Thursday, January 31, 2008

Anatomy of a Murder

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

My K2K leads me to another great movie.

Anatomy of a Murder is a long, somewhat complex, but completely engrossing courtroom drama. I don't know if it really breaks down the murder so much, what it really does is show the way the lawyers try to spin or manipulate the jury with their poise, questions, showmanship, etc. It finds a nice moral gray area... it's never clear just how innocent the defendant is, so we;re not always sure how to feel about what is going on. For a movie from the late 50's, it talks about rape in (relatively) blunt terms, which is a bit of a surprise. (Although, the rape victim seems a little too laid back. Then again, it is somewhat ambiguous if she is actually a victim).

It's got some great black and white, deep focus type photography, the kind where some of the shots are quite complex, but without ever feeling show-offy. I dig that.

James Stewart is perfect as the lead. This movie is a little dark, and very long, and it could be a slog with the wrong actor. But he adds a touch of charm and humor that carries you along... you're sympathies are with him, even if you aren't so sure about his client.

I Netflixed this one because I have heard good things about director Otto Preminger, and so I looked up his filmography and picked one that was considered good and had a good cast. (Not only Stewart, but also George C Scott and Roadhouse's Ben Gazzera. Nice). Well, I'm sold. I will definitely have to check out another one of his films. Laura is now on my queue.

So my point is, good call Dan for your K2K this year.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Killer of Sheep

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The story behind the movie is pretty interesting. It was shot over 30 years ago as a student film, on a small budget. Due to (I believe) rights issues with the music, it was never really exhibited, except at the occasional film festival. Until this last year, when it was released proper, and now it's being hailed by some as a masterpiece. Not bad for a black and white student film.

This is the kind of movie I appreciated more than I actually enjoyed. There's not a plot, it's a cheaply but confidently made film that's basically just a collection of small moments of life in the ghetto. Since it's such a low budget film, it has the kind of actors who aren't always very good at their line readings, but also look and poise themselves more realistically than in most films. Some of it is perfect, insightful, hits just the right notes, but a lot of it is so simple and true to life that it's mundane. It feels a little bit too much like a chore to watch at times.

Multiple viewings of this would probably help. I sense a lot of care in the construction of the film, and I suspect a lot of the smaller moments will have more resonance the more you focus on them.

The Magnificent Seven

Monday, January 28, 2008

As promised, I watched The Magnificent Seven. It's a good western with a great cast, good writing, good action... it's pretty good, but unlike John Sturges' The Great Escape it's not pretty great. Still worth seeing.

It's not as poetic or as intensely visual as I think the best westerns are. (Jesus, did I really just type "best westerns"? Gee, I really didn't think this movie looked as good as other Holiday Inns or Motel 6's. Fuck.) I don't know if there is much of an underlying message here (other than what was carried over from Seven Samurai), it's mostly just entertainment. Good entertainment, don't get me wrong. And also, considering that this bad boy was shot in wide-ass-screen Panavision 2.35:1, you would think we'd get some more lush shots of the scenery. Not so much.

I do still like Sturges framing a lot. It's a wide frame, and he does a good job of containing a lot of characters/action/information in his shots. I like that he stays wider on a lot of the dialogue scenes, resists going close-up and instead opts to shoot all the characters together. And it really pays off in spades during the great final shootout.

Okay, I said I was going to do a little comparison with Seven Samurai and with The Great Escape. That's good, you know, to have a theme or something for these posts. Do a little more than just a thumbs up or down.

As a remake, it follows the original rather closely. Most of the major story beats are there, a lot of characters are very similar, and even a number of scenes are near identical. No one in the western is quite as badass as that one samurai that runs behind enemy lines in the middle of the night to steal a gun, but overall the gang holds up strong, and maybe are a little more distinguishable than the samurai? (Or maybe I'm just racist). They do add a much bigger role for the villain here, in this case Eli Wallach pretending to be a Mexican, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly-style. Apparently that was okay back then.

One flaw in the adaptation is how they translate the Toshiro Mifune character to the west. In Samurai, he's some drunken, hyperactive weirdo who's not really a samurai, but his will is so strong that the others can't really turn him down. It's an over the top performance, but also very easily the best part of the whole movie... so strange and funny. In MS (as I will now call it, possibly as a tribute to Multiple Sclerosis) the character is more of an inexperienced kid trying to prove his mettle... not a bad character, but more of a cliche, and much less memorable.

I think the big problem with the adaptation is that it tries to keep some of the major themes intact, but they don't really translate to the wild west. In Samurai, the heroes do what they do because their place in society makes them feel it is their duty, and because they love battle. Here, the cowboys do it because... they are nice guys, I guess?

In both movies, the villagers never fully accept or respect the heroes, even though the heroes are putting their necks on the line to save the villagers. In Samurai, this feels tragic because the samurai have been pretty much screwed over by the class system that they feel obligated too. It's truly sad and poignant at the end when the samurai realize that even though they won, they are really the losers.

In MS this class system doesn't apply, the villagers are just kind of dicks for reasons undeveloped. And then I think they try to spin the ending a little more positively... the wise old man gives them some words of encouragement, and it suggests that the Seven's nobility is their reward (or something).

One unexpected twist: late in the film, those wonderful seven fellers get ambushed by the villains and they actually stand down and admit defeat. Of course, they all feel like assholes and decide to head right back in guns ablazin', but I still didn't expect them to first run away with their tails between their legs.

As compared to The Great Escape, MS is also an inferior take on some similar themes/ideas/style/etc. We again have a cool ensemble of badasses. In addition to Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and James Coburn, we now have Yul Brenner as the lead cowboy. The focus is on men bonding through adventure, and there aren't many women to speak of in the story. Both films believe in the idea of a noble sacrifice. The ending is ultimately happy, but perhaps darker than expected (in Escape most of the heroes end up recaptured or dead, in MS 4 of the 7 end up dead).

The big finale here is great, but the story doesn't have nearly as much going on as The Great Escape, and it meanders a bit too much. Also, for such an awesome ensemble, the characters aren't as funny or memorable as the Escape team. McQueen and Brenner have decent chemistry, but the rest of the cast isn't given much to do except scowl and rely on their natural presence (which, don't get me wrong, is considerable).

Oh and one guy's big character development is that he's secretly a pussy. I could have done without that.

So, bottom line: it's a good movie, but far from the greatness of Seven Samurai and Great Escape.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Waist Deep

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Talk about wasted potential.

Well, I'm not really sure why I was looking forward to this one. It was made by the director of Mariah Carey's Glitter.

That's a cheap shot, he also did Gridlock'd which was pretty good. I like Tyrese a lot, and Stephen King had put this on his best 10 of 2006 list. This movie got no love when it came out, but I thought maybe this was one of them underappreciated action films.


It gets off to a great start. We got Tyrese, being all likable and whatnot. We got Meagan Good, who good lord is a looker. There's a pretty good shootout. The bad guy is named Big Meat, is played by The Game, and when we first meet him he chops a guy's arm off and then smacks him with it.

After that it's all downhill. Right when the movie really seems to be taking off, and we're expecting another hour or so of Tyrese and Meagan Good going on a crime spree, possibly ending in shootout... it's like someone puts the movie on pause. It begins taken itself seriously, and is mostly a bunch of character scenes, without much action. The big shootout is short lived, and it happens like 25 minutes before the end so that they can fit in some more character development. There is kind of a chase scene at the end, but it's not very exciting because instead of showing crashing cars, it's mostly close ups of Tyrese talking on the phone and having a dramatic conversation with Meagan Good. Some of this shit is so dumb it's almost funny. Almost.

Ugh. When I watch an action movie, I want to see some fucking action. This blows.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Saturday, January 26, 2007

Oh Zemeckis, how I love you so. You have such a technical mastery of the medium, and you make movies that a heavy on the special effects. Yet, you're not some hollow, artless hitmaker (cough cough Paul W.S. Anderson), you always use your effects and big budgets to make movies with heart, and magic. It's you and Spielberg and practically no one else who knows how to do this.

You don't think about the technical aspects of Roger Rabbit when you're a kid. You don't realize just what an achievement it is until you start to become more movie-savvy. Here's the thing though. Whenever I watch Roger Rabbit, I usually try to see how they did all the effects. Only after about 20 minutes or so, I totally forget that I'm trying to do that, and I end up just getting wrapped up in the movie.

And that's why Robert Zemeckis is a great filmmaker.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Great Escape

Saturday, January 26, 2008

This is the kind of klassik I'm talking about, great entertainment. I'm pretty sure I had seen about 70% of The Great Escape before, and thought now would be a great time to actually see the entire thing. So the Saturday night gang all watched it with me, and I think whether we had seen it before or not, we all loved it.

John Sturges, the director, keeps the movie tight and exciting, an impressive feat considering the film's length. And the screenplay does a great job of presenting a lot of information and making it interesting and funny, and then manages to smoothly transition to a little darker/more somber feel in the finale, then go back to feel-good for the very end. Again, impressive.

But if I had to really point at what makes the movie work, it's the cast. First off, we have Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Garner, James Coburn... it's like they figured if the movie ended up sucking, it would still function as a Convention of Cool Actors and Badasses. And the rest of the cast is top notch, too. There's so much going on here with the that it's great how dominant the character work feels. I mean, it's not like the most searing, empathetic, insightful stuff going on, but they establish a lot of strong personalities and flesh them out. This is to the screenwriters' credit, but even moreso to the actors, who I think use their screen personas to help make the characters seem more fully realized.

