Thursday, November 5, 2015

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Some Horror recommendations pt 4: fresh and visceral

Spring (Benson and Moorhead, 2014)
Really lovely, kind, and fresh.  Why isn't this more (or at least, as) popular as It Follows? 

Final Girls, Todd Strauss-Schulson
Just saw this (still in theaters). It's absurdly well-edited and lovely. The meta-thing is obviously overplayed-- I'm as tired of talking about horror-film tropes as anyone else, and that's saying something-- but this has some interesting stuff to say about grief and friendship, and is definitely worth seeing for the humor and the filmography, especially if you feel that most horror is pretty stale.

Ginger Snaps, John Fawcett, 2000
Feminist fun and angst. Dated only by style.

 Detention  (2011) and All Cheerleaders Die (2013)
I group these together because they are both quick, stark, and ridiculous. All Cheerleaders Die is cheap and seemingly artless, and Detention is so fast-paced and quip-loaded that it is destabilizing. Both are also entirely fresh. Isn't that where horror started? I like horror for its freedom, its focus on atmosphere and on (often and aptly, teenage) irreverence over plot, its adrenaline. These are both fun and both part of the future of horror, be it low-budget and meta or millennial-quip-filled while avoiding the nasty, dated, mean-spirited and flimsy quality of Ryan Murphy offerings like Scream Queens. In fact, I have been watching Scream Queens and feeling dirty about it, and I feel like these are a palate-cleanser. Watch these if you've seen everything else.

Some Horror Recommendations, pt. 3: clever and scary

(Part One: Good For Parties)
(Part Two: Bad Dreams)

The Last Exorcism, Daniel Stamm, 2010
I really don't think I can be interested in a post-70s exorcist film unless it's presented through the rational lens of a skeptic, which this is. Don't read any spoilers or hype and just take it for what it is. Underrated.

Feast, John Gulager, 2004
A bunch of strangers are trapped in a bar, fighting off some type of man-eating, man-humping monster. It (almost--if not entirely--exclusively) uses fun and terrifying practical effects, and that alone is worth the refreshing pleasure. It's incredibly visceral and nasty and pretty funny, too.

The Sacrament, Ti West, 2013
It's hard to pick a Ti West film; I think they're all worth seeing, even if they rarely trancend a asense of "hipster homage." This one, though, has cults and VICE-style reporters and some pretty great practical effects, not to mention a sense of present and impending doom.

Pontypool (2008, Bruce McDonald)
"Talky, tense and claustrophobic, ‘Pontypool’ is a post-modern mash-up of Orson Welles’s notorious ‘War of the Worlds’ radio broadcast and Romero’s ‘Night of the Living Dead’. -Nigel Floyd, Time Out London

Dead Ringers, Cronenberg, 1988
Jeremy Irons plays twin gynecologists. 

Some Horror Recommendations pt. 2: Bad Dreams

(Part One: Good For Parties) 

The Vanishing (1988, George Sluizer)

"[...] the first version accomplished something that almost no other examples of that subgenre have been able to pull off: it left audiences demolished by their implied identification with what had taken place on-screen. Of course, all killer next door movies by definition aspire to that: there’s a little killer in all of us. Oooo: and we all give a little shiver. But until The Vanishing, no movie had so smoothly and implacably led its audience to a glimpse of the size and casualness of its capacity for sociopathy."

-The Believer, March/April 2008 (worth getting a hold of the entire essay, if you can). This is one of my favorite films of all time.

"Mount Fugi in Red" and "The Weeping Demon" segments in Dreams, Kurosawa, 1990
I've had many dreams about dreams.

It Follows, David Robert Mitchell, 2015
this may have suffered from over-hype, but if you can see it with open expectations its affecting and spooky. I'm glad they left in improbable, surreal details that qualify it as something dealing with the uncanny.

American Werewolf in London, John Landis, 1981
A very atmospheric favorite.

Jacob's Ladder, Adrian Lyne, 1990

The Strangers, Bryan Bertino, 2008
The creepy-kid-mask thing has been copied since but is really the only twee bit: overall, it's a simple and effectively scary movie that always felt almost like a Flannery O'Connor short story.

Mungo Lake, Joel Anderson, 2008
An Australian faux-umentary about a drowned girl and grief that's legitimately clever, spooky, and pretty solid. 

