Posts Tagged ‘saw

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.

10
Jan
09

The Poughkeepsie Tapes Review

That's a lot of tapes.  Guy must of had a reward zone card for Best Buy.

That's a lot of tapes. Guy must of had a reward zone card for Best Buy.

The Poughkeepsie Tapes (or simply Tapes, as I will refer to it from here on out) is not a movie.

I’ll let that sink in.

“When hundreds of videotapes showing torture, murder and dismemberment are found in an abandoned house, they reveal a serial killer’s decade-long reign of terror and become the most disturbing collection of evidence homicide detectives have ever seen.” -Tribeca Film Festival Synopsis.

It’s a mockumentary, minus the comedy and satire.  It’s a mockumentary that houses a two-pronged attack of brutally accurate portrayals of torture, murder and dismemberment seamlessly interwoven with expert analysis and the thoughts and memories of those who were affected by the killers rampage, and those who were hunting him down.

In fact, it’s not too far removed from what the Discovery channel and TLC show on a daily basis.  All those shows about FBI profilers and how they catch these seriously deranged serial killers all seemed to be influential to the Dowdle Brothers, who both penned and directed Tapes.

And  writing may actually be Tapes strongest assets, although I’m sure it will get lost amidst all the chatter about the lengthy, suspenseful, and downright shocking film the killer shoots himself that is shown at certain intervals throughout.  The writing leaps off the screen, as the Dowdle brothers concoct a credible, highly intelligent, innovative killer and sets him loose in the “Anywhere, USA” suburbs of Poughkeepsie, New York.  The killer taunts his pursuers and gives cryptic clues for investigators to find, knowing far in advance where exactly the authorities will look to find them.  It’s this depth to a nameless, faceless character that brings us closer to him than is comfortable for most audiences.  Instead of being bogged down with trite, rationalizing back story about how the killer was beaten as a child or not hugged enough as a baby, we instead get an uncompromising and genius killer, who has found a way to elude the authorities all while documenting his spree.

A brief glimpse of the killer's throrough work.

A brief glimpse of the killer's thorough work.

Direction is also key, not so much in the static look of the interview pieces, (with the exception of the interview with Cheryl which actually made me lose sleep, it’s that fucking clever and disturbing) but in the low-fi, slow burn masterwork of the killers tapes.  The camera is almost always in the right position, whether it’s showing you everything that’s going on, or whether it’s showing you nothing, such as the inside of a car door, or an empty room.  There are times where the camera will be haphazardly placed, seemingly by accident, and we are left with just the screams and pleads of the victim and the orders of the killer to clue us in of what going on.  It’s a time-tested approach that works flawlessly here.  Show some gore in full view to screw with audience equilibrium, and then deprive them seeing something later on.  It works in two ways.  Once you don’t show the audience a scene straight on, it gets their minds working.  They create in their head horrible visions of what must be going on.  It also works to create a sickening feeling in the viewers, because they have to realize that they WANT to see whats happening, so much so they are willing to create the images in their own heads to replace the ones that aren’t on the screen.  It’s a lost art, but it’s a tactic employed by the Dowdle Bros. in exemplary fashion.

Eyes Without A Face reference in the movie.  Who would've thought?

Eyes Without A Face reference in the movie. Who would've thought?

With the audio and visual facets of the film firmly in and place grounded in reality, the one area where horror, or should I say terror in this case, goes awry is usually the acting.  You can have all your ducks in a row as far as directing and writing are concerned, but if your actors don’t come through in creating these characters in the physical form, than everything is lost.  Thankfully, the Dowdle Bros. must have been keen on this, and not only hired no names, but no names who looked liked everyday people.  I’m not sure how involved with the casting they were, but from what I’ve read and inferred through the piece itself, it seems fairly obvious they were pivotal in every decision made.  The most all inclusive and flattering thing I can say is, and this goes for the whole endeavor, not JUST the acting, if this were played one TV on night, and no one was told it wasn’t real, there would be a legitimate fear and uproar in many communities around the U.S.  It’s that believable.  So believable that even though I knew coming in it wasn’t real, I still lost sleep over it, and was looking over my shoulder while watching it.  It’s orchestrated with the sole intention of, if nothing else, to stay with you long after the credits have rolled.

Tapes has a long, uphill battle ahead it.  Still having no official release date for theatrical or dvd release, it is caught in release purgatory.  And once it is released, it will undoubtedly be met with serious backlash from angry mothers and politicians who won’t even bother to see the flick, but instead just berate both those who created it, and its fans.  It will be labeled as the next sick evolutionary step in the Torture Porn sub genre, when it really has a lot less to do with the fantasy world that movies like SAW occupy, and a lot more to do with the gritty, unfair, demented world we live in everyday.  There’s no sense of morals, right and wrong, or justification that other horror flicks try to implore.  It is just cruel, relentless, remorseless and always 10 steps ahead of you.  Just like the killer.