I suppose most of this is lighter entertainment without much of a point (other than, you know, America: fuck yeah!), but it's great entertainment and great filmmaking.

Later this week, I will be watching Sturges' The Magnificent Seven, an earlier film of his with some of the same cast, that is also a remake of Seven Samurai. So it will actually be a follow up to 2 of my posts. Hopefully, unless I'm feeling lazy, I can do a little Auteur Theory type analysis, as well as some remake-comparison.


Saturday, January 26, 2008

I thought that Rocky Balboa had turned out surprisingly good, all things considered, so I had some faith in Rambo. Not that I was a huge fan of the series, but I thought that Stallone would know how to revisit old-fashioned 80s action and do it right.

I can't for the life of me remember if parts 2 and 3 were this corny. Probably they were. So what, though? There's a 15 minute sequence where Stallone fires a high-powered machine gun at an entire army, and we just kind of watch them explode into millions of pieces. That's right, I got my money's worth.

The action in the last half hour or so is pretty great, but all the build up is... not so much. I was pretty much just pumped for the action, so it took me a while to realize how much of the dialogue and action might just be unintentionally hilarious. I did appreciate the part where all the missionaries are on Rambo's boat, and one girl turns to talk to him, and the lead missionary is all "Hey, where are you going?" Uh, nowhere, dipshit, the boat's like 10 feet long.

The accidental humor is what's going to make or break this movie if/when I rewatch it some day. I know the conclusion is great, but the rest is gonna be pretty boring unless it turns out to be funnier than I realized. So, we'll see.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Paul Schrader. Wrote a few Scorsese movies. Wrote and directed a whole bunch of his own. Sorta Scorsese-esque himself, but without the visual panache. He's maybe a little more workmanlike in his technical abilities.

I've seen a few of his movies, and they range from kinda bad to pretty good, but none have really blown me away. That is, none ever blew me away until I saw Affliciton... which still didn't blow me away. But I liked it. It falls smack dab in the middle.

Sorry Paul, I must yet again damn you with faint praise.

This is a character study, but I like that on occassions it pretends to be a murder mystery. Ever see The Big Easy? It's a great detective movie that keeps pausing every so often to hang out, forget the plot, and flesh out the characters and their relationships. Affliction is sort of the inverse of that: it's a talky character movie that every now and then pauses to be a detective story. Only the detective story turns out to be a red herring.

Nick Nolte is very good in this, but Nick Nolte is very good in everything. In fact, I think Nick Nolte has made a career out of being very good in slightly above average but not often great movies. I guessHere he plays a small town cop who had an abusive childhood, and he becomes obsessed with a possible murder and slowly loses his mind, and ends up essentially turning into his father, etc etc, you get the gist.

It also has a distracting and unneccesary (although only sporadically used) narration, and some really heavy-handed flashbacks (James Coburn won an Oscar for this?). The good outweighs the bad, but it's flawed.

Anyways Paul, let's get things more on the Auto Focus or Hardcore side of your spectrum here. You know, next time I arbitrarily pick one of your movies to watch, I'm saying. Make it a great one.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Descent

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I hadn't seen The Descent since it was in theaters, and I was glad to watch it again. It's a real rarity for us genre fans: a serious horror film. Despite on the surface being a gore-heavy monster movie, it tries genuinely to be an intense and disturbing experience, as well as one that is visually and thematically complex. Even some of last year's horror flicks that I raved about don't seem this layered, or as willing to deal with such loaded imagery.

Which is why it's such a shame that it's not quite a great film. It's a damn good one, but it just missed the bullseye. For one, it does start to get repetitive during the last 30 minutes or so... a few too many scenes of monsters suddenly JUMPING OUT OF THE DARK OMG!!! until it grows tiresome. It actually played better for me the second time, but some of the tension still drains. The acting/writing occasionally (not too often, but sometimes) is off, especially when the movie labors a little too hard to pull all the plot strands together. And there is once in a while some distractingly bad animation effects. (Especially those bats. Why didn't they just cut that shit right out of the movie?)

Enough with the bitching, because there is still a lot to love, especially in the imagery. Most notablly, I don't think it's a stretch to say that in a movie with only female characters, that maybe tries to explore the darker side of femininity... the tight caverns they crawl through are vaginal symbols. Not to mention the imagery that calls to mind motherhood, menstruation, fertility, birth, and so on.

Oh and of course, more broadly, the title doesn't just refer to a literal descent, and the dark caves suggest traveling into the darkest parts of the main character's mind (certainly into revenge, and perhaps madness).

I was happy to see the original ending in tact, which I have no idea why the American distributor removed it. It's all of a minute longer, and it adds the final dark, ambiguous touch that the movie needs to tie the atmosphere of the film together. In theaters here, in ended a minute earlier on a (kinda cheap) scare that was essentially the ending of The Grudge, and not the appropriate final word for this film. What did the distributor think? That Americans would love this movie until the last minute, and then tell their friends not to go see it because they hated the very end? Or just that we're too stupid to understand it? Assholes.

Hail the Conquering Hero

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hail the Conquering Hero is a beloved, WWII era Preston Sturges comedy. It's about a dude who is discharged from the Marines for his hayfever, and is too embarrassed to tell his mom back home. So he lies to her and tells her he's overseas, until he runs into a group of real Marines, who decide (against his wishes) to stage a fake homecoming for him where they pretend he's a war hero. The town's outpouring of affection towards him reaches such a fever pitch that they eventually nominate him for mayor.

This is a good idea for a comedy/satire, and I think I enjoyed it, but it suffers the same problem for me that a lot of old comedies do... it didn't make me laugh enough. There is some kind of cultural-generational gap with comedies where it just doesn't tickle us young people's funny bones like it did to the old timers.

Yeah, there are some movies or filmmakers that are just timelessly funny, but this is the second Preston Sturges film I've seen, and I don't think he quite transcends generations. I think you know the feeling... there are a lot of jokes that you recognize as being funny or clever, but you don't actually find yourself laughing at them. You appreciate it, maybe, but you don't respond enough.

It's enjoyable though, and damn sure is charming. And it might play better if I watched it with others instrad of by myself. Still, it might be best limit the number of pre-late 1960s comedies I watch during my K2K.

The Devil's Rejects

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The consensus seems to be that Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses is a weird, style-heavy piece of shit, and his sequel The Devil's Rejects is not only a stylistic improvement, but better in every other way, too.

I am a genuine fan of both movies, but I fall into the vast minority that loves Corpses, and only really really likes Rejects. Corpses to me is just such a weird, fucked-up, original, wild-hair-up-Rob-Zombie's-ass type of movie... it's like some strange nightmare you might have after watching a marathon of the first two Texas Chainsaw movies and a few episodes of Lost in Space. That's not a perfect analogy, but it somewhere in that realm.

Rejects is still awesome, and I particularly like how skillfully Zombie manages to veer back and forth from dark, disturbing, road-to-nowhere style horror, and broad, ironic humor. A lot of times in other movies, this is attempted and done poorly and it ends up making the movie just kind of offensive (I'm looking at you, Mother's Day). Zombie does it better than just about anyone else.

My favorite stuff is the really dark stuff, the stuff that gives you that kind of hopeless, sick feeling in the bottom of your stomach. Not that I like cynical, sick movies that just want to disgust you, but I do greatly admire a movie that can give you that true feeling of dread. As I mentioned before, I think of these movies as "Road to Nowhere" films, and Rejects has at least one scene that has a place amongst the best ever sequences in the genre.

Otis, one of the killers, marches two hostages down a desert path to retrieve some guns. He talks to them, and there is a lot of inappropriate or weird humor that I think gets a dark laugh. (Especially when he yells "Consider me fucking Willy fucking Wonka. This is my fucking chocolate factory!"). It slowly becomes apparent that he has no intention of letting them live. When they finally break and try to fight back, Otis beats them and gets the upper hand. One of them spits in his face and says "fuck you." Otis laughs, and launches into a little monologue about how everyone he kills says that, and when he explains that "it doesn't scare me, and it won't save you," I think Zombie cuts right to the heart of what is chilling about these films.

What I think keeps it from greatness is a few structural problems. Late in the film, Zombie pulls some subplots to the front and kind of forgets to use the Rejects for a while... I think that loses focus on the real meat of the story. And also, there are just too many fucking slow-motion montages set to country-rock songs, and they drag on too long. He needed to dial that back it bit, it starts getting really tedious.

Still, if you like these kinds of movies, this one is a gem... a sort of roller coaster of oddball humor, and disturbing violence. I'm glad I watched this last night. I'd been in a weird mood the past 2 days. On Monday, I started watching T2 but just couldn't focus and cut it off. Then I tried watching the commentary for Bourne Ultimatum, but it got a little bland maybe halfway in and I stopped. Then Tuesday night I watched half of Killer of Sheep, which I Tivoed and is supposed to be great, but I just couldn't muster the attention to finish it. I was feeling all blah and couldn't decide on a movie to watch... until at around 11 or so when I decided on this one. And it jostled me right out of my weird mood.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Seven Samurai

Monday, January 21, 2008

Yeah, that's right, naysayers. I'm demonstrating an honest to fucking goodness Kommitment to Klassiks here watching Seven Samurai, a legit klassik. No strings attached. It's not some weird genre film I'm counting because one guy told me it was good. This one is a recognized, consensus-agreed upon masterpiece. And I am so god damned Kommitted to Klassiks that I was willing to devote 3 1/2 hours of my life to it.

