The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Project)

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#1251 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Mar 30, 2013 3:51 pm

domino's definitely talking about Cannibal Apocalypse, although it can almost feel like those New York sequences from Cannibal Holocaust turned into a feature film, with the jungle stuff being relegated to a Vietnam prisoner of war flashback sequence that explains where our heroes(?) got the taste for meat from.

There is a great feature on the Image DVD that does a tour of the American locations used in the film, including the store used for the shootout sequence at the beginning.

It has been a while since I have seen it, but I seem to remember the most queasy aspect of that film wasn't the gore (even though I hear that this film was the origin of the effect of seeing someone framed through a bullethole going right through a character's body, which turns up later in films like From Dusk Till Dawn and The Quick and the Dead), but that bizarre sequence in which John Saxon's character gets a visit from a precocious, seemingly underaged next door neighbour girland gives in to his urges.

By the way domino, I watched TerrorVision a couple of nights ago, which I seem to remember that you are very fond of. It is certainly a striking looking film (my favourite parts are the fake soundstage skies during the satellite dish scenes), and bizarrely nihilistic! Everyone seems to be having a lot of fun throughout, and that fun is very infectious. The film also reminds me a little of the same years Critters, in the sense that it involves alien hunters trying to capture even more horrible aliens let loose on the Earth, although TerrorVision doesn't treat the alien saviour figure with much respect!

I also watched The Video Dead too, which was the other film on the double-feature disc, which I remember that you didn't like! Despite the bizarre preoccupation with characters spitting in a few scenes, and the film getting bogged down with a lot of new zombie-killing rules, I thought it wasn't too bad. Not amazing, but the effects hold up and compared to some zombie films that slow to an absolute crawl with incredibly annoying characters (like say Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things), at least the pace keeps up and the acting is servicable! It is disappointing that the television element gets disregarded after the first half for characters running around the woods and something about mirrors and treating the zombies to a sit-down chilli meal, but I suppose that keeps the audience guessing!

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#1252 Post by domino harvey » Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:32 pm

I definitely didn't get them mixed up because I have no interest in seeing Cannibal Holocaust! :P

This week's viewings:

the Blob (Chuck Russell 1988) About fifteen minutes into this I realized I'd actually seen it, probably on the Sci-Fi channel as a kid. That I'd forgotten all about it in the interim is not too surprising, as this remake desperately wants to be another the Thing, and while it's not particularly good or interesting, goshdarnit it's got the vaguely gooey special effect deaths to make it happen by sheer force of will! The film gets minor points awarded for the well-executed misdirection of setting up one of the main characters only to kill 'em off first as soon as the titular creature presents itself.

Candyman (Bernard Rose 1992) Rose of Paperhouse fame is a good choice for the material, and he certainly knows how to get the most out of the fetching Virginia Madsen, but this film is good and frustrating in equal measure. It's been a while since I've read the Clive Barker short story, but I seem to recall its primary concern being the need for legends to perpetuate via constant gossip, thus the relationship between tormentor and tormented being fundamentally symbiotic. Here the message is cloudy and the film frustratingly flirts with bold ideas. For a while it seems to be leading toward the idea that areas forgotten by the majority of the public like the projects present the only proper insular conditions for an urban legend to subsist-- had the idea been developed, it would have been some keen social class commentary. But then the film becomes a series of increasingly suspect murders wherein the titular figure murders someone close to Madsen and then frames her for each crime. Within the logic of the film, this makes no sense: Why would Candyman let someone else take credit for his crimes? Of course, the "reveal" that Maden's character herself becomes the new dominant urban legend is one the film hinted at sporadically, but it too makes no real sense within what we know of the film. And searching through past board discussion, I see Colin floating the idea that perhaps there was no Candyman at all and Madsen was in fact the murderess all along-- a neat idea, but one not borne out by the film's attitude towards what it depicts. So we're left with a film that can't decide what it is, even when any of its myriad options fleshed out would have been successful, and the end result is sadly half as good as any of the films it could be.

Freeway (Matthew Bright 1996) Oh what glorious, fully-formed trash this is! I had a delightful time revisiting this Premium Cable Staple, filled from toe to bloody scalp with the most colorful undesirables this side of Justified, and was pleased to see my memories of it accurately reflected its base and joyfully foul attitudes and momentum. Plus, given the respectable direction her career took, what fun it is to watch Reese Witherspoon fearlessly give herself over to petulance!

the Hitcher (Robert Harmon 1986) I remember reading about this in one of Ebert's movie compendiums and his hate for the film kept me away until now. Not to denigrate the poor man so soon after his demise, but boy did he get this hellish descent into clear-minded terror wrong! This undoubtedly would have made my list if I'd been tempted in time, as the gleefully inescapable parade of roadblocks, real and figurative, Rutger Hauer places in front of C Thomas Howell takes on a nightmarish quality, the film becoming a vision of claustrophobia counterintuitively framed against the wide open spaces of Nowhere, Texas.

Invaders From Mars (William Cameron Menzies 1953) I was curious how a Sci-Fi film ended up on our list, and though films of this sort from the era interest me far more in a sociological sense than a cinematic one, this pic at least gave me a good fifteen or twenty minutes of dread and paranoia and avant-garde set design before turning into an improbable alien flick, complete with helpful military men and dashing scientists! If only it has stayed focused on the abusive behaviors of the kids' parents instead of devolving into rote action, it might have proven more than a curio.

Nail Gun Massacre (Terry Lofton and Bill Leslie 1985) Jesus Christ, someday when I close the book on this project's viewings, someone will provide the internet message board equivalent of a supercut of me saying a given film is the worst horror movie ever, but Nail Gun Massacre quite likely is the worst slasher film I've ever seen. I see the director's little sister actually wrote a customer review on Amazon apologizing for the film and requesting no one buy it to further spare her and her kin from further embarrassment. I don't blame her!

the Nest (Terence H Winkless 1988) Killer flesh-eating cockroaches invade a small island beach town and the results are predictably bloody and ridiculous, and that's even before the third act reveal that the roaches have evolved and can now take over traits of the things they kill, leading to skinned cat cockroach hybrids and the unforgettable image of a giant skeleton cockroach emerging from the skin of one of the main characters. Icky good fun for the whole family! (Don't actually show this to the whole family)

Sweet Kill / the Arousers (Curtis Hanson 1973) Tab Hunter murders nude girls.

Terror Train (Roger Spottiswoode 1980) I'm not sure what its reputation is, but to my eyes this is the best of the immediate post-Halloween sweepstakes slashers I've seen, a beautifully shot film that at all times is just a little bit cleverer than its brethren. A masked killer stalking a costume party held aboard a "party train"(?) sounds like rote slasher fodder, and it is, but the film's more intelligent than most, and Ben Johnson's a riot as the impossibly patient conductor who keeps yammering on about how this is only his night job and he's just waiting for the Winnebago sales market to stablize! Plus it has a scene of David Copperfield getting heckled by a med student, what more could ya ask for? Also, I am not someone who really notices these sort of things but man alive, Jamie Lee Curis has the best screams ever in this film-- no surprise to see her Home Alone-ing it on the Shout Factory's Blu-ray cover!

the Wicker Man (Robin Hardy 1973) Yeah yeah yeah I know, I should have seen it forever ago, but I've had terrible luck with British horror films that everyone else loves, so I had low expectations. But this fared… pretty well! I appreciated how officious and unsympathetic the film went out of its way to make the protagonist, and many of the pagan elements are hypnotically rendered (my favorite being the somewhat gratuitous nude mating song performed by Britt Ekland). The ending, despite having been spoiled for me long ago, was still stirring and disturbing. I'm not sure this would have made my list, but I at least can respect its placement more than many other well-championed titles.

