31 May 2013

Fincher Friday: "SEVEN" (1995)

(Part 1 of a four-part review-series about horror-related David Fincher movies)

SEVEN

Alternate Spelling
Se7en

German Title:
Sieben

USA, 1995
Director: David Fincher

10/10





One of the best, if not the best movie in David Fincher's almost flawless filmography: the outstanding "Se7en", one of the greatest, most impressive, most mindblowing mystery/crime/horror-thrillers ever made. David Fincher has outdone himself by turning the dark and disturbing screenplay of Andrew Kevin Walker ("8MM") into a unique, fascinating and visually amazing monster of a movie.




Set in a nameless, humdrum town where the rain falls hard all the time, "Seven" tells the story of John Doe, an intelligent but also unbelievably insane serial killer who turns "sin against the sinner" and chooses / kills his victims according to the "Seven Deadly Sins". While trying to track him down, the lifes of the two investigating detectives (a veteran and a young rookie) become an unforgettable nightmare...

What makes "Seven" so unique (aside from its outstandingly chilling atmosphere) is the fact that we never get to see any of the kills. Instead, we get presented with the killer's victims, all arranged in bizarre and unsettling, but also artful and intriguing ways (lawyer forced to cut off a pound of his own flesh, obese guy forced to keep eating until death etc.)


Brad Pitt (actually, one of my favorite actors of all time) gives one of the coolest and most believable performances in his entire career, while the great Morgan Freeman gently portrays one of the most interesting characters in thriller-history: single, never married, no children. Ha, that's the story of my life! ;-)
R. Lee Ermey is excellent as police captain, and Kevin Spacey is totally mesmerizing as one of the most haunting killers in cinematic history. Even Gwyneth Paltrow is pretty good, although I usually completely dislike her.

Every single set piece looks absolutely amazing (especially John Doe's gloomy place, and the eerie flat of the Sloth-victim), Darius Khondji's cinematography is magnificent, and Howard Shore's score is so haunting, so sinister, it totally scares the bejeesus outta me every single time, especially during the epic climax which includes one of, if not THE most mindblowing, THE most powerful plot twist ever.



The awesomeness of "Se7en" is almost unsurpassable. This movie is a goddamn masterpiece.

Wiki ~ Imdb

Also, goddamn amazing opening credits!


Part 2: "The Game"
Part 3: "Panic Room"
Part 4: "Zodiac"

28 May 2013

Exclusive Interview with Steve Goltz & Kevin Sommerfield ("Don't Go To The Reunion")

Yay! I got the chance to do a little interview with director Steve Goltz and screenwriter Kevin Sommerfield a.k.a Slasher Studios, the masterminds behind the upcoming slasher movie "DON'T GO TO THE REUNION" and the awesome horror shorts "Teddy", "Popularity Killer" and "Blood Brothers". Enjoy reading!



When did you came up with the idea for the movie?
And what came first: plot or title?

Kevin: The idea actually came to me in a dream. After one too many viewings of "Slaughter High", I feel asleep to the warmth of 80's slasher. I dreamt of a boy getting revenge at his high school reunion for a prank that had been played on him in his teen years. The germ of the story grew from there as we decided to incorporate various slasher elements into the screenplay.
As for the title, we have a fellow slasher fan, Jeffrey Lee, to thank for that. We held a contest to come up with the best title for our revenge slasher and as soon as he mentioned Don't Go to the Reunion, we were instantly hooked.

Steve: The film has been in the works since last summer and on one hand it seems to have taken forever to get to this point, and then on the other hand, it feels as though this entire project has flown by. The title was determined by a contest with our fellow slasher fans. They sent in tons of potential movie titles, but in the end, Don't Go To The Reunion prevailed.

In your press release, you mentioned the slasher-classics "Happy Birthday to Me", "Prom Night", "Slaughter High" and "Terror Train".
Will Don't Go To The Reunion be a homage to these movies? Or to the whole 80s slasher genre? Or is it just inspired by these flicks?

Kevin: In all honesty, all of the above. While Reunion is an homage to all of our favorite 80's slashers
we really wanted to focus on the revenge slashers of the 80's. What a killer without a backstory? We wanted a killer that the audience was going to care about and feel conflicted when they saw the "popular kids" die.
At the same time, we wanted the characters to feel real and be likable. The biggest fault of slashers today is not having characters the audience cares about. If you don't care who lives or who dies, what's the point? We really wanted to go back to the basics with this one.

