Not much to say other than enjoy Part Two of Horror’s Not Dead’s 2008 Retrospective, Festivus celebrating extravaganza.
Oh, and Happy Kwanzaa.
If a recent list of the Top 25 Horror Films of the Modern Era is any indication, better than I expected. INSIDE boasts a staunch pride in gore bound to have followers, but apparently it is sticking with people stronger and faster than I thought it would. I suppose if you make a movie whose plot entire surrounds one woman trying to remove another woman’s unborn baby with a massive pair of scissors, well, that draft of crazy sells itself.
As one fucked up movie. Written by the pair behind CRANK, PATHOLOGY twists around med students who’ve created a sport out of murdering strangers in mysterious ways to test the forensic pathology skills of their club mates. If stomach churning medical realism isn’t disturbing enough, the script sets the white collar ivy leaguers all up with a raucous addiction to meth.
PATHOLOGY is vulgar incarnate, though in some odd way not indulgently so. The result sounds kind of wacky, but Marc Schoelermann’s pushing of the script’s already pushed boundaries is so strung out on drugs, sex and violence that it demands, if not approval, at least a, “Not for me, but good show, ‘ole chap!”
With seething, seething rage. PROM NIGHT is a blight on the genre. I don’t think it will – an iceberg as titanic as Nelson McCormick’s tower of shit couldn’t sink us – but if horror is dead or dying, PROM NIGHT was the plague rat.
Never to be seen under any circumstances.
ROGUE isn’t a bad movie, but you’ll hear plenty of stretch words in its description: “ROGUE was kind of cool” or “pretty good” or “not terrible”. The fault of ROGUE, and lesser movies like it, is the aim to supersize an already large threat. There is no reason to make a croc that exists in the wild at twenty feet any bigger. Unless you’ve got Industrial Light and Magic on your bankroll, digitally giving a creature hyperthyroidism adds nothing to the movie but layers of wasted effects work. At that point, disbelief can no longer be shelved in a viewer’s mental pantry. Especially not when you’re playing it serious.
Go the LAKE PLACID route and have fun with your audience’s acceptance of the unreal scale or go the BLACK WATER route and terrorize them within scale. As far as I’ve seen there is no striking a balance between the two. Not with something viewers already have a conception of, anyways. Forgive that Greg Mclean has to rely on a rendering department that has difficulty keeping the beast the same size in all shots (the crux of the movie in my book) and ROGUE is an otherwise good staging of tourists hunted by a prehistoric giant.
With weaker praise than it should receive. This is a litmus test for fans as far as I’m concerned. If you like THE RUINS, you get the state of horror these days whether you realize it or not. Don’t have to love it as I do, but you at least get it. If you think THE RUINS is stupid, you’re not a horror fan. You might watch horror movies, but you’re not a fan. Call me an elitist. The deck is cut.
Were it not for LET THE RIGHT ONE IN stealing the show, THE RUINS would be my pick for genre film of the year. Part of me still wants to hand it to the unrelated director/writer duo of Carter Smith and Scott Smith as well as Red Hour Films for making a Hollywood studio horror film that could not be a better Piss Off to the system. Until I make that list, there is a fighting chance THE RUINS tops out 2008 for me.
First off, THE RUINS is about carnivorous plants. Second, it is gory as hell. Third, the cast is perfect for the characters. Fourth, THE RUINS is about carnivorous fucking plants. From a studio standpoint, this movie could not have been a tougher sell and yet the final film never hints at the compromises that must have gone on behind the scenes, compromises evident in the changes in Scott Smith’s page to screen adaptation of his own book.
Sure, the vine effects aren’t always photorealistic, but both Smith’s struck a brilliant “Yeah, we got killer vines, so the fuck what?” attitude that refuses to ever let any silliness in. For that alone I give THE RUINS my highest admiration.
Through this conversation, which may as well be a transcript of all dialog past, present and future concerning this movie,
“Have you seen ZOMBIE STRIPPERS?”