User avatar
colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#1253 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Apr 11, 2013 4:52 pm

Don't ask me why I did this, but I thought I might write up a couple of notorious films:

The Human Centipede (First Sequence) (2009)

The big criticism of the film is really that it seems much too content to coast on the premise of its premise, and perhaps seems too enamoured of its shock value and the visuals of the completed 'centipede' to recognise that beyond that the film is kind of staid and boring. However that works in its favour somewhat as it plays very much like a classical horror film, poised on the edge of parody with elements such as the night time drive in a rain storm that leads to a flat tire, no mobile phone reception and a run through the woods arguing all the way to the mad doctor's house.

This is also a film about withholding and pacing itself. It might do that to a fault (there are many excrutiating scenes of people creeping through rooms or crawling through rooms, or sitting around in rooms waiting for certain things to occur) but that isn't too bad an approach. The problem is that people are doing those things for silly reasons. My favourite moment in the film for this is where one of the girls escapes and then on the point of leaving decides to go back and rescue her drugged friend, dragging her back through the house, through a broken window and across the lawn before inevitably getting knocked out in another example of the doctor toying with his victims.

And our heroine in that sequence just seems misguided (whatever Tom Six says in his commentary about her showing decency in going back to save her friend - she has still left the Japanese guy behind!), since perhaps the escape of one ‘segment’ of the ‘centipede’ will mean that the doctor could not have created the creature! (He might have killed the friend and the Japanese guy, much like the truck driver earlier, but perhaps that would have been preferable) Instead she faffs around the house for a bit until getting recaptured and then both she and her friend end up having a fate worse than death!

Although that sequence, perhaps surprisingly for what comes later, contains what I found to be the most viscerally nasty moment of the film in which the girl drags her friend, clad only in a medical gown, across the broken glass of the room and outside the window, leaving bloody trails across the patio behind her, slowly getting washed away by the torrential downpour. It perhaps wasn’t the most thoughtful way of pulling a comatose person around, but it was certainly the most wince-inducing one!

The film slows to a crawl (pun intended) once the creature is created. There’s not really much to do but play one-sided power games with the doctor always on top (although the film did make me realise why people wear those thigh-length leather boots!) and dominating his ‘pet’. There is the amusing sight of the film cutting to the three stitched up people in different locations (even at one point on top of an examination table!) which raises a huge number of logistical questions about just how they get moved from place to place! (My money is on the doctor having a forklift truck to hand to lift and carry the trio to their next location!)

It really feels like a film very much holding back from experimentation in everything other than its central conceit – both the beginning but also the ending with the suspicious cops prowling around the house, the Japanese chap having a long, bizarre monologue about honour before committing suicide and everyone at one point or other ending up in the indoor swimming pool! There are familiar set up elements here familiar to any horror film fan, and unfortunately the one new element of the Human Centipede itself might be novel but doesn’t have the weight to carry an entire film. There are a few thought-provoking elements in the film (particularly the really terrible situation that the heroine is left in at the end!), but this is a perfect example of a film which had its maximum moment of shock and disgust when you first read about its premise, or saw its trailer, and really feels like a throwback to the lurid posters and taglines of William Castle films!

The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) (2011)

“Babe, there’s a midget wanking in there”

I remember watching that interview with Joel Silver talking about the Matrix sequels and describing them as “Matrix Squared” and “Matrix Cubed” compared to the first. That might not have been entirely borne out (expanding everything doesn’t necessarily make it better) but I would apply that kind of statement to the second Human Centipede film. Everything gets exponentially expanded out and built upon, and this seems to be one of the few sequels to understand that successive sequels necessarily become ‘cruder’ as they go, and makes it work in its favour. It perhaps helps that it is a horror film so increasing the grand guignol aspects can be a good thing! I’m also of the opinion that if you are really going to make a film called “The Human Centipede”, let alone a sequel to the same, that there is no point in being coy! You might as well go full bore into the premise, given that the advertising will have already done its part in driving up expectations/make people run screaming from the theatre already!

After having a lukewarm reaction to the first film I was quite surprised by how good the second film was (which was a shame as for a while there I was looking forward to using zedz’s Hobbit-meme of a couple of months back “Looks like shit, too many dwarves” as a pithy one sentence review!) – it is nasty, extremely grisly, upsetting and yet again features annoyingly passive characters that it is difficult to sympathise with, but it is surprisingly amusing and quite interestingly builds upon what was laid down in the first film.

The plot of this one involves a seemingly mentally challenged mute car park security guard called Martin living with his mother getting obsessed with the first film and collecting the various car park patrons, upstairs neighbours (and getting a talent agency to fly over one of the actresses from the first film to London under the pretext of a Quentin Tarantino audition) into his new 12-segmented centipede. Unfortunately things don’t work out exactly to plan! (He only manages to fit ten ‘segments’ together for one thing, although I suppose that is a pretty impressive enough feat in itself!)

It might just be the “Sarf” London accents of some of the characters, or the way that his work often features similarly annoying characters representing elements of society, but I was amused throughout by imagining that this would be the kind of film that Mike Leigh might make if he went completely insane and totally gave up on humanity!

The domestic scenes especially have an amusing off-kilter Mike Leigh sense to them, as Martin's mother is the most entertaining character in the film - upset by her son apparently having tattled on his sexually abusive father and constantly trying to kill her son and commit suicide herself in various matter-of-fact ways (including the ‘oops’ moment of stabbing her son’s bed viciously with a carving knife only for him to walk in and she finds she has only been murdering the pillows!), including antagonising the really horrible skinhead neighbour upstairs who mum tries to get to kill them both (but yet still blames banging on the ceiling to get his attention on her son!) or bringing in the strange Doctor Sebring whose intent is less to help Martin come to terms with his family situation but to ogle him sexually instead!

All of these elements become even more interesting in the light of the ending, where they perhaps show that Martin isn’t even empowered in his own fantasies (the thing that probably makes Martin decide not to create a Human Centipede of his very own seems not because it is a monstrous thing to do, but because he might end up with an insect funnelled down his bottom!), making an interesting contrast to the Doctor in the first film who is never really rebelled against in any organised way until the final moments, and even the crude sketching in of the unlikable victims and their backstories are all filtered through Martin’s perceptions of them. That even works to characterise the mother – here’s an example of her amusingly too-on-the-nose dialogue to explain her motivations: “I miss my husband. And it’s your fault he’s in prison!”

