Sunday, August 27, 2023

It Lives Again (1978) surpasses the original.

I was really impressed by this sequel. I love The Stuff and I liked It's Alive but the latter wasn't my favorite so I was wondering what direction part 2 would go in. How could they possibly do a follow-up? Shame on me for doubting Larry Cohen. The way he expanded the world was brilliant and I was happy to see John Ryan return. His opening speech to the new parents was very powerful and emotional. I could really feel for his character. I like how it all comes full circle too. I knew nothing about this film going in and I think that's the best way to watch movies. My only regret is not watching it sooner. Of course, Rick Baker does an excellent job with the FX and they're wise to not show the mutant babies too much. This series reminds me of the Basket Case films, which I also love. I'd gladly rewatch either trilogy. They just don't make them like this anymore. The Suckling is another one I enjoy and Baby Blood. Behold the infant horror subgenre!

Saturday, July 22, 2023

The Best Horror Movie Store in Tokyo

If you're ever in Tokyo, you should visit Video Market in Shinjuku. This store is absolutely phenomenal. I love it so much. When I first moved to Japan 5 years ago in 2017, I found it, and I couldn't stay away. There is a life-size Alien in the doorway, Texas Chainsaw Massacre props, and signed photos from all the horror celebrities that have dropped by over the years like Bill Moseley, the director of Martyrs, and even Honey Bunny from Pulp Fiction. It's an incredible place filled to the brim with horror DVDs, Blu-rays, and even some VHS. Of course, every other genre is present too: westerns, crime, sci-fi, arthouse, erotica, etc. but the horror section is by far the biggest, broken down into sections like Giallo, German Splatter, Trash Horror, etc. I even got some old Fangoria there. It really can't be beat, and it isn't a chain. This store is one of a kind, which is why it needs the support even more and the owner is super nice too. There used to be more horror stores like this in Tokyo but they've all closed now except Video Market.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

The Menu (2022) is wickedly funny.

The black humor in this reminds me of American Psycho. I feel like it's on that level, which is probably the highest compliment I can give. I especially loved Tyler's bullshit. It doesn't get better than that. All the acting is fantastic especially Ralph Fiennes, Nicholas Hoult, and Anya Taylor-Joy. I hesitated to watch this since I worried it would be too arthouse but they made it a lot of fun as well and it's exciting to sit through. It never gets dull. You can kind of guess where it's all going but they still manage to surprise you and pull you into the story so if you're on the fence about this one, dive in. Even one of my friends who is super critical of movies and doesn't really enjoy much these days loved this film so that says a lot. I ended up laughing and relating far more than I ever expected to. In other words, don't be stupid like me. This is a great film. I just tend to like watching older movies but if you like black humor, I think you'll definitely enjoy this.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Knock at the Cabin (2023) surprised me.

I didn't really have any interest in this film. Maybe it's the rather nondescript or generic-sounding title but I should've known you can't judge a book by its cover because damn I loved this movie. It hooked me from the start and had me completely engrossed. I was surprised M. Night Shyamalan directed this. I probably wouldn't have watched it had I known that but like The Visit and Split, this is a good one. I just have a hard time forgetting about The Happening or Lady in the Water or The Last Airbender or After Earth or Glass (to a lesser degree). But even Spielberg made some duds (The Lost World... Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Crap). M. Night can be a really great director and he shows that here. The cinematography and performances are all outstanding as well along with the writing (I'd be curious to read the book it's based on). I think M. Night should stop with his cameos though but I tend to not be a fan of director cameos anyway.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Buy the new End of the Line Blu-ray!

