first viewing, and it was all excited chatter, so they were enjoying it, which is all that matters.  

Matt did wisely point out how the comedy worked within the movie much how Shakespeare inserts fun stuff into even his tragedies - Matt watched a bucket-ton of movies that I mostly do not ever see - and it was all a good talk.

Anyway, glad to get to this year's screening of the movie.

HalloWatch: The Craft (1996)

Watched:  10/27/2023
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Andrew Fleming

One thing I very much recall from the 1990's - perhaps a product of the era or just the age I was at the time (I would have been 21 seeing this movie) - was that there was what was going on, and then there was the LA regurgitation of what was happening.  The LA version was invariably stripped of the spirit of the source, and churned out product for a mass-market and to have a fast-fashion version.*  Often, folks didn't necessarily get the nuance or difference.  It's why mall-store  "Hot Topic" is absolutely hilarious to Gen X'ers of a certain stripe, and earnestly beloved by Millennials of a similar stripe. 

I think there's a whole book to be written on how anything and everything was co-opted and commercialized to the masses, stripped of its origins and meaning, and basically is now considered the Poochie-fication of mass media and product marketing

The Craft (1996) Poochifies the era and it's attempts to capitalize on multiple threads, from the exploding alt-rock scene, and the easy access to, and interest in, occult material - the inevitable result of being raised at the height of the Satanic Panic.  It's also *very* much a 1990's teen movie, replete with sex, drugs and rock and roll.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

HalloWatch: X (2022)

Watched:  10/27/2023
Format:  Paramount+
Viewing:  First
Director:  Ti West

A xerox of a xerox of movies you've seen before, the greatest sin of X, the 2022 horror smash, is that it's fundamentally boring.  

Look, I don't make the movies, I just watch them, and when you're drawing obvious comparisons to your own movie, in the movie, and you choose to draw the audience's attention to Psycho (which I happened to have just watched), you're soft-breaking the cardinal movie rule of not showing a better movie during your own movie.  But, yes, the movie is a slow build for literally the first hour of people making a porn film in a rustic cabin on some farmer's property in the middle of East Texas nowhere, with some light hints that something is up with the elderly owners of the farm/ ranch-land where the filming is taking place.

The problem with this, imho, is that Writer/ Director Ti West is under the impression that by borrowing Psycho's slow build and pivot, which he calls out, he's doing the same thing.  But we're 62 years on, we've all seen a lot of movies, and at this point I was looking at my watch instead of the movie when we don't get our first kill til 58 minutes into a 105 minute film.  I don't know how to tell Ti West - my man, Hitch did this 30 years into perfecting tension in movies.  This ain't that.

Friday, October 27, 2023

HalloWatch: Psycho (1960)

it never occurred to me before how bonkers this poster really is

Watched:  10/26/2023
Format:  Peacock
Viewing:  3rd or 4th
Director:  Alfred Hitchcock

So, it's not really worth talking too deeply about Psycho (1960) here at Ye Olde Film Watch Journal.  The movie is one of the most written about, discussed and analyzed flicks that one is likely to see.  So I won't get into plot, analysis, etc...  Y'all can chase that around on your own.  

I hadn't personally seen it in probably two decades, so I decided to give it a whirl as part of our Halloween spooktacular cinema series.  

Probably my foremost comment is that the movie actually lives up to the hype.  Some movies do.  Lawrence of Arabia2001The Godfather Part II.  I can go on listing great movies, but just assume I agree with you as you fill in your own blank here.

Maybe those movies show signs of age or that they were made in another time, but there's nothing about them that doesn't pull you in and hold you.  And Psycho - minus the weirdo psychoanalysis at the conclusion - is kind of a perfect film.  Every line has weight or double meaning, every shot provides you with information about the story and characters, and the sound and atmosphere are on point.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

PodCast 257: "The Invisible Man" (1933) - A Halloween 2023 PodCast w/ Jamie and Ryan

Watched:  10/21/2023
Format:  BluRay
Viewing: Unknown/ First
Decade:  1930's
Director:  James Whale

Jamie and Ryan are transparent in their madness about this 1930's cinema classic! It's a ghostly good time as they get wrapped up in a conversation that makes it clear, you can see right through them when it comes to their enjoyment of this film.