The dialogue in the film is all in that very terse, prosaic stating the obvious form, which makes an interesting contrast to the mute Martin and the eventually mute, for obvious reasons, victims! (Although even Ashlynne Yennie at the head of the centipede can still talk - at least at first until her tongue is removed – but only gives the line “Please don’t hurt me”. The pregnant woman also still can, but just screams incoherently, as I presume many would in such a situation! So the film seems about dialogue and discussion being pointless, only emphasised during the final section of the film as the world closes down to just what is going on in the rented garage and the soundtrack is often just moans, screams and the fizzing of the electric lights)

The second film makes for a really neat contrast to the first one, and actually helps to make the first film seem better and more necessary for the way in which elements from it get subverted. The nicely framed classical colour photography against the black and white handheld look of Part 2. The isolated Josef Fritzl-esque German villa with its own indoor pool and underground operating theatre contrasts with the kitsch 1950s dour and drab furnishings of the mother’s house in an enormous grey block of flats (it kind of makes Martin’s aspirations to be like the Doctor from the first film even more of a pipe dream, considering his circumstances! Not to mention his total lack of privacy from abusers barging in on him all the time!)

There’s also the contrast between the gleamingly sterile Doctor’s operating theatre from the first film with the grimy dirt and oil strewn (and eventually blood and faeces covered) garage floor. This all eventually reaches its apex with the actual operations themselves as what was mostly implied by the first film gets shown in a grisly, detailed and gruelling DIY fashion. It takes what was mostly just a horrific concept from the first film and through showing the same being carried out by an enthusiastic amateur (upset when he accidentally kills the guy leasing the garage, or when his surgery accidentally kills his victim, because he’s lost another segment) makes it even worse in the execution.

The horror in both the films, but especially in the second film once the pieces have been assembled, is not really about the horror of the title creature but kind of about the body being ruined. Of being left alive but in a totally wrecked body that can never be put back together properly. In that sense the patellar tendon snipping moment might be the smallest moment of violence, but is perhaps, like the glass dragging from part one, the most horrible moment of the second film.

I suppose the other big difference is the treatment of the end result. While the Doctor in the first part treats it as a pet, Martin here seems to treat his ‘centipede’ as a car, something that he can tinker with using the right tools, perhaps most evident in the sequence involving Martin trying to recreate the notorious faeces-eating scene from the first film. When trying to feed the appropriate ‘fuel’ into the first person in the chain (Chilli) doesn’t work he resorts to more drastic measures by injecting laxative into everyone thus resulting in the gag-inducing but amusing at the same time explosive diarrhoea sequence as each segment ‘turns over’ like a car engine, and eventually there is a shot of the final person in the chain ‘backfiring’ across the wall!

Similarly the rape scene gets framed in such a manner that it shows the whole chain of people moving in unison, much like an engine of a car again, with Martin as the ‘driver’ of it. (The rape scene is in bad taste but I suppose it is also in some ways motivated by the girl who is the victim of it being the member of the couple at the beginning of the film whose boyfriend teases Martin about never having her sexually. It’s not exactly politically correct but I guess that is meant to sketch in some motivation for why she gets put into that position. It is also the sign, along with the tongue removal of the first person in the chain, that being first or last in the sequence isn’t quite the blessing in disguise that it once was)

A lot of this is horrible to watch but there’s always an element of humour throughout, evident in this scene in the decision to have the spraying faeces (because Martin didn’t create a hermetic seal unlike the doctor from the first film) be the first and only colour element in the film (In what the director amusingly describes in his interview on the disc as being his tribute to Schindler’s List! I think maybe Tom Six has outdone Godard here in finding a particularly spectacular way to describe Spielberg’s film as crap!)

The whole film is transgressive and shocking, maybe even apocalyptic, given that this is Martin’s last orgiastic fling (or attempt to live in his fantasy world) after his tenuously held together outside world has been irrevocably destroyed. In that sense I can see why the BBFC had trouble with it, as the final act is unrelenting in piling up the nihilistic atrocity (and the whole thing is appropriately lit with that Eraserhead-esque flickering light, which plunges the scene regularly into somewhat comforting darkness, only to reveal everything again, as if to prevent anyone, viewer or participant, from existing outside of the moment), but that is kind of the point. Eventually the inescapable gun-to-head execution of each segment after Martin has reached his climax and the individual human beings he has defiled begin trying to assert themselves again, is just another brutal, uncaring use and discarding of people for twisted desires.

It is an upsetting, gruelling film, but is kind of the Funny Games-style appropriate medicine that anyone watching a Human Centipede film needs to be forced to take! A film that takes the concept beyond ideas of a ‘fun horror film’ (where we watch our heroes trying to make their escape, or see if the bad guy gets caught, or even get assured that there are policemen doing some investigating) and past ideas of ‘taste’ or ‘taboo’. In comparison the first film really is the sweet, untroubling (even boring) horror film that anyone can watch. Much better than the first, and the 'its all in the mind' ending helps to place it in some context, even of the way that the audience is placed more in the shoes of the torturer rather than of his victims. It still feels like a dangerous piece of work, and I can easily understand it causing upset and offence, but then that really should be the job of a horror film.

Which just leaves the question of were there is left to go from here for the mooted third film? The only thing that I think could create the same impact would be to take the private into the public sphere and move from secretive acts to societal practice on a widespread scale, which I guess takes things back to Six’s initial inspiration for the series about the practice being the way he would punish sex offenders.
Last edited by colinr0380 on Sat Apr 13, 2013 6:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#1254 Post by domino harvey » Thu Apr 11, 2013 4:56 pm

colinr0380 wrote:Don't ask me why I did this
The subtitle to 90% of my viewings in this thread!

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#1255 Post by domino harvey » Fri Apr 26, 2013 5:14 pm

After Midnight (Jim and Ken Wheat 1989) Yet another late 80s anthology horror cash-in, this is what the bottom looks like: A pretty boy professor who wants to teach his students "fear" invites a couple overachievers to his house to exchange spooky stories. Each of the three segments is straight-up dumb in its own way, but the second segment, featuring an improbable battle between club-hopping teenage girls and killer dogs resolved via 'splosions, doesn't even seem to fit the relatively wide genre markers of this kind of film.

Anthropophagus: the Grim Reaper (Joe D'Amato 1980) When I'm on my deathbed, I will remember that I lived exactly ninety minutes less fully than possible thanks to this piece of shit.

Intruder (Scott Spiegel 1989) Objectively this one has your garden-variety genre problems, with stiff acting and a ludicrously obvious red herring. One the other hand, it's wildly inventive in its camera work and weird-o perspectives, and the murders are gleefully perverse and novel. The grocery store setting finds more to do in the back rooms than the aisles but it still makes for a devilish re-appropriation of a public "safe" space. The film's ending is a darkly comic masterstroke as well, and while I know the Dorm That Dripped Blood attempted a similar idea, it's still a devious commentary on the genre norms.

Maniac Cop (William Lustig 1988) A slasher with a cop as the villain is a good gimmick, but this film isn't content to merely rest on its laurels, so it's a zombie cop or something who wills himself back to life to avenge his murder at the hands of criminals by attacking… everyday folks? I don't know, why bother trying to make sense when you can just watch Sheree North hobble around on crutches or Tom Atkins receive a rather unceremonious exit from a film that for 3/4 of the running time assumed he was the protagonist? Also bonus points for the sequence where harried citizens, fearful of a killer cop, start turning their guns on police officers doing their normal business-- it's a darkly funny idea that the film could have done more with, but it's still something.

Sledgehammer (David A Prior 1983) Bizarre artifact of the slasher era where literally anything could get marketed to consumers, this shot-on-video, barely coherent stalk-and-smash loses any good will pretty early, with hilariously gratuitous slow-mo sequences and a villain who's either a ghost or a demon or an adult or something. The DVD company who put this out put a lot of effort into making the DVD experience mirror that of a well-worn VHS tape, and I was more entertained by the couple seconds it took to load than what it loaded after!