I really love Maurice Devereaux's End of the Line. It's a phenomenal achievement in indie horror and what he went through to get it made is staggering (besides all kinds of production hurdles, a personal loss that would make it pretty much impossible for anyone to continue). You can tell it's a real passion project and I just think it's a damn good movie. Now Terror Vision has released a brand new Blu-ray (buy it here) with an incredible 41-min new interview with Maurice Devereaux and it's amazing. He talks very openly and honestly about both the film and his career. It's also a bit heartbreaking since he mentions how he didn't enjoy filming End of the Line because of all the stress involved and how it's his last movie, which really sucks, but at least we got four features from him and his fantastic Clan of the Devil graphic novels (order those here). I just can't believe that even when a company was making a horror movie in Montreal, they didn't think to hire him or do a basic internet search. It's just insane. He should've been able to make a lot more movies with bigger budgets but I think it's almost impossible to succeed now as an indie filmmaker unfortunately. The lottery winners get the press but what about all those who fall through the cracks? Anyway, screw me. Please support Maurice Devereaux and his incredible movies.

Friday, April 28, 2023

Battle Heater (1989) is absolutely amazing.

If you haven't seen Cyclops (1987), stop what you're doing and watch it. Especially for practical FX fans, it's jaw-dropping. Just get to the finale and you'll see what I mean... it all builds to that and boy does it pay off. Battle Heater is by the same director so you know you're in for something great. This time around it's a crazy comedy with a kotatsu (table with a blanket on top and a heater underneath) that starts eating people. It's brilliant and I can't believe it took me this long to see it. I think somebody actually gave the director a budget for this and that person deserves all the accolades in the world for such a great decision. Good call, sir. Good call. Sadly, many Japanese films are made very cheaply especially these days but you can tell Battle Heater had some money and damn did they put it to good use. This film is exhilarating and so much fun to behold. If you like Japanese cinema at all, you should give it a chance. I'm not really into comedies but I loved this and it's far more than just a comedy anyway.

Friday, March 10, 2023

Faust (1994) is incredibly unique.

Like the director's Alice film, Faust is really in a league of its own with its fantastic mix of stop motion animation and live action. There is a style here that feels totally original, not that other films haven't mixed the two mediums but the way it's done with this is different. The atmosphere is also peculiar and engaging. I can only imagine how long it took to make this. The marionette shows are so well done and imaginative. There doesn't seem to be any rules since all of a sudden, the marionettes can be out in a real life setting like a garden, not on a stage any longer and the human characters can also appear onstage with strings attached to them. It's really a wild piece of cinema showing you can go nuts and do what you want. The tale of Faust has been around for such a long time yet this film finds an exciting new way of telling it. I highly recommend it if you want something different.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Carved: The Slit-Mouthed Woman (2007) is quite good.

This Japanese urban legend is very interesting especially since there isn't one standard explanation for why the Slit-Mouthed Woman's face is messed up so every movie can have its own interpretation. I just wish the other Japanese films could get released in the West with English subtitles. I've found a couple others that did get put out on US DVDs but there are so many more that were made in Japan. Carved is probably the best though by the same director as Grotesque, NoroiSadako vs. Kayako, and many other films. This movie manages to be a bit creepy at times and the idea of an unstable woman kidnapping children is pretty disturbing. This legend obviously has a lot of potential even if the films tend to struggle with it like I'm not sure what to make of the body-hopping. That is different but it's maybe too much. It is fascinating though the way the legend can be traced back to the Edo period and a samurai supposedly mutilating his unfaithful partner.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Is Beware! The Blob (1972) really a comedy?

I know... how dare I question IMDb but I quite liked this film. Even lesser Blob is still great to me. I just never really found it that funny. People died in pretty gruesome fashion. True not as horrific as the remake and there was a ton of that kitten during the opening credits but the stakes still seemed rather dire. I wasn't sure if our leads would make it or not. The poster pitches it as quite serious too. Could somebody let Joe Lynch make a sequel to the 80s Blob? I'd love to see that. We need more Blob films especially with practical FX. I'm still so impressed by how they did the special effects in these films. I can see how CGI could help with some shots especially just to touch them up a bit but I'd still love it if they did another with all practical. Hey I'm nuts, I can dream. Bio Slime's stories of how they did similar FX in that are really fascinating. These kinds of films just seem insanely difficult to pull off. The Blob (1988) will always be one of my favorites.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Caged Heat (1974) is an interesting start to Jonathan Demme's long career.

