31 March 2013

Happy Easter - with "WATERSHIP DOWN"

WATERSHIP DOWN

Alternate German Title:
Unten am Fluss

UK, 1978
Director: Martin Rosen

9/10








I still remember very well when I first saw "Watership Down". It was a Sunday afternoon in the early 90s. It was Spring, but the weather outside was shite. Fortunately, there was an animation film on TV, a non-Disney-film about a bunch of bunnies. Sounded solid to me, so I sat down with some choc and tried to have a good time with it - but to my surprise, it wasn't exactly enjoyable! It was actually rather disturbing and I ended up pretty unsettled - and stoked!


"Watership Down", the adaptation of Richard Adams' best-selling novel of the same name and the first of only two features by British director Martin Rosen, is undoubtedly one of the greatest animation movies of all time, next to "The Secret of NIMH" and "My Neighbor Totoro". Forget about Disney or Pixar, this is the real deal (well, my humble opinion...).

The film tells the and touching and very thought-provoking story of young rabbit Fiver who receives a scary vision of his barren's destruction, which forces him and his fellow rabbits to flee and search for a new, safe place. Along their way, they encounter quirky characters like the black-headed Gull "Kehaar" or the strange rabbit "Cowslip", but also many dangerous and violent threats like trigger-happy humans, hungry hawks or the cruel rabbits of Efrafa.


The naturalistic animations look top-notch, especially the beautifully drawn landscape-backgrounds, all the animals (General Woundwort!!) and all the gore - yes, gore! Holy shit! No wonder I was disturbed as a kid: rabbits in snares, choking, coughing out blood, rabbits covered in scars, rabbits shot and wounded, the bloody end fight, and of course the infamous scene where the fields turn blood-red. These scenes are still shocking.

The rabbits are all likeable (at least the good ones) and their voices all fit perfect (John Hurt, Richard Briers, Roy Kinnear, Zero Mostel...), Angela Morley's soundtrack is wonderful and you just have to love Art Garfunkel's pop-gem "Bright Eyes".


A tremendous, impressive and timeless animation-classic.
"Perfect" for Easter Sundays ;-)

30 March 2013

"DEVIL TIMES FIVE" (Chilling Classics 50 Movies Pack, #22)

DEVIL TIMES FIVE

Original Title:
Peopletoys

Alternate Titles:
Tantrums / The Horrible House On The Hill

German Title:
Kleine Teufel

USA, 1974
Directors: Sean MacGregor, David Sheldon (uncredited)

3/10

I've seen my fair share of killer-kids movies. Amazing stuff like "The Omen" or "The Children", decent stuff like "Bloody Birthday" or "Them", mediocre but watchable stuff like "Mikey" or "Wicked Little Things".
Unfortunately, "Devil Times Five" belongs into a different category - crap stuff.

Bleh, this movie sucks! It's not terrible, but close. A few incredibly annoying brats come to a house where they kill off a few incredibly annoying grown-ups. That's it. Two directors were wasted for this rubbish - Sean MacGregor was fired after a few weeks of shooting, and replaced with writer/director David Sheldon ("Grizzly 1&2") - but none of them was able to turn the shitty script/story into a decent movie.


Apart from an unintentionally funny retard, nearly every single character is unsympathetic, unlikable and stupid beyond belief. It's packed with super-tedious slow-motion scenes, tons of silly plot points and unbelievable plot holes. There's almost no suspense, nothing scary or thrilling, the score feels half-assed, the camera work is unimaginative and the editing is often weirdly amateurish.

 At least, there are a couple of really hot eye-candies (Carolyn Stellar, Shelley Morrison & Joan McCall), one-time-actress Gail Smale gives a haunting performance as young convent sister, and the last 15-20 minutes are pretty cool due to 2 badass kills (piranhas in a bathtub, woman burnt alive) and an unexpectedly gruesome ending.
Yet, overall, a laughable and dull 70s lamefest.


Wiki ~ Imdb


"Studio One: A PASSENGER TO BALI" (Chilling Classics 50 Movies Pack, #21)

A PASSENGER TO BALI
("Studio One" - Season 2, Episode 29)

USA, 1950
Director: Paul Nickell

5/10





For reasons that are completely beyond me, Mill Creek put an episode from the "Studio One" series into that box. "Studio One" was an anthology-drama TV series that ran on CBS from 1948 to 1958.

The episode is about a captain of a ship who allows a mysterious missionary preacher for a ride aboard, without knowing that the the preacher is actually some kind of pariah who isn't allowed in any country of the world.