User avatar
Mr Sausage
Not PETA approved
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Canada

Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#1256 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri Apr 26, 2013 6:55 pm

domino harvey wrote:Anthropophagus: the Grim Reaper (Joe D'Amato 1980) When I'm on my deathbed, I will remember that I lived exactly ninety minutes less fully than possible thanks to this piece of shit.
Or you could spend that time on your deathbed thanking the lord that you were at least spared D'Amato's Porno Holocaust, one of the horror genre's very first torture porn movies, in that it is both porn and torture to watch.

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#1257 Post by knives » Fri Apr 26, 2013 7:09 pm

It's worst crime though is being so long. It's like being clamped down in front of a bad painting for ten minutes, moving slightly, and then repeat.

User avatar
Mr Sausage
Not PETA approved
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Canada

Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#1258 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri Apr 26, 2013 7:22 pm

It's 120 minutes long and has a tenth of the plot of your average Friday the 13th sequel. I can't even say something like "well, what do you expect from a movie called Porno Holocaust?", because who would've expected anything less than 70 minutes of hilarity from a movie with that title? Instead you get two stultifying hours of people passing each other venereal diseases on the same log while a radioactive zombie watches and groans.

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#1259 Post by knives » Fri Apr 26, 2013 7:27 pm

Honestly I had forgotten it was that long (assumed 90 minutes) because really? Is anyone going to seriously watch a movie called Porno Holocaust for two hours. Yet it takes up five hours worth of life.

User avatar
Mr Sausage
Not PETA approved
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Canada

Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#1260 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri Apr 26, 2013 7:39 pm

knives wrote:Honestly I had forgotten it was that long (assumed 90 minutes) because really? Is anyone going to seriously watch a movie called Porno Holocaust for two hours. Yet it takes up five hours worth of life.
His other horror-porn combo, Erotic Nights of the Living Dead (which I haven't seen), is apparently 100 minutes. Guy sure knew how to work a two and a half page shooting script.

Now that dom has reached Joe D'Amato, I suppose it's only a matter of time before he starts in on Umberto Lenzi and Bruno Mattei and finally loses his grip on sanity.

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#1261 Post by knives » Fri Apr 26, 2013 7:46 pm

Honestly I think those two, especially Mattei, are significantly better than D'Amato. The especially for Mattei is just because he seems to be in on the joke most of the time. He shoots really well for the most part, but doesn't take in the resources he has ever and so you get some pretty well shot and edited scenes for special effects he doesn't have. Something like the chestburster scene from Rats is really amusing in how it fails which is more than can be said for D'Amato. Also I think his two Salon Kitty ripoffs are genuinely good if not as good.

User avatar
Mr Sausage
Not PETA approved
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Canada

Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#1262 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri Apr 26, 2013 7:50 pm

Yeah, to be fair to both of them, they've made movies I did at least find entertaining in their cheerful awfulness (Nightmare City, Zombie Creeping Flesh). But a lot of their well-known stuff is so incompetent it's dumbfounding. D'Amato tends to be boring more than anything.

User avatar
colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#1263 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Apr 26, 2013 9:45 pm

Although there is that one D'Amato film that you couldn't say that about: Emanuelle In America, which features an absoultely bizarre series of almost unrelated set pieces taking in Emanuelle's job du jour of an investigative journalist going undercover in a high class brothel. Laura Gemser as Emanuelle (with one 'm' to distance itself legally from the Sylvia Kristel Emmanuelle films!) stays a long way away from the hardcore action (as she did in Erotic Nights of the Living Dead) but the other actors further down the cast list were not so lucky, partcularly the lady who has to pleasure a horse named Pedro, and all the actors who turn up in the snuff-gore silent film sequence near the end. The snuff film sequence is a surprisingly transgressive and convincing sequence for a Joe D'Amato film and quite rightly made the film notorious - the only thing that comes close to it is the ending of Salo - and to see it turn up in what up to that point (apart from the horse scene) has been your average sexploitation film makes it feel even more shockingly out of place.
Last edited by colinr0380 on Mon May 20, 2013 12:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Cold Bishop
Joined: Tue May 30, 2006 9:45 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#1264 Post by Cold Bishop » Sat Apr 27, 2013 3:17 am

There's also Death Smiled at Murder, which is the only D'Amato film he felt proud enough to sign with his real name. Not a great film, perhaps not even good, but D'Amato always considered himself more of a cinematographer than a director, and the film is at least visually interesting in a way you don't often consider his films to be.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#1265 Post by domino harvey » Sun May 19, 2013 8:52 am

Haute Tension (Alexandre Aja 2003) Well, as for my earlier concerns that this might be similar to Intensity, it isn't-- it's virtually identical, at least in its first half. When they unbelievably pulled into the gas station I could already see the big "Oops, don't sue us" check being written out to Dean Koontz. Outside of the mildly diverting plagiarism, there's nothing else of interest here. I know a lot of fans and apologists explain away the utterly nonsensical ending as justified by how "great" everything else was in the film, but I don't know how anyone who's seen more than two slashers in their life could think this was anything other than a middling, mean-spirited embodiment of a genre long past its sell-by date. I pretty much hated every minute of this, not just the last couple.

Jeepers Creepers (Victor Salva 2001) Though it doesn't make much sense, this was a surprisingly well-crafted small-scale indie horror that wisely hides its budgetary restrictions in the simple structure of its presentation. It's nice to see a film like this give a little extra attention to characterization and atmosphere before devolving into a somewhat less impressive monster show, and there's some decent jump scares and "What the hell" moments sprinkled throughout. Plus, Eileen Brennan as a crazy cat lady, how can you go wrong?

Prison (Renny Harlin 1988) LED spirit invades decrepit prison, melts prisoners, leaves Viggo Mortensen's impeccably cropped haircut unscathed.

the Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (Tobe Hooper 1986) My thoughts on Tobe Hooper's oeuvre, including the original from this series, are unkind to put it mildly. Hooper's films are stretched thin with abrasive characters overshadowing everything else going on, which is often less a detriment than a distraction to the nothingness hiding behind the ugliness. But here's a film that realizes if the goal is to be tasteless, nothing less than wall-to-wall grotesqueries will do. Hooper's love of hyperbolic awfulness finds a good target with this winking celebration of utter depravity, which starts off reminiscent of Texasville in being a sequel tonally removed from the original and concerned with the insanity of day-to-day Texans-- and then the chainsaws and corpses and screaming screaming screaming intrudes and never dissipates. I'm not sure I'd go as far as to call this a good film (though it is far superior to the original), but I had something close to admiration for how its tasteless aims were executed with fully-fleshed novelty and imagination.

Tucker and Dale vs Evil (Eli Craig 2011) Surprisingly genial (if that's even an appropriate word for a film this violent) comic take on the backwoods slasher genre. The idea is so novel that it's a wonder it hadn't been exploited by some enterprising filmmaker in the eighties, but given that most of the gruesome acts occur in a kind of self-imposed Final Destination fashion, maybe all the impetuses for this film's creation weren't yet in place. The two leads are marvelously low-key and their charm coasts this a lot farther than it would otherwise go. As per zedz' skepticism on the romance subplot, I think the justification for its inclusion is pretty simple when one considers the target audience for a film like this probably looks a lot more like Dale than Chad-- or Tucker! They so rarely do get the girl, why deprive 'em of a little wish fulfillment?