Watching this I don't think you could ever predict this director would go on to do The Silence of the Lambs but there are also a ton of features separating the two so I shouldn't be so surprised. Even as someone who enjoys films like this, I had trouble getting into this one. I prefer The Big Bird Cage or Prison Heat but what do I know? I like Werewolf in a Women's Prison so you definitely shouldn't listen to me. What a strange subgenre this is. I think I might be brain dead because this was pretty dull to me. The synopsis made it sound exciting but so many of these women in prison films seem identical with almost the exact same plot. No worries if you enjoy this film. I just struggled with it but I was still very glad to see Demme's first feature. First films of famous directors are always so fascinating even if they're lackluster since you can see how very far they came. You have to put in the work and work really hard then work more and more and more.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Terrifier 2 (2022) is a huge win for uncut indie horror.

The fact this got into theaters uncut, made a bunch of money as an extreme anti-Hollywood slasher, and kept growing is just phenomenal. I really liked the first Terrifier and I loved the sequel even more. Art the Clown is so much fun, and I love how he never talks, he uses guns, etc. He's just a perfect unpredictable psychopath, and Sienna is an awesome final girl. I like how the film is over 2 hours long. It gives you a lot more time with these characters and makes it even more unconventional as a slasher. I was just so happy by the end. It's really a huge achievement for indie horror and practical FX in so many different ways. The Little Pale Girl is an excellent addition to the mayhem and I can't wait to see the next film. It makes me want to come up with a new horror icon but that's much easier said than done. The director was very smart the way he differentiated his killer clown from Pennywise. Art is a brilliantly twisted invention.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Mountaintop Motel Massacre (1983) comes up short.

I always remember seeing the poster for this but the film itself is fairly boring unfortunately. No great slasher icon in this. Just an old lady with a sickle. Yeah... so scary. Even the kills are pretty dull. A lady gets her face slashed. Another guy is stabbed in the chest. One dude is bitten by a snake. Oh boy, can you get just a little exciting? Slasher fans will be snoring. No nudity. No great gore. No suspense really. I like how one character was just lying about owning Columbia Records but they needed to do something a lot more original and inventive or at least go gory and sleazy like Pieces. This film is just forgettable. Adding "Massacre" to the title was a clever way to get people to watch but they're all going to leave disappointed when said massacre never transpires. Definitely a lot better films out there to spend your time on. I love 80s horror but this a very poor example. Nothing memorable at all really, which is a shame. The opening is ok I guess.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996) is ridiculous fun.

I don't know how anyone could ever take this movie seriously. First of all, it's the Leprechaun series. I don't think it's possible for it to jump the shark. Go nuts. Do the craziest thing you can think of. Why not? Let's just have a blast. Leprechaun 3 was surprisingly pretty good so I was glad to see the same director back for another sequel but I was worried by the low IMDb rating. How very stupid of me. You should always see stuff yourself. You can tell watching this film that the director and writer are big fans of Aliens. You kind of get your Queen Alien, you got your low-rent space marines, etc. I thought it was very entertaining for what it is. A super sized Leprechaun? An alien space lady who just looks like a hot human girl with more makeup? Sure, go for it. Complaining about this would be like complaining about McDonald's. You should know what you're getting. It's obvious just by the title. I hope Darren Lynn Bousman gets to make his sequel, and I hope it's insane.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

I couldn't get enough of Grizzly (1976).

Yes, it's clearly aping Jaws but I enjoyed this film so much. I already want to watch it again, and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the charming characters and actors or the brutal violence but this was so entertaining. You really can't predict who will die next, and that is a huge part of it I think. The relationships also feel quite real. Some characters you're certain will make it end up in the meat grinder that they call a bear. Of course, I don't think it's realistic at all but it doesn't matter. Bears can be extremely dangerous and cause some gruesome deaths (you definitely don't want to run into one in real life) but this thing seems like a furry Terminator. Just look at that tagline on the poster: "18 feet of gut-crunching, man-eating terror!" That is brilliant and boy howdy does it deliver. I know one thing for certain: if I read that tagline, I'd have to see this movie but usually you'd end up regretting that decision. Well, not in this case.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

The Day of the Beast (1995) is full of dark humor.