That's something I've noticed, by the way. A lot of these beloved motion pictures require a pretty serious chunk of your time. And that can be hard to do sometimes, you know, when you're tired after work and you're not sure you have that long of an attention span. Or that you want to spend every free minute on the weekend with your girlfriend, and she's maybe not interested in seeing a 3 1/2 black and white, subtitled movie without hardly any female characters in it.

Well, to get used to this, I thought I'd just right in and watch the one on my queue that was the longest, and Seven Samurai it was.

Then I realized that Lawrence of Arabia is 20 minutes longer. Mother fucking Peter O'Toole.

Oh yeah, I was actually going to say something about this one. The reputation is earned, this is a great film. An epic done right. A long, but entertaining journey that builds to a powerful conclusion. As opposed to a long and tedious epic journey that has 20 endings too many and then ends with a bunch of hobbits hugging each other.

It's a lot more cynical about human nature and society than I really was expecting. We think of the Japanese as maybe putting the society's interests over the individual, but Seven Samurai seems to argue against that. The samurai risk their lives to save a bunch of villagers for no better reason than it's the honorable thing to do, and maybe because they like to fight. The villages treat the samurai like shit even though they are relying on them for help, and they are shown as prone to mob mentality. In the end, by following their code, the samurai fight off the enemy, lose 4 of their 7 and... and what? They don't gain anything from it, the villages still won't mingle with them. The victory is short lived.

Well, I had thought maybe this one would have a happy ending. Guess not.

This isn't exactly a movie I'd watch all the time, but the greatness is evident. The story is long and complex, but it flows well because of the memorable characters. You know, again, kind of exactly what the Lord of the Rings movies failed at. Here, I especially liked this Toshiro Mifune individual, who plays some impulsive, reckless weirdo who isn't really a samurai, but pretends he is. It's such a unique, bizarre, energetic, spirited, etc performance in the middle of this big epic.

So this is I think the 3rd Kurosawa film I've seen in my life, and I am definitely planning on seeing some more. Also, I might try more of Mifune's movies... I hear he's a pretty reliable badass.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Dead Zone

Sunday, January 20, 2008

This is the saddest movie ever adapted from a Stephen King book, and it has one of Christopher Walken's best performances. He plays a man who awakens from a 5 year coma to find his fiancee married to another man, his job gone, and his youth ended. He also wakes up with the ability to see into the future, but it proves more of a burden than a gift.

David Cronenberg directed this one, and even though it's one of his most mainstream, it's also one of my favorites of his. Of course, it's got his great visual style and sense of the macabre, and it's a pretty exciting genre film all around. Despite the fantastical premise, Cronenberg keeps it feeling grounded, real and serious. The only misstep (and I think what holds it back from being a great film) is with the subplot about a crazy politician who may one day destroy the world, because it's too silly compared to the rest of the movie. Martin Sheen's over-the-top performance as the politician doesn't help, although I suppose he did the best he could with weak material.

Like I said, it's an excellent genre film, but it's really the sadness and pathos that it achieves that make it stand out. I tend to admire Cronenberg for his fucked up visual imagination, but you got to give the guy credit for infusing many of his films with a strong emotional core. The Dead Zone has some real power, because of the tragedy Cronenberg and Walken express through the main character. What becomes clear is that things would be better for Walken's character if he never awoke from the coma. And the movie's "happy" ending can only be achieved with his death.

But if you're not into Cronenberg for his art, there's a sweet part where a guy commits suicide with a pair of scissors.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Death Wish

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A few years back I watched Death Wish 3 on American Movie Classics with Patrick. We weren't so sure that it was truly a classic American movie, but we sure did laugh a lot when Charles Bronson shot a man point blank with a rocket-launcher.

For such a silly, excessive action movie, I found it intriguing that it came from a somewhat well-regarded 70's exploitation drama. So I had been wanting to see the first Death Wish for many years.

Well, I'm glad I saw it, because it turns out to be a well-made, well acted exercise in audience manipulation.

It does get some shit for maybe being a pro-violence/vigilantism movie, but I actually think the movie was a little more complex than that. Yeah, the scumminess of New York may be over-exaggerated, and it does at times suggest that the protagonist's action have some sort of positive effect on the community. But it shows the other side of things too. Like when Bronson comes home after beating a man, he comes home and needs a drink. Later, after killing a man, he vomits. His vigilantism/revenge is shown to overpower him, attract him and I suppose even excite him. And I don't think all these are meant to be positive associations.

Most significantly, I think, is that he never gets the guys who murdered his wife. The movie builds empathy by showing the initial attack in graphic detail, so that we are more sympathetic to Bronson's reaction. However, a truly pro-violence movie would show him finding those responsible, and killing them. Instead, all the people he kills are strangers.

I can see how it could be read the other way, though. I can even imagine sympathetic audience members being excited by the final scene, where Bronson points his finger at a couple of hoods and mock-shoots them. Suggesting that his revenge will continue. But I thought it was chilling, not exciting.

Certainly it's a more ambiguous payoff than shooting a man with a rocket-launcher.

Planet Terror

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Immediately after Superbad, he's another movie that I've just watched recently. My boy Chris, and Shenan's friend Sarah were over my place hanging out with us, and I figured this one would be up both their alleys. I think I was correct.

I have a pretty fond college memory of watching Return of the Living Dead with Chris. We were watching it on my roommate's XBox for some reason. That movie is a shitload of fun... a well made, funny, clever b-movie. And that's what Planet Terror is too, a good time at the movies. It's got zombies and music that sounds ripped off from an 80's John Carpenter movie. How can you not love it?


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Yup. Still a great movie.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I lost my copy of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang a while back, and I have been in the mood to watch it. I asked Chris to swipe Patrick's copy when he came to visit this weekend.

I love this movie. I suppose it goes a little overboard here in there with the whole meta, post modern, tongue-in-cheek, smartass, self-referential, self-depricating, self-flagellating, self-actualizing (?), yada yada, whatever. I don't even know what I'm trying to complain about. It's a great movie.

Happy Birthday to Me

Friday, January 18, 2008

I guess Friday turned into a day of horror movies. This wasn't planned. I just happened to notice this one on Fearnet, and decided to damn any attempt at K2K for the night and watch it. I always like adding to my oeuvre of slasher movies, and I know Shenan (who was helping take care of my sick ass) is usually game, too. Also, I was pretty zonked out on cold medicine.

For a while, I thought maybe I had found a minor genre classic. Great opening murder scene. Well shot. Competent acting. Entertaining murders. My hopes were high.

Then somewhere maybe around 2/3rds in, it starts to peter out. The last chunk of the movie really drags. And you know what? It's just too fucking long. These movies should be about 80 - 90 minutes. 95 minutes if you do something cool to earn that extra time. This one is 110 minutes. Shenan and I only realized this too late. I think our internal slasher movie expectation clocks starting ringing. We knew the movie should be over any minute. Only it wasn't over... what seemed like the finale just kept going and going and fucking going.

This is a bad movie to watch while zonked out on cold medicine, is what I'm saying. I could feel the warm, fuzzy hands of drug-induced slumber reaching out for me, but I could only accept their embrace at the end of the movie. Which didn't seem like it was ever going to happen.

Then there's the ending, which is so fucking bad and weird that I think actually it's a great ending. The killer turns out to be the heroine... or so you think. Because then you see that the heroine is tied to a chair. Does she have an evil twin that was never mentioned before? That would have been great, but it's actually even better. The killer suddenly pulls off their own face, revealing the killer to be another character. So, the killer had, I guess, a perfectly life-like mask of the heroine that was skin tight, and moved just like a normal human face. Because this technology exists. Oh and also I guess she learned how to speak exactly like the heroine, too.

Well, if the last 1/3rd had been as good as the first part, or if the rest of the movie had been as batshit crazy as the end, I think I could have recommended this one. Instead, it's more like the one that got away.

Oh, I forgot one thing. Glenn Ford is in this. How fucking random is that?


Friday, January 18, 2008

This is a new-ish slasher movie that thinks it's a throwback to an older era of these kinds of flicks. It's not that at all (the old ones didn't put industrial music on the soundtrack, and the dialogue was never this smarmy), but it's still fun.

This one goes for fun and laughs more than scares, and I respect that. The dialogue is genuinely funny at times, the nudity is liberal, and it goes pretty heavy on the gore. I especially like the belt-sander murder. Eww.

Also of note is a really great, really abrupt ending that I think may also be a parody of the end of the first Lord of the Rings movie.

Oh, and it's good to see Parry Shen in something again. Give this guy more work.

Taste the Blood of Dracula

Friday, January 18, 2008

These Hammer Studios Dracula movies are all turning out to be pretty good. I figured I'd watch the 4 in the set and never really think of them again, but I actually wouldn't be opposed to seeing more.

Also, I think these are sort of counting towards my 2008 Kommitment to Klassiks. Sort of. I mean, I know these aren't regarded as all-time greats. But they are older films, and in a sub-genre that I am unfamiliar with. Expanding my horizons is really the point of my K2K, and I think I'm doing that with these.

OK, look, I watched Seven Samurai today. So I am doing my K2K for real. But I watch other movies too. Fucking sue me.

This one starts out with some fat guy traveling by horse-drawn carriage. There is, for some reason, a crazy retard in the carriage with him, and the retard for some reason flips out and chucks the guy out of the carriage.

So already, you know, it's got my attention.

Then the fat guy stumbles around in the woods until he happens across Dracula's castle, where he runs smack dab into the conclusion of Dracula Has Risen From the Grave. That's pretty cool. I mean, it ain't exactly like at the end of Saw IV when you realize all the events have been happening concurrent with the events of III, but it's still nifty. Anyway, he for some reason steals some of Dracula's blood and then we don't really see him again except for one other scene.