Steve: With pretty much any film we create, we want to pay homage to the films that we fell in love with. These are the movies that helped pave the way for independent filmmakers like ourselves. So, DGTTR is our love note to the great slasher films of the past.
The genre has seemed to come and gone with time, but here at Slasher Studios, we will never forget. In fact, we want to make it a goal for others to view some of these past gems.

Do you already have plans in terms of publishing? Film festivals, VOD, DVD etc.

Kevin: We will be having our world premiere on October 5th at the Oshkosh Horror Film Festival. It's a wonderful event hosted by John Pata (co-director of the indie horror flick "Dead Weight") and it is a terrific showcase for indie horror. After that we plan on sending Reunion to every film festival that will have us and selling it independently through the Slasher Studios website.

Steve: Making the festival rounds is what I really am looking most forward to. There is no feeling in the world like standing in the back of a theater and just listening to the audience react at all the right times. I get such a high after the screening, it really is hard to explain. With attending and screening at the festivals, we also have hopes to secure tables and be able to make our DVDs available to the slasher fans in attendance.

Let's talk about the cast. I see familiar faces from your short films
(Matty Dorschner, Hannah Herdt), as well as bigger names like
Spencer Harlan ("Rocky Trails", "Jeffrey Dahmer Files").
How did the casting go along? How did you choose the actors?


Kevin: It was our first film that we cast solely through video auditions. We wanted a combo of both actors we had worked with before and were comfortable with as well as seasoned actors like Spencer Harlan, Stephanie Leigh Rose, and Nick Sommer. The bond was instantaneous among the cast and they felt as though they really were a group that had grown up together. Having the majority of our cast and crew stay at the house we were filming helped tighten that bond. I honestly couldn't be happier with the cast we got for this film.

Steve: We really were lucky to have worked with some talented actors in the past and then be able to bring them on board as well as hire some great new faces. We had actors come from across the USA and it was a great mixture of acting approaches and personalities. Everyone got along great and the two weeks went by smoother than I could have dreamed. Many of the actors cast had sent in video auditions that were so great, that we had cast them based solely on that.




Will there be any references to your short films (Teddy cameo etc.)?

Kevin: I can say there is one death that is at least inspired by one of our short films. I can't give anything more away than that...

Steve: I will say that we are both featured somehow in the film. If you look closely you will find some fun cameos.

Will there be more short films, or do you continue shooting features? That said, how long will Don't Go To The Reunion be?

Kevin: Right now we plan to see where Reunion might take us. We had so much fun on this project that we would love to work with this cast and crew again on another slasher feature.

Steve: We are looking at a lean running time for the film of around 80 minutes. You get to know the characters, you get the kills, and you get a hell of an ending.
No filler!

Thank you both!


27 May 2013

Happy Memorial Day - with "MEMORIAL VALLEY MASSACRE"

MEMORIAL VALLEY MASSACRE

Alternate Titles:
Valley Of Death / Son Of Sleepaway Camp

German Title:
Memorial Day

USA, 1989
Director: Robert C. Hughes

4/10





We obviously have no Memorial Day here in Austria, but that doesn't prevent me from jumping onto the Memorial-Day party-wagon and celebrate the shit out of this holiday - by watching "Memorial Day Massacre", undoubtedly one of the daftest slasher flicks of the 80s (a bit similar to "Don't Go in the Woods").


On Memorial Day Weekend a bunch of happy campers enter the Memorial Valley for camping and shit - but then a demented caveman with overbite arrives on the scene and turns them all into unhappy campers by going completely bonkers and on a killing spree.

The movie is bad, no doubt. The pacing is dull and plodding, thanks to the director's inability to create any tension or suspense (Hughes was also responsible for rubbish like "Zadar! Cow from Hell"...).
The acting is lousy, the goofy soundtrack is highly annoying, script and plot are rather inane, and the killer... goddammit, he wears the most laughable Halloween costume I've ever seen, and he screams and yells like an old spinster having a hysterical fit.


However, there are several things that make the film pretty enjoyable. Nearly all of the characters are clichéd and stereotyped, but most of them are really likable, and they constantly drop hilarious lines like:
"Would you mind turning that music down a bit, so I can hear you ."
- "Chuck you, Farley!" - "Hey, what's the matter? Don't you like Speed Metal?"
"How can people like that have children?" - "Accidents do happen."
"How do you want your steak?" - "Well done."
"This is a nice little bash." - "Yeah, if you like people."


The kills aren't exactly impressive, but they're all quite fun (trap with spikes, man set on fire, impaled with a spear, axe in chest...). There are few cute hotties (no nudity, but wet t-shirts and stuff), cinematography and editing are neat, and I loved the final scene which is unexpectedly tragic; totally didn't see that coming.

Not a must-see but worth checking out if you get a kick out of silly 80s cheesefests.
Happy Memorial Day! :-)

26 May 2013

The Ultimate CANDYMAN Uber-Extravaganza

Three times the Candyman, three times the Horror! I teamed up with two of my favorite blogging-ladies to give you a massive overdose of sickly sweet
Candyman-grandeur.
Karina Bamber (Mundane Rambling), Kweeny Todd and my humble self hopped into the beehive and got smeared all over with the darkest and deadliest honey we've ever tasted. Yes, the Candyman definitely can :-)

CANDYMAN

German Title:
Candyman's Fluch

USA, 1992
Director: Bernard Rose

9,5/10








I laugh at everyone who claims that the 90s were a bad decade for horror. Why? Because it's just not true! Of course, the 90s weren't as "productive" as the 80s and they certainly didn't spawn as many classics as the 60s, 70s or 80s did, but hey: the 90s brought us many, many movies that are as timeless as older stuff. Think about "New Nightmare", the "Scream" trilogy, "From Dusk Till Dawn", "Jurassic Park", "The Crow", "Stir Of Echoes" etc. etc. ...

...and another one, one that often gets overseen for reasons I'm not sure of. Hell, even I almost forgot about it! I'm obviously speaking of the mighty "Candyman", Bernard Rose's fantastic adaptation of Clive Barker's short story "The Forbidden". I remember the day when it "arrived" in our local rental store back in 1993. The cover differed immensely from all the other VHS's in the horror section; the image of the huge shadow figure with the hook deeply impressed me and there was something really haunting about the German title
[Candyman's Fluch = Candyman's Curse].



I watched it together with my parents a few weeks later, and we all loved the hell out of it. It scared us a lot, but it also made us joking around with mirrors and hook-like items :)
Then it disappeared off my radar (just like Beetlejuice did) and I didn't see it for almost 20 years - until I found a cheap copy in the bargain bin a few weeks ago. I was browsing through the DVDs, not expecting to find anything worthwhile - and suddenly, the cover of "Candyman" jumped at me. I immediately felt like I was 11 years old again, the little boy who stood in the horror section of the old rental store, looking at that cover for what felt like hours.
I took the DVD, bought it and left the shop feeling like a king. And now that I finally re-watched it, I feel even better :-)

My goodness, "Candyman" is such an incredible and outstanding-looking movie! It's intelligent, excellently made, highly thought-provoking and SCARY AS HELL!! It's such a shame that director / writer Bernard Rose never made another film like that. The direction is pitch perfect, plot and script are unique and completely unpredictable, and the look of the movie is simply striking. Also, love the awesome build-up: the first half is eerie and thrilling, the second half ranges from mysterious to frightening, from brutal to batshit insane. The ending is amazing, not only because of a simple but immensely effective twist, but also because it's unexpectedly strong and wonderfully over-the-top.


"Candyman" possesses an uncanny atmosphere that is completely unique in horror. I've never seen anything like that. The bizarre opening (gigantic bee swarm over Chicago) sets a haunting tone that carries on throughout the whole movie. The shabby, rundown and graffiti-covered apartment buildings at the Cabrini-Green housing project all look extremely eerie and gave me an uneasy feeling because I instantly thought of a few similarly eerie buildings in my area.
Also, the movie is able to make your dwelling place a lot more scarier. What if I look into one of my mirrors and say "Candyman" five times? Will he really come and get me? What's with the medicine chest in my bathroom? Is it connected to the apartment next door? What if someone crawls through it into my apartment?

Maestro Philip Glass ("Koyaanisqatsi") composed a stunningly beautiful and totally exceptional score with lots of intriguing organs and spooky choirs. At times, it feels like it was created for a religious horror film like "Omen" or "Exorcist".
Anthony B. Richmond's ("The Man Who Fell The Earth") smooth cinematography / camera work is powerful and breathtaking. Lots of great angles, many superb bird's-eye shots, and tons of creepy images that will cling to you long after watching (the huge and fucking scary Candyman-Graffiti, the arrow on the wall that points down to the bee-filled toilet, undead Helen...).
The costumes all look simply beautiful, make-up / gore effects are brilliantly done.


The uber-gorgeous Virgina Madsen gives a compelling and authentic performance as Helen, a curious college student who tries to finish her thesis on urban legends. Tony Todd, the man with the creepiest voice in horror, is stellar as Candyman, one of the most fascinating horror icons in history. Candyman a.k.a Daniel Robitaille, son of a slave on a New Orleans plantation, a poor sod who got tortured and killed by a lynch mob (sawed off his hand, poured honey over his body, getting stung to death by bees), but ultimately resurrected as restless ghost who became a myth and can be summoned by saying his name five times into a mirror.

More great acting: Vanessa Williams as lonely mother Anne-Marie, Kasi Lemmons as Helen's college fellow Bernie, and Xander Berkeley as Helen's cheating husband.

"Candyman" = a top-notch horror film, a modern classic, a work of art.

Wiki ~ Imdb

My DVD



Here's what Karina has to say:
 
I first watched Candyman at a sleepover when I was no more than 12 years old. I am now 27 and even to this day I will not tempt fate by uttering Candyman anyway near a mirror.
I was obviously far too young when I watched the film so it was interesting to see how my mature adult mind would cope with a film that absolutely terrified me as a child.

PLOT: Helen (Virginia Madsen) is writing a thesis based on modern folklore when she stumbles upon the local urban legend of the Candyman (Tony Todd), a vengeful spirit with a hook for a hand. Helen is rightfully sceptical but when her research takes her to a rundown inner city area she finds that the residents truly believe in the story and that there may be some truth to the legend. END PLOT

Candyman is a slow burner with the first half of the film focusing on Helen’s research into the legend. This helps to keep the film grounded as Helen is not a shrieking, idiotic teenager; she is an educated woman writing a thesis.
Once the Candyman finally arrives the pace picks up however the film never descends into a violent slasher – oddly the final scene is the only moment when Candyman ever feels like a traditional horror film.

There are no true scares but the eerie tone does make for some unsettling viewing – I can see why, at 12 years old, the film scared the hell out of me. As an adult the film plays out like a psychological thriller with a hefty dose of the fear of the unknown and word of mouth hysteria thrown in for good measure.

The theme of social/racial class is a prominent feature but unfortunately it is laid on with a trowel. Luckily the performances of Vanessa Williams and DeJuan Guy are strong which means that their characters are not completely reduced to stereotypes.

Virginia Madsen is excellent as Helen as it Tony Todd however he isn’t required to do much other than provide sinister narration. Todd commits fully to the role and his scene with the bees feels like it lasts forever. It was not pleasant to watch.

The unsettling tone of film is helped by the simple yet creepy score – Music Box and The Slave Quarters are excellent but it is the instantly memorable Helen’s Theme that really stands out. I have, rather predictably, now added the soundtrack to my i-pod.

Candyman absolutely terrified me as a kid however re-watching the film as an adult has made me realise that it is a lot cleverer than typical horror movie fare. It gets 8/10.

Will there be a time that I could ever say Candyman in the bathroom mirror? No.

 Karina's DVD



An here's Kweeny's love confession:

A Love Letter to Candyman

Hello my darling!

It’s me again Kweeny. I know I've written you many letters, but I figure if I write enough of them it would be the same as calling your name in the mirror 5 times.  This is my fifth letter. Maybe when this reaches you we will finally be together…or you’ll gut me with your hook.

Both options excite me honestly.

In all my letters I profess my love to you, but I feel a little sad that you've never crooned a word at me in your sensual voice. Not even one soft syllable to tickle my ear and make me want to be your victim. Hell, I NEED to be your victim. To have you torment me as you did Helen, driving her to the point of madness, dog-killing and baby kidnapping would be divine. Okay, maybe YOU killed the dog and took the baby, but I don’t care about that really. All I want is for you to understand that I would be better suited to you than Helen ever could be.

First off, she didn't believe you were real, and because of this, tried to disprove your existence. This only mad your job harder didn't it my love? You had to steal that baby and frame her, just so she would have to face you in a showdown at the end. And after you go through all the trouble of proving that you’re real, she betrays you. She never wanted to stay with you, never understood your message or your plight.

I do. I understand what “Sweets to the Sweet” really means.

And sure, my only friend thinks I’m crazy for loving you. He says you’re not real either. But he’s a demonic spirit trapped in my head with a pension for meat pies and razors. He really doesn't get to comment on my choices for a mate.

