Saturday, January 29, 2011

Review Haiku: Enter the Void (2009), Severance (2006), Dead Silence (2007)

Enter The Void:
Trainspotting, but French. 
Just slow it down by one-third 
and add heaps of sex. 
(PS - I loved this movie)

Uneven farce from
Director Chris Smith. Go watch
Triangle instead.

Dead Silence:
The creepy dummies
Illicit a few scares, but
Looks cheap and dumb script.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I will say nothing about the 2006 short film Bugcrush other than to say it is the only gay themed horror movie that I've seen that ... well ...
... succeeds. Not only succeeds, but brilliantly so. The main character is an innocent, naive, but bold gay teen Ben ...
... whose inner demon becomes flesh in the form of, well, this guy ...
No more words will come from my lips. It's only 34 minutes long and it's right .... here ...

Part 1:

Bugcrush. Part 1
Uploaded by ovejaelectronica. - Full seasons and entire episodes online.

Part 2:

Bugcrush. Part 2
Uploaded by ovejaelectronica. - Check out other Film & TV videos.

Part 3:

Bugcrush. Part 3
Uploaded by ovejaelectronica. - Classic TV and last night's shows, online.

You can breathe now.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Red State Trailer

I've never been a huge Kevin Smith fan. His "Catholic guy trying to balance out his faith with his love of pussy and fag and dick jokes" just never really did much for me.

But this kind of Kevin Smith movie I can get into ...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Review: The Loved Ones (2010)

So, I got my mitts on a screener of The Loved Ones – the newish Aussie indie horror sensation. Being a giver, I burned a DVD copy for my blog buddy JA over at My New Plaid Pants. Even though I'd already watched it and scribbled down notes for this here blog post, I joked that he’d probably have a blog post up before I did, because he's fast and prolific and I’m … well … lazy.

 slow and steady wins the race, right?

So then like five seconds after I dropped the DVD into the mailbox ... JA had already watched it and posted a review on his blog … and what a wondrous review it was. Funny, intelligent, personal, sweet, grounded in sensation, and seemingly created in the length of time it will take me to decide how to end this sentence.

So naturally, my first thought was …


"jake gyllenhall and ryan gosling jello wrestling naked...stop. 
greta gerwig is the face of god ... stop."

I felt inferior, useless, ashamed. My inner Piper Laurie popped up and taunted me: “THEY’RE GONNA LAUGH AT YOU … THEY’RE GONNA LAUGH AT YOU … THEY’RE GONNA LAUGH AT YOU …” Even my inner Uncle Arthur showed up to crack wise.

"you blog like betty white power walks..."

Then shame turned naturally to anger. It wasn't fair. Damn him, damn his new plaid pants, and double-damn his ceaseless blogging competence. Yes, I went ugly. I even briefly contemplated revenge.

"...and michael fassbender has skinny legs!"

But thanks to some nifty impulse control and a deep seated fear of what happens to skinny, blond, laser-printer-paper white boys in jail, I knew not to act out this irrational flash of shame and anger. Because part of being a mature and sane person is learning to treat that little inner crazy jealous voice like the street corner Jesus freak that it is. You politely smile and continue walking down the sidewalks of your brain without paying mind to their mad barking.

Which brings me back, finally, to The Loved Ones. (SPOILERS AHEAD)

The Loved Ones gives us a new pink-eyeshadowed koo-koo-bananas to add to the horror cannon: Lola.

"When she squeezed me tight she nearly broke my spine. Oh my Lola"

Lola is neither mature nor sane and she does not ignore and dismiss her inner mad ravings. Nope. When she hears that inner crazy jealous voice, it's a Call to Action! So it makes perfect sense, then, that her response to a polite rejection for the prom would consist of the following: Kidnap. Incapacitate. Torture. Lobotomize.

The unlucky object of Lola’s affection is Brent. Writer/director Sean Byrne had the novel idea of making Brent … er … likable. There is really nothing not to like about Brent. He digs death metal, his dog and rock climbing. He lost his Dad through no fault of his own, but still blames himself and is borderline suicidal about it. Even when he rejects Lola, he is incredibly considerate of her feelings. He is not one of the typical bags of douche that we are accustomed to seeing and not caring about in modern horror movies (cough … Hostel ... cough … Friday the 13th). Brent is a real relatable kid with a loving worried mother and a sweet girlfriend who just want him to heal from the trauma of his father’s accidental death.

 Eddie Vedder called. He wants his early 90s angst back.. 