This film is really funny at times but pitch black. If you want to see a priest doing awful things because he needs to get on Satan's side to stop the birth of the Antichrist (quite twisted logic), this is your movie. I wouldn't be surprised if the director got death threats but it's just a movie and it's quite good. I can see it being controversial though, which is why the director should be applauded even more. Shudder had it under their Essentials category and you can see why. Some FX don't quite hold up but they're still impressive really and you get everything you're promised on that poster so I was happy there. I think horror fans will certainly like this film and it earns the 7.3 rating on IMDb. It's a fun unique horror comedy that subverts expectations very well. Spoiler alert but I like how the very beautiful girl who dresses all sexy is actually a virgin and the ending goes all out in the best ways so you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Xtro 3: Watch the Skies (1995) is kind of a train wreck.

Like Xtro 2, which just ripped off Aliens in a pretty lousy way, the third film in this shouldn't-be-a-series really isn't doing it any favors. My brain is already expelling the memories like some strange contagion. I can't believe the same director did all three films but each one had different writers, which is clearly the problem. I enjoyed the first Xtro quite a bit, and it was rather unique, but this one is a mess. There are some very bad dodgy FX where the alien turns invisible, cloaking like the Predator but it looks horrible especially when it's a puppet being moved in the distance. I love puppets but wow. You shouldn't try to copy Predator especially if you can't pull it off. People will just make negative comparisons. It's much better to try to do something unique. Sadly, none of this film is scary and I didn't care for the characters at all, which are your typical cliché marines. I was bored trying to watch this. I felt no suspense or anything. That said, I'm just one moron so if you really love this movie, good for you. I wish I could've enjoyed it because I do love Predator and even some of the bad knockoffs but I just couldn't get into it. In defense of the director, I will say all three Xtro films are very different from each other so that's cool and I think it would be tough to do an alien movie like this so take my silly opinion with a grain of salt.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Alien 2: On Earth (1980)... uhm... yeah...

Do I need to say anything? I mean it's obvious right? A bad Alien ripoff. A fake Italian sequel. It does have nudity in one scene and some odd kills but not nearly enough to make up for how insanely boring it is. Wait, is that an egg on the beach? Quick cut to someplace else. The FX are pretty bad even though they are practical. What sucks is how little FX you get and how everything else feels like filler for the worst cave movie you ever saw. Seriously, there is a monster in here killing people. They're trapped in a cave. How can you make it so dull? That takes a special kind of skill. No atmosphere, lifeless characters, nothing interesting going on, no sense of urgency or stakes, etc. I think my brain already expelled this dump out of self-preservation. So yeah, definitely skip this unless you just love suffering and even then there are about a billion better ways to toil in eternal pain although I guess boredom is one of the worst. But it's Alien 2... I had to watch it... please don't be as stupid as me...

Thursday, April 14, 2022

The Only Real Way to Learn Directing

If you think a book, a class, or some making of doc is going to cut it, the sad truth is none of those will be enough. Sure they can help *a little* but the only way to really learn directing is by directing, and if you want to direct features, the only way to learn that is by directing features. Directing shorts can give you some insight but a short can be done in a day or a week, maybe a few months or six, but features take at least a year if not several. It's like running around the block compared to a cross-country marathon and even that ignores the time component, which takes forever when you get into post particularly editing (don't do it all yourself... but you will learn the most that way although you'll most likely learn you got a long way to go). Everybody wants to think you can watch someone else direct and then boom you can do it too. If you watch Spielberg, you can be Spielberg. It doesn't work like that. How many writers, producers, actors, FX artists, etc. have you seen become directors who worked with literally the best in the business but then their own work feels like a first-timer? It happens all the time because they are a first-timer, at least when it comes to directing a feature. Yes, sometimes, they can level up by paying the best crews to hoist them up but so often even that fails and it takes a lot of money. If you're watching from the sidelines, that's all you're doing. You're watching. You don't have the entire weight of that production on your shoulders, trying to juggle everything and problem solve a million things at once. Sure you can spot things *you think* they could have done better or little things they "missed" but how can you judge when you don't know all the shