Posts Tagged ‘Corpses

24
Jan
09

REPO! The Genetic Opera Review (Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman of SAW fame)

Badass.  Digging the Communist theme.

Badass. Digging the Communist theme.

Repo! The Genetic Opera is the brainchild of Darren Lynn Bousman, who most of you know as one half of the team that made SAW such an immensely popular and lucrative franchise, and buddy Terrance Zdunich, who is mainly a storyboard artist working on movies and TV shows.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the plot.

In the year 2056 – the not so distant future – an epidemic of organ failures devastates the planet. Out of the tragedy, a savior emerges: GeneCo, a biotech company that offers organ transplants, for a price. Those who miss their payments are scheduled for repossession and hunted by villainous Repo Men. In a world where surgery addicts are hooked on painkilling drugs and murder is sanctioned by law, a sheltered young girl searches for the cure to her own rare disease as well as information about her family’s mysterious history. After being sucked into the haunting world of GeneCo, she is unable to turn back, as all of her questions will be answered at the wildly anticipated spectacular event: The Genetic Opera. Written by Lionsgate

If there’s one thing that is grossly apparent right off the bat, it’s that Bousman and Zdunich have a lot of respect and love for cult classics such as Rocky Horror Picture Show and also seem influenced by more elegant and classic opera works such as Phantom of the Opera.  There’s even a bit of The Who’s rock opera Tommy in there.  It’s no shock that the mind that helped push the SAW franchise forward would be able to create a Gothic, dystopian future, but credit must be given for slick, yet earthly atmosphere embedded in the sometimes hallucinogenic visuals of the film.  It looks great, period.

Bousman manages to keep the narrative moving along swiftly with great focus, even while dealing with the difficult medium of opera.  That’s right kids, an opera where no word of dialogue is ever simply “said.”  Unlike musicals, where there can be breaks in between musical passages to drive the story home with normal movie dialogue, Bousman ensures that every word is “sung”, which can be very awkward at first when your not expecting it.  It’s difficult to accurately describe, but once you see and hear it you will clearly understand what obstacles must have popped up from this bold and daring choice.  Other than that, Bousman also unleashes some incredibly awesome graphic novel panels to fill us in VERY quickly of a particular characters background.

Paul Sorvino and his shotgun-wielding ninja chick bodyguards.

Paul Sorvino and his shotgun-wielding ninja chick bodyguards.

It may be a tricky type of film to make, but Bousman is a razor-sharp horror producer and director, and knew that if he brought in the right talent, he would have a chance to lure in a slew of fans regardless of the experimental nature of the film.  Paris Hilton (Super Global Slut) , Anthony Head (Giles from the Buffy TV Series), Sarah Brightman (acclaimed opera/classical singer and once married to Lloyd Weber who wrote Phantom of the Opera), Bill Moseley (Of House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devils Rejects fame) and Paul Sorvino round out the eclectic nucleus of the cast.  Terrance Zdunich also has a fairly large role as the Graverobber, and steals the show with his “Zydrate Anatomy” song.  The cast is, like so many aspects of this brave venture into total cult cinema, uneven throughout, with those who can sing clearly being more enjoyable and tolerable than those who can’t, with Alexa Vega and Bill Moseley probably being the two biggest culprits.  Hopefully the star power and notoriety brought by those actors outweighs the damage they have done by simply being the weak links vocally.

Sarah Brightman definitely has some bitchin' pipes.  And she's kinda sexy, in that scary way.  She probably a goddamn witch in real life.

Sarah Brightman definitely has some bitchin' pipes. And she's kinda sexy, in that scary way. She's probably a goddamn witch in real life.

Which leads me to my assessment of the acting itself, which again can be easily defined as uneven.  While some amount of over and under acting is perfectly acceptable in horror, especially in something this theatrical and over the top, but sometimes the cartoon like personalities crossed the line between tasteful and embarrassingly out of place.  At times the actors would play very serious, as if this carried the same weight as The Phantom of the Opera, and at other times it was clear everyone was having fun and things were much more airy and carefree.  I waited for the flick to settle down, and choose a definite mood and direction, but it never did, as it gleefully jumped back and forth between trying to be emotionally heavy and serious, and being grin-worthy, funny and lightweight.  Maybe I am reading to much into something that can’t truly be defined, but I would have loved to see some lines drawn pertaining to acceptable behavior from all characters, as you would with any other film.

She got the creepy, goggley eyes.  Burn at the stake, you kinda-sexy witch.

She's got the creepy, googly eyes. Burn at the stake, you kinda-sexy witch.

The final piece of the Repo puzzle is one that isn’t a very common problem in movies, the soundtrack.  That’s not to say all movies has great soundtracks, but they also don’t rely as heavily as Repo does on its’ music.  So how does the song selection hold up?  Take a guess.

UNEVEN.

Some of the songs, like Zydrate Anatomy and Legal Assassin knock it completely out of the park, while others are either too short or too gimmicky to be considered truly great. While taste is bound to vary from viewer to viewer, I felt the music was acceptable, but could’ve benefitted from maybe one or two ballads complete with verses, chorus, and a bridge and a few more rock and roll anthems.

There's also some gore, which is very well done, but used very rarely.