The movie is really about these three evil, older rich guys. One night they are out at a bordello, and they decide that they are getting bored with all this sex, they need to find the next level of debauchery. These guys are prime Hostel customers.

OK, so they hire some guy that they've heard is a super pervert to find them some crazy shit to do. He decides that they should buy Dracula's blood and perform some sort of ritual in his honor and... I'm not really sure what part of this the guys are supposed to be getting off on. But they go along with it any way. The super pervert drinks the blood of Dracula, and he starts to get sick or something, and he begs for help, so they old guys beat the shit out of him and leave him for dead (huh?) Then the guy I guess magically turns into Dracula and then Dracula decides to get revenge on the old guys for, um, bringing him back to life.

Right, well, the plot doesn't make a lot of sense. Still, this is an entertaining movie, with good performances and visuals and yadda yadda, the same stuff I liked about the other two I watched. I like all the classy accents, and Christopher Lee really does make an awesome Dracula, which is why they must give him top billing even though he's only in this movie for like 10 minutes. Although he acts like a total bitch during the final confrontation, and if I remember he accidentally gets his own dumb ass killed by breaking open a window and letting sunlight in.

I swear this is better than I make it sound.

Next up is Dracula A.D. 1972, and that's it for this set I bought. Let's see if these Hammer flicks are still entertaining when they aren't about people in period costumes riding carriages and walking into castles.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Killer Bait

Thursday, January 17, 2008

When I was home sick Thursday, I finally got around to watching this one, the last movie in a public domain, film noir set that Shenan got me for my birthday. I have not a fucking clue why it took me so long to get to it, except that for some reason I was convinced that it was going to suck.

Well, turns out it's good, just like every other movie in the set. What's pretty cool about this one is that the femme fatale is actually the main character, and we watch her going around manipulating a bunch of different men, trying to get some stolen money all to herself. The plot is pretty clever, the acting and dialogue are really good, and they knock off one character fairly early on that I was convinced was one of the main characters. That's one of my favorite, underused gimmicks in genre movies, and it's especially great becuase you never see it happen in a movie this old.

This might be my 2nd favorite from the set, after Orson Welles' The Stranger. Fuckin' A.

Also, I'm counting this one as going towards my K2K.

Grave of the Fireflies

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I watched this one when I was home sick on Thursday, as part of my K2K. I have often seen it referred to as one of the best animated films of all time.

Well, I can say I liked this one quite a bit, but my experience of it may have been tainted by all the hype. I was expecting to have more of an emotional reaction, but it didn't make me feel much. My appreciation of the film was a lot more distanced than I thought it would be... I admired the craft of it a lot, but didn't respond much

Again, though, I was pretty sick. And I suspect that if I had been in better condition when I watched this, I would have reacted more. So this is probably one I'll have to see again some day.

48 Hrs.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Watching The Warriors and realizing that I liked it more than I thought made me want to check out some more Walter Hill movies. So I gave this one a shot, which I had always hear good things about.

I think the fact that I was very sick and very tired when I watched this probably contributed, but I was a bit disappointed. There's some entertaining stuff here, but this is no action comedy classic by any means. Yeah, it has some pretty funny parts and other assorted good scenes, and Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy do have good chemistry, but a lot of it I thought was boring or unconvincing (really, the premise is a pretty bad one, and poorly handled) and it lacked the cool visual style of The Warriors.

Again, being sick is probably partially to blame. Still not a fan, though.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Another K2K selection here.

I'm not a Western fan by nature, but I have seen a number that I thought were great. They just aren't like horror movies, where I can watch all kinds and enjoy them. The genre doesn't inherently interest me.

So I'm always amused on Netflix when I will seek out a specific western that is considered a classic, watch it, love it, give it a high rating, and then find my recommendations inundated with other, shitty looking westerns. I mean, I've only rated a small handful of westerns, but my Netflix recommendations list is full of them. Meanwhile, I watch and rate about a billion horror movies, and while I don't always give them 5 stars, they have a higher likelihood of getting at least a 3. Yet Netflix can't seem to sense that I'm a fan, and never recommends any to me.

That's what happened with Shane. And with my goal to watch more (universally considered classic) westerns, this will probably happen more.

This was a pretty great movie. Beautifully shot, entertaining but with darker themes under the surface, good acting with complex character relationships. OK, Alan Ladd may not be the most convincing tough guy in the world, but all his dramatic scenes are good. And Van Heflin is great, especially the way he slowly realizes that his wife has a thing for Shane, but is too good of a person to get nasty about it. He's a lot more likable than Shane, really, and I thought was really the heart of the film. Shane is too dark, and maybe not as noble or heroic as the little boy sees him as. And the little boy is just too fucking annoying to be the heart.

Anyway, five starts, Netflix! I look forward to hearing about a million other forgotten westerns that I don't want to see.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Silver Bullet

Monday, January 14, 2008

I hadn't seen this one in years. Roger Ebert has a pretty good review where he says he's not sure if it's a terrible movie, or just really funny.

I know what he means, but I do think at least half of the comedy is intentional. And there are some cool werewolf scenes, even if the wolf costume looks bad. And a lot of good over the top performances, especially from Gary Busey, Everett McGill and whoever the hell plays the guy whose kid gets murdered.

This is gonna be a good one to put on drunk with friends late at night.

Dracula Has Risen From the Grave

Monday, January 14, 2008

This was the next movie in that Dracula set I bought, and it was another good one. Some good visuals, and likable characters. A mild pleasure, but a genuine one.

I have been really dragging my feet on watching these, but I finally squeezed in some damn time for this one. So, just two more to go. And then that noir movie from that set Shenan bought me back in August. And the Harry Langdon Collection. And the Stephen King collection. Oh and I never finished season 1 of Space Ghost.

I need to stop buying DVDs unless I absolutely need to.

Monday, January 14, 2008

SUPER SPECIAL OH BOY AREN'T YOU LUCKY POST: Dan's 2007 Horror Movie Postmortem

Get it? Postmortem? I thought that shit was pretty clever. Go Dan.

OK, I just wanted to do a post that was a sort of informal wrap-up of all the 2007 horror movies I remember seeing. Just gonna write some musings about each. NOthing special, no hard or deep criticism. Just some thoughts.

I think we had a pretty fucking good year overall, speaking as a horror movie fan. Maybe there wasn't an honest to goodness classic, but there were a lot of really strong ones, and then also some bad one's that were entertaining. Yes.

I will split these up into categories based on how good they were, but then will just randomly place them within those categories. No top 10's or anything like that.


Quite possibly my favorite William Friedkin movie. Based on a play, it's basically just a small group of people talking to each other. And it mostly takes place in a hotel room. It goes so fucking nuts by the end, and the performances are so strong, that it's a lot more captivating and tense than bigger, more complicated horror movies. No supernatural stuff. No zombies. No Jasons. Nobody turns out to be a ghost the whole time. Just some good old fashioned writing, acting and directing.

28 Weeks Later
The sequel to an all-time favorite of mine, this really surpassed my expectations. Not as good as the first, but a lot more interesting and intense than you'd expect from an unnecessary sequel. The first one I love for being one of the few horror movies that really makes you care about the characters, makes you feel really scared for their lives. (This is why I love the happy ending, which I know some people don't.) The sequel doesn't quite do that, but I do like how ruthless it is with killing major characters. Really feels like any of them could go at any time. And, they do.

The Mist
Good year for Stephen King adaptations. This one is well made and especially well acted, and has some truly awesome monsters. Yeah, the CG is a little distracting at times, but not too much. I went in, for whatever reason, with low expectations, and this was a pleasant surprise. And it fits my boy Patrick's definition of a good horror movie: has an ending that leaves you feeling like shit. Maybe the best ending to a horror movie this year.

Planet Terror
It's a funny, over-the-top, ultra-violent zombie movie. I dig it. A lot. And yes, it's better than Death Proof

The other awesome Stephen King movie. Mostly a one man show for John Cusack, and he's great. It does occasionally suffer from my typical haunted house movie complaint: too much of the scary stuff is arbitrary because ghosts can apparently do whatever they want. Still, this is the most skillful and suspenseful haunted house movie I've seen in a long time (maybe ever?), and it thinks of one thing that the evil room does that is truly fucking evil. Nice.

Hostel Part 2
I reckon most folks won't agree with me here, but I really dug this shit, even more than the original. I already wrote up on this one, so I don't have much more to say except I think the Hostel flicks are underrated.


I Know Who Killed Me
This movie kind of transcends labels like "good" and "bad." I mean, I know that the acting is bad, the writing is bad, the story makes no sense, etc. But it's all so fucking crazy that it becomes fascinating. I mean, some really crazy shit happens here that reaches some genius level of weirdness. And the director over-directs the shit out of it. I plan on seeing this again some day, and you should too if you like these kinds of movies. It's like a stoned, fever-dream version of a Brian DePalma film.


30 Days of Night
I wanted to love this one. David Slade's Hard Candy is fucking awesome, and I couldn't wait to see what he did with a bigger budget. Outside of sometimes looking nice, this movie is a bore. Doesn't build up any dread or suspense, doesn't really exploit it's own premise, and keeps building up to disappointing or non-existent pay offs. Damn it.