Starts out interesting, but ends up boring and dull, due to some lame pacing, a weird direction and a flawed script. Berry Kroeger ("Nightmare In Wax") and Colin Keith-Johnston ("The Left Handed Gun") give some decent performances, but overall it's rather forgettable.


The funniest thing about it are the commercial breaks. YES, Mill Creek left the commercials in! We get to see three Westinghouse ads for a TV console ("Another wonderful advantage of this set, is this new Westinghouse Black Glass Tube which gives you more Black and more White, a better, clearer sharper picture day or night."), a refrigerator ("If you've ever tried spreading hard butter, you're gonna love this butter keeper, because it keeps butter just right for perfect spreading always.) and Westinghouse Micarta ("Even nail polish can't stain or insure this wonder plastic.") :-)

Imdb


28 March 2013

THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT 1 & 2

THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT

German Title:
Das Haus der Dämonen

USA / Canada, 2009
Director: Peter Cornwell

6/10








"The Haunting In Connecticut", the debut feature of director Peter Cornwell, is a solid but quite underwhelming haunted-house-flick, based on a screenplay by Tim Metcalfe ("Kalifornia") and Adam Simon ("Carnosaur") who took
the "true story" (ahem) of the Snedeker family and their encounters with demonic / paranormal forces, and turned it into a rather trivial PG-13 potboiler.


Don't get me wrong, THIC is not bad but it obviously delivers almost everything you expect of a movie with such a blatant title: typical haunted-house clichés (priests, ghost boys, séances, Poltergeist action...), lots of jump scares (some good, some cheap), lots of religion-rubbish, mediocre CGI and stereotype characters.

The whole film is way too long and overstuffed with incidents and events, but due to a good pacing, it gladly never gets boring. There's tons of tension and suspense, and many really awesome scenes, like the murderous shower curtain, the thing under the bed, the creepy ectoplasma séance and the stunning finale with the dead bodies in the walls.


The acting is decent, the soundtrack is creepy and the cinematography is pretty cool. Not a must-see, but worth a look.

Wiki ~ Imdb



THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT 2: GHOSTS OF GEORGIA

Alternate Title:
The Haunting In Georgia


German Title:
Das Haus der Dämonen 2

USA, 2013
Director: Tom Elkins

2/10




Aside from the fact that this has obviously NOTHING to do with the first part, and aside from the fact that "The Haunting In Connecticut 2: Ghosts Of Georgia" is the stupidest... STUPIDEST... STUPIDEST!!! title of all time, there is absolutely nothing good or interesting about it.

The directorial debut of Tom Elkins, editor of the first part, and of similarly superfluous rubbish like "The Apparition" or "The New Daughter", is an endlessly boring succession of predictable, unscary and highly unimaginative scenes of lame ghosts popping up in a rural Georgian area.


There's a scene where a woman tells a girl about her paranormal skills which is a total rip-off of the scene in "The Shining" where Halloran tells Danny about the "Shining", and there's a scene where a woman pulls a thread out of her throat, a total rip-off of the scene in "The Ring" where Naomi Watts chokes the EKG pad out of her throat.
Also, the constant "Heidi" screaming reminded me a lot of the "Carol Anne, Carol Anne..." overkill in "Poltergeist 3".

Weak acting, bad CGI, boring score, poor cinematography - bleh, what a waste of time.

26 March 2013

THE DESTRUCTION ARTIST

THE DESTRUCTION ARTIST
(13minute short)

USA, 2012
Director: Michael Sharpe

9/10




I haven't seen director Michael Sharpe's first short "Monomaniacal", but I've seen his second one, "Deviling", and I liked it a lot. Now he's back with short film numero 3: "The Destruction Artist", the adaptation of bestselling author Michael Cunningham's ("The Hours") monologue of the same name - and boy, this was really great!


For about 12 minutes, we get to see the outstanding Robert Haulbrook as strange chain-smoking artist who talks about his passion to destroy his artworks, the artworks of others, and himself. Haulbrook's performance might not be as powerful as in "Deviling", but in some kinda way it's way more intriguing, way more intense, due to his incredible facial expressions and the fact that he is able to act in such a fascinating and mesmerizing way, you just can't look away. I'd sooo love to see him in a film together with the equally awesome Robert Nolan.


The whole film was very well filmed, stunningly edited and accompanied with a beautiful strings/piano-score. The pacing is spot-on and there's many weird and/or unsettling images throughout the film.
Call me gobsmacked: "The Destruction Artist" is an excellent work of art!