User avatar
colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#1266 Post by colinr0380 » Sun May 19, 2013 12:04 pm

Unfortunately Jeepers Creepers 2 doesn't really keep up the standard of the first film, being much more of a generic slasher film with the monster picking off a bunch of annoying teens for spare parts when their schoolbus breaks down in the middle of nowhere. I was very impressed by the first film, particularly the opening 45 minutes or so of slow-burning tension and the bleak finale. Unfortunately the second half of the film where the characters are actually fighting the monster was much less memorable, although the two lead performances by Gina Philips and Justin Long helped to keep the engagement going through that section. Their brother and sister relationship was the real highlight of that film.

On Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, I think I tired of all the 'chain saw as phallic substitute' schtick long before the filmmakers did. I actually really like the Dennis Hopper sections which are amusingly bizarre and concise cutaways. The final scenes are good too but it is a long trek through the radio station terrorisation scenes to get there. The film in that section just feels like a comedy where someone tells you an unfunny joke, then does it again, then does it a few more times all while laughing to themselves at how subversive they are being.

User avatar
zedz
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#1267 Post by zedz » Sun May 19, 2013 3:58 pm

domino harvey wrote:Tucker and Dale vs Evil (Eli Craig 2011) Surprisingly genial (if that's even an appropriate word for a film this violent) comic take on the backwoods slasher genre. The idea is so novel that it's a wonder it hadn't been exploited by some enterprising filmmaker in the eighties, but given that most of the gruesome acts occur in a kind of self-imposed Final Destination fashion, maybe all the impetuses for this film's creation weren't yet in place. The two leads are marvelously low-key and their charm coasts this a lot farther than it would otherwise go.
I think coasting on charm is really the secret of this film's success. It's like it hops on a snowboard and leaps off a high concept precipice, then has the skill / dumb luck not to screw it up as it glides to the finish line. By the time it gets there it's lost a lot of momentum, and might be teetering a little, but it's still upright. So many other films in this genre try to invent fancy moves, or mimic ones they don't have the chops to pull off, and end up flat on their face or entirely off course. [/dubious metaphor]

I am so united with you in loathing for Haute Tension.

User avatar
colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#1268 Post by colinr0380 » Sat May 25, 2013 6:11 pm

This is obviously very late for the project, but I wanted to highlight the surprising quality of this film:

Urban Legends 2: Final Cut (John Ottman, 2000)

Along with I Know What You Did Last Summer this is the other blatant post-Scream-inspired slasher film series. The first film wasn't particularly good with the premise of a slasher film based around the recreation of urban legends being much better handled in Candyman. Luckily you don't really need to have seen the first film in the series to watch this one, which apart from one minor supporting character and an amusing end credit coda, has no tie in with the original Urban Legends film.

In a lot of ways this is your average slasher film, with wisecracking supporting characters getting killed off before the final confrontation at the end. This second film is also heavily influenced by Scream 2's campus setting and film school riffs (though here rather than the 'best sequel: T2 or Godfather 2?' stuff from Scream 2 we get Godard, Hitchcock and Truffaut namedropped by the teachers, along with Hart Bochner's head of the film department getting slightly tired with one of his colleague's monologues about whether mise-en-scene is antithetical to cinema verite, cutting him off in mid-flow!)

A lot of these references, especially the ones packed into the early section of the film, are rather arch and winking at the audience (a poster for Touch of Evil here, an introdcution of the newly retired filmmaker into the faculty, Mr Zarkoff (as in Z. Arkoff) there), and so it might be a matter of individual taste as to whether these are enjoyed or found to grate too much.

There is also the very Scream-inspired 'is he a killer or not?' love interest, becoming a love triangle with an edge of paranoia here. Which reminds me of the time in the mid-90s when teen girls, even in 'silly' slasher films were involved in tackling adult issues of trust (this film in one of its late act twists copies Scream's motif of the sins of the parents being visited onto their children) and betrayal in a much more dramatic way rather than the much more superficial fawning and feuding that the lead in those Twilight films had from her two interchangable, drippy beaus. The two male leads here are edging towards the 'bland and interchangable' Twilight end of the spectrum too, but they still at least have some flashes of personality still at this point (and one is played by Joseph Lawrence, who as a child actor 'Joey' Lawrence played the lead in 1988's Pulse!).

Speaking of the cast, there are a few interesting names here. The lead actress here in the Neve Campbell-equivalent role is played by Jennifer Morrison, who has not become a particularly big name in the years since but has recently turned up as Kirk's mother in both of the two J.J. Abrams Star Trek films. She does a good job in the lead here, even if I kept being distracted throughout by how much she looks like Julia Stiles in this film!

The more surprising names are further down in the cast list: Marco Hofschneider (the lead in Europa, Europa) turns up as a German-accented DP who becomes one of the early victims of the killer; and Eva Mendes turns up in one of her earliest roles as the beautiful lesbian friend, who of course must also be sacrificed! (talking of Jennifer Morrison looking eerily like Julia Stiles, I was also amused by wondering whether Eva Mendes got the role because she could bring a look and attitude reminiscent of Gina Gershon to her part!)

And while Michael Bacall isn't exactly a big name, he has gone on to appear in supporting parts in the last three Tarantino films and David Gordon Green's Undertow.

This film is also the only feature directed by John Ottman, better known as a composer and editor of all of Bryan Singer's films.

Spoilers follow:

Anyway, beyond all the above is the neat way that the film seems to be referencing other films for its murder scenes: the organ harvesting urban legend restaging for the opening murder (itself seeming to pre-empt the turn that horror was about to take into Saw's grimy, gruesome territory) spectacularly climaxes with what seems like a nod to the fate of the sister in Argento's Inferno. The death of the terrible overactress when she returns to the filmset at night seems to tie in with Parker Posey's role in the same year's Scream 3 (plus the filming of the victim by the murderer and then replaying of it to the crew in the next days rushes is in the same territory as Peeping Tom or Mute Witness). Marco Hofschneider's death scene, picked up by a boom mic, feels reminiscent of Blow Out, and so on. (Eva Mendes' character gets the Vertigo-inspired spiral staircase and belltower set up for her demise!)

So not a groundbreaking masterpiece and not original, but far better than the first film and it makes for a neat companion to Scream 2 (especially in the scenes where both films utilise the space of a recording studio for a chase from the killer) and quite endearing throughout. The most inspired and amusing moment has to be when, during a struggle in the final fight scene, the real guns get mixed up with a box of fake guns knocked across the floor, leading to a moment where four of the characters are intently picking up, studying and discarding weapons before springing up for the Mexican standoff to ensue! (It also involves a neat call back to what had just seemed like a throwaway reference to Foxy Brown much earlier in the film!)

User avatar
colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#1269 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Jun 20, 2013 4:31 pm

If it is OK, I'll just keep using this thread as a place to put horror film viewings into:

V/H/S (Various, 2012)

This is a strangely disappointing anthology film, although it is unsatisfying and kind of annoying in all sorts of interesting ways! If you just want 'horrific' imagery, it is here in abundance, but if you are looking for interesting stories with compelling characters then you will probably feel short changed - perhaps the best way to describe all of the various films is just as a lot of 'stuff' that happens.