The Poughkeepsie Tapes has, buried underneath it’s tough outer shell, an insane amount of creativity and artistic ingenuity.  If an opportunity to see this bound-to-be-lost gem arises, don’t hesitate.  Just don’t plan on going to bed immediately afterward.

28
Dec
08

Alex’s Top 10 Movies of the Year!!!!!!

Greetings fellow Midnighters!!!!  Here is my video of my top ten films of the year.  Sorry it turned out to be much longer than I anticipated, but I had a lot to say.  DIG IN!

29
Oct
08

Saw V – Spoiler Free Review

Saw V

Saw V

Readers of this blog will know that I am a self-confessed Saw fanboy. So I was eager to see how the Saw franchise would move forward with the death of it’s leading character.

Fear not dear reader, this review will be spoiler free, I will not be giving away any new plot details, I promise!

Saw V begins with a quick review of what we found out at the end of Saw IV, that Jigsaw is dead, Strahm is trapped in a room and the other players from IV are also dead. The only survivor is Hoffman.

Saw V starts with the pendulum trap that we saw in one of the first clips released. V spends half of its time jumping back and forth between the past explaining stuff (‘stuff’ that I shan’t expand upon), and the present, with five new players in a trap. This is the ‘five will become one’ clip that was circulating before the release of V.

A lot of questions are answered in Saw V, but – true to the series – more questions arise as the movie trundles along. Speaking of which, I found the first twenty or so minutes quite slow, but – true to form – picked up pace. This is definitely more of a story Saw, than a gore Saw.

You won’t believe how it ends‘ say all the posters. Well, I obviously won’t give away the ending, but it’s hardly earth shattering – still a nice twist though.

I breath a sigh of relief and say: I like Saw V, I’m still a fan. And well done Mr Hackl too, his first full film as a Director, and it looks good… has the continuity of Saw I – IV (hardly surprising since Hackl practically is Jigsaw!), it’s dark, nicely lit and gory when it needs to be.

I just worry that there’s an outsider lined up to Direct Saw VI. Oh well, won’t be long now ’til Oct ’09…

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/

21
Oct
08

Top 5 (+3) Posters for Halloween

It was near impossible for me pick just five, and somehow I managed to stop myself from cruising the Internet and sifting through my own collection at the magical number of…8


The criteria I used for my picks was simple.  Firstly, I had to actually know about or enjoy the movie’s themselves, as I will try to couple something akin to a mini-review with each poster.  Also, I tried to choose the most creative and eye-popping of the bunch, and if possible, the ones that have really cool innuendo, double-images, or are just plain sick and twisted.

In no particular order.

You see?  It's a skull, but it's also the women from the flick. That's fucking cool.

You see? It's a skull but it's also the women from the film. That's fucking cool.

If you haven’t yet seen Neil Marshall’s The Descent, then you need to go rent, buy, download, borrow from a buddy, or…something and see this flick.  The Descent is one of the most legitimately terrifying, psychologically draining, and claustrophobic films our generation is likely to ever see, and unfortunately the poster you see above wasn’t used very much in advertising for the film.  The reason?  Well, it probably had something to do with some stuck up liberal cunt thinking that the fact that women are screaming and posing on a poster is somehow sexist and degrading to women.  The irony of course, is that the movie is one of the strongest and best portrayals of women I’ve ever seen, in or out of the horror genre.  Anyway, this one-sheet gets on my list for being very innovative, slightly sexual, and having sweet double-imagery.  Oh, and the movie itself is near perfection.  That never hurts.

So much going on.  And the movie actually has ALL that crpa in it!

So much going on. And the movie actually has ALL that crap in it!

The Beyond is one of my all time favs.  Reviewed already on here by my best buddy Ronnie, who wasn’t as fanatical as I was about it, he still gave it some credit for being a cool little gore/zombie flick.  This poster, to me, represents perfectly the sheer chaos the film exudes.  Zombified girls getting their fucking heads blown off by grown men with a .357 magnum.  People running from scary shit.  Lots of screaming.  Dead people.  More dead people.  Mega bonus points for the almost “hand drawn” feel to it, and just the sheer amount of scenes from the movie they were able to fit into one sheet a paper without actually ruining some of the best parts, which of course are the gnarly kills.

Someones about to get a good Ol' fashioned raping.  Wait, IN A HITCHCOCK FILM?!?!?!?!?

Someones about to get a good ol' fashioned raping/murder combo. Wait, IN A HITCHCOCK FILM?!?!?!?

This one threw me for a total loop.  Hitchcock, a man known for his thrillers and endless amount of class in dealing with sex and violence eloquently, yet this poster seems to suggest something totally different.  While Rear Window still is my favorite Hitchcock film, Dial M for Murder is a damn close second.  This poster seems very risky, even if we saw something like it today.  I mean, the girl is obviously in peril, and not only is it clear that the shady man’s intentions are to silence that bitch permanently, he may also be looking to get some non-consensual love while he’s at it.  Again folks, this is pretty dark, twisted, and edgy for Hitchcock, probably why I had never seen it before I started digging for posters for this project.