UZUMAKI

UZUMAKI

Alternate Titles:
Uzumaki: Out Of This World / Spiral / Uzumaki: The Vortex

Japan, 2000
Director: Higuchinsky

8/10







At the height of the Asian ghost-girl-popularity, Ukraine-born music-video director and three-time filmmaker Higuchinsky turned the then-popular manga "Uzumaki", into a brilliant and quite extraordinary visual-fest. It might not be the most bizarre Japanese movie I've ever seen (that's undoubtedly "Hausu"), but it surely is one helluva weird, uber-grotesque and stunningly unique piece of art without equal.


"Uzumaki" is about a little town that gets attacked / infected / infested by spirals and vortexes, resulting in the inhabitants getting obsessed with, or possessed by everything spiral-shaped. Admit it, it's probably the most ridiculous AND most ingenious premise you've ever heard. And it's also pretty scary.


There's one guy with whirling eyes who crawls into a washing machine to become a spiral, and there's a woman who cuts the skin of her fingers because she can't stand the spiral-like look of her fingerprints. People transforming into snails, twisting their bodies around, and Vortex curls becoming the hairstyle of the season.
It's all hilarious, odd and deeply fascinating at the same time, and everytime you think we're getting an answer to this perplexing mystery, another body gets Uzumaki'd and the viewer's mind gets twisted around.


The movie has many funny over-the-top scenes (crematory smoke turns into a large spiral-cloud, guy eats spiral-shaped seafood), but also lots of intense and super-scary sequences (girl goes to the above-mentioned washing machine, a millipede crawls into a woman's ear). There's even some cool gore.
Acting is neat, the camera work is awesome (lots of amazing angles, hypnotizing camera movements), the special effects look cool and the music is predominantly eerie. Massive kudos to the unexpectedly mindblowing ending.

A vertiginous brain-twister of a movie that will make your head go spinning.

24 March 2013

LAMB-TASTIC! Horror Movie Diary got nominated!

I just found out that the LAMMY AWARDS 2013 nominated the Horror Movie Diary in the category "BEST HORROR BLOG"!! Woot!!
I don't think I have any chances (strong competition: Full Moon Reviews, The Girl Who Loves Horror, Freddy In Space...) but hey, it's the taking part that counts!! :-)



Yay for 300.000 Pageviews, Nay for crappy Lightbox

"Lightbox View for Blogger Images - Clicking on an image in a blog post will brings up the image in a larger overlay on top of your blog, called a lightbox."


Yup, and currently this damn Lightbox isn't working properly. For unknown reasons, Google fucked it up and ruined the lightbox for EVERY Blogger worldwide, so if you click on an image now, the post disappears and you get to see the image in its original length which is actually pretty annoying. Already lots of discussions on the help-boards. Hope Google gets this fixed soon...

[Update March 29]
Still not fixed, but thanks to various bloggers on the help-boards, I managed to get it done myself with some HTML-tricks. Woot!! :D

Aside from that, I have something awesome to announce: the Horror Movie Diary reached the 300.000 pageview-mark!! Woo-Motherfucking-Hoo!


HUGE THANKS to everyone who ever visited my blog! Let's drink to the next 300.00!! Lots of plans for the future, more uber-large franchise-reviews, more collabo-posts, more comparison-posts etc. Stay tuned! :)



THE DAY

THE DAY

USA, 2012
Director: Douglas Aarniokoski

2/10











Ok, this one made me mad. Really mad. It's not that I thought this would be be another post-apocalyptic masterpiece like "Stake Land", but the trailer looked decent enough to expect this to be a neat little end-of-the-world flick.
Far from it! "The Day" is actually a vexingly stupid piece of rubbish about a gang of idiots fighting another gang of idiots in and around an abandoned house. It's dull and dragging, the direction is horrible and the script is a super-illogical, super-flawed mess.

Worst of all: the characters. These characters!!! AAAARRGGHH!!! Every. Single. Character. Is. Completely. And. Utterly. Unlikable. *ugh* Every film needs to have at least ONE sympatethic character. ONE! Is that asking too much? Gawd, don't they teach that in film school?


Look at post-apo flicks of the last years:
"Carriers" had some highly sympathetic characters you actually cared for. "Hell" too. Shit, there even were nice girls/guys in poor stuff like "The Divide", "The Road" or "Tooth And Nail". Yeah, it's the end of the world, but that's no reason for every single person to be a complete dick.

Furthermore, almost every kill/fight/violence-scene contains amazingly horrid CGI-blood, the color-graded almost-black-and-white look totally doesn't work at all (it makes the film look even cheaper and more implausible than it actually is), and... seriously, what's with all the people who look like they just a hair-do and been shopping? Bleh, what a shitty Day.