But before I get into that perhaps I should get into another criticism of the film - the weird wording of "VHS" in the title should have alerted me to the idea that it wasn't going to be that faithful to the format, but very few of the films feature anything like VHS technology in them at all! For example presumably all of the films within a film are meant to be contemporary set, but they all involve characters video taping each other using the cassettes rather than SD cards or so on! The Joe Swanberg directed segment is even entirely Skype-based! The only segment that really plays fair with the concept is the final segment called "10/31/98", which at least suggests that a VHS video camera would be actually appropriate in that period of time!

Unfortunately this issue also plays havoc with the framing story too, which involves a group of Harmony Korine-esque young lawbreakers after they are done doing their equivalent of trash humping for the day getting hired to break into a house and find a tape, unfortunately finding a dead man slumped in front of a television surrounded by all kinds of tapes. One by one each member of the group is left alone with the body and television and start playing the tapes. We then see each of the films within a film segments: segments that involve Skype-chat conversations and weird videos from all sorts of eras that could either never have physically been captured on video tape due to their format, or end in such a way that as an audience member I wondered how exactly they were able to have turned into video tapes! Perhaps there is a supernatural or mysterious reason for this (especially later in the film when the television seems to be running itself), but that is bizarrely something that the film never explores at all, and in fact seems strangely incurious with regard to!

I'm pretty sure that I'm way overthinking this and that it probably was just seen to be a neat way to link a bunch of disparate 'video taped' stories together, but on first hearing about the film I remember thinking that it could have been a really great way to link an anthology film together - strange weird tapes that shouldn't by rights exist, mysterious images and maybe a sense of growing disquiet and a developing investigation into what is happening during the linking segments (after all this is really the core idea of what made the Ring films so creepy). Unfortunately the filmmakers bizarrely set up such an intriguing premise with lots of possibilities and then proceed to do exactly nothing with it, simply showing one member after another of the group sitting in front of the TV and then a jump scare at the end that doesn't really explain anything at all. When the best part of the entire film is the, again Harmony Korine-esque, sequence of the group having fun trashing a dilapidated house and trying to assault students in a car park before they go off to their assignment, all captured on grimy distorted video (a sequence of images that is quite neatly reprised before the end credits, with a moment in that reprisal that is strangely reminiscent of the notorious Sybil Danning end credits from Howling II!), then the film has serious problems!

This is the major problem of the entire film though, and it affects all of the individual segments. Most of the segments, like the framing story, play vaguely interestingly whilst they are going on. There is some action and occasionally some twists. But there is always a sense that the reasons for the characters actually doing what they are doing hasn't been properly laid out! The characters are in their situations but how and why? I don't think that I've ever seen a film before where everything falls apart if you start seriously thinking about why characters are doing what they are doing, and this happens in every segment!

For example how exactly does the website that the guys are assaulting people for in the framing section work? Then how long has the 'real sex' website that the guys in the first segment been running? Presumably not long enough for the guys to have never encountered a drunk girl falling unconscious on them before, thereby ruining their planned night of videotaped sex! What exactly is the state of the couple's relationship in the second story, 'Second Honeymoon'? Without sketching in any kind of relationship dynamics (apart from a tiff over money being removed from the guy's wallet) the twist at the end only works as a surprise, not as a comeuppance or betrayal of one of the other characters. Similarly the first segment, 'Amateur Night', by not sketching in the dynamics of the guys and their website prevents the run in with the Jeepers Creepers-esque demon woman from playing out as a comeuppance or undeserved punishment, and more just as a series of gory murders. (The big-eyed woman kept reminding me of this drug-and-drive ad, and the scene in the film of driving back from the nightclub after having picked up the girls could have directly come from it!)

These stories are keeping the short story structures of classic horror anthology films but losing any moral element, or really relatable characters, perhaps secure in the knowledge that a gory payoff and a facile twist are all that is needed. But if we have learnt anything from Switchblade Romance/Haute Tension, it should be that this isn't really enough!

And it continues...'Thursday the 14th' is a kind of goofy blackly comic (in the grand tradition of anthology films, the tone of the stories varies wildly!) version of the 'kids go into the woods to be picked off one by one' slasher film. I think it is the best of all the segments, with its neat twist that the heroine after surviving a previous massacre has actually brought three uncomprehending friends into the woods in order to 'bait' the killer into showing his face. That premise, and the way that the unkillable killer has a video effect on them that means that they cannot be captured on tape, could be the basis of a brilliantly subversive Cabin In The Woods-style film. Here, despite game performances from the cast of kids, the plot is allowed to peter out.

(The big unresolved issue that plagues 'Thursday the 14th' is that if the killer is so deadly, had the heroine seemingly entered the woods alone on a previous occasion in order to dig all the conveniently placed spike traps and such that she tries to trap him with during the final chase? And if she had, how did she escape then?)

The Joe Swanberg directed segment 'The Sick Thing That Happened To Emily When She Was Younger' is also problematic and predicated around a twist that transforms a relationship from a concerned long distance Skype-chat with a girlfriend who might be paranoid and prone to self-mutilation into a more disturbing one of manipulation of another person's fears to achieve your own goals. The twist is actually the best one in all of the segments, playing off the Paranormal Activity and Fourth Kind banging door, night vision, exploration-of-darkened-rooms-of-your-house antics quite successfully. But again we don't really know anything about the relationship here, being thrown into the middle of the situation. The boyfriend is played rather woodenly, at least compared to the actress playing the girl, and it was interesting to find out in the extras on the disc that he was an amateur actor. His slightly unconvincing and stilted, almost bored, performance does work quite well though in providing an off-key sense to his conversations with the girlfriend and especially his low key reactions to the girl showing that she has been cutting herself, and it looks as if the role might have been tailored to someone without obvious acting chops in order to make the final twist play better.

While the Swanberg segment completely throws away the 'VHS' shakeycam gimmick for a Skype-based video chat device (causing the problems with the believability of the framing story as discussed above!) that helps it fit much more into Swanberg's technology focused feature works, particularly LOL.

"10/31/98" is a light and fun but totally insubstantial way of finishing off the film, as a bunch of guys go around to a haunted house for Halloween and find it deserted, except for a strange chanting coming from upstairs. What follows takes a bit of the current trend for exorcism movies, throws in an escape from a shifting haunted house (with some neat CGI tricks that take it into the territory of the House on Haunted Hill remake) and then an ending that suggests the obvious - that they really shouldn't have saved that tied up girl in the attic after all!