So not only do we like our protagonist Brent, but writer/director Byrne also sets up his antagonists as his perfect psychological foils. Lola becomes Brent’s tormenter, but she is also the manifestation of Brent’s own self-hatred . She is the homicidal outer demon to match his suicidal inner demon. Her parents … known only as Daddy and Brighteyes (love that name so much I am dry humping it with my brain) … are a Oedipal/Electra funhouse mirror reflection of his own family drama.

turn around brighteyes.

And you have to give it up for homegirl. Robin McLeavy’s Lola is one of my favorite horror performances of the past umpteen years. She is heartbreaking, ball-busting, and wicked with a nice dollop of freaky sex perv for good measure. She devours every scene she is in and then licks her garishly pink chops.

i like em tall, dark, and tortured

But TLO is by no means perfect. There are issues. First and foremost, we know where our bad guys/girls are at all times, so there is not a lot of good old fashioned “where is the killer?” tension and fear … except for one scene where a cop enters the blood-spattered house (without calling for backup, naturally) and forgets to … er … look behind him. Also there was a B-story that involved Brent’s stoner friend going to the dance which, while somewhat entertaining, served no purpose and never married up with the A-story.

However, The Loved Ones still rocks.  We care about our protagonist and his inner and outer torment. We see that he has a family that cares about him and is worried when he goes missing (when have you ever seen that in a modern horror movie? Try never!).  We are entertained by demonic Lola and her incestuous family, but we are also given sympathetic glimpses into the root of her evil (but our loyalties are always with Brent).

So when The Loved Ones is finally released in the US,  don't walk, run. 

run lola run

If you have a sick mind like mine, you'll probably enjoy it, though you may never look at a tea kettle the same way again.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

PSYCHO-Babble: Phantasm (1979)

I miss the Drive-Ins of my misspent youth. The rows of gargly metal speaker boxes. The seven story screens. The rusted playground filled with broken glass at it's foot.

If I was to cast a cynical eye, I could attach a metaphor to that sad little playground. Something about my lost innocence. Fractured psyche. Blah, blah, blah. I guess that could be true, but would also be kind of boring. I prefer to look at it a different way.

The Drive-Ins were where the most lurid and dark aspects of my own self found a home. Boobs the size of buicks. Buckets of entrails gushing out of body cavities. Cars honking their approval of every depraved moment. Sex. Violence. Giant garish communial projections of the animal nature within us that we labor to repress.

And thanks to this venue for double and triple featured grindhouse cheapies, many filmmakers used the horror genre to create classic visions of horror. Tobe Hooper's Texas Chainsaw Massacre. John Carpenter's Halloween. George Romero's Dawn of the Dead. Wes Craven's Last House on the Left. Without studio heads and test audiences, these filmmakers were able to get as close as possible to transmitting their nightmares directly to their audiences, with only their limited budgets as barriers.

What was even more interesting than these highly regarded grindhouse classics were the ones that were less successful. These films also reflected a personal and twisted vision, but didn't work quite as well and have failed to register in the cannon of classic horror. But because of their sheer wierdness, they definitely stood out from the pack. I'm thinking of Charles Kaufman's Mother's Day and, most definitely, Don Coscarelli's Phantasm.

We open on Tommy, sporting some Quinn Martin Production sideburns. He's at Morningside Cemetery getting busy with a trashy blonde who is looking all Andrea True Connection with her blue eyeshadow and white pumps.

Clearly queludes are involved, because the boning movement is so slight I'm thinking actual penetration is not possible. Which may be all for the good, because after she stabs Tommy to death she turns into (lightning, thunder) The Tall Man.

So now we meet Tommy's brother. AKA Jody. AKA Seventies sex on legs.

Yeah, his hair is parted down the middle. Yeah, his bellbottoms are tight and his wavy brown locks hang down over his ears. (Later we learn he drives a Black 'stang. He's just that hot. You just know he read for Greg Evigan's part in BJ and the Bear and came this close.).

He's at Tommy's funeral with his best friend and jam session parter: Baldy McPonytail. BM also happens to drive an ice cream truck for reasons that will not become clear later.

We also meet Michael, his high strung younger brother who rides a dirt bike and is watching the funeral from afar via field glasses. He wasn't invited to the funeral because he still hasn't gotten over the death of his parents and is expressing his submerged rage with a super annoying haircut.

Suffice it to say, things get wierd. Set pieces include, but are not limited to:

An Old Witch who looks like Ozzy Osbourne:

The iconic Flying Metal Ball of Death:

Zombie jawa dwarves:

A parallel universe slave planet accessed by giant tuning forks:

Yes, Giant Fracking Tuning Forks:

As a 10-year-old rake of a horror nerd, I was mesmerized by Phantasm. Sitting in a lawn chair next to my Dad's Chevy Nova at Neponset Circle drive-in, shoveling handfuls of greasy stove-popped popcorn, riding out the sugar rush of five Stop and Shop Orange sodas, I related to Michael's sense of alienation, his fear of abandonment, his call to the dark side, his questionable grooming choices.