23 March 2013

THE ROAD (2009)

THE ROAD

USA, 2009
Director: John Hillcoat

5/10











John Hillcoat's adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel of the same (which I haven't read) is a slow, underwhelming and overhyped post-apocalyptic movie about a father (Viggo Mortensen) and his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) walking through desolate badlands full of dead trees and abandoned buildings.

The first half of "The Road" is pretty strong and gripping with a few incredibly intense scenes and many haunting, eerie-looking images. Unfortunately, the second half is so tedious, slow and plodding, it's frustrating.


The acting is good but nothing special. The characters are shallow and uninteresting; wasn't possible for me to care about any of them. Soundtrack and cinematography are beautiful, but direction and script are very mediocre, the story is full of illogical plot points / plot holes [no animals, no nature, yet plenty of clean and drinkable water... / the mother commits suicide by walking out into the freezing winter in her T-Shirt to die in the woods, because she's afraid of rapists coming into the house... WTF??], and the oh-there-is-hope! ending is just bleh.

Wanna see a good modern post-apocalpyse movie? Go watch "Stake Land" or "Carriers", "Beyond The Grave" or "The Sky Has Fallen". Heck, even "The Vanguard" is better than this.

21 March 2013

CARRIERS

CARRIERS

Alternate German Title:
Carriers - Flucht vor der tödlichen Seuche

USA, 2006/2009
Directors: Àlex & David Pastor

8/10








"Carriers" isn't the greatest post-apocalyptic film of all time, but it's definitely one of the better ones in recent years - and it's way better, way more believable than the horribly overrated "The Road" (review coming on Saturday). Since I first saw it in 2009, I somehow fell in love with it, due to its strong resemblance to my favorite short film of al time, "Plague".


Àlex & David Pastor's debut feature is a minimalistic and surprisingly simple movie about four friends who try to survive in a world where an infectuous virus wiped most of humanity out. There's no zombies, no bloodbaths, no gunfights, but a huge amount of depressing atmosphere, lots of thought-provoking scenes, heart-breaking sequences and touching moments.

The acting is great and almost everyone delivers a fantastic performance, especially the two hotties Emily VanCamp and Piper Perabo, the super-cool Chris Pine, and the still mighty underrated Christopher Meloni
+ child actress Kiernan Shipka.

Script and direction are excellent, Benoît Debie's ("Irreversible") camera is brilliant, score and soundtrack are incredibly well fitting, and the overall production design looks just awesome.


Highlights: the eerie opening, the intense sequence in the school, all the scenes where somebody got left back, the sparse but cool-looking gore, the bleak ending, some gore and the cool Jurassic-Park-esque kitchen scene (I'll try to do a comparison post on that soon).

 A wonderful and highly believable movie about the end of the world.
Stephen King approves!


20 March 2013

Maynard goes to the Reunion ;-)

Woot yay! Look what good ol' Maynard won: a signed poster of Steve Goltz and Kevin Sommerfield's upcoming slasher "Don't Go To The Reunion"!! Yeeha, thanks to the Slasher Studios!!

Listen to a short clip of their podcast below, where they announce me as winner:


Oh, and due to a little money I donated to their successfull Kickstarter-campaign, I made it into the movie's Imdb credits!!!
And my Halloween Buddy Bonnie Pavone a.k.a Hakk Wylde!!
And Richard Powell, director of "Familiar"!! And Lucas Masson, director of "Baby-Sitting"!! And many, many more!!




19 March 2013

THE BIRDS I & II

THE BIRDS

German Title:
Die Vögel

USA, 1963
Director: Alfred Hitchcock

8/10








Since my earliest childhood, I've been a total sucker for everything Hitchcock (once again: thanks Mum!) and seen most of his work from the 40s to the 70s. The Daphne du Maurier adaptation "The Birds" is clearly one of his most famous, most successful films, and in terms of technical aspects probably his most impressive film. Still, I've never been that much of a fan of it and prefer other Hitch-flicks over this. It's a great movie with a fascinating storyline and wonderful, highly sympathetic characters, but I always thought it's too long, and the first half is way too slow, at times even a bit dull.


It's the second half when things get really going. Tons of birds attacking the coastal town of Bodega Bay, loud screeching, people running away, screaming, blood, fire, death. One awesome suspense scene follows the other: the incredible scene where lots of crows gather on a schoolyard jungle gym, the stunningly intriguing scene in the café where the inhabitants talking about the birds, the chimney attack, and the outstanding climax with the birds hacking through the frontdoor.

Other highlights: the insane sequence with the exploding gas station, the dead neighbor with the pecked-out eyes, the violent attack on Tippi Hedren, and the grim, anti-climactic ending.