So a very problematic and unsatisfying anthology, throwing a lot of half-understood (by the filmmakers) horror imagery at the wall (without explaining much of it), and seeing what will stick. The VHS gimmick is more of a hindrance than a help too, and gets abandoned almost at will, though it must have been a painstaking and logistical nightmare for all of the various directors to have kept the technique going throughout the film. Though it is interesting that the usual traits of a 'found footage' video - the tracking grain, cuts to a blank blue screen and Cloverfield-style jump cuts showing flashes of a previous film recorded underneath the one we are watching (all of which are present and correct) - really take second place to stranger repeated motifs of most of the stories from the way that they mostly start with the characters preparing for a night out or driving in cars on trips to showing insides of motel rooms and air conditioners, to characters tripping and falling over then slowly filming their feet and an approaching menacing character while lying on the ground, to the problematic use of the female characters mostly just as sex objects to be projected onto (something which is often acknowledged in the segments, but which often plays less as subversion of a camera's gaze than as a 'having your cake and eating it' attitude!)
Last edited by colinr0380 on Tue Feb 10, 2015 8:04 pm, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#1270 Post by domino harvey » Thu Jun 20, 2013 4:39 pm

colinr0380 wrote:If it is OK, I'll just keep using this thread as a place to put horror film viewings into
Well of course! Whatya think I've been using it for? *

* "A refuse bin"-- some wag

User avatar
swo17
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#1271 Post by swo17 » Thu Jun 20, 2013 4:46 pm

It's like colin and domino got trapped on the Triangle ship where the horror project never ends...

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#1272 Post by domino harvey » Thu Jul 25, 2013 4:20 pm

swo17 wrote:It's like colin and domino got trapped on the Triangle ship where the horror project never ends...
There are worse fates than being trapped with Melissa George for eternity! Hope y'all are getting something out of me sporadically participating in a half-dozen list projects at once.

Some recent viewings for this one:

the Company of Wolves (Neil Jordan 1984) Amazingly I first saw this as a kid on TNT when Joe Bob Briggs hosted it for MonsterVision. My memories of Briggs' response were akin to when Count Floyd tried to explain why he was showing a Bergman film! Surprisingly I don't think TNT edited this much or at all, so revisiting as an adult it was pretty much the same experience. Even as a kid I recognized the rather heavy-handed feminist symbolism and I wish the film had either embraced it in all aspects or just been an effective period werewolf anthology, because the existent film is the definition of uneven. But there are still highlights, like two of the creepiest (and very different) werewolf transformations ever, and the occasional evocative use of dreamy terror to gloss over the myriad of bad choices (Three words: that framing device)

Cold Prey (Roar Uthaug 2006) / Cold Prey II (Mats Stenberg 2008) Superior pair of modern day slashers via the Norwegians, each highly indebted to their 80s brethren, but not in a winking Scream fashion. The first, with ski trip teens who crash in an abandoned lodge only to run afoul of the survivalist baddie who dwells in the basement, is an above average slasher, with a fair attempt made at characterization and a slow burn towards the eventual reveal before it all comes barreling towards the wildly entertaining finale. The second film, picking up immediately after the first, wears its influences proudly-- hospital-set Halloween II and the take charge heroine-isms of Sigourney Weaver in Aliens-- and not coincidentally it's a much better film than either! Cold Prey II is super stylish, with a clear advance in budget, and some wicked jump scares, and a finale that takes a common sense approach to ending the series. Apparently there's already a contingent of horror fans who consider these among the best slashers ever, and while it's not like there's a whole lot of modern competition, they are at the very least in one of the higher tiers, especially as far as recent examples go!

I Know What You Did Last Summer (Jim Gillespie 1997) Modestly successful early bird in the post-Scream sweepstakes, this is another one I vaguely remember from childhood. This doesn't have any ambitions beyond being an above-average slasher and by that metric it's passable. Ryan Phillippe has one of the most obnoxious roles in horror movie history, so the film's at least got that going for it. Funny that Freddy Prinze Jr is barely in either this or the sequel and yet he has near-top billing.

I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (Danny Cannon 1998) Other than the odd sight of seeing John Hawkes and an unbilled Jack Black in small pre-fame roles, this slasher sequel is utterly useless. I was the target audience for this sequel when it came out and until this project I didn't even know it existed. Wish I could've kept it that way!

Venus Flytrap (T Michael 1987) Well, here's a weird one. Shot on video and running just a bit over an hour, this flick finds a trio of punks intimidating a group of hilariously milquetoast yuppies, only to discover
SpoilerShow
That the yuppies are actually twisted predators who get off on luring punks to their house and then offing them during sex!
The whole thing has a sub-Paul Bartel feel to it, and the oddly mannered acting only helps. Also, it's definitely the 80s not just in the obvious right-wing commentary but with the word choices employed as well-- some variation of the word "faggot" must pop up at least thirty times. But there are some choicer moments, like when the lead preppy, who looks like Fred from Scooby Doo, starts punching one of the punks while gritting through his teeth: "Learn… some… respect… for… society!"

User avatar
colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#1273 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Jul 27, 2013 6:45 am

The ABCs of Death (2012)

This anthology is much better than V/H/S, although just as variable in tone. It helps that the pieces are 3-5 minutes each and as such there is always going to be something else coming along pretty soon. Plus even with a limited run time a lot of the characters here are fleshed out more and the stories more fully formed and often given a moral lesson dimension, something that V/H/S notably lacked.

I'll give a quick run through of the shorts below, with my favourite letters highlighted in blood red! I'll try not to give away what each letter stands for, since part of the fun of the film is trying to guess the word before the final "A is for...", etc blocks come up at the end, often acting as an ironic punchline!