Invisible Man Theme - Heinz Roemheld 
The Invisible Man - Queen, The Miracle 

Halloween 2023

All Halloween and Horror Playlist

HalloWatch: Frankenstein (1931)

Watched:  10/24/2023
Format:  Peacock
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  James Whale

Every year during the spooky season I try to give Frankenstein (1931) a watch.  The past several years, I've double-billed Frankenstein with Bride of Frankenstein, usually the night before - or night of - Halloween.  

But this year I wanted to give the movie a bit more time to percolate and watch it as its own thing.  

It's a movie I've seen *a lot* and so I can spot the places where the dolly shot bounces on the tracks, and I can see the literal creasing in the backdrops used in the forest scenes.  I laugh with anticipation at the jokes and know which bits work best as scares.

I make a lot of notes about how Dracula movies don't match the novel, because there's usually some adherence to the book and seeing where and why they diverged is a curiosity.  But by the time you get from the publication of Mary Shelley's novel in 1818 to the play and the movie, this story was well over 100 years old, and folks were going to do their own thing.*  There's barely any of the novel left in this film.  Themes.  Some names.  Some settings.  A wedding.

So I tend to separate them and consider them their own thing, and it's usually in subsequent adaptations that I look for whether they're borrowing from this film or from the novel or doing something entirely new.  

Even if the film is nearing the century mark, it still plays.  The creatures' pathos is as real as the novel, if reduced to a child-like state of confusion rather than a sort of existential crisis of existence.  The performances are of their time but would absolutely put fire in a modern adaptation.  You simply won't beat Colin Clive going mad in the moments of success after the monster is lowered from the tower.  

The look is borrowed from German Expressionism, and between the Gothic horror of Dracula's settings and this film, we get a language for how the best sets and scenes should look in horror that will be endlessly copied, parodied, stolen from and refracted for the next 90 years.  That's not to say this was the final word, but the starting line and the thing to which everything else can draw comparison.

Further, the themes of "who is the real monster?" would echo throughout horror and science fiction, and are often the best part to chew on in a film (and something zombie movies picked up and ran with).  But I think this movie does the best job of bringing a Dr. Frankenstein to life who really thinks he shut the door behind himself and his experiments, only to have it come roaring back.

I'm now curious to read the play upon which the movie is based.  Curiously, next year sees the publication of the script for what I believe to be the first time.  

Some time I will write a much longer bit on this movie, it's sequel and the novel and why I keep coming back to them, but not today, kids!

But for the best Halloween spookiness for the whole family, I humbly submit this classic.

*worth noting, this film will be 100 in just 8 years

Monday, October 23, 2023

HalloWatch: The Vampire Lovers (1970)

quite the photoshop collage here

Watched:  10/23/2023
Format:  FreeVee on Amazon
Viewing:  3rd or 4th
Director:  Roy Ward Baker

In the wake of the opulence and spectacle of watching the 1992 Dracula adaptation, I threw on the 1970 Hammer horror film, The Vampire Lovers, a movie I'm pretty sure I'm on the record as a fanThat impression held up on a re-viewing of the movie.  

During this period, Hammer was sorting out what to do as Lee was increasingly (and famously) less interested in playing Dracula, and so they sought to expand their vampire offerings beyond the Count and his shenanigans.  Thus, they went to the novel that preceded Dracula, and from which Stoker (ahem) borrowed from.  

If you're looking for the book that mixes up vampirism, sex and romance, this is the one, and it often feels like the romantic angles ascribed to Dracula was an interpretation of how this book, and therefore movie, take on a vampire's relationship with their prey.  In this case, rather than an exotic Count from a mysterious kingdom, it's a fellow young woman who is deposited at the doorstep of a family with a young woman of similar age.  Who precedes to die.

Shortly after, the same young woman, calling herself Carmilla, appears at another house (left by a woman of breeding and elegance) with a similarly aged young woman, and we see how the relationship between the two blossom, even as villagers start getting picked off.