There's also some gore, which is very well done, but used very rarely.

I, like so many of you, have waited for years, eagerly anticipating this movie to be released in any format, anywhere.  And while it may look and sound like I have nothing but negative things to say about Repo!, I feel it’s a case of me being exceptionally critical of a piece of work I felt had all ingredients to really show the world how versatile the “horror” genre can truly be.  Repo is by no means a failure, but instead comes off as a combination of over-indulgence and lofty ambitions.  It succeeds at what it aimed to do, but the cost for achieving that goal may be a dent in Bousman’s reputation, depending on how this is received in the community.  There’s no doubt in my mind that this vehicle can be used to create an amazing, genre-bending film, but Repo! isn’t that flick.

There’s a lot of psychotropic, semi-gory fun to be had with Repo!, but it’s kinda like looking for a 20 dollar bill in your friends extremely messy room, you know it’s worth it to look, but your gonna have to sift through some shit to get what you want.

27
Oct
08

House (2008)

House

House

House starts off innocently enough: a man and wife are driving to an appointment, end up lost and are given directions to help them on their way. Surprise surprise, they end up at an old (seeminly abandoned) house.

There, they meet another couple who found their way to the house. Suddenly the houses inhabitants reveal themselves. A rather inbred looking bunch of redneck sorts. At this point, House reminded me of House of 1,000 Corpses (awesome film by the way) so I was quite excited about it all.

As they become trapped in the house, stalked by some madman outside, the houses inhabitants turn nasty and it’s survival of the fittest with the two couples. Things take a weird twist here with each of the four people having flashbacks to their past. Apparently the stalker only hunts the guilty, and in their flashbacks we see what it is they’re guilty of. But the story also pits the couples against one another with the husbands being told to kill their wives, kill each other and vice versa. So by now I’m thinking that this film is part Addams Family, part Saw. No bad thing at all! As the stalker leaves his calling card (a tin can) it becomes more like Saw. And I’m a Saw fanboy, so I’m very excited now!

As the killer shows himself and things are explained it all goes pear-shaped. It goes from being a fight-for-survival horror, to a more fantasy film! I have to say, I was MOST dissapointed… I had such high hopes for this film! If they could reshoot the ending to make it less fantasy based, I’d recommend it. But as it is? I can only recommend the first three-quarters of the film, the rest is garbage.

Acting is sufficient, effects are ok, the one thing I did notice most was the lighting. Plenty of warm colours played against cool colours. Very colourful, but not in a cartoony way.

By the end of the film, a lot of things are left unexplained (eg: what is the black fog?) and the twist ending isn’t a very good twist and I was left thinking: is that it???!!!

Also, according to IMDb (aka: the Bible) this movie received an R rating. I have no idea why, as it has NO blood and NO gore what so ever. I think money changed hands there to get an R rating for hype purposes.

If you really must see a film called House, I recommend the 1986, highly under-rated, gem: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091223/

26
Oct
08

Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue)

Great movie poster.  Blah movie.

Great movie poster. Blah movie.

Let sleeping corpses lie also known as the living dead a the Manchester morgue is yet another fairly well known European zombie flick, no doubt created in the wake of the success of Romero’s American zombie works.  Apparently someone was sleeping (get it, sleeping) when they were studying other zombie movies, because besides a few gnarly scenes, this walking dead romp is lacking in the fundamentals.

Gore specifically.  Sure, you can make a zombie flick without heavily relying on blood and guts to keep the audience interested, but it’s kinda like ice skating uphill.  The very nature of the dead coming back to life to eat the living brings all sorts of wild images into the imagination, and unless your a master at creating atmosphere and a tight, tense story, your going to have to have some seriously gross scenes to keep people squirming, and above all keep them caring.

Acting isn’t to fault here, as you might expect with a foreign, dubbed zombie film.  Our main duo do their jobs adequately, so much so that’s there’s really nothing I can complain about.  I just wish there was more for them in terms of harrowing scenes, violence, and atmosphere to react and be a part of.  The supporting cast isn’t really too important, but I should mention the inspector, who does a great job as being the “non-believer” prick type guy throughout the whole ordeal.

The plot is more than serviceable, as a pair of “hippie” types run into each other at a gas station, then later are accused of murder, for which the real culprit is of course, zombies.  According to this mythos though, zombies don’t show up in photographs, are sometimes referred to as ghosts, can speed up their shuffle walk when need be, and their only weakness is fire.

Directing is kept pretty modest, with a few interesting POV shots and interesting angles, but nothing really pops off the screen and grabs you.  In horror, there’s a major difference between watching and experiencing, and this definitely falls into the category of just something you merely watch.

I was expecting a lot more, especially since Sleeping Corpses has a strong online reputation and following.  For the zombie enthusiast, this is somewhat recommendable, but chances are if your ga-ga about the undead, you have already seen or at least heard of this one.  To the more casual fan, this is easily overlooked, as the European theater of film has literally dozens of superior walking dead titles to choose from.

As for the Inspector I mentioned earlier.  We do get an awesome quote from him though.

“You’re all the same the lot of you, with your long hair and faggot clothes. Drugs, sex, every sort of filth!”