A: A tale about a murderer not wanting to be upstaged by the end of the world, this is horrific, blackly comic and (a little) touching at the end!
B: A cautionary Candyman-esque tale about not scaring the child you are babysitting with stories of monsters just to ensure that you can get time to yourself to shag your girlfriend!
C: Speaking of Triangle, this does a very similar time looping plot to that one, just involving one character and albeit mixing in a hefty dollop of David Lynch's Inland Empire/Mulholland Drive/Lost Highway 'disappearing into holes and becoming someone else'.
D: The first of many of the shorts that seem inspired by Srdjan Spasojevic's A Serbian Film (though his short comes later!). Although you could also throw Amores Perros and White Dog along with a little homage to Irreversible at the end in there too! This wordless short is kind of about an owner trying to win back the affection of his pooch the only way he knows how, I suppose!
E: Man vs Spider. Interesting that they manage to make the spider much more dignified and purposeful than the pettily cackling, furiously masturbating, Ain't It Cool News reading, human!
F: The first of many insane shorts that involves a girl and her favourite teacher escaping from an explosion of deadly volcanic gas, with the girl then declaring that the only way she wants to die involves breathing in her own teacher's gas! Can you exist in a cloud of your own self regard? This film (after a Grims Prairie Tales twist), seems to suggest that you can! I suppose this kind of thing is only to be expected from the director of Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead! Extra points awarded for the commitment to the concept that the actors show!
G: A first person perspective surfing suicide. Brief but compelling.
H: Oh dear God, how to describe this one? It'll get the furry crowd very excited! Kind of a live action Tex Avary cartoon crossed with Indiana Jones action adventure antics, Winston Churchill quotes and a bit of Nazisploitation S&M with added fox breasts and bulldog testicles.
I: A quite upsetting short involving a man injecting a woman tied up in a bathtub with petrol and then watching as she convulses and dies. Accordingly to the commentary it is apparently meant to highlight the problem of the murder of women in Mexico, but I didn't really pick that up on just watching the short.
J: A nutty but amusing piece about the (rather disrespectful!) reactions of the helper to the wildly changing facial expressions of someone committing hara-kiri, and whether he can hold his laughter back long enough to cut his master's head off cleanly! While it features a lot of over-the-top prosthetic work, the thing that most came to mind while watching this was the "Biggus....Dickus?" sequence from Life of Brian!
K: Woman vs Recalcitrant piece of poo. Another cartoony-short involving an ever escalating series of bizarre disasters and the literally crappiest nemesis someone could ever go up against. First appearance of a toilet in the shorts, of which more later.
L: Another Serbian Film-esque piece in which pairs of men strapped down to chairs have to compete in masturbation competitions against each other to stay alive, with the material that they have to bring themselves to a climax to becoming less and less...um....stimulating....as it goes.
M: Another toilet bowl takes centre stage for a gag revolving around the revelation of what "M" stands for. I liked the fixed camera positions following the woman around her apartment looking for a plunger!
N: One of the oldest gags in the book, as a guy bringing a talking bird home to his girl finds it saying more than it should about what he has been up to away from her!
O: By far the best short of all (and the one that is worth watching the entire film for), this involves a woman blowing beautifully multi-coloured but delicate and short lived soap bubbles of ecstasy before being caressed and strangled by a leather gloved killer. A stunningly beautiful, highly textural, yet abstract giallo-homage.
P: Another great short, this manages to compress what could be a 90 minute story of a woman struggling against the odds to support her family into a fast-paced series of wordless shots capturing all of the essential information necessary for the audience. A little masterpiece in showing just how little you need to show to convey the basic structure of a story that anyone making a three hour drama should see and learn from. It also features the cutest onscreen animals of the year! (EDIT: A little disturbingly this appears to be inspired by real goings on)
Q: The first of two meta-episodes about filmmakers trying to figure out what their segment should be about. It is OK with an amusing payoff.
R: Srdjan Spasojevic's short is another allegorical howl of protest against mistreatment, although here it is about the mistreatment of the medium of film itself, embodied in a person being regularly stripped of their skin. Fascinating but rather strange, I would highly recommend watching this with the commentary track on, in which in another meta-use of the medium of film rather than describing the process of making the film Spasojevic seems to be describing in voice over the inner monologue of the onscreen film-man!
S: An amusing girl power, gunplay, road trip piece about trying to cheat death and mythologise yourself in order to escape from darker truths. Ultimately death is the liberating escape, and a blessing in disguise.
T: Another moral tale, this time in claymation, about the way forcing someone to move on before they are ready to do so (and of not showing compassion to their fears) can end up backfiring spectacularly. The ultimate expression of the toilet theme in the shorts! Like K it also shows another terribly undignified way to die!
U: As with G this is another first person perspective piece, taking the perspective of the villain of the piece and actually making us feel quite sorry for them by the end!
V: A neat sci-fi epic with machine gunning robots, an society where the birth rate is controlled, psychic mind control and the return of the messiah in the form of a baby who immediately gets shot to pieces but whose detached head retains its psychic powers! I'd love to see this one expanded out into a feature!
W: The other meta-episode where not knowing what to do for "W" turns into doing anything and everything. I also recommend the commentary for this one which in a Schizopolis-kind of twist features the director talking in detail about their short while another person sarcastically makes fun of them after every sentence ("Oh yeah, I bet you had trouble thinking of what to do. Blah, blah, blah, boobily doo", and so on!) Much like the film itself the commentary ends up having a surreal breakdown at the end point too!
X: This along with O is the very best short. A great piece about body image and the way that plumper members of society are demonised by the media and just people in general on the street (this film gets at that weird trend of people not seeming to have any empathy with strangers on the street, instead just talking as if the other person cannot hear them or be affected by their words), with a fantastically brutal "Is this what you want?" howl of self-hate and self-mutilation at the end. Every slimming advert, magazine photoshoot, or news report blithely tackling the 'problem' of obesity should watch this and feel ashamed of themselves.
Y: A child abuse themed piece equating hunting animals with hunting the kids at the local school (both getting 'blooded'), along with a strange transference of power at the end. Has the abused boy performed his vengeance or is he preparing to become a new, deer-themed, serial killer menacing his community at the end. It feels like a kind of Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers-type origin story, perhaps emphasised by the fantastic 80s-style electronic soundtrack driving the action.
Z: How to end such a bizarre, eclectic, by turns comic and disturbing series of shorts? Another nutty Japanese piece from the director of Tokyo Gore Police of course! A strange mix of Nazis (equated with America - as in cultural imperialism?), fight scenes involving a woman wielding a gigantic phallus with a springloaded knife in the tip, gouts of spraying blood, something about Kunta Kinte, root vegetables propelled through the air by Kegel manoeuvres before landing into a stew pot, someone getting punched in the face by a pair of breasts, the glorious majesty of a perfect rice dish created by ejaculation, something about 9/11 (with the twin towers on one breast and the plane on the other, getting slapped together) and something about the Japanese tsunami (painted on buttocks), all overseen by a man seemingly a close relation of Dr Strangelove!

An excellent anthology film. Writing this up I was surprised at how many of the films that I thought were good, and even those I didn't colour blood red are worth a watch in themselves. I was also impressed at just how wide the definition of 'horror' got here, from dark little pieces like G to something like W or Z which are disturbing for just how crazy they go, suggesting that the filmmaker's themselves must be insane!


Anyway my top five letter picks are : O, X, P, U, Y
Last edited by colinr0380 on Fri Aug 23, 2019 3:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Mr Sausage
Not PETA approved
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Canada

Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#1274 Post by Mr Sausage » Sat Jul 27, 2013 7:51 am

colin wrote:O: By far the best short of all (and the one that is worth watching the entire film for), this involves a woman blowing beautifully multi-coloured but delicate and short lived soap bubbles of ecstasy before being caressed and strangled by a leather gloved killer. A stunningly beautiful, highly textural, yet abstract giallo-homage.
Maybe you'll agree, but much like similar happenings in the pair's Amer, I don't think the woman is either blowing bubbles or being strangled. These are visual metaphors for a larger idea. The conceit of the short is the same as the one that informs the phrase le petit mort: O is for orgasm, and an orgasm is a kind of death. Sex and death, erotic and violent ecstasy become hopelessly intertwined. If there is a literal narrative here, it's two conventional lovers having conventional sex. But their sex, specifically her ecstasy (this is not a film about male pleasure), keeps provoking figurative images, the bubbles, radical shifts in colour, and a blurring of erotic with violent images, so that the male lover is alternately a pleasurer and a torturer/killer. The impression that builds is that certain forms of pleasure can be as extreme as violent death (maybe even vice versa), but also delicate and mutable (hence the bubbles)--and the movie's style rockets us between the delicate knife-edge of achieving orgasm and the violent, frenzied aspect of giving in to its building rhythms. What's clever about all this is the appropriation of giallo imagery, since the genre has always connected sex and death. It's the perfect genre for this kind of exploration.

User avatar
colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

Re: The Horror List Discussion and Suggestions (Genre Projec

#1275 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Jul 27, 2013 8:16 am

Yes, I absolutely agree with your reading as much more of a metaphor than a real murder (making it an interesting contrast to I, where the metaphor doesn't really come through quite as well) but was just trying to get around saying "O is for Orgasm(e)"! There is also an interesting drug trip, heightened senses (shifting fluidly from extremes of pleasure to shock) feel to the piece as well.

According to the commentary the lead actress here, Manon Beuchot, is also going to feature in Cattet and Forzani's next feature film, The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears.

Post Reply