Death Proof
Not really a horror movie, actually, but Tarantino seems to think it's a slasher film. Well, maybe about 10 or 15 minutes of it reminds me of a slasher flick, but the rest is just Dazed and and Confused with car chases. I like this one, it has a lot of good stuff, but also a lot of downtime where the characters blather on without saying anything interesting. A mixed bag. Tarantino's worst.

Saw IV
Yeah, I like these. This one continues to make the story even more ludicrous and convoluted, and I love it. Especially when it turns out that all the events were happening concurrently with part 3. For a while I thought it was going to be the best of the sequels, but it slows down a bit too much during the later part of the movie. It's too long, but still some gore-heavy fun.


Wrong Turn 2
Some way over-the-top gore, some tits, and a couple of good ideas, and directed with some skill, but ultimately a mess. Can't decide whether to be a fun slasher movie, or a disturbing one, and as a result neither element really works. Shame, there was potential here.

The Host
I do not get the hype this one got. I appreciate that Koreans tend to make their movies a sort of genre hodgepodge, expressionistic and go-for-broke, but I couldn't even figure out how I was supposed to react to this one. Is it a comedy horror? Just a comedy? A family drama with horror elements? A sci-fi action movie. A comedic family drama action movie horror film? I don't know. None of it really worked for me, although I guess I did appreciate its ambition.

Behind the Mask
A mockumentary about a fictional slasher movie killer. Some amusing parts, but not enough to recommend. Also not very accurate about the cliches of slasher movies, despite being based entirely on them. Scream already did this better over a decade ago.

A comedy really, but about zombies. Amusing premise that goes nowhere.


Ugh. And I really loved Rob Zombie's other two movies. I'm not immediately offended by pointless remakes, this just happens to be a pretty bad one. The only interesting idea Zombie had was trying to flesh out Michael Myer's childhood... but then he neglects to do anything interesting with it. So, the movie is really about Michael this time, but they don't do a good job of developing him, and then he doesn't say anything after the first 30 minutes anyway. Loomis is a prick again, but also boring and not as prone to making awesome hyperbolic statements. Laurie Strode isn't introduced until the 2nd half of the film, so we aren't really given a chance to care if she lives or dies. And the final chase/showdown stretches on so long I actually stopped paying attention for a few minutes. But don't worry, we'll always still have the original.

Dead Silence
Not content to make just a lame killer doll movie or a lame haunted house movie, the guys who made Saw do it both in one flick. Outside of a couple of cool shots, this one is worthless.

The Hills Have Eyes II
I'm actually quite fond of the remake. Here the manage to lose all of that film's tension, visual style, good acting, basic competency, etc. What did they manage to retain? Another inappropriate/unnecessary/unearned rape sequence! Yay! Oh, wait, the girl eventually hits the rapist in the nuts with a hammer. That justifies putting a graphic rape scene into an otherwise silly-ass movie about mutant hillbillies. Kudos to you. Assholes.

The Hitcher
Another shitty remake, but more watchable than Halloween thanks to some unintentional comedy. Like the part where the Hitcher shoots a bunch of cop cars to NIN music. Or when the sheriff says, "I don't give rat's cockbag!" I certainly hope you wouldn't, guy from Boomtown. I'm not even sure how you would.

Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem
OK, well, I think this one fancies itself more as a sci-fi action film, but since it cribbed it's location and stock from any given generic 80's slasher picture, I'm counting it. And either way, it sucks.


Ostensibly a true crime / procedural movie, but it's got masked serial killers, a string of brutal murders, people going into scary dark basements, etc.

A sci-fi flick that suddenly take a left turn and becomes a horror flick in the last 15 minutes. Nice.

No Country For Old Men
Just because of Anton Chigurh, an unstoppable killing machine, and those shots of him hiding in the shadows. Brrr.

Hot Fuzz
Yeah, Shaun of the Dead was their horror movie homage, and this was supposed to be their action movie homage. But they couldn't resist throwing in a mysterious killer who bumps a bunch of people off in very over-the-top ways.

I Am Legend
It's got zombies. That's something.

Sweeney Todd
Very shadowy, with lots of arterial spray.


There Will Be Blood
Sorry PTA. Believe me, I love including as many movies as possible under the banner. But admit it, you called this one a horror flick just to fuck with peoples' heads.

Welly welly welly, that is that. I got to say, 2007 was a strong year for genre fans. I mean, there was a lot of shit that got released, but if you're like me you could tell by the trailer, so you skipped it.

The gauntlet has been thrown down, 2008. Don't let 2007 make you it's bitch. What have you released so far? Something to start the year off with a bang, I hope. Let see...

One Missed Call?!

Maybe I should read more.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Here is, I think, my first official Kommitment to Klassiks film of the new year. I think I need to draw up a logo for every time I watch one of these. (Update 5/21: Never did that! But I am now tagging them all!)

Well, this was a very good movie, and also a terrible idea to watch tonight. I came home from Harrisonburg tonight, feeling a little sad and anxious because I won't see Shenan until Friday, and then I watched a movie that was all about people feeling sad and anxious. Ugh.

It's a German film about an older woman who has a relationship with a younger, Moroccan immigrant, and the bigotry they face. It's I guess sort of an un-comedic Harold and Maude meets Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?. It's short, and very simply told, and very effective. And it kind of made me feel like shit.

Well, good job Fassbinder, for ruining my night. But I will probably check more of your shit out down the line.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

A really fun, minor-classic horror flick. One of George Romero's best. I've seen it many times. It is always a pleasure.

The Warriors

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Watched this with Shenan, Chris and Patrick while hanging out over the weekend. We had actually put on 2 movies the night before, but we didn't pay any attention to them at all, so I'm not counting them.

I liked The Warriors when I first saw it, but now this time I think I liked it a little more. The problem with the movie is that there's a lot of potential for greatness, but it only sometimes gets there. It sets up a lot of great ideas, but doesn't pay them off as well as you'd want. Well, the pay-offs are usually really good, but there aren't enough of them. Still, this time knowing that the movie wasn't going to explode into anarchy (as the beginning seems to suggest) helped me enjoy it more.

I think I read that they are remaking this picture. I can dig that, there's room for improvement. This has a great premise but doesn't fully capitalize on it... a remake could really go hog wild.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Gingerbread Man

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Does this count for my Kommitment to Klassiks? I don't know. I caught this one because it's a movie by a great director (Altman), but it seems to be regarded as one of his worst.

Well, fuck the naysayers. I liked it. It's not one of Altman's best, but it is interesting. He's doing his thing where he takes an established genre an adds his off-beat, meandering Altman-touch to it, like he did to the western with McCabe and Mrs. Miller, or to the detective movie with The Long Goodbye, or to the shitty 80's teen comedy with OC and Stiggs. This time he's taking on the John Grisham legal thriller.

Well, I can see why a Grisham fan might be thrown off by this one, because it doesn't play like a usual thriller. Altman's style does not make for the typical experience... it's not as fast paced or snappy, the main character is deliberately unlikable, he avoids using closeups, etc. However, his Altman-ness adds a unique, atmospheric quality that I thought kinda worked well for a thriller. Especially his visual style. The way he likes to film scenes from far away, with object in the foreground passing in front of the characters. The way he'll listen to 2 characters talking, but then have the camera wander off and follow another character doing something else while we still hear the other conversation. The way he'll zoom into a seemingly innocuous detail at the end of a scene, suggesting something ominous. It gives the movie a mysterious, creepy effect that I liked.

It was also kinda funny to see a car chase in an Altman movie.

Also, you know the acting is good all accross the board here. That's a given. But like I said, this isn't one of Altman's best. There's not a lot of insight or any great characters, either. Just characters servicable to this story.

I think the final result would have been better if they have an improved screenplay. The dialogue isn't as snappy or as clever as it sometimes seems to want to be (some of this may be due to Altman's taste for improvisation), and I don't think the final solution to the plot makes much sense. It's not a superior thriller, but it is an interesting one. At least, it is for an Altman fan.

Terrible title for the movie, though.

One last thing. I went through a big Altman phase about 2 years ago, and watched so many that I got burned out. I might now try to get back into the swing of things and catch up with more I haven't seen. Only, I feel like it would maybe be better if I rewatched some instead of finding new ones. I've mentioned this before, but Altman has a great number of movies that I really, really like, but not one that I can quite say I love. But I have this nagging suspicion that this will change if I go back and rewatch, say, Three Women (my favorite of his), or Nashville. Afterall, I got a lot more out of McCabe the 2nd time I saw it. (Not so much with The Player, but I still like it).

So maybe that should be part of my Kommitment to Klassiks: rewatch the Altman films.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Bourne Ultimatum

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Well, I think this might settle it. I watched my DVD of Ultimatum tonight with my dad, my third time seeing it, and I may have to declare it Dan's Favorite Movie of 2007.

Action movies are enjoyed by most of us stuffy movie buff types, but I suspect many don't really esteem them as art. Well, fuck that. I love action movies. Yes, the majority of good ones don't amount to much more than a fun time at the movies, a little escapism, etc. I know that. But the best ones, the ones that are genuinely thrilling, that have an action scene that rouses and excites you... that may be the greatest achievement of this art form. I mean, whatever it is that makes film unique and special... the way it tells a story or conveys a feeling or a concept or some abstracted idea with sound and visuals... if it can actually whip you up into a frenzy, make you care so much about what you're seeing that you forget that you're sitting in an uncomfortable theater seat holding a Cherry Coke, and just submit yourself completely to the movie... that's something. That's an achievement. That's art.

The Bourne Ultimatum is that, plus it's got genuinely top-notch acting and writing, and it's also the best political, anti-Patriot Act/Bush Administration movie of the year. (Take that, Rendition).

