Category — horror
Ahh… the darkness is upon us and it’s time to revel in all things macabre. ’tis the season for Mario Bava, champion of the grand guignol, a man who invented the slasher (i.e. the cinematic giallo) and brought a theatricality to genre filmmaking that was at once both intimate and epic. Feast your eyes on this fantastic opening scene from one of his finest films – Black Sunday (1960) aka Mask of Satan. Barbara Steele was made an instant star as the evil witch in one of the true must-see-films of any self-respecting cinephile’s genre education. There’s nothing quite like this movie, with it’s bombastic narration, heavy use of ADR voiceover over non-English speakers, and spare yet effective sound design. Everything here is over the top: the dialogue: “and as your brother I repudiate you!” The glorious black and white cinematography, shadows dancing over spikes and a set-bound magical world filled with fake trees and endless mist. I especially love the shot in which the black hooded executioner carries the spiked mask directly out into the audience – implicating us in the impending violence… and I even more especially love the blood which spurts forth when the mallet goes THWACK! Deliciousness! Happy Halloween everyone!
October 31, 2012 No Comments
Nobody’s arguing that this shameless Alien knockoff is any good. But the fact of the matter is that it’s not totally unwatchable either. There are several redeeming factors in William Malone‘s Creature (1985) – namely the presence of scenery chewing Klaus Kinski in a teeny-tiny-itsy-bitsy role, some serviceable Fangoria moments that’ll satisfy gorehounds, and above all – wait for it – the presence of an exploding head! Which of course brings the grand total in IOC‘s boom-capitation series to six (6) – and we haven’t even begun to look at the Scanners trilogy and spin-offs yet! The story of a space crew that travels to Titan and inadvertently awakens a creature who’s been sleeping for like a million centuries is one I’d recommend to horror completists only – or cellulo-masochists who enjoy flicks like Troll 2. This scene, however, is a different story – so if you can stand a bit of gore feast your eyes on some ‘splodin’ noodles.
September 25, 2012 No Comments
A cult favorite that’s full of some truly stunning images of the Australian outback, Russell Mulcahy‘s Razorback (1984) is something of a mixed bag – not good enough to be classified as a classic but better than your run-of-the-mill creature-features. The story of a ginormous boar terrorizing the Australian outback, it’s a somewhat cliched affair which overachieves thanks to its director’s visual acumen – just as his Highlander (1986) would a coupla years later. Mulcahy – who recently bowed out of his own script for target=”_blank”>Bait -was the original MTV auteur, having directed “ target=”_blank”>Video Killed the Radio Star” for The Buggles, and brings a ton of gloss and style without the blatant disregard for storytelling most music-video alumni tend to exhibit. Check out this fun scene in which the Razorback rips apart a trailer. Then go find the flick and watch it – and then go book a trip to Australia to hunt giant boar.
September 18, 2012 1 Comment
Well it finally came, and it finally went- one of the more anticipated of the summer tent-poles, the much anticipated return of director Ridley Scott to the Alien franchise (and the sci-fi/horror genre which put him on the map)- 2012’s Prometheus. Isle Of Cinema scribes Amber Wilson & Rockie Juarez attended the midnight showing at Alamo Drafthouse, seeing it in 3-D, while Boaz Dror watched it a week later, in that other, “lesser” D. Here the three of them take on the originator’s return to the cosmos populated by those iconic H.R. Giger baddies.