“There is a movie called ZOMBIE STRIPPERS?”
“Yeah, it has Jenna Jameson in it.”
“Is it any good?”
“I said it has Jenna Jameson in it.”
Case closed. Though to its credit, ZOMBIE STRIPPERS did have an actual theatrical release. It did not warrant one, but it got one. Gotta give credit where it’s due.
If you’re one of the people who saw FRONTIER(S) with all the hype in mind, it is likely you’ll remember it as a disappointment. It is not nearly as extreme as the festival buzz made it out to be. Is that the movie’s fault? Of course not, but what is history without context? The only reason FRONTIER(S) got the talking points it did is because France is currently undergoing a wave of technically impressive, blood drenched films. If it were an American, Xavier Gens’ film would be just another city kids vs hill people movie.
Granted, the origin of the movie does add some flavor to it. The European setting allows for an unexpected Nazi angle that is more welcome than simple rednecks and for those sympathetic to its domestic issues, FRONTIER(S) is set in the aftermath of the recent race riots in Paris. Still, In the scope of recent French horror FRONTIER(S) falls behind INSIDE, HAUTE TENSION and THEM.
As the sleeper success of 2008. THE STRANGERS was a victim of studio trepidation. Liv Tyler is a star, but not known for her headlining. No one had heard of Bryan Bertino. The early test screenings must have put up a stink. Whatever the case, Rogue pictures pulled a release date shuffle time and time again, to the point it seemed the movie may never make good on a date. Eventually they settled though, releasing it without too much push. Turns out simplicity pays off to the tune of over $52 million domestic, easily making it one of most successful, non-franchise horror movies of this or any year.
THE STRANGERS will lodge itself in the horror cannon. The costumes are great, the pacing is great, the suspension gets almost unbearable. I can’t think of a better advertisement for owning a handgun than this movie. It suffers from an ending that reeks of studio intervention, but the final couple minutes aside, this is great, refreshing stuff.
I wish I could say, but I haven’t seen MARTYRS. Though debuting slightly later than it, Pascal Laugier’s film went hand in hand with FRONTIER(S) as French festival favorites, the latter of which went on to earn a US theatrical run from After Dark Films. I’ve got no personal experience with it, but I gather with what little time has passed the general consensus seems to be that MARTYRS holds up more than the aforementioned Xavier Gens’ flick.
Links: HND Review, No Rotten Tomatoes, Trailers, No Netflix
Unfortunately, not nearly enough people will remember LAZER GHOSTS 2: RETURN TO LASER COVE, aka This Site’s Favorite Short Film of Ever and All Times. This short is perfection. If you’ve not seen it yet, your soul is weaker for that lacking.
As goofy schlock that makes a better trailer than it does a feature.
Who Made It: Series created by Mick Garris for NBC
As the failure all knew it would be. When Showtime turned down a third season of the Mick Garris masterminded “MASTERS OF HORROR” no one was too surprised. Even on Showtime, free of most forms of censorship, MOH was pock marked with one or two great episodes, a handful of decent episodes and a bucketful of crap. When NBC announced they’d retool MOH as “FEAR ITSELF”, people were surprised.
If you thought “MASTERS” was watered down, you know precisely what to expect from “FEAR ITSELF”. Some of the director’s returned, but few brought anything worth while with them. Of all the episodes that aired (6 total), FAMILY MAN, directed by Ronnie Yu, was the only one that managed the adventurous, mysterious air of yesteryear’s TV spec fiction. Stuart Gordon turned in an all right episode, but past that was all genericville.
As of this writing, the episodes that aired can be seen on FEARnet for free.
Hands down the worst film of 2008. The worst film of M. Night Shyamalan’s career. Maybe even the worst Hollywood film of the millennium. If Dr. Kevorkian ever needed a sales pitch, he need only lease rights to THE HAPPENING.