Oh, and there's a part where Bourne beats the fucking shit out of a guy with a hardback book.

OK, I can tell now this is gonna be a long post. I was thinking of starting my 2007 Horror Movie Retrospective, but that's gonna have to wait.

Where to begin? This is a movie that, on the surface, shouldn't be anything special. I mean, it's a sequel. The third in a series, where series' tend to suffer a drop in quality. It repeats many story elements and scenes from the other movies, which is usually the sign that they are out of ideas. Hell, the plot is essentially that, um, things weren't really wrapped up in part 2, and Bourne is playing catch up. Fuck, I mean, we're three movies in and he still has amnesia and the story climaxes with him uncovering a shocking memory for the third time.

The first one was a decently fun little action movie that suffered from bipolar disorder. It was like Doug Liman wanted to make both a dark, gritty action movie with some really heartless killer types, but he also wanted to make a stupid, fun summer action movie with lame comedy and a mandatory love story. I dug a lot of the action and the darker elements, but hated all that popcorn bullshit. Pick one or the other, they don't work together, Liman, you fucker.(I will give him credit for not going too far in the popcorn direction, especially with the lack of one-liners. There's that one part where Bourne stabs that dude with a pen, and he coulda made some "pen is mightier than the sword" quip, but they didn't go for it. Thumbs up.)

Then Paul Greengrass took over the reigns for part 2, and almost right off the bat he says "fuck you" to all of that fruity bullshit by having the love interest get shot in the head. Nice. What follows is a much darker, more exciting and compelling action flick that somehow, despite being abso-ludicrous, has a weird sense of authority and plausibility to it. And he has the camera shake all the time.

Well, Greengrass stays on board for part 3, and it's so similar to part 2, beat by beat, that it's almost a remake. But here's the thing: everything has been improved. If part 2 was 5 times better than part 1, than part 3 is 5 times better than both 1 and 2 combined. The movie is even darker. It's bigger and (theoretically) more "out there," yet also more believable and authoritative. The acting and character work is better. He even shakes the camera more. Part 2 is what I think of as a "test-run movie." They tried the style out there, made the template for a new kind of action movie, and in part 3 they perfected it.

About that shakey cam. Some hate it. In some movies, I hate it. But I don't think anyone has ever done it any better than Greengrass and Co. (In fact, from what I can tell from the DVD extra features, his AD Dan Bradley deserves a lot of the props for this). Even when the camera is goin fucking crazy, they always make it clear what you're seeing. And then there is a lot of brilliant editing that ties it all together.

Let's see, where to go next... the action, perhaps? Well, it all rocks, but my favorite is the extended chase and fight sequence in Tangier. I'm not one for hyperbole, but fuck it... this is one of the best action scenes of all time. I'm hard pressed to think of many that beat it. It genuinely thrilled me. I was hungover the first time I saw it, and I got so excited I was actually worried I was going to puke.

I love the way it just builds and builds. It starts out slow, as Bourne trails another assassin, and there is a lot of tension boiling under the surface. Then it morphs into a motorcycle chase, and we are treated to some pretty cool stunts. Nice, I like fun shit like that.

When it turns back into a foot chase is where is really starts to blow me away. Because then it becomes a chase within a chase within a chase. We have Julia Styles' character being chased by the assassin. Then we have the assassin following her, while Bourne tries to follow both of them. Then, while Bourne is trying to do that, the cops start to chase him. Let me throw out a pretentious word of praise: masterful. The writing, directing and editing of this scene, juggling all these threads and making them coherent and exciting, is masterful.

So, when it gets the point where Bourne starts jumping through windows to get from building to building, you figure this is as good as anything you could hope for. There's one shot where the camera actually follows Bourne out a window and right into another one that may be the best, most pure action shot in movie history. It the the epitome of action.

And then it culminates in an all-time great fight scene.

All this complicated editing/rapid fire use of visual information pays off well in other areas of the movie. There is a great scene where the government is trying to track a target at a terminal, using all the surveillance and intelligence at their command. It quickly cuts from camera to camera, to the henchmen spying from vans, to guys spying from roofs, etc etc. And then it shows, mostly just with the visuals, how Bourne out thinks and undercuts all their efforts.

Nathan Lee wrote an interesting review where he discussed Ultimatum as a stealth sequel to Greengrass' United 93 for this very reason. Both movies show vast, powerful intelligence systems, and how they either breakdown or are circumvented. (This is also a major theme in his Bloody Sunday) And that gets me to the perhaps overlooked political element of this film.

This is the best criticism I've seen in a movie of the patriot act and all that, and it does it subtly and without making speeches. We see the constant presence of surveillance and storm troopers, and the way it is manipulated for shady reasons. Characters throw around terms like "rendition," and Greengrass even slips in some waterboarding imagery. He trusts us to just see that it's wrong, and doesn't get all preachy about it. Joan Allen has a line here or there criticizing the behavior of the government spooks, and Bourne has some harsh words for an evil bureaucrat at the end, but it's not something underlined. An audience member could easily ignore it all and just have a good time. And I love that. Greengrass actually succeeded in making an intensely political movie, without making it seem preachy, condescending, or worse, make it into heavy-handed Oscar-bait.

I'm not going to talk too much about the acting, because everyone is great, except to praise Matt Damon. I know no one will ever get an Oscar for an action movie, but damn is he great here. I mean, he takes a completely absurd character and makes him not only believable, which is a feat in and of itself, but also fleshes him out and makes you care. And he does it with very little dialogue, and very subtle changes in his expression. That shit is a lot more impressive than, you know, playing a retard or a Holocaust victim.

Oh! The character work. Good shit. I like the way everyone is very emotionally reserved in this movie. I mentioned that Damon communicates a lot by doing little, and that's true of the script in general. I like the part where Julia Styles implies that they used to have a relationship, and Damon doesn't say anything. He looks like he might, but doesn't, and we know it's not in his nature to have much of an emotional outburst. Then later, after he's basically ruined her life, and she has to go on the run, you think he's going to apologize or thank her or something. Instead he just says "It gets easier." What a softie.

I mentioned earlier that this one is like a remake of part 2, but better, and there are more components of this I wanted to discuss before signing off. First is the morality of the films.

There is a running, admirable theme to the trilogy that violence and murder is ugly work, and taxing to the human soul. Of course, the fact you are being asked to accept this during an action movie is something of a contradiction, but part 3 gets it best.

In 2, Bourne has tried to leave the violence behind him, but he's dragged back in. When he kills the last Treadstone agent, Greengrass says on the commentary, it's played as if he's an alcoholic falling off the wagon. It's a bad thing. Bourne recovers a memory, and it's of him killing two innocent people. At the end, in a unique scene for an action movie, he finds their daughter and confesses what he did to her.

But then there is a revenge element. There's this dude who kills his girlfriend, and of course the movie builds to them facing off. They have Bourne kill him by default, in a car wreck, where Bourne gets out and he's already dead. But the bottom line is, it satisfies our blood lust. We want him dead, hence we want violence. Also, when Bourne exposes the evil government bureaucrat, he refuses to kill him, but then the guy kills himself. So, again, audience bloodlust.

The final film corrects this. Bourne comments that apologizing to his victims families isn't enough. The film has him kill another deadly agent, and also plays it as sad and ugly, basically the same beat from part 2. The memory he recovers this time is of him murdering a man at the government's behest, and he doesn't know who the guy is. It's even more ugly.

There's a big car chase with a hitman type, and it ends in a car crash very similar to part 2. Only this time, when Bourne gets out, the guy is still alive. But Bourne let's him live. And when Bourne faces off against the evil bureaucratic this time, he refrains from killing them again, and the movie is content to simply have him arrested. So, Bourne makes a better attempt at putting non-violence (or, at least, non-murder) into practice, and so does the film itself.

Aw, fuck. I could just keep going on and on, but I'm gonna stop here. This is a lot. This is enough. I love this movie, and I think this post begins to explain why.


Tueaday, January 8, 2008

Well, shit. I kind of guessed this would happen, but it turns out I legitimately liked part 2 of Krapfest a little bit. Whoops.

Jade seemed to me to be universally derided, and I expected it to be a bad thriller, but maybe fun in a trashy way. And I guess it is that, but maybe more fun that I suspected. And not really that bad either. It's written by Joe Eszterhas, and is basically a reworking of his trashy, bad thriller Basic Instinct, which, shit, I also like. This time, it's William Friedkin directing, and with David Caruso and Linda Fiorentino replacing Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone.

(Netflix must not like Linda Fiorentino films, because this is the 2nd one I've gotten from them that they only had in fullscreen. Arrrrgggg!)

Friedkin has a spotty reputation with me, but this was a decent effort. It's an entertaining thriller, not as weird or fascinating as Cruising but I still like the way the guy throws in some unconventional shit. Fucks with the audience a bit. I especially liked where he starts off a flashy, high speed car chase, only to have them drive into some chinese new year parade, and sloooooooowly try to make their way through. It's almost virtuoso in the way it delays the action.

He also throws in a lot of unnecessary flash, and I like that in movies like this.

So like I said, good trashy fun. Not a bad movie at all.

Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

As mentioned before, I wanted to throw a little Krapfest before officially kicking off my Kommitment to Klassiks. You know, see a couple of lousy movies I've been meaning to see before I get all high minded and whatnot.

Ballistic is a pretty legendary bad movie, always showing up on peoples' all time worst lists. I remember talking with my friend John about it when it came out... it looked like one of those silly, ludicrous action movies that is so misguided in its style that it becomes some kind of work of genius. Unintentionally funny, awful genius.