Though I do have other friends, and I shouldn't forget them. I sometimes wonder if they really are my friends, or just hallucinations I developed from being a werewolf possessed by a demon barber. My friends include a super intelligent bear and a Jester who escaped a mental ward…but they tell me I might scare you away if you actually met me. Mad Jester says you’ll take one look at my razors and toss your hook away in shame. Lord Bearington just claims I’m a stalker. But Sweeney says it’s not stalking if I can’t crawl into your bedroom window and watch you sleep! Going to Cabrini–Green and sleeping in piles of candy with razors in them doesn't make me a stalker! It makes me devoted!

No one appreciates true devotion these days…except maybe Clive Barker.

Well my darling, I should end this letter. I have a beehive to kick, and a hand to cut off. I have to say, the last time I did this I regenerated it all back after my shift. I make a terrible vengeful spirit I’m afraid. Being cursed as I am already means that if I pile too many curses on, some start negating each other. It’s rather sad. I’m trying to collect the whole set.

Forever enslaved to love…

And constantly getting stung by bees,

~Kweeny Todd

Kweeny's DVD

Thanks for reading! Now go to your bathroom mirror and...

25 May 2013

Jess Franco's DORIANA GREY (/Slashing Europe 2013)

DORIANA GREY

Original Title:
Die Marquise von Sade

Alternate German Titles:
Das Bildnis der Doriana Gray / Erotismo - Schloß der blutigen Begierde

Switzerland, 1976
Director: Jesús Franco

3,5/10




"Doriana Grey", a very, VERY loose adaptation of Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Grey", is one of the lesser known films of cult-exploitation director Jesús "Jess" Franco, though it's quite popular among die-hard Franco-fans.


At the /Slashing Europe 2013, we got to see a rare 35mm version of the film.
The picture quality was surprisingly pretty ace, but the film itself is just silly as hell. For about 80 minutes, ultra-rich sex-vampire Doriana Grey sucks the life out of vaginas and dicks, while her insane sister spends her days in Dr. Orlof's (!) mental asylum masturbating and singing 24/7 - and yes, this all sounds funnier than it actually is =D

The whole thing is dull and boring, the camera work is awfully amateurish (too many zooms, uninspired camera angles, lousy out-of-focus camera work) and the acting is just weak. I respect the fact that Franco-wife Lina Romay is doing a double role, but... well, she's a bad actress and both her performances
are simply bland.


The sex scenes aren't exactly erotic or hot: lame pussy licking, lame dick sucking, many unintentionally hilarious masturbation scenes and way too many almost gynaecological close-up shots of not-so-gorgeous genitals - though the girls are all pretty hot, especially Romay. Also, I enjoyed the "catchy" sitar-score and certain scenes are nicely atmospheric, but overall, this is just a bad 70s sex film with a handful of horror-elements. Not worth seeing, not worth wanking to ;-)

24 May 2013

THE ABCs OF DEATH (/Slashing Europe 2013)

THE ABCs OF DEATH

Alternate German Title:
22 Ways To Die

USA / New Zealand, 2012
Directors: see below!

8/10








Contrary to my rather low expectations, the uber-anthology "The ABCs of Death" turned out to be a real fun blast of a flick, a kinda "party film", made to give you one helluva good time. 26 directors, 26 short films - the concept is simple and effective, and thanks to the overwhelming amount of creativity and many, many great shorts, I ended up enjoying it a lot!

A is for APOCALYPSE, directed by Nacho Vigalondo ("Timecrimes") - 7/10
Wife attacks her husband with a knife and frying pan, while the world outside is coming to its end. A gory and amusing way to kickstart the ABCs.

B is for BIGFOOT, directed by Adrián García Bogliano ("Penumbra") - 6/10
Silly but ok flick about young lovers, a kid with sleeping troubles and the Abominable Snowman. Starts out great, ends up rather disappointing.

C is for CYCLE, directed by Ernesto Díaz Espinoza ("Mirageman") - 6/10
Interesting and almost fascinating little mind-bender, that suffers from an awkward look and a rather mediocre direction. Reminded me a lot of Victor Garcia's "El Ciclo".








D is for DOGFIGHT
, directed by Marcel Sarmiento ("Deadgirl") - 9,5/10

Stylish, excellent-looking and extremely well done slow-motion stunner, showing the intensity and brutality of a dogfight. Possesses a fantastic and totally unpredictable plot twist.