The cast is excellent, with great performances of Hedren, Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy, and a young Veronica Cartwright (Alien!) - though personally, I always loved Suzanne Pleshette the most. Damn, what a hottie!
The effects are a bit dated, but still look top notch. The editing is terrific (George Tomasini; "Vertigo", "Psycho"), the cinematography is absolutely stunning (Robert Burks; "Rear Window", "Vertigo"), and the idea of uber-composer Bernard Herrmann to not include any music, works just perfect. No bombastic strings or anything, just the endless and frightening shrieking of the birds. Marvellous!

Forgive me for not liking it as much as I should. At least, I can wholeheartedly say that it's undoubtedly the greatest bird-horror-film of all time.

Wiki ~ Imdb

And now for something completely different: Alfred Hitchcock's "The Dogs" ;-D




THE BIRDS II: LAND'S END

German Title:
Die Vögel II - Die Rückkehr

USA, 1994
Director: Rick Rosenthal
(as Alan Smithee)

3/10







I have no idea who or what convinced Rick Rosenthal, director of "Halloween II" and "Halloween: Resurrection", to shoot a sequel to Hitchcock's uber-classic "The Birds" for TV - and neither did he, because he eventually used the popular Alan-Smithee-pseudonym and wanted nothing to do with the finished product.


So, is it really that bad? Nah, it isn't. "The Birds II" is obviously not a good film, but it's also far from being as terrible as it's considered. I laugh at everyone who claims that this is the worst movie of all time (check the Imdb comments), people who have never seen bird-do like "Birds of Prey" or "Killing Birds". Or the ultimate Birds-ripoff "Birdemic".

Most of the acting is just awful, especially the cringeworthy performances of Brad Johnson and Chelsea Field (most annoying laugh ever). The movie drags and drags and delivers hardly any tension, scares or thrills. The bird attacks aren't impressive at all, the editing often feels pretty amateurish, none of the characters are likable in any way, and the story is just a poor and trite rehash of the original.


Worst of all: the abrupt and super-shitty ending (birds attack a boat, suddenly decide to stop attacking the boat and fly elsewhere). Seems like someone [the director?? the 3(!) writers??] simply ran out of ideas and decided to call it quits.

At least, there's some decently gory attacks and kills, TV-composer Ron Ramin's Herrmann-esque score is pretty cool, and it's nice to have Tippi Hedren back on board. There's nothiong special about her performance, but she's definitely the best actress in the whole movie.
I've seen worse made-for-TV sequels. Worth a look, but don't expect Hitchcock.

Wiki ~ Imdb

Btw, most "Birds II" covers look shite - except the cover artwork of the German VHS.
Pretty stylish, huh? I simply love it.

17 March 2013

HITCHCOCK (2012)

HITCHCOCK

USA, 2012
Director: Sacha Gervasi

8/10











When I first saw the trailers and the somewhat awkward-looking make-up of Anthony Hopkins, I wasn't exactly enthralled and thought it'd better to skip. However, the avid Hitchcock/Psycho-fan in me forced me to see it regardless - and I'm glad he did! "Hitchcock" is a very well made and fabulously entertaining biopic.


I understand now why they changed its original title "Hitchcock and the Making od Psycho" to the simple "Hitchcock" because it's not exactly about the making-of of this ingenious movie, it's more about the troubled relationship of Hitch and his wife, Hitch's inner demons and the pressure of financing the movie
by mortgaging his own house.

The cast is simply stellar. Anthony Hopkins' make-up and prosthetics may look a bit weird, but he makes up for it by bringing Alfred Hitchcock back to life with a fantastic and extremely believable performance. Helen Mirren is mindblowing as Alma (Hitch's wife), her powerful performance almost overshadows Hopkins.
Hotties Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Biel are both terrific as the leading ladies of "Psycho", James D'Arcy gives an extraordinary and quite touching Anthony Perkins, and Richard Portnow is simply brilliant as ex-Paramount-president Barney Balaban.


Cinematography and set design look beautiful, the score is another piece of Danny-Elfman-quality-work, and Gervasi's direction is spot-on.
Highlights: Hitch's "conversations" with legendary serial killer Ed Gein, the making of the shower scene, Anthony Perkins talking about his parents (highly intriguing scene), nervous Hitch in the foyer at the Psycho-premiere (incredibly hilarious scene, made me laugh like insane), and the uber-awesome scene where Helen Mirren gets furious as hell.


"Hitchcock" is a surprisingly good movie and a superb tribute to the greatest director of all time.

Total Pageviews

:-)

:-)