Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Disco Exorcist: Jay's Movie of the Week #8

What is the cut-off for historical costume drama? The Disco Exorcist wears all the trappings to reenact a Seventies drive-in movie, from the Grindhouse-style effects that “damage the print” to the clothes, pacing, and score. The hair (especially lead Michael Reed's wig) is never quite right, and the stage blood is of too recent a vintage, but a lot of love went into capturing the style. There are exceptions, but the naked girls snorting coke with our “dashing” stud of a protagonist, Rex Romanski, can be forgiven their blue and pink hair.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Valentine (2001): Jay's Movie of the Week #7

The slights of childhood tend to stick with a person. However, holding a grudge from a middle school dance and turning it into a murder spree is a tad much. Valentine was part of the post-Scream slasher revival and something of a flop. Most importantly, it's a hoot to recount for you now, complete with snark, especially on so timely an occasion (says the boy who meant to post this one day after Valentine's, not four).
Back in the sixth grade, Shelley, Lily, Paige, and Kate all shoot down super-dork Jeremy's invitation to dance, while barely tolerated social pariah (just guessing based on her later behavior) Dorothy finally accepts. When a gaggle of boys start mocking them, she smartly errs on the side of surviving the social jungle and turns on Jeremy, who winds up stripped and beaten in front of the whole school. Thirteen (and shouldn't it always be that many?) years later...

Shelly (the always-alienating Katherine Heigl) is going on the sort of ridiculously overdressed "Fancy" dates that the teen audience aimed for here would imagine for such sophisticated Med School ladies. Along with shooting down douchy guys, she also likes to expose herself to blood-borne pathogens when doing late night, darkly lit autopsy homework (which doesn't even make sense in the movie, much less in the explanation). After getting a threatening Valentine (a charming custom made card that would probably have a nice life outside of this film) from a red-herring jump-scare dude, she finds herself being stalked. After a little of the old cat and mouse, she's quickly dispatched by our cherub-masked hero, who's post-kill signature is, of all things, a nosebleed. Keep it in mind, it'll come up later.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bong of the Dead: Jay's Movie of the Week #6


Zombie movies are pervasive enough to factor audience assumptions into their storytelling. Shots to the head, brain-eating, slow shuffling; we hold these truths to be self-evident. Similarly, we accept that the foolish might not only survive, but be rewarded with truly bad-ass chicks for their efforts. (That some of the zombies are downright chatty might not, however, be as palatable to genre purists.)

In Bong of the Dead,Tommy (Jy Harris) and Edwin (Mark Wynn) have ridden out the zombie apocalypse baked, perhaps a perfectly sensible response to the circumstances. (The line between empathizing and mockery is thin for the sober viewer.) So inebriated, they make a logic leap which leads to a Monsanto-worthy moment of marijuana magic. As suspension of disbelief rules in the land of the dead, why can't reanimated brains be the secret ingredient for fertilizing some truly fine bud? There's also a lot of horsing around during the end of the world; this movie could be twenty minutes tighter, but it's a drug comedy. Hijinks had during their meandering road trip to obtain more zombie gray matter for whipping up their green goo are perfectly permissible. Along the way, they acquire Leah (Simone Bailly). She's an aggressive, shotgun-toting, Sarah Connor-inspired beauty straight out of a teenage boy's Sci-Fi dreams.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Headspace (Director's Cut): Jay's Movie of the Week #5

A little belated, coming after the weekend and all, but that's the way the Editorial Calendar crumbles sometimes...

Andrew van den Houten has certainly earned horror fandom's indulgence as a producer on The Woman, Home Movie, and Jack Ketcham's The Girl Next Door and the director of Offspring. As president of Moderncine, he gets to indulge himself with this director's cut of his 2005 film, Headspace (with about an hour of extras packed on the disc) which itself must withstand big expectations from that same fan base he's earned with his later work (providing you haven't seen the prior DVD release).

The story here involves aimless young house sitter Alex Borden (Christopher Denham), whose childhood was ruined when doting parents played by Larry Fessenden and Sean Young (briefly seen but hugely memorable) have a “shotgun divorce” on his 11th birthday. Nearly 15 years later, he starts exhibiting what most would assume to be the symptoms of incipient schizophrenia and recalling childhood visions of demons. His intellect explodes, seemingly sparked by a simple game of chess in the park, and heightened senses and psychic gifts also seem part and parcel of his brainy new gifts.