E is for EXTERMINATE, directed by Angela Bettis ("May") - 7/10
Fun short that shows what happens if you piss off a spider. Arachnophobics may hate this, but I highly enjoyed it :) Sadly, it ends too abruptly.

F is for FART, directed by Noboru Iguchi ("Dead Sushi") - 8/10
Grandmaster Iguchi once again shows how hilarious shit, farts and buttholes can be. Horrendously silly characters, z-grade CGI (in the vein of his very own "Zombie Ass") and exceptionally stupid dialogue - I laughed my ass off!! :-D








G is for GRAVITY
, directed by Andrew Traucki ("The Reef") - 4/10

Suicide by going surfing. Good idea, executed in a bad and bafflingly anticlimactic way. Good camera work / editing - that's it.

H is for HYDRO-ELECTRIC DIFFUSION, directed by Thomas Cappelen Malling ("Norwegian Ninja") - 6/10
A fighter pilot dog versus a Nazi stripper fox called Frau Scheisse (=Mrs. Shit), dubbed by the great Ingrid Bolsø Berdal. Goofy shit, but the title is actually better than the film.

I is for INGROWN, directed by Jorge Michel Grau ("We Are What We Are") - 6/10
The death of a tied up woman in a bathtub. Brutal, raw and unsettling, but ultimately disappointing and about as mediocre as director Grau's overrated debut feature.








J is for JIDAI-GEKI
[=Samurai-Movie], directed by Yudai Yamaguchi ("Deadball")
- 7/10

Some guy wants to kill some Samurai, but gets nervous because of the Samurai's utterly ridiculous facial expressions. Starts out weird but ends up fun. Oh, those Japanese ;-)

K is for KLUTZ, directed by Anders Morgenthaler ("Princess") - 9/10
Super-cute, great-looking and highly entertaining animation short, showing a clumsy blonde battling against a piece of poop. I had a blast! :-)

L is for LIBIDO, directed by Timo Tjahjanto ("Macabre") - 10/10
A masturbation competition that goes way, WAY too far. Brutal, disgusting, disturbing - and absolutely adorable! I loved the hell out of this short. Lots of hot ladies, lots of sperm, lots of gore. Insanity to the max - amazing!!


 





M is for MISCARRIAGE
, directed by Ti West ("The Innkeepers") - 1/10

Step away, Eli Roth. Ti West is now officially my most-hated director in horror. Another lousy and rather pathetic lamefest, almost insulting in its pretentious laziness and uncreativity. Even worse than what he did for "V/H/S". Gawd, what an arrogant filmmaker. I hate this guy.

N is for NUPTIALS, directed by Banjong Pisanthanakun ("Shutter") - 7,5/10
Wonderfully amusing and highly enjoyable film about love, marriage and babbling parrots. The punchline is a bit corny, but it still gave me a laugh :)

O is for ORGASM, directed by Bruno Forzani & Héléne Cattet ("Amer") - 7/10
Visually terrific experimental short about "la petite mort", full of giallo-colours, psychedelic slow-motion shots and bursting bubbles.








P is for PRESSURE, directed by Simon Rumley ("Red, White & Blue") - 9/10
Grim and extremely unsettling "social environment study" about poverty, prostitution and animal cruelty. Beautifully shot, excellently edited - great!

Q is for QUACK, directed by Adam Wingard ("A Horrible Way To Die") - 10/10
Absolutely hilarious semi-mockumentary that shows Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett how they struggle coming up with a decent idea for the letter "Q". Brilliant humor, fabulous execution - it's impossible not to like this!

R is for REMOVED, directed by Srdjan Spasojevic ("A Serbian Film") - 9,5/10
Sinister and extremely thought-provoking powerhouse, packed with abstract but stunningly intriguing images and disturbing shots. Masterfully fimed and directed, the final scene is breathtaking. Wow!








S is for SPEED, directed by Jake West ("Doghouse") - 7,5/10
Pretty cool-looking and entertaining post-apocalyptic carsploitation flick with two super-hot gals and a totally unforeseeable plot twist. Like!

T is for TOILET, directed by Lee Hardcastle ("Done in 60 Seconds. With Clay")
- 10/10
Hands down, Lee Hardcastle's fantastically animated claymation short (winner of the "Letter T" competition) is undoubtedly the best of the crop: quirky parents, a boy who's afraid of toilets, a toilet that transforms into a bloodhungry monster, green slime, blood and gore, bursting eyeballs and exploding heads. A blast!!