Well, on the accidentally funny scale (where Uwe Boll is the gold standard), this is not as amazing as House of the Dead, but it might be a little more hilarious than Alone in the Dark. It didn't disappoint, and I would watch it again if some friends were involved, but it's probably not quite a classic.

Shit, I should have been taking notes during this one, because there were a lot of ludicrous moments and details. So much that I'd almost suspect that this movie was maybe actually a good silly action movie... almost, except the actual action is so poorly done that I can't believe this to be the case.

You know, I expected a movie that was highly stylized and over-the-top, but in a completely misguided way that comes off as stupid instead of fun or cool. And I was right, but I did not expect it to be staged this shittily. There is no sense of energy or excitement in this movie. Even during all the explosions, and gun fights, and buses sliding on their sides down the road with a machinegun firing Antonio Banderas on top, everything seems to be moving too slow. And I don't just mean because of the frequently (and poorly) employed slo-mo shots. I know people gave Paul Greengrass a lot of shit for shaking the camera a lot in his Bourne movies, but damn if his flicks don't seem urgent. Someone needed to give the director and cameraman some caffeine on this one, get things moving.

There is one kinda actually awesome over-the-top moment where a dude falls off a building, and the camera falls all the way down with him until he smashes into a car.

Banality. That's the problem with this movie. None of the actors seem to give a shit. The dialogue is shockingly bland and arbitrary, to the point where characters start exchanging one-liners during the action scenes that aren't only unfunny, but don't even seem to make much sense. (Which, paradoxically, ends up being some of the funniest stuff in the movie). Even Gregg Henry, in the asshole bad guy Gregg Henry-role, doesn't seem like enough of an asshole. Early on in the movie, he gets mad at some underling for some failure, and demands that the underling shoot himself. The underling holds the gun to his head, and seems ready to shoot himself. Then, he suddenly points the gun at Henry and fires, and (get this) a bullet instead shoots out of the back of the gun, hitting the underling in the head and killing him.

This is just too perplexing to establish Henry as a bad guy. Where did he get this gun? Does he pull this trick a lot? Wouldn't people catch on? Why did the guy even consider shooting himself in the first place? If I fucked up at work, and my boss asked me to shoot myself, I'd just quit.

Any ways, I suspect that this would be a good one to watch with a group of loudmouthed friends, possibly while drunk. Which is probably what I should have done, but oh well.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Touching the Void

Monday, January 7, 2008

So, over break I had Netflixed Last Tango in Paris as something to watch with my girlfriend, who is a big Marlon Brando fan. Well, Sunday comes and goes and now she's back at school and we never got around to it. So I pop it on last night, a little disappointed that I'm watching it without Shenan. But you know, I figure fuck it, let's call this the movie that kicks off Dan's Official 2008 Kommitment to Klassiks.

But then about 45 minutes into it, the disc froze and then kept skipping over 10 minutes of the film, and I couldn't get it to work. So, that's a disappointment on top of another disappointment. However, me again being a glass is half full type, I figure this delaying of the early start of the 2008 K2K was for the best, as it still gives me a chance for my original plan: the 2008 Binge Before Purging Krapfest. I plan to watch Jade and Ecks Vs. Sever and maybe something else as a sort of Fat Tuesday of shitty movies before committing myself to watching a greater percentage of high class stuff.

OK, well, that was a lot of digression before I even started the real post. Touching the Void was a thoughtful gift given to me by my cousin Evan for Christmas of 2006, which I graciously and considerately did not even open the plastic wrap on the DVD case until last night. Oops. I kept meaning to watch it, but I just kept getting new shit, or being too busy, etc etc until I completely forgot I owned it. Then a week or so ago, I remembered.

This is a good documentary by default, because the story is just so damned interesting. It's about a dude who breaks his leg during a very dangerous, snow-stormy mountain climb, tries to fight his way back with his buddy but the buddy ends up having to cut the line when he starts pulling them both off a cliff, he falls off the cliff, lives, lands in some weird ice cave, can't crawl up out of it, risks climbing further into it, finds his way out, then continues to climb down the mountain while bleeding to death and slowly loosing his mind. And he lived to co-narrate the movie. Damn.
The movie itself was a mixed bag. I'm not sure how I felt about the way it combined interview footage of the actual folks involved with re-enacted footage. I mean, I appreciate this visual aspect to a degree, how it shows you what the mountain looks like, their tools, yada yada yada. But then some of the acting, particularly when things get intense, doesn't really hold up. Plus, it's weird to see the actual dudes tell some horrifying part of the story, then cut to some actor fellow who doesn't really look like them pretend to be going through their agony. And also I think the director goes a little overboard with the style on some of these scenes, especially his use of the Darren Aronofsky/Snorricam shots. The story is intense enough on it's own, I don't think we really need these camera tricks to up the empathy level.

Still, it's a interesting story, and grueling. Not just physically what this guy goes through, but mentally as well. There's a part where he recounts that at one point he was convinced that his friends had found him, and were walking with him down the mountain, and they were just hiding. He had peed himself, and he was convinced that they just didn't want to embarrass him. Then, he finally faces up to reality and accepts that they aren't there, and it of course completely crushes him. That is some sad, sad shit right there.

Anyway, thanks Evan.

Monday, January 7, 2008


Sunday, January 6, 2008

I watched the commentary, really just as an excuse to cheer myself up. And it worked. It was a good mix of laughs and information. Maybe a little crowded at times.


Sunday, January 6, 2008

With my girlfriend gone back to school, I wanted to do something yesterday to occupy myself and keep my mind off the fact that I was feeling lonely and down in the dumps. So, I took my mom to see Atonement, which Shenan had already seen without me.

I was worried briefly that seeing a sad movie would put me in a worse mood, but it actually had the opposite effect. You know when something is on your mind, and then you watch a sad movie, and you feel moved and maybe even choke up a bit, and then the movie ends and that passes and you feel better? Well, that's what transpired.

Um, not that I cried or nothin'. Men don't cry. I love titties. Etc.

Well, this isn't quite my favorite of the year, but it might make my list. It probably ties with The Lives of Others for most moving film of the year, but that's not necessarily something I revere above all else, like I think some people do when they talk "great movies."

Actually, although I appreciate the emotional payoff, what I really enjoyed was the over-the-top splendor and melodrama of the style of the film. Especially the absurdly ornate visuals. Everything seems to have a soft glow to it. There is a completely unnecessary (and completely fucking awesome) 5 minute unbroken shot of some dudes walking around a beach and destroyed town full of soldiers during WWII. Every shot seems jam-packed with details, and are staged as elaborately as possible. Like, at one part some characters see planes flying over head, and instead of showing the sky, we see the reflections of the planes in the stream next to them. When a character is shocked to see the word "cunt" written in a message, the giant letters CUNT flash across the screen, 20 feet tall. (OK, actually I could have done without that moment... was it supposed to be funny? not sure what they were going for.)

I love all that kind of shit. That's why I go to the movies. The power of images, man.

The story and the acting, too, is all melodrama. I mean, this is some pretty absurd, complicated, soap-opera type nonsense, but sooooo skillfully done. I kind of thought this movie might be some classy, elegant, subtle type of english drama. But instead it's like it wants to overpower you with melodrama and class and elegance, etc. Like someone gave steroids to a Jane Austen novel, and it grew to be 100 feet tall, and then it fell on top of you and squished you. In a good way.

Everything is underlined, it's not subtle at all, but it's so stylish and well done that I went along for the ride. I have a weakness for big and broad, when it's done well. And that's the key: execution. When I was younger and (if you can believe this) even more insufferably pretentious than I am now, I used to deridingly snort at serious movies that failed to be subtle. But over the last few years, I think I've come to realize that big, loud and capitalized can be just as effective as small, quiet and intimate. It just depends on the execution.


Saturday, January 5, 2008

Mmm mmm. I love me some Argento, and despite some really bad dubbing/acting, this is one of his best. Violent, stylish and bizarre... love it.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

There Will Be Blood

Saturday, January 5, 2008

This is a hard one to talk about... I know I enjoyed it, but I'm not sure how much.

It is completely different than everything else Paul Thomas Anderson has done, and it's not recognizable as his work. It's big in scope, but keeps a tighter cast of characters, isn't too eager to get chatty and is mysterious.

Well, I feel like I need to see this one again before I can make up my mind over it, but I'm also not sure I want to do that right away. Maybe give it some time.

My main thing is... it's a long movie, and for the first 2 hours or so, I didn't feel much. It was always interesting, and well-shot, well-acted, etc, but the material didn't stir up any emotions or passion or anything like that. But then, I have to say, everything wraps up really well in the last 40 minutes or so. So, I know all the earlier stuff is there for a good reason, because it's all important build-up for the finale. The question is... will seeing it again enrich the first 2 hours, or make me enjoy them more? Or will it remain a well-made but sterile extended prologue to a really strong pay-off?

Usually I like to rate every movie I see on Netflix, but I haven't been able to give this one a solid rating. Somewhere between 3 and 5. Does that make it a 4?

Two Girls and a Guy

Friday, January 4, 2008

This is an enjoyable and well-acted movie in which nobody behaves at all like an actual human being. It's James Toback, so I'm guessing this is a mix of scripted and improvised scenes. It's about 2 girls who realize they are both dating the same guy, and so they ambush him. It pretty much all takes place in his apartment, as he tries to schmooze his way out of the situation.