His nemesis The Tall Man represented everything that a 10-year-old fears: old mean people, death, even sex (when he was donning his disco diva drag). And the creepy theme music, with its hints of Rosemary's Baby, Halloween, and Suspiria. Synthesizery and oh-so-seventies really gets under your skin.

And it's not a stretch to see a little of teh gay in Phantasm land. Phantasm is a world of men. Women were either villainous or witchy, but not a main part of the core world. This is quite unusual for horror, which generally favors a "girl-in-trouble" plot structure.

And, whether intentional of not, Phantasm provided images that would play like a series of coming attractions for the archetypes that would take up permanent residence in my gay psyche for years to come:

EXHIBIT A: Before Frosty McEyeshadow pulls out her tits like a couple of raw chicken cutlets, we are treated to a shot of Jody's ass. It's brief, but I remember that it got my attention. It still has some type of magical talisman-like quality over me. I believe if I held it in my hand I might be able to fly, talk to the dead, or predict the future.

EXHIBIT B: There is that whole ending scene where Michael sees The Tall Man as a reflection in his closet and is then pulled into his closet by demon hands. 

Again, intentional or not it was certainly an image that would hold increasing resonance as the onslaught of gay puberty headed my way.

EXHIBIT C: It's tempting to make a crude joke about the balls flying at one's head in this movie, but seriously ... look at this thing. I mean. C'mon.

And then after it gets, er, inserted into homeboy's skull, um ... this happens.

I'm just saying.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

What I Did on my Christmas Vacation....

What I did not do is blog. Sorry. But I did manage to squeeze in a decent amount of horror flicks.

You better not f-in pout, bitch.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale:
A fine little Finnish chiller about an annoying young Bjorkish child who stumbles into a fiendish plot to unearth the real Santa Claus, who is a giant child-eating demon trapped in a mountain across the Russian border. (And no, I'm not kidding.) It's old-fashioned Spielberg-esque horror that takes you up to the edge of darkness, but doesn't plunge you into the abyss. A fun trifle with some memorable visuals.

Why do I feel like I'm forgetting something?

This is really an underground gem. A single mother gets on a sailboat with a guy she barely knows and his suspicious friends. Truly clever, inventive and fascinating to watch. Its twists and turns reminded me of other mind-bending thrillers with unreliable narrators like Jacob's Ladder and Angel Heart. I've seen some complaints that it doesn't make any sense, but everything you need to know is there. Highly recommended. Director Christopher Smith is one to watch.

Do you notice me now?

Lake Mungo:
OK, warning. This one moves pretty slow. It is in documentary style,but not in a queasy-stomach inducing shaky camera way. The story of a teen girl who drowned and her family that sees her apparition everywhere is all about understated performance and beautiful, haunting, lingering visuals. If you have the patience for it, it reveals itself to be an effective meditation on loss and family and how difficult it is to get close to those we love while they are still among the living.

Cheap Real Estate. Hidden Costs.

Eden Lake:
Eden Lake takes you deep into the abyss and at every turn gives you hope for escape, then plunges you deeper into depravity and hopelessness. The story about a sweet school teacher and her gorgeous, but insecure boyfriend on a doomed trip to the exurbs does not let anyone off the hook, including the viewer. In this film, violence corrupts everyone. It's like a mash up of Deliverance, Straw Dogs and Kids, with a sprinkling of Martyrs. It's very disturbing, but I found it also quite effective. After our final girl has finally been pushed to the brink and strikes back, the result is heartbreaking and deeply disturbing. You won't be cheering on her violent revenge, nor will you leave you with a happy feeling about humanity.

Will and Holly, get me that crystal!

The Descent 2:
It pains me to see that this awful sequel was written by the same guy who wrote and directed Eden Lake. Where the original depended on the subtle relationships of a group of strong women, the remake runs a bunch of unlikeable "douchebags you find in a horror movie" through the same set pieces. The original gave us a Final Girl (Sarah) who was quite possibly mad and quite possibly the killer with all of the murderous "crawlers" just part of her own dementia. The sequel brings her back looking spooked and having convenient amnesia about the events in Part 1. Then things unfurl in a predictable and unsatisfying way. (Even the return of fan favorite Juno is as flat and anti-climactic as Marion Crane's return in Indiana Jones versus the Flying Saucer.) The caves are lit like a Sid and Marty Kroft production. You expect a sleestak to round the corner at any minute. Come to think of it, a sleestak might have made the whole affair a might bit scarier.