Spooky.

Spooky.

Fulci again graces my list, and this time for a film that is considered by many to be his nastiest.  House by the Cemetery has a reputation for being possibly the most sadistic and grotesque of Fulci’s work, a man who has nack for combing the surreal elements of Giallo films, with the raw horsepower of lingering, graphic, and sickening violence.  If you wanna see the most fucked up slit throat scene in the history of slit throat scenes, grab yourself a copy of this gore classic.  The poster though, speaks to me on a very Halloween “spooky” level, and is…dare i say…very classy and simple.  A little shadow play with a disfigured face up in the clouds, a full moon, a dark, twisty, kind of bent house and a graveyard with some fog.  This is the kind of stuff you see if a movie theater, and immediately turn to your friend and say “Fuck yeah were seeing that when it comes out!”

I so want this one my wall one day.  Cre-epy!

I so want this one my wall one day. Cre-epy!

Del Toro nailed two birds with one stone with his adult Gothic fairy tale Pan’s Labyrinth.  He not only re-asserted himself as one of the premiere genre directors to watch out for, but also may have creating the defining piece of his entire career.  I just don’t know how he will eclipse of movie that not only showed so much creativity and imagination , but had not one, but two amazing story lines to boot.  (One storyline taking place inside the “Fairy-Tale” world, and the other happening in reality)  This teaser poster always made me sweat in anticipation when I was waiting for this one to come out, and it’s because it’s both incredibly simple, and very creepy.  That sure looks like a “Baphomet” type character to me, not someone who I would let lead a small girl into another dimension.  Another movie that’s highly recommended and another poster I plan to one day have framed on a wall somewhere.  Alice in Wonderland for grown ups, but really really fucking twisted.

What the fuck is that thing on that poor girls HEAD?!?!?!?

What the fuck is that thing on that poor girls HEAD?!?!?!?

How much blood will you shed to stay alive?  Do I really need to say anything else?  The movie (notice I didn’t say series, as everyone seems to have different opinions about how the series has been handled, especially going into the 5th entry in ’08) that changed how audiences viewed horror movies forever, and catapulted the “Torture Porn” sub-category into the cross-hairs of oversensitive fagots worldwide, also happened to have one of the best marketing campaigns ever.  Starting with teaser posters that began floating around the Internet as early as 2001, and extending to some of the most clever “We’re showing you a lot but you have no fucking idea whats actually going on” trailers, SAW burst onto the scene and claimed it it’s own within weeks of its release theatrically.  A perfect tag-line.  A girl in peril without having to rely on sexuality.  One of the best movies series ever. It may not save horror, but it made me believe in slashers again.

It may not save horror, but it made me believe in slashers again.

The tag-line reads “It’s not a remake.  It’s not a sequel.  And it’s not based on a Japanese one.”  Hatchet was a movie I had my eyes on for almost four years, before finally getting to experience it myself in 2007.  Sometimes waiting for shit is a really good thing.  Hatchet delivered on every promise it’s first time director made.  The gore was ALL practical, NO cgi fuckery.  There were ample breasts, some extremely funny humor, some great boo scares, an incredibly likable monster/slasher, and the list goes on and on.  This poster sums the whole thing up too.  It’s an original piece of old school American horror, and sometimes all you need is an axe with some blood on it.  Run, don’t walk, to get your hands on this gem.

The Trick was to Stay Alive.  That is so classic

The Trick was to Stay Alive. That is so classic. And that chick is so fucked.

The poster no one ever saw.  Apparently there are some stories about how much trouble this little poster got into, but I haven’ been able to put all the pieces together, and I don’t want to sit here and just make shit up, so I will instead give you my take on it.  The picture itself is mostly distorted, obviously we can make out a girl in terror, and a hand outside that’s getting dangerously close to her.  Anyone who has seen the film knows what scene this is from.  The Tag-line here really butters my biscuit though.  “The Trick was to Stay Alive.”  That’s some badass shit folks.  Like, if Michael Myers ever needed a one-liner, it would have to be that.  The easy choice was the classic “pumpkin with a knife” poster, but this one, when I found it, spoke to me, especially with the woman in terror and then the incredible tag-line.  And again, it doesn’t give away too much, just enough to put asses in seats.

BONUS!!!!!!!!!!!

For those who have never been treated to seeing the made for tv halloween special, here is, in three parts via youtube, The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t!!!!!

P.S.  Told you I’d find it mom.  Love ya!



30
Sep
08

Internet Oddities

A continuation of the series where I show shit I’ve found that I think you should see.

Aliens prank gone bad…vengeance is a mother.

Whoa.



I gotta install one of these. Maybe get myself a Halbird while I’m at it.



I. Love. John. Woo.

Laugh out Loud funny. The backflip is the best.

Get you claymation fix.