U is for UNEARTHED, directed by Ben Wheatley ("Kill List") - 5/10
Weird found-footage-looking POV-segment with an interesting but ultimately disappointing plot twist. Meh.








V is for VAGITUS
, directed by Kaare Andrews ("Altitude") - 6,5/10

Awesome-looking but extremely overambitious futuristic science-fiction film. Stunning CGI, great acting, interesting plot-line, but told in a rushed and somewhat confusing way. Should be a feature.

W is for WTF, directed by Jon Schnepp ("Metalocalypse") - 7/10
WTF indeed! Cool animations, dorky stoners, ace rock music and an overload of bizarre clips, containing zombie clowns and an absolutely hilarious giant laser-Walrus. Silly but fun.

X is for XXL, directed by Xavier Gens ("Frontier(s)") - 10/10
Holy fuck, awesomeness!! Gens delivers a brutal, disturbing and relentless little masterpiece about media and society's constant pressure on "looking good", which forces a fat girl to trim off her fat in a really shocking way. Gorefest par excellence!








Y is for YOUNGBUCK, directed by Jason Eisener ("Hobo With A Shotgun") - 9/10
Eisener proves once again that he's currently one of the best directors in the genre. Sexually abused kid takes revenge on his abuser. Unsettling images, harsh brutality, creepy images and a fantastic 80s synth-soundtrack. Kicks ass!

Z is for ZETSUMETSU, directed by Yoshihiro Nishimura ("Tokyo Gore Police")
- 9/10
Super-bizarre and super-wacky succession of hot girls fighting with huge dildos and veggies, naked men eating sushi, Nazi symbols, Dr. Strangelove references and other nutty stuff. Mots people hated it, I loved it!








Can't hardly wait to rewatch it - and I also can't hardly wait for the upcoming sequel!!

22 May 2013

VANISHING WAVES (/Slashing Europe 2013)

VANISHING WAVES

Original Title:
Aurora

Lithuania / France / Belgium, 2012
Director: Kristina Buožytė

9,5/10







 
The third feature of female director Kristina Buožytė (which is actually my first Lithuanian film ever) is one of those films that came out of nowhere, made the festival rounds and stunned one audience after another. Same in Vienna where the audience members (including me) left the theater in a somewhat dream-like state. Why? Because we've all been mesmerized by the things we saw.

"Vanishing Waves" is a unique piece of art that I'd call "part movie, part experience" because it took me on a journey to my inner self, to places where I don't like to go, to places where my demons hide. Most people wouldn't call it a disturbing movie, but due to the fact that there were many scenes, images and plot points that hit me right in the face, I ended up slightly disturbed - but also completely stoked because I don't get to see something like that very often.


For lack of being able to give a good description of the storyline, I dare to describe it as a dark and intense version of "Inception", "Eyes Wide Shut" and "Altered States" (with elements from "Coma", "Solaris" and "Elm Street") - but DON'T get fooled by these titles! "Vanishing Waves" doesn't rip off these movies, it stands on its own as an absolutely exceptional science-fiction drama, visually compelling, stunningly beautiful and astonishingly surreal, but also unbelievably erotic and incredibly eerie.

Feliksas Abrukauskas' outstanding cinematography creates a fascinating and gripping atmosphere by capturing unbelievably fascinating images that feel otherworldly AND familar at the same time (if that makes sense to you). Check the bizarre orgy sequence (that somewhat reminded me of Brian Yuzna's "Society"), the strange food-fight sequence, or the mindblowing scene where two people run naked through the darkness - you'll get massive eye-gasms!!


The direction is strong and the screenplay is excellent, the actors all deliver tremendous performancs (especially Marius Jampolskis and Jurga Jutaite), Peter von Poehl's electronic score totally gets under your skin, lighting and editing are just awesome. 
After seeing "Oblivion", I claimed that 2013 will be a great year for science-fiction - and "Vanishing Waves" proves that I'm right. Bravo Ms. Buožytė!

20 May 2013

AMERICAN MARY

AMERICAN MARY

Canada, 2012
Directors: Jen & Sylvia Soska

5/10











So, this is "American Mary", one of the highest praised horror movies of the last few months? Hm, I guess some movies aren't made for me. Actually, I've never been a fan of the Soska Sisters, simply because there's not much to be fan of. Yeah, they are female twins who are into horror and they both look quite nice and they are massively devoted to their fans and that's all quite well - but christ! They only have 2 feature films at their hands, but there are people who act like they are fucking horror goddesses.
The Guardian even titled that they "are the new faces of Horror". Seriously, what the fuck??? Also, the constant comparisons with David Cronenberg... um, just because you are from Canada and make films about body modification does NOT make you the new Cronenberg. Duh!


