Archive for May, 2010

The Haunting (1999)

by on May.31, 2010, under Daily Review

I watched this at the cinema when it was first release and have no idea why I’ve decided to give it another go now, eleven years later. It’s still as bad as I remember, but not as bad as most people make out. Jan de Bont directs this remake of the classic ‘63 haunted house film and does so with all the cinematic, swooshing pace which gave him his identity with Speed and Twister. The film looks good in a Hollywood kinda way, although the haunted house looks far better on the outside than it does on the inside, where it transforms into a huge glossy studio set which is reminiscent to a theme ride at Universal.

The cast here are great, but it still cannot save the film it’s credibility. Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta Jones, Owen Wilson and Lili Taylor. Bruce Dern  is great  to see in this too.

What’s the plot? A psychiatrist (Neeson) takes a bunch of people who are having social and mental issues, to spend a night at a huge mansion, rumoured to be haunted. His idea is to keep them awake and try out some techniques to rehabilitate them. Things start to go wrong when Nell (Taylor) sees things in the shadows, and eventually becomes possessed (kind of) and gets the low-down on what’s needed to conquer the evil sprit haunting the house, and to free the condemned souls.

The film works on a level of easy viewing. It’s simple and well, yes it’s simple and easy I guess. The problem I have is there are no scares here. Nothing at all. No creepy bits, no jumps, no weirdness. Nothing. But it goes to show just how difficult it is to actually create a good ghost film. I suppose it’s actually a far greater achievement to create a haunting type film that looks and feels creepy, and probably not advisable to show the ghost either.

Good points? Yes, Cathrine is great here, showing her talent for the American accent, also Wilson for me is a highlight who gives the film a spark of comedy which works for me, but kills all sense of atmosphere if that was what de Bont was after in the first place. Wilson on a rug flying toward the giant fireplace is a brilliantly funny moment.

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I Sell the Dead

by on May.30, 2010, under Daily Review

The film is easy and enjoyable enough to watch, slouching out on a sofa with pizza and a selection of snacks n drinks, it’s ideal to pass the time with this quirky little film. Saying that, it has moments of super obviousness and a script which seems to have been writing in my mind as I watched. Is this a bad thing? No, not at all.

Arthur Blake (Dominic Monaghan) is an apprentice grave robber working for Willie Grimes (Larry Fassenden). It’s an odd world with rival grave robbers, zombies and other undead to confuse the matter. Anything can go in this tale of a time long passed, and as Blake awaits his fate, beheading via guillotine, he confesses his life of crime to Father Duffy. (Ron Perlman)

This is a fun easy flick to watch and enjoy. It’s never gonna win any awards, but it’s light and entertaining. My biggest problem though, is this could have been a great film. The cast are perfect, the look and feel is also superb. The script it light and comic in style and very familiar as though the view were there, chatting with the characters in a muddy grave. But it gets a bit obvious. Responses are cliché and shoddy. I think what I’m getting at here, is with a better, cleverer script, we could have had a corker on our hands, as a film about grave robbing is always worthy of a viewing in my opinion. Also, I can’t help but feel that the actors seemed a bit neglected and probably left to run riot with their characters which is great, but Monaghan needs to be pulled back, otherwise, we get the usual role which he knocks out, the same one from Lost and ROTR.

Whilst on the subject, it reminds me of a story about the classic British comedian, Benny Hill who was buried in New York. The rumour got out that he was buried with a small fortune of jewellery and thus, his grave was disturbed and body left across the path of the cemetery. Shocking stuff. Another great fact which I love about Benny Hill, was that during the Moon landing, the Benny Hill Show was on TV on a rival channel in the USA and had bigger viewing figures!

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Week 31

by on May.29, 2010, under 365 Schedule

Ghosts n Dead things week.

  • I Sell the Dead
  • The Haunting (New one)
  • The Haunting (Old one)
  • House on Haunted Hill
  • The Legend of Hell House
  • The Entity
  • Burnt Offerings

(If you noticed earlier this evening, i posted a schedule for Cozzi and Buttgereit. I’ve had to rejig this, so these will be scheduled for next week.)

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    Trick r Treat

    by on May.29, 2010, under Daily Review

    This is such a cool film. It’s nice n stylish in a glossy american comic kinda way. This is Creepshow for the 21st century and it’s a delight to watch. Based around a bunch of stories all intertwined set on the same night, one Halloween evening. There’s vampires, werewolves, psychos, creepy kids, fancy dress and the tortoirous spirit of Halloween in the form of the unstopable kid with a pumpkin head.
    It’s light and fun, creepy and dark and atmospheric in places, but it rolls along at a great pace. Director Michael Dougherty has done a great job here with a cool bunch of actors including Anna Paquin (True Blood) & Tahmoh Penikett (BSG) but the real star is the pumpkin kid who is amazing.

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    by on May.28, 2010, under Daily Review

    Bruce McDonald cut his teeth on UK TV with The Bill and Queer as Folk. Here he shows what a fine film maker he has become. This is real drama which builds with every claustrophobic moment into something truly horrific. Not only through the events of what is reported, but also the conflict of characters and their own minds.
    Basically, this is a zombie film with a big difference. Set in a radio station in the small town of Pontypool, reports start to come into the station of violent acts and crowd violence as the town turns to chaos, the staff at the radio station need to keep themselves focused and sane while the world outside turns upside down.
    This is a simple and effective twist on the usual Z flick, and it’s excectsion is flawless. Performance’s from Stephen McHattie and Lisa Houle are brilliant as they work with the script and engage with such charisma and a natural concern to the growing horror.

    Now, where this film fails, and probably the reason for the lack of cinema presence, is its reasoning for the viral outbreak, rather than a bug, the virus is one of the spoken word. Infected language which corrypts and contaminates the human in turn, creating crazy killing beasts spouting random quotes. I know, this sounds ridiculous, and yes, this is an issue which causes a failure. This could have been something very, very special.

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    The Hills Run Red

    by on May.27, 2010, under Daily Review

    There are many issues with this film, many reasons not to watch but let’s look at the good stuff first. The cast are pretty good, especially Janet Montgomery (Skins). Its a nice looking film with all the obvious horror hooks and the gore is good.

    Now, what about the rest? OK. The plot is not good. Even when you try to step right away from the whole Blair Witch thing going on, and all the other stuff that’s Bern lifted from every other horror movie, it still doesnt help the story.
    A young film maker is obsessed with a long lost horror snuff film. He tracks down the film makers daughter, now a stripper, and with his small film crew, heads off to the family home, only to hear along the way that all the stuff was real, he tortured and murdered girls on film.

    So they get there, a d guess what? Daddy is still there shooting flicks, waiting for his newly recruited actors. This could hsve been good, as some moments are cool, and it looks great, but the bottom line is the plot sucks.

    Also, it’s never a good idea to try to name a film in a Maner which offers conotstions of other ‘great’ horror films.

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    Thirst (Bakjwi)

    by on May.26, 2010, under Daily Review

    Chan-wook Park (Oldboy) is one of the finest visionary film makers and takes his art to the limit in this, his latest offering, Thirst which follows a young Priest, Sang who after becoming infected with a virus, attcking his skin, transforms into a Vampire. His miraculous recovery gives him fame in his town, and is asked to help a poor family with his faith as their daughter Tae, is battling with cancer. A love affair soon blossoms to murderous results.
    So, this sounds like we’ve heard it all before and you’d be right. One thing this film isn’t is original. The plot is a tired old one, but the difference here is it’s in the hands of Park who has a masterful eye for cinema. Every shot is perfect and imaginative to the point of outragioys dream like fantastical sequences.
    The actors are also both very fine. Kang-ho Song is great in the lead role, but OK-vin Kim is outstanding. Real charm and magical in every scene. The film is also very witty which works well, especially with clever scenes of bloody murder.

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    by on May.25, 2010, under Daily Review

    Alex & David Pastor have made a fine looking film here. Simple, smooth and cool looking which is easy on the eye with well framed scenes showing the American Countyside in the post virus road movie.

    Four friends head for the country After a killer pandemic spreads across the states. Stealing cars, diesel and food to survive and avoiding the infected using rubber gloves, masks and detergent. Mainly enjoying the ride, having fun with no law and order, the world is chaos, but through various scenarios and situations, they have to make hard moral decisions which is difficult viewing and sometimes questionable, although good for debate.It’s a film whose main focus is survival at any cost, even when it comes to girlfriends and brothers.
    This has usual feeling of a zombie film without zombies which is a relief as this is a more social movie dealing with illness and concience which is in many ways inspired from the UK drama Survivors, although still manages to hold a torch for Romero
    Great character acting from Lou Taylor Pucci, Chris Pine, Piper Perabo and Emily VanCamp.

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    A Crack in the Floor

    by on May.24, 2010, under Daily Review

    This film has given me hope for the usual cheap crappy low budget horror which is usually made with the artist talent of an 80’s tv pilot with frugal producers. This film is not far off this quote but it has a great cast of unknowns and a great script. Where it’s lacking is in plot and finance for a good dp and an effects team.
    The story starts with a young lad living out in the woods with his mother. They get attacked by hicks, she’s raped and murdered, he’s left for dead. Years later, he’s still living in that old shack in the basement, hacking up any holiday makers who may stumble across his pad. And so, a bunch of friends find themselves bedding down for the night.
    The real strength of this film is the character generation of the bunch of friends. All this is real good and enjoyable although it’s not exactly filmed well. The charter of guy killer in the basement is dreadful and so obvious that it really ruins this film.
    So, as a final word, I enjoyed this film more than expected, give it a go, but be a bit forgiving.

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    Voodoo Lagoon

    by on May.23, 2010, under Daily Review

    There just isn’t enough films about voodoo. One of my first scripts was for a film called Voodoo Cult, a tale of urban voodoo ritual and cannibalism. Would’ve been a great flick. So, after recently watching The Reeds, I noticed that Nick Cohen’s earlier film was Voodoo Lagoon, therefore, it made the list. So how was it?

    I’m gonna try to be kind now as doesn’t quite hit the mark. It’s disjointed and confused and doesn’t flow or work very well, and this is the fatal flaw really. The plot is poor, the direction average, as most of the scenes work, just not really together. For this type of film, it’s difficult to get wrong really. A bunch of young beautiful college friends head off to a beautiful tropical island for a lazy few weeks soaking up the sun, spending evenings drinking cocktails and then, stumbling upon a deadly cult of voodoo worshiping loons. How can it go so wrong? For most of the film, the friends are split up, chased about the island and no-one seems to trust anyone either. There’s no bikinis, no fun, no cocktails and looks nothing like The Beach. These are the things you need in a film called Voodoo Lagoon.

    The main plot focus’s on peoples rational fear and this could have been explored a bit better, rather than use it as a kinda reason to perform these voodoo acts on unsuspecting holiday makers. It’s a shame, as Cohen knows how to use a camera as we have seen with The Reeds, but this could have been much more. Still, I’ll look forward to Cohen’s next, and not let this one taint.

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