Hour of the Wolf, 1968, Bergman
"But if we allow the images to slip past the gates of logic and enter the deeper levels of our mind, and if we accept Bergman's horror story instead of questioning it, "Hour of the Wolf" works magnificently. So delicate is the wire it walks, however, that the least hostility from the audience can push it across into melodrama." Ebert

Friday, October 23, 2015

Some Horror (recommendations), pt 1: Good for Parties

Slumber Party Alien Abduction, Jason Eisner, (short, from otherwise not-great VHS 2) is totally delightful, fresh, and nostalgic.

Slither (2006, James Gunn)
I have shown this at no less than four scary-movie-dinner parties. It's so silly, gross, funny, and good.

Zombieland, Ruben Fleischer, 2009

Cabin Fever, Eli Roth, 2002
I know, I know, Eli Roth, but it's both stupid and clever and also, it's legitimately visceral.

Jennifer's Body, Karyn Kusama, 2009
Good story, good acting. Cody's style of dialogue is improbable but somehow not distracting (maybe it's occasionally cringe-worthy, but only occasionally). Adam Brody is a dead ringer for The Killers dude, and he should be in far more films. Would be good paired with Slither.

Grabbers, Jon Wright, 2012
A small town in Ireland is attacked by a man-eating monster and the only way to ward it off is to maintain a high blood-alcohol content. It's good!

The Cabin in the Woods, Drew Goddard, 2012

Murder Party, Jeremy Saulnier, 2007
Clever enough, very low-budget, and funny. Go in with appropriate expectations. I mean, it's called Murder Party.

The Visit

Blumhouse Stuff
I think low-budget, low expectations, and high-concept is the way to go. The Purge, Insidious (seriously though, only the first one), and Paranormal Activity are at least pumping some life back into the genre, and they'd all be fun to watch with a group.

Nightmare on Elm Street 2, Jack Sholder, 1985
I know it basically ignores like half of the rules that the first movie establishes, but it's fun and has a terrifically charismatic lead, plus some fun (and, for the time, progressive) undertones and anyways, if you are at a party you are only half-paying-attention.

Trick 'r' Treat, Michael Doughterty, 2007
It's...darker than you'd expect it to be, and probably better, too.

Fright Night (remake), Craig Gillespie, 2011
This is totally a solid remake, with great acting and a script by Buffy's Marti Noxon. It's often overlooked, for whatever reason (I've personally forgotten its existence several times). But it'd be a reliable and fun choice for a group situation.

Night of the Comet, Thom Eberhart, 1984
A really fun classic that would pair nicely with They Live.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Byzantium, 2012, Neil Jordan

Lovely, meandering,thoughtful, sad.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Straw Dogs, 1971, Sam Peckinpah

Beautifully chilling, nuanced, condemning. "Like Strindberg with weaponry." 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Inconstant Reviews

Sonia Kashuk Brush

A dupe for the Mason Pearson--

 &it's beautiful.

Mr. Robot, USA, S1

"It’s the most aesthetically compelling and visually inventive premiere since The Knick. But the greatest special effect is Rami Malek’s performance as Elliot. His face as smooth as an iPhone 6, Malek is preposterously charismatic, even while playing the dropbox of contradictions lurking inside of Elliot’s heart. While the character rages against public power, he shows little compunction about wielding it for himself in private as he rifles through personal files. It’s in these moments that Malek’s radiant blankness truly illuminates. Mr. Robotdoesn’t shy away from the fact that truth-tellers are often assholes, and that insurgents tend to make the best tyrants. Making Malek the face of 21st-century paranoia is like telling San Andreas from the perspective of the fault." (Grantland's Andy Greenwald)

Affinity, Sarah Waters

Gloomily engrossing Victorian spiritualism romance.

“She shook her head, and closed her eyes. I felt her weariness then, and with it, my own. I felt it dark and heavy upon me, darker and heavier than any drug they ever gave me - it seemed heavy as death. I looked at the bed. I have seemed to see our kisses there sometimes, I've seen them hanging in the curtains, like bats, ready to swoop. Now, I thought, I might jolt the post and they would only fall, and shatter, and turn to powder.” 

Cinderella, Kenneth Branagh, 2015

Just fine, instantly forgettable, very pretty.

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