Ok, as far as my Soska-dislike goes, I still was pretty excited for AM. The concept sounded highly interesting, trailers and posters looked equally great, and it got a lot of praise from all kinds of horror blogs / non-horror blogs / reviewers / critics / etc. Unfortunately, this turned out to be something as disappointing as "Cabin in the Woods", at least for me.

"American Mary" is a fucking mess. A beautiful, interesting and somewhat original mess. But still a fucking mess. The first 40-45 minutes are awesome. The Soskas build up the story in a stunningly intense way, Katharine "Ginger" Isabelle gives a strong performance as money-struggling and desperate student Mary, the operation scenes are scary and the rape scene is a tough watch. Also, a few more super-cool characters (Tristan Risk as quirky Betty Boop look-a-like, Paula Lindberg as real-life Barbie doll), and a highly effective soundtrack.


Then, the movie takes a U-turn and everything that follows was more or less hyper-annoying. Isabelle's character becomes an unlikable and completely unappealing bitch. When she dies at the end, I was like "Ok, she's dead. I don't care."
Many pacing problems start to occur, several scenes bored the fuck out of me, and then there are scenes that are so pointless, you could easily cut them out, for example the lengthy sequence where the security guard talks about his mother, or the god-awful scene where the Soskas appear as "Demon Twins of Berlin",
a scene so god-damn superfluous and unimportant, it's frustrating. And what's with their shitty accents? One sounded like a Hungarian, the other like a Canadian spoofing an American who fails trying to spoof a German. AYFKM??

Other things I didn't like was the rather unnerving American (or Canadian?) detective with the British accent, the scene where Mary suddenly got jealous for no apparent reason, or the fact that we didn't get to see the result of the Twins-operation. And what's with the title? American Mary? Shouldn't it be Canadian Mary? Or Bloody Mary?

Nah, I don't recommend this. Wanna see a good "feminist" horror film?
Watch "Excision" or "Ginger Snaps 1+2" instead.

Wiki ~ Imdb

SIDE EFFECTS

SIDE EFFECTS

German Title:
Side Effects - Tödliche Nebenwirkungen

USA, 2013
Director: Steven Soderbergh

9/10








I still don't believe that Steven Soderbergh is really retiring from filmmaking, simply because he's such a passionate director, I can't imagine him NOT doing films, or doing something else than shooting films. But if it turns out to be true... damn! No! Not after this amazing movie!


Ok, I'm not a hardcore Soderbergh fan. I usually avoid seeing his lighter comedy-stuff because I'm simply not interested in it - but I love all his darker films, like the bizarre "Kafka", the haunting "Solaris" remake, the intense "Contagion" and of course the uber-adorable "Traffic", one of my favorite movies of all time. "Side Effects" isn't as awesome as "Traffic", but it comes pretty close.

My expectations were low due to the kinda unimpressive trailer and the boring marketing, but hell yeah, this one blew me away as much as "Dead Man Down" did! "Side Effects" is an incredibly complex and completely mindblowing psychological film-noir/mystery-thriller, packed with so many unforeseeable plot twists, I ended up with a mashed brain.
There's a lot of tension and suspense going on, tons of highly thrilling and stunningly emotional scenes, and even a few really unsettling sequences.


Soderbergh handles the somewhat heavy plot with intriguing verve and surprising ease, wrapped in a unique style that often felt a bit semi-documentary. The look of the film is simply beautiful and reminded me a lot of "Contagion" and "Traffic", thanks to a fantastic mixture of wonderfully warm and depressingly dark colours, stylish but "cold"-looking settings and Soderbergh's excellent cinematography, all accompanied with a mysterious and pretty baffling musical score by Thomas Newman ("American Beauty").

Jude Law gives one of his best and most intense performance of his entire career, same for Rooney Mara who delivers a fascinating, perplexing and haunting character. Catherine Zeta-Jones looks hot as fuck, and Channing Tatum gives a pretty convincing ex-con. Also great: Vinessa Shaw, Michael Nathanson and Sheila Tapia.
Stand-out scenes: Mara killing her husband, the car crash, the truth-serum interview and some nice lesbo-action.


A film like an effective and well tolerated drug with no side effects whatsoever :)

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