Friday, December 28, 2012

One A Week Reviews #52: Event Horizon

This is one of my wallowing, walk-through reviews but what else does one have time for on a holiday weekend? Many, many spoilers ahead, along with some wisecracking. Enjoy, and Happy New Year!

My memories of seeing Event Horizon when it first came out on VHS are pretty hazy, so I was curious to see what my opinion would be catching it 14 years later and on Blu-Ray.

First off, 14 years of evolving CGI means even a fairly luxe, big-budget flick like this doesn't age well for the eye. That said, the effects here get points for creativity. The vertiginous, twirling pull-back from the Daylight Space Station remains a marvel. Sam Neill's Dr. Weir(d) joins the crew of the Lewis and Clark, whose Captain Miller is Laurence Fishburne. Maybe not A-list actors, but the film has a bunch of A-list talent. Kathleen Quinlan, Joley Richardson, Jason Isaacs, and Sean Pertwee also bring perhaps more skill than this Sci-Fi gore-fest really deserves.

Dr. Weir, a man plagued by hallucinations and grief over his wife's death, joins the L&C's crew in a mission to meet the Event Horizon, a secret test vessel that could travel faster-than-light by "folding space/time." It was lost seven years ago (an occurrence kept on the down-low) only to reappear now sans-crew near Neptune. First, there's 57 days of suspended animation travel time, which I've always thought an obviously painless diet opportunity. When they do awaken, they find out the ship they're saving sent one last shriek-filled message. At this point, it's pretty damn clear they've made a HUGE mistake heading out to meet this ship.

(Gory Pictures and Muddled Opinions on "Hellraiser in Space" are dead ahead!)

Looking for Charlie

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The Angels (and other Christmas decorations) will probably get put away this weekend. Perhaps this one is  looking for Charlie?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Jay's Movie of the Week #51: 247°F

Four young people, alone out in the woods, wind up locked into a sweltering sauna that becomes an oven in 247°F, a film based on an event in Georgia (not the state, the country). In reality, the trapped friends did not die. Will their fictional counterparts face so good a fate? What do you think?

Judging from the initial idea,, you'd expect claustrophobia to play into the story, but 247°F squanders that right off the bat. By setting the story in a hot box larger than my living room, you have practical film making, but no sense of being "trapped." It turns out that the special effect of wavy heat lines and actors panting while repeating "it's hot" doesn't really turn up the anxiety. "Hot" and "drunk" lose some effectiveness in medium-to-wide shots. (That said, with proper staging, this could be a very effective stage thriller.)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Jay's Movie of the Week #50: Dark Shadows (2012)

Barnabas Collins: What is your age?
Carolyn Stoddard: Fifteen.
Barnabas Collins: Fifteen, and no husband? You must put those child-bearing hips to good use, lest your womb shrivel up and die.

The Dark Shadows phenomenon was lightning in the pop culture bottle, something remembered and revisited by fans, acquiring occasional new ones, but never truly recaptured. Tim Burton's 1972-set camp creation plays gothic fantasy for deadpan laughs, with Johnny Depp's Barnabas Collins a prim, loquacious fish out of water. The core story is the same: the spurned Angelique is secretly a witch who turns Barnabas into a vampire who is promptly imprisoned for 200 years. Upon his return, he sets out to return the family to glory and woo his old love, reincarnated as the governess. This go-round features Angelique as a power-suited business woman who has happily driven the Collins family into a genteel, aristocratic poverty over two centuries.

Depp is terrific, and clearly having a wonderful time. His look is incredibly respectful to Jonathan Frid's, while also seeming to invoke Michael Jackson; as if his Willy Wonka was anemic. Perhaps surprisingly, he's constantly blown off the screen by Eva Green. Her Angelique is a hoot, and very physical. All eyes and limbs (and teeth), she nails every move and moment of comic camp villainy; a delicate, tiny china doll somehow filled with enormous insanity and voracious need. You literally can not look away when she's in a scene. Her performance? C'est vraiment manifique. I don't often focus in on individual actors, but many here stand out. It's an impressive feat considering the overpowering set and aesthetics.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Jay's Movie of the Week #49: Private Parts (1972)

The standards for a residential hotel in 1972 couldn't have been very high, judging by how filthy one is in 1972's Private Parts. Before teaming up with Mary Woronov, Paul Bartel's first film casts a jaded, perverse eye on a group of very unusual hotel residents in the first of what would be a long career of films about the sexually repressed acting out (Eating Raoul, Scenes From a Class Struggle in Beverly Hills). Young runaway Cheryl (Ann Ruymen) gets thrown out by her roommate after she's caught peeping on the roomie getting her 70's free-love groove on and winds up at Aunt Martha's (Lucille Benson) skid-row flophouse. This endearing Auntie keeps a pet rat and takes pictures at funerals (and, of course, much more). Bartel fills the rest of the hotel with freaky residents like a naughty priest (Laurie Main) and George (John Ventantonio), a mysterious photographer who intrigues Cheryl.

When the young and impulsive Cheryl finds presents like a dirty potboiler manuscript and an incredibly tacky negligee, she should've run screaming. Instead, she's a romantic teenager with a bent towards the perverse. Neither creaking floors nor lurking neighbors are going to stop her from creating a mysterious adventure out of an environment that would terrify anyone old enough to know better. She also meets a nice boy in Jeff (Stanley Livingston, famous as "My Three Son's" Chip Douglas), who really isn't equipped for a girl like Cheryl, who is more into the tall, dark pornographer George. While all this is going on, someone is also killing off the hotel's visitors and residents, though that dread is almost secondary to finding out where Chery's sexual awakenings are going to lead her...

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Jay's Movie of the Week #48: The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)

This movie lives up to it's vile billing. I'll give it that much. Originally reviewed for dvdsnapshot, and now being actively scrubbed from my memory.

Official Synopsis:

The wait is over for the most controversial movie of the year: The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence), Tom Six's follow-up to his original cult horror smash!

The opening night selection of Fantastic Fest 2011, the film ups the ante with a brute force unparalleled in motion pictures today. The iconic Dr. Heiter has inspired a real-life protégé, the sickly, disturbed security guard Martin – who takes his gory inspiration from the original film to horrific new extremes...and one-ups the doctor with his pièce de résistance, a 12-person human centipede of his own. Ashlyn Yennie, star of TheHuman Centipede (First Sequence), returns in this no-holds-barred assault on the senses, presented here totally uncut and uncensored!

Our Take:

Similar to Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows, Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) starts with the conceit that the first film is “just a movie” within the story. The ending of the first film was hopeless, but implied the survivor just might get saved in the end. Here, that minimal, stylish first film has inspired a dark, dingy, black and white “by necessity” neo-realist gorefest completely lacking in redeeming qualities or hope for humanity. You don't watch The Human Centipede films to be entertained so much as to recognize the fact that someone made them at all.