Like I said, no one in the movie reacts to anything like a real person would, but the characters are still interesting, articulate and funny. It's short, it doesn't add up to much, but it's a fun watch.

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Science of Sleep

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

I don't have a lot to say here. I feel the same way at I usually do about Michel Gondry's films... it took a lot of imagination and energy to create, but the end result does not engage me on an emotional level.

Gael Garcia Bernal is (typically) good in this, but damn is this one obnoxious character. I'll give him and Gondry credit and assume that he was supposed to be irritating (and not lovable, as I occasionally feared they were going for), but still sympathetic. They don't really succeed in making him sympathetic, though, and it hurts the final product. He's so socially awkward and weirdly obsessive that you just don't like being around the guy.

It's possible to have this kind of character in a movie and build empathy for him, though. Look at something like One Hour Photo. Robin Williams is a complete fucking nut in that one, but you at least feel some understanding of his loneliness. Garcia Bernal just comes off like a whiny bitch in this movie.

I'm still looking forward to Be Kind, Rewind, though.

Friday the 13th

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

You hear the same guys who did the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake are going to remake this one? I guess I'm curious. I mean, I like Jason, but these movies aren't exactly great. Meaning, it wouldn't really hurt my feelings if the remake sucked, and that there's also room for improvement. I'm assuming Bay, Nispel and Co. are going to go for a similar vibe as they did with TCM and make it a cliched and generic slasher picture, but also grim and violent.

Which is odd, because I always thought the F13 movies were fun, and not really scary or atmospheric. So, maybe we'll be getting a new take on Jason.

A month or 2 back, Shenan and I watched part 2, which I had remembered as being one of the good ones. But I had not seen it in a long time, and it turns out that it's pretty boring. It's got some good ideas, like the extended fake-out opening where the hero of part 1 gets killed. And there are some classic scenes, like the couple getting impaled while fucking, or the wheelchair kid flying down the stairs with a machete in his face. I guess this was the shit I remembered, but that I completely forgot that the rest of it is boring and poorly staged. And the plot makes no sense... Jason was never dead? He's some crazy redneck in the woods? Huh?

So I was a little nervous sitting down to watch this one, worried that I remembered it as being good even though it actually sucked.

But I am happy to report that it's exactly how I remember it: an average, entertaining Halloween ripoff. No more, no less. Important to us horror geeks for the series it spawned, but only a mild pleasure itself.

How this spun off into the biggest, most bloated slasher series of all time, I have no idea. It's a pretty modest, run-of-the-mill late 70s/early 80s slasher/whodunit with a few good ideas, some good gore and a couple of memorable scenes. It's funny though, if you were to watch this back-to-back with one of the later, indulgant sequels, you'd probably have no idea that the two movies were in any way related. But, the series perfectly charts the history of the slasher genre, the way it became more about the bodycount and the gore, etc. Not that part 1 was some classy affair, but it's interesting to watch the series descend into sleaze. (And frankly, some of the sleazier ones are a lot more entertaining than the original.)

Graveyard Shift

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Just three days after watching an evil rats movie, here comes another one. This time, from the Stephen King set.

I remember the short story, and I remember liking it. I liked the movie, too. The story was a lot creepier, but the movie was fun. It's a good, not great, little monster movie with some cool makeup effects and whatnot. It didn't seem to have a very large budget or anything, but it looked nice, and I thought the evil rat king was pretty sweet. (Although I remember the story having a whole shitload of weird mutant rats... the movie only has this one, which is a missed opportunity for aweomeness).

The acting was also pretty good, for this type of affair. Straightforward, likeable characters vs. rats. Except the dude playing the villain, who goes really over-the-top, and not in a good way. More iin a stupid way. Which is a shame, because the movie already has Brad Dourif in a good over-the-top performance as a rat catcher. Which was enough, but this villain dude has to go and spoil everything.

Still, I liked it.

Pet Sematary

Monday, December 31, 2007

I picked up a cheap set of 4 Stephen King movies. Shenan and I watched this one New Year's Eve to kill time before the party.

Hadn't seen this one since I was a kid, and I vaguely remembered liking it. Turns out that it's pretty lame, even if it does have Tasha Yar and the guy from Time Trax.

A pretty mediocre effort, but with a few choice moments of gore. Also, there's a really (I think unintentionally) funny scene where two guys get into a fistfight at a funeral and knock the casket over.

This did bring up a childhood memory. When I was young, an older kid I knew made with his parents video camera some stupid Pet Sematary knockoff called, if I remember correctly, Sixth Cemetery. Don't ask me why one would want to imitate Pet Sematary, or whyone would think Sixth Cemetery was a good title. The best part, though, was that at the end, he just spliced in the end credits from Pet Sematary, complete with the Ramones' theme song. Except every time Joey sang the word "pet," this kid dubbed in himself saying "sixth."

That shit still makes me smile, like 15 years later.

Demons 2

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Andy and I finished up the pre-New Year's Eve Movie Marathon with the enjoyable sequel to the classic Demons. I've been pushing this a lot on here, but Demons is fucking great. Such a rare, perfect combination of intentional entertaining horror movie lunacy, and unintentional comedy.

Part Deux is not up to snuff with the first film, but it has it's merits. It's basically a rehash of the first movie, but with less amusingly awful dialogue (certainly it's less quotable) and also less violence (which I find confusing). Still, it has the same entertaining visual style, manic energy, fun special effects and the same kind of lunatic, nonsensical, fever dream of a plot.

Instead of an outbreak of demons at a movie theater, this time it happens in an apartment complex. Not quite as memorable, but still a good setting, opens up some new gimmicks, etc. I like the way the infected demon blood drips down from floor to floor and nails the unsuspecting inhabitants below.

One of my favorite parts of the original is what Andy and I refer to as the "Punks in a Car" motif. About halfway into Demons, the movie randomly cuts to a stolen car full of coke-snorting punks, miles away from the action. They all do some amazing overacting, with plenty of great-awful dialogue, and what's great is it's a total non-sequitor to cut from demons attacking people in a theater to a car full of punks doing jack shit. Ok, so you figure this is going somewhere. The punks do eventually show up at the theater, so maybe they will help fight off the demons, etc. But instead, once they end up at the theater, there is a scene of them being attacked and then they vanish from the film. Later, if you watch really closely and have seen the movie 4 or 5 times, you will notice that some of them are now in the background as demons.

I guess the point of the subplot is to explain how the demons get out into the real world, after one of the punks opens the door to the theater. I guess. It's still all completely asinine, and completely genius. And I bring this up, because part 2 out-asinines it in a way that makes me suspect that director Lamberto Bava is asinine like a fox. Because in Demons 2, we get another random car full of punks, who are on their way to the apartment building. It occasionally randomly cuts to them driving around, just like in part 1. Only this time, they get into a fender bender, and that's the last you see of them. They never actually make it to the apartment. They have nothing to do with the rest of the movie.

Bravo, Bava. Check and mate.

This was my 2nd time seeing Demons 2, it probably won't be my last, but I'm not going to watch it a million times like the original. Still, a good way to end our movie marathon. Good times.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Rats: Night of Terror

Sunday, December 30, 2007

OK, this is a little more what I think I had in mind for our movie festival. This is one of them low budget, late 70s/early 80s italian horror/exploitation films I am so damn fond of, complete with graphic violence, bad writing, worse dubbing, and full frontal female nudity.

Well, this isn't a great one by any means. It's no Demons, that's for sure. Hell, it ain't even a Nightmare City in terms of quality. It's too fucking slow in the middle, not quite violent enough, and it lacks the requisite amount of accidental comedy.

Still, I'm gonna need to check out something else by this Bruno Mattei fellow, because I can sense that he has "the touch." There are enough moments here in Rats: Night of Terror that I suspect this guy makes good-bad sleazoid horror films, and hopefully not the boring or pervy kind.

I think Andy and I knew this wasn't going to a complete waste of time when the movie started with a text crawl. See, we figured this one was going to be a pretty simple horny teens running afoul of evil rats scenrio. Not content with that simple bullshit, Mattei and co. open by letting us know that this takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, 225 years A.B. (after the bomb). And instead of horny teens, it's a horny, post-apocalyptic roving motorcycle gang. Running afoul of evil rats. Nice.

So, like I said, no classic, but there are moments. Like when one unfortunate girl gets a rat up the pussy. Youch! And not only that, but then it comes out her mouth... that's the kind of extra effort I'm looking for in these kinds of shitty movies.

Then there is a completely ridiculous, hilarious twist ending that is so fucking silly that I think it reaches some kind of level of genius. You see, the opening text explains that most of earth's inhabitants live underground, and that they hate the ones that live above and consider them savages. So at the end, the 2 survivoring bikers are saved by a bunch of dudes in gas masks who gas all the rats to death. These obviously must be the people who live under the earth. Only when they take off the masks... OMG they are giant people sized rats!!!!!!

This sounds reatrded, and it is. But but but... I started wondering why the giant rats were killing the other rats instead of the humans. Then I remembered the opening text. These giant rats are the underground dwellers mentioned in the beginning, and it's the above ground rats that they hate and think are savages, not the humans.

That they actually set this ridiculous twist up in the opening I think earns some kind of special B-movie medal for Best Worst Thinking Outside the Box-type Extra Effort in a Horror Film award. Go for the gold!

In conclusion, this is not one I will likely watch again. But I'm thinking of checking out more by Bruno Mattei, maybe Hell of the Living Dead. I get the feeling he's got a classic awesome shitty movie somewhere in his filmography.