AMBER - I’m going to start by mentioning Terry Gilliam – a director with insurmountable creativity who doesn’t always follow through in his execution, and whose films can be something of a mess. To my mind Ridley Scott is the polar opposite – a director whose execution is flawless, but whose work I sometimes find lacking in creativity. And though it’s no Robin Hood or Body of Lies, Prometheus suffers from this lack of creative spark – falling somewhere between those two films in the director’s canon – the execution amazing, the cinematography & the 3D stunning. And despite having a story with themes that are not altogether original (faith vs science, technology vs man, etc.), it doesn’t detract from the experience of watching this film. I was simultaneously disturbed and riveted by this movie- most of the creatures resemble genitalia (a common element in sci-fi movies nowadays) and I almost squirmed down to the floor to hide under my seat several times (this is DEFINITELY a body movie). I must say the performances are fantastic: Michael Fassbender is reliably phenomenal as the android David, Idris Elba is… just so cool, and Noomi Rapace is my new favorite bad-ass survivor chick. I don’t want to spoil anything about the plot – I know it’s flawed, and the reason for many negative reviews – but GO SEE IT ANYWAYS. IN 3-D. WITH A DROOL CUP FOR WHEN FASSBENDER MAKES YOU GIDDY. Simply stated, Prometheus is engrossing as all get out, its world is worth exploring (both metaphorically and literally), and it has actors you (should) like. So take your girlfriends and watch ‘em squirm!
ROCKIE – Ridley Scott returning to sci-fi is a huge deal. Unfortunately for the world he’s been decades away from the genre, lost in a land of swords and sandals, horses and crossbows, and bodies of lies. Fans have damn near yearned themselves silly for a glimpse of the dark, multi-layered futures that put him on the map. So naturally poor Prometheus has a truly tall mountain to climb; that of our pent-up expectations. The one two punch that is Alien and Blade Runner have left people woozy, more to the point, inspired for decades. How do you top that? Simply put: you don’t. Scott and this polished slab of sci-fi horror aren’t really out to do that – this film is designed to keep the xenomorph saga mysterious by stacking on two questions on every one it answers. And though it’ll frustrate most, this trait is actually what I found the most stimulating about Prometheus. While this film is loaded with all the best bits of an ‘Alien’ ride (incredible spaceships, horrible situation, tough female lead, suspect android, slimy squiddy creepy crawlers, etc.), it still manages to keep tons of its lore secret. For that alone I applaud it. Prometheus is my favorite kind of story: the one where you dig too deep and unearth the worst results. Like the Cloverfield monster or the Balrog before it, it’s about the horrors you unearth that threaten not only your own survival but also that of millions of others. It’s in no way a flawless picture, or the culmination of all things science-fiction that we hoped for, but it is a badass piece of rated-R creature-feature, meant to make you writhe in your seats in a summer of superheroes. The 3-D works, smooth and subtle throughout, and adds to the intensity of every scene. But either way – in 2d or 3d – it gets my recommendation!
BOAZ - Like The Phantom Menace, Prometheus suffers from the fact that it was a surefire $100 million-grosser, no matter how good it was or wasn’t going to be. There’s simply no way we (sci-fi nerds) weren’t lining up like lemmings to see this movie. But the sad thing is that with a little more effort it could’ve been great – because even with all its many faults it remains beautiful and spectacular – a testament to Ridley Scott’s direction. So why isn’t it great – or even good for that matter? Simple. There are just too many ideas in this movie, none of them ever forming a recognizable, unified whole. Face-huggers have been supplanted by new fandangled “mouth tunnelers” for no real good reason and new mythologies have been caked over the old mythology, not to elaborate or improve but simply to compete for attention. The movie opens sublimely enough, with a beautiful “Alien Martyrdom” scene you’d expect to see in a 70’s Heavy Metal magazine, but then takes a nosedive with unnecessary subplots, unsympathetic characters bordering on the unlikeable, and a WTF? scene in which our suddenly 3-month pregnant lead performs a Caesarian on herself, only to then run around for the rest of the movie (after tearing through all the muscles in her abdomen). This is preceded by some surprisingly lazy exposition in which her scientist boyfriend insults her by conveniently forgetting she’s infertile (his line something akin to “these aliens are so not-infertile”), and this awkward two-step is an early guffaw the film never really overcomes. And don’t get me started on the black goo – the Midi-Chlorians of the Alien franchise – a pointless reach for some Kubrickian 2001- like importance that falls flat. Did I enjoy it? Begrudgingly – I enjoy all of Ridley Scott’s films for their sheer beauty and visual virtuosity. But will it ever be mentioned in the same breath as movies 1 & 2? [me taking a new breath]. Absolutely not. And that’s all we poor lemmings have been clamoring for. : (
June 20, 2012 No Comments