If Brides of Dracula is any indication, Hammer had long ago figured out the formula for inserting a clutch of attractive women in their films and teaming them with baffled middle-aged men and Peter Cushing.  

This was one of a handful of starring movie roles for Ingrid Pitt, who is 30+ here if she's a day, playing 19.  Full disclosure, we're Ingrid Pitt stans here at The Signal Watch, and we think she's just super.  Madeline Smith, just at the start of her career, is terrific, and we'd be happy to see more films with Kate O'Mara.  As always, Cushing is a force of nature in the film.

Anyway, with all the "romance" of vampires stuff, Vampire Lovers manages to find the balance between eroticism and the actual devilish nature of the characters.  Part of Carmilla's curse is that she does seem to form a bond with her victims - if not love, then dependence, and she's damned to take their lives, one after another.  

The only other film I can think of that seems to touch on this concept in its way is The Hunger, which blows that concept out, making it a genuine romance.  Until it isn't.  And walks through what the relationship actually is via Sarandon and Deneuve.  

There's still straight up vampire stuff in this film, from Carmilla wandering the woods like an apparition, to garlic being generally unwelcome, to beheadings.  All solid stuff.  

Sunday, October 22, 2023

HalloWatch: Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

Watched:  10/21/2023
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  Second, I think
Director:  Francis Ford Coppola

Firstly, this isn't Bram Stoker's actual Dracula.  This is Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992).

I very much remember Coppola, with whose work I'd just become acquainted at age 15 or so, announcing he was going to remake the Universal Monster stuff using the source material.  And as a teen, I was jazzed.  Let's kick the dust off, ditch the stuffy 1930's stylings (I'd never seen the movies at this point) and lets make a Dracula for the 90's!  

All I can really remember from that first movie is that it was... a lot.  The reviews were mixed, but everyone was going to see it, and I was in a packed theatre when I watched it myself.  

Honestly, I remember thinking "well... that was a lot.  And I get why the reviews were mixed."  Halloween night of '93, I went to see the original, and was like "oh, wow.  This is rad.  I get why people love this." and, in fact, my interest in horror movie monsters I'd had as a kid was reignited (along with a VHS copy of Phantom of the Opera) to the point where I'm annoying about it to this day!

Over the years, I've not returned to the Coppola movie because (a) I didn't like it all that much to begin with, and (b) there's so many Draculas.  And one gotta catch 'em all.  

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Hallo-Watch: Ghost Ship (2002)

Watched:  10/20/2023
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Steve Beck

So, I remembered this movie being better than I expected when I watched it back in the mid-00's.  Watching it in 2023, it is as bad as I first suspected when the trailers hit.

It has a few highlights - the opening is a banger if you can tolerate some gorey gore.  There's some interesting set design, and the overall concept of a haunted ship (on sea or in space) is a good one.  I like haunted house movies, and what is a cruise liner if not a floating resort?

But the movie is essentially a cliche-fest, borrowing from better films and engaging in the goofiest of 1990's ragtag, blue-collar, post-Abyss team dynamics that just absolutely throttled movies by the 00's from Deep Blue Sea to Name-Your-Film.  We get bits of The Shining, we get bits of just general ghosty-stuff you're like to see in any spook movie new or old, but now with CG!  Which was all producers thought we cared about in 2002 (spoiler: it absolutely was not).  

What's weird about this movie is that it's never scary.  Beyond that, I'm not sure there's really ever any tension.  It's so by-the-numbers that you'd literally have to be a kid who hasn't seen anything to get anything novel out of it.  So then you're left with execution.  And - it's...  again, by-the-numbers in a way that at the time we were told was being done for sale to foreign markets.  Which.... (a) cool for them, but I am also your audience, and (b) I don't know if you've ever seen an Asian film or a European film, but "complicated" is not something they have any trouble wrangling, so why these movies get reduced to people shouting last names at each other and commenting on "tiddies" is beyond me.

The cast on this movie was kind of no-joke at the time.  Gabriel Byrne, an up-and-coming Julianna Marguiles (her magnificent hair reduced here for blue-collar action heroism).  We have a rising Isaiah Washington, Karl Urban and Ron Eldard.  Less well known, Alex Dimitriades, Desmond Harrington and our token ghost-girl, Katie, played by Emily Browning.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention torch singer Francesca Rettondini, who plays a ghostly chanteuse.  While noteworthy for general foxiness, Rettondini would, in 2012, go on to become a television host, and in that capacity would be aboard the Costa Concordia when it ran into rocks, capsizing to become one of the larger scale boat disasters in Europe on this century.  No, Rettondini does not find the irony amusing.  

A few items of note:  Apparently these people all believed they were in a very different movie about people trapped on a ship who slowly go mad thanks to ghosts, but when they showed up, they found out that the script had been re-written to make it what we see on screen.  Which absolutely feels like a second draft generated by a Script-o-Tron 2000 running on Windows 98.  

Also - the movie was directed by a gentleman who had directed just one prior film, and this would be his final bow as a director of features before heading into commercials, which has apparently treated him well.  But it does make you wonder how much the very big name producers (Joel Silver, Zemeckis, etc...) decided to just push this guy around as a young gun-for-hire, which was a standard power move in the 90's.  

Anyway, the movie decides that in the third act it needs to have a plot, and that plot is clunky, dumb and even a little confusing.  We are forced to learn that there was some heist of gold?  A second boat?  Armed bandits?  a quadruple cross?  I don't know and I don't care.  It's dumb and unnecessary.  Ghost stories don't need concrete origin stories.  Especially when they get tossed out in favor of "actually, demon magic" immediately after.  

Horror is hard, y'all.  It really is.  And I know people love this movie, and I gave it a pass for something like 17 years since I last saw it, but.  Nope.  It's just a product of the time in so many ways, and really has nothing new to offer that doesn't happen in the first five minutes.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

PodCast 256: "The Blob" (1988) - Halloween 2023 w/ SimonUK and Ryan

Watched:  10/06/2023
Format:  Max
Viewing:  Third or Fourth
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Charles Russell

SimonUK and Ryan stop thinking in rigid terms and consume a movie, absorbing it before oozing their way to the next. It's a conversation on a remake of a classic - that may be a classic in its own right! Join us for an all-consuming chat on this 80's film that's out of this world.



The Blob (1988) - Michael Hoenig 
The Blob (1958) - The Five Blobs (Bacharach wrote this!)

Halloween 2023

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Hallo-Watch: The Invisible Man Returns (1940)

Watched:  10/17/2023
Format:  Peacock
Viewing:  First
Director:  Joe May

Well, I've seen The Invisible Man a few times and am a fan.  What I had not done is watch any of the sequels.  I thought now was maybe the time to watch another one in the series - especially as it stars a very early career Vincent Price, before he was even associated with horror.

So... this is not considered a great movie by film history.  It's... fine.  Vincent Price is clearly having a good time and is carrying most of the movie here.  

It's an excuse to try out out new Invisible Man techniques, which are mostly pretty effective, some of which is pretty great as they make good on the "what if he's seen in a fog or in the rain?" questions from the first film.  I wasn't sure how well that would work in 1940, and the answer is: surprisingly well.  Bonus:  you also get a silhouette of Vincent Price in what was likely a unitard.  

The plot is about a guy framing Price for murder, and he uses the chemicals from the first movie to get invisible, knowing madness is coming so he has to solve the crime, and he's tasked Jack Griffin's younger brother with finding an antidote while he does so.  

If the first one had any scares as well as camp, this one knows how to keep it interesting, but the fear of what a madman would do is kept to a minimum.  The film takes off - and predicts Price at his best in the coming decades - when he's given room to rant and rave as the drugs kick in, so to speak.  He's just making a meal out of his scenes and everyone else is keeping up.  

Anyway, as a Universal Horror fan, it's probably territory to check out, but won't deliver as well as other sequels.  For Vincent Price fans, it's a good look at early Price as he's also being cast as an erudite cad over in noir films.