Friday, November 1, 2013
The things that happen to these poor girls in this movie are indeed horrible. Their parents are dispatched early in the movie, and they wind up cold and alone in a creepy abandoned cabin in the woods with only the spirit of a long dead woman to raise them. They regress to an almost animal like state, and they live that way for five years because the police in this town are the most incompetent police ever to wander into a horror movie. Once the girls are finally rescued, they go to live with their uncle who never gave up on the hope of finding them, and then creepy things start happening because it seems that the ghost that kept the girls safe all those years in the woods doesn't want them to leave her...ever.
The thing about horror movies is that often, even the dumbest B horror movies follow the age old pattern of fairy tales: there's a natural order to the world, and something comes along to disrupt that natural order, and something must happen to restore that natural order so that good can triumph over evil. For example, parents are supposed to love and care for their children and protect their children, but when parents do terrible things to their children, something must happen to stop that evil from touching the children, so that the children can go back to being loved and cared for and protected again, so that the world can be restored to the way it should be. Even campy slasher movies have hints of this pattern (people are happy, bad guy starts killing them, someone defeats bad guy so people can go back to living and being happy)..
In "Mama," the natural order of the world is subverted in a bunch of ways in just the first ten minutes of the movie. Spouses are supposed to love and protect their partners, not do terrible things to them, parents are supposed to love and protect and raise their children, not kill them, and that's shot all to hell right from the start in this movie, but someone comes along to set things right. I really like how at first, the mother figure who will be caring for the girls, their aunt, the wife of the uncle who never gave up on them, is a reluctant hero in that she doesn't really want her role as protector of the children, but she slowly comes to love them and is thus willing to fight for them. That really got to me.
I also like how the movie subverts your expectations, because like I said, the expectation is that something comes along to threaten the order of things (the children are put in danger) and something else must battle that evil to restore order (stop the evil, protect the children) and then in this movie, that "protector," the ghost who initially saved and cared for the children, turns sinister and evil when it seems that she will lose the children, because they will come to love their new caregivers and thus won't need her anymore. Most movies wouldn't have the guts to do what this movie does, which is basically rip my heart out and make me really sad and angry, like every other Guillmero Del Toro movie does, making me sad even when his movies have a happy ending. The movie isn't perfect, it does some things wrong, like it probably relies too much on CGI, and the cops are dumber than a bag of rocks, so that irks me, but overall it's a dark and nasty little glimpse into the world that I really respected for what it does right.
The movie is about a woman who encounters a man while driving to work one day (he literally falls out of the sky seemingly and hits her windshield, the literal interpretation of the song "It's Raining Men" I suppose) and she rushes him to the hospital and visits him as he gets better, and they seem to take a liking to each other, so they go back to her apartment one night and have sex. Sluts. So this wouldn't really be a bad thing, except that she finds out he is an angel and he had sex with her in order to fulfill a prophecy and impregnate her with a half human half angel child who is supposed to be important in the battle between good and evil. she's understandably pissed that he used her, and now the evil angel Gabriel (Christopher Walken) has her on his radar and wants to find her and kill her before she can bring this kid into the world. What a buzzkill.
Having read the bible, I know that angels aren't always the good, benevolent messengers of God that people seem to think they are, and they can be kind of creepy and evil when they want to be, and I like watching any movie where that idea is explored, so I dug this movie. Plus I love Jennifer Beals and Christopher Walken, so this movie is a win-win on all fronts.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Right at the beginning of the movie a little girl is trapped inside the walls and drowned in cement while she cries for her daddy and screams and begs. It's horrible to watch, and that's what really got to me about this movie, imagining what it must have been like for those poor people trapped inside the walls of the building. This is a grisly little movie and it's hard to watch, but I loved it.
The story here is that a Vietnam war vet comes back home mutilated from the war, missing his arms and legs, and his fiance feels so terrible for him that she enlists the help of a scientist who is trying experimental surgery where he grafts body parts onto amputees. I think that's kind of goulish, personally, but I guess her heart is in the right place. Unfortunately for this couple, the scientist's assistant falls for the woman so he sabotages the surgery and Blackenstein is born. He goes around killing people and other asntisocial things until he can be stopped.
The movie has a tinge of sadness, as all movies involving Vietnam seem to, and it's also sad how this woman really loved her fiance and was only trying to help him, and it all went so horribly wrong for them. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a cinematic masterpiece or anything, but it's a fun little take on the Frankenstein story.
The movie isn't really about "zombies" in the traditional sense, reanimated corpses or even people turned into zombie-like creatures by a virus, it's about an elite boarding school where the teachers have a long history of capturing students and reprogramming them to behave a certain way. It's like being a vampire kind of, only in this case you don't have to drink blood in exchange for eternal youth, you just have to keep ingesting a serum that helps you stay young and succeed in whatever field you choose (which is why graduates of this school do so well in society).
It's all kind of silly of course, and the 80s hairstyles are hilarious, but it's a lot of fun to watch the movie in spite of these things. I'm glad I finally got to see it.
So the movie is about a career-driven woman who is planning to sell this apartment she inherited, so she's waiting at the apartment for the prospective tenant to show, and while she's waiting she manages to be such a boitch that she alienates everyone on the block and half the people who live in the building. So this guy shows up, and thinking he's the prospective buyer, she shows him around, and he tells her his client will pay lots of money for the place, so she has dollar signs in her eyes which block her from seeing that something weird is going on, even as more people show up to the apartment and anyone with half a brain would know something bad is going to happen. So eventually she finally realizes these people are up to no good, so she tries to stop them, but she's really bad at that, and while all of this drama is playing out, it's almost time for a solar eclipse, which ends up being a great time for occult activities.
We don't ever really learn who the weird people at the apartment ARE, we just see what they eventually DO, which gives us some clues, but I wanted more. I do appreciate how the woman who owns the apartment is such a horrible person that no one really wants to help her out, and I don't really blame them, either. There's not much gore, but there is a sense of foreboding and impending doom that kept me on the edge of my seat. The end is kind of a letdown, but getting there was pretty fun, so I did enjoy this one.
First of all, Spike Lee didn't write the movie, so leave him out of it, second, not all the white people in this movie are racist, third of all, a lot of white people are racist anyway, which is despicable, and in movies like this, despicable people do evil things and then get punished (whether they're white or black) that's how it works. There aren't even that many white people in this movie in the first place, which is why I like it so much, floating in the sea of white faces in the rest of the movies on this list thus far. Suffice it to say, I think if you watch this movie and complain that the like four white characters are racist and therefore the movie is saying all white people are racist, the problem is more with you than with this movie.
Anyway, the movie follows the classic anthology format with a wraparound story where one character is telling stories to other characters, and each story tells a tale of people doing horrible things and then being punished for their evil deeds. there's some corrupt cops, an abusive boyfriend, a corrupt politician, and a street thug, and each of them get menaced by something supernatural (some evil dolls, some ghosts, a kid with special powers, you get the idea). I especially love the story about the killer dolls, which was really the only story I remembered coming into this film. This movie is a lot of fun, and it's not as whitewashed as most horror movies, so it's a refreshing break (plus I love anthology films anyway). Check it out.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Sunday, October 27, 2013
This sequel follows events in a small southern town where the Hatfield family and the McCoy family have been feuding for years (so long that no one even really remembers why they're feuding anymore) and they still hate each other, except for two teens, one from each family, who have fallen in love and are determined to be together no matter what their families say. One night the young lovers sneak away to see each other, with one little McCoy sister standing lookout, and two older Hatfield brothers hear about it and run off to stop it, but they decide to make a pit stop and rape the lookout girl first, and while she's running away from them, she falls to her death in the woods. The Hatfield boys find their sister and drag her home, her lover finds his sister's dead body and pledges to get revenge, and before you know it, Pumpkinhead is back to his old antisocial tricks.
Lance Henrikson, who played the grieving father in the first movie, appears in this movie as a ghost who only reveals himself to certain characters so he can warn them to stop what they're doing and not pursue vengeance, since it won't be worth losing their souls over trying to get revenge. No one really listens to him much though, which is a shame, because of course things don't work out happily (stories of blood feuds and vengeance never really do). This movie has an obviously low budget, but because the actors appear to take their roles halfway seriously, the movie works much better than the second installment. I'll have to dig up the third sometime and see if that one is any good.
First of all, I agree with most everyone else: this movie is ridiculous. I mean, the actors don't even seem to take the thing seriously. It could have been a dark and mean-spirited story of revenge like the original, but everyone involved is playing their roles as big and campy as possible, so it's hard to take anything even remotely seriously. that's a shame, because I really think this movie could have worked better if someone in charge of making it had said "you know what? Let's pretend we're professionals and actually do our jobs well" but alas, no one did.
In this sequel we have a deformed boy being killed by some teenagers in the 50s, jumping to the present day when a new sheriff takes over the town, a man who was born there but moved when he was a young boy. He's back to raise his teenage daughter away from the corrupting influence of the big city, but of course she gets corrupted by small town evil, joins up with some teenagers who are used to getting a free pass to do what they want, and soon they've committed negligent homicide and accidentally raised the demon Pumpkinhead again (great job, guys). Pumpkinhead soon begins killing off a bunch of the town's good old boys, leaving sketches at the murder scenes (drawn in blood) of a pair of bloody wings, which is a clue that takes the cops way too long to figure out. The thing that bothers me the most I think is that this movie could have been a lot better with some better acting and if everyone had given a shit about their jobs making this movie, but as it stands, it's a disappointing follow-up to what I still believe is a great horror film.
This movie is about a psychologist in a small town in Alaska whose husband has recently died under mysterious circumstances, and she's not handling it well. Her son is angry with her, and her young daughter has gone temporarily blind, which is a psychosomatic reaction to the stress and grief of losing her father. The psychologist's patients all begin telling her of the same strange experience: they each begin seeing an owl outside their windows at night, something of a shared hallucination, and they're all having troubles sleeping and coping with stress, and when she tries to put one patient under hypnosis to get him to examine the vision of the owl, he loses it and starts screaming and breaking things and then leaves and refuses to talk to her about it. Soon the doctor experiences a blackout and a hallucination of the white owl that her patients are seeing, but her tape recorder was running during this blackout, and the recording on the tape suggests that something very old and very malevolent is at work in the town.
Full disclosure part 2: Since I was a teenager, when I began having night terrors, I'd have a recurring dream of a white owl flying into my room and pecking at my face and walking up and down my body. I haven't really thought about it in awhile, but I'd had one of those dreams RIGHT BEFORE I watched this movie for the first time, so when the movie reveals what that vision might mean, I nearly peed my pants in terror. My own situation, my own fears and dreams and experiences conspired with the movie to make me pretty freaked out for awhile after I first saw the movie. Of course I can't replicate that experience, now that it's been a few years and I have my nightmares more or less under control, but this movie still works for me. It's creepy and atmospheric and I really like the main character, the doctor Abigail, so I care what happens to her. It's interesting to revisit the movie after it scared me so badly years ago and I'm glad to find that I still liked it and thought it was a good movie, even when it didn't terrify me anymore.
The moie is about a young woman who wakes up in a hospital's isolation room, not sure what happened or why she's there. she seems to be suffering from some mystery malady, one that is affecting her strength and her motor skills. She's a medical student, so she knows the lingo, but she's confused about how she ended up here. From the scenes we see at the beginning of the movie and the reluctance of the doctor and orderly to discuss her situation with her, it seems clear that she's suffering from some mystery epidemic that is spreading throughout the country. Of course, I immediately thought "Zombie epidemic!" but pretty soon after, I figured out what was actually going on, so the ending didn't really surprise me when it came, but the VERY ending is a complete knockout. I'm not going to spoil it, but it definitely made me appreciate the movie more. I think this movie is worth checking out.
This movie is about a young woman named Lizzie, who has a lot of psychological problems after moving back to her hometown and the house where she grew up, which is also the house where Lizzie Borden used to live. Our Lizzie seems to have had some traumatic events happen in her childhood, but she refuses to discuss them with her psychiatrist, using him more as a prescription filler than as a confidant. Lizzie is having problems with her boyfriend too, and she's made a new friend in a neighbor woman who doesn't seem to have any concept of boundaries, as she just walks into Lizzie's house whenever she wants without knocking or announcing herself. By the time the movie ends, we've of course found out what happened in Lizzie's childhood (though I'm not so sure I understand it completely) and why Lizzie is so screwed up now. The movie wasn't great, it had flaws with the pacing and some questionable acting, but it kept my interest and piqued my curiosity as a longtime reader of the Lizzie Borden legend, which overpowered the movie's flaws for me, so it wasn't bad. Others who don't share my ghoulish passion for that legend might not enjoy this movie as much as I did.
I like that it's open to more than one interpretation. That makes it worth talking about. It reminds me a lot of two other horror movies I've watched in past challenges, "The Possession of David O'Rielly" and "The Skeptic," because those had endings that were open to interpretation as well, and that made watching them more interesting for me. But anyway, the house is scary and foreboding to me, which makes the movie scary and foreboding, but if you don't think the house is scary, you might not like the movie, because a lot of the scares rely on your feelings of isolation and devastation in relation to the creepy, oppressive house, which doesn't work if you don't find it creepy or oppressive.
This movie is about a woman who has died, and her son was estranged, and he returns to her home after her death to settle her affairs, only to discover that there's a presence in the house with him. Already I feel like I'm lying to you, because this is one of those movies where some of what I said MIGHT NOT be true if you favor one interpretation of the movie over another. The thing is, whatever your interpretation, the movie leaves a lot of the heavy lifting to actor Aaron Poole, because he's really the only character we see, and so if we don't care about him and don't get emotionally involved with his journey, we're going to find the movie boring. Most of the movie is literally footage of him wandering around the house looking spooked and kind of pensive.
It worked for me, because I cared about what he was going through, but I can definitely see where some people would find it boring. He can't really decide what to feel about his mother's death, because they weren't close and she was emotionally and verbally abusive to him, and this left him pretty scarred. I can identify with that, too. Ultimately, this emotional roller coaster is where all the scares of the movie rest, and if you don't feel connected to him, you probably won't like the movie. I kept going back and forth, but I think I ended up liking the movie and feeling compelled by what happened. It's not a thrill-a-minute type movie, but it's got its own brand of emotional devastation, which is scary in its own way.
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Friday, October 25, 2013
I really liked this movie. the three main characters, the woman's daughter Isabel and the two priests she befriends in Italy, play their parts very well and I felt connected to the characters, so I cared what happened to them. The woman who plays the mother does such a good job acting freaky and crazy that the demonic possession is believable even without the help of special effects. As for the ending, I actually like the very ending, though the characters make such boneheaded moves at the end of the movie that I wanted to punch them all in the face. All in all, I think this movie is a lot better than people make it out to be.
I've seen so many movies that it's hard to surprise me with a twist ending, but this one did surprise me. I asn't expecting a twist and I thought I pretty much had the movie figured out from the beginning. the twist is mean-spirited and nasty too, so I liked it. The ghost effects are kind of silly looking at times, but that didn't prevent me from enjoying this movie.
The scenes that depict the worst fears are pretty effective for a low-budget movie, with some of my favorites (a killer clown and a killer scarecrow) making an appearance. This isn't the best movie ever made or anything, but it was a lot of fun to watch, and it had some creepy moments.
So this movie stars Elijah Wood as a kid with a terrible childhood that left him pretty messed up, and because of his neglectful mother who was a prostitute, he's not a big fan of women. So he spends his time restoring antique mannequins in his mother's shop, and in his spare time he stalks women and kills them and scalps them and staples their scalps to the heads of his mannequins. Nice guy, right? The movie puts us in his head completely, because the entire movie is shot from his point of view, and his face is only ever seen in reflections, so it's actually pretty ambitious and artful for a slasher movie. Not to worry, though, this isn't a pretentious piece of arthouse bullshit or anything, since it actually has a storyline as well as its ambitious plot, and there's plenty of gore to keep gorehounds occupied. It's well worth checking out.
So anyway, this movie is about a young girl whose parents are divorcing, so shes having a rough time already, and she comes across a box that seems to be sealed shut, but it has cool carvings engraved on it, so she's drawn to it, and when she gets the box open she finds lots of trinkets inside, like a carved wooden horse, and an evil spirit. Neat. So she starts to change as the spirit takes over her, and her dad takes way too long to realize what's going on, and her mom just blames the dad, and I want to smack them both. So eventually everyone finally gets on the same page, and they try to exorcise the evil spirit, and it's creepy and cool. Nothing I haven't seen before, but not a bad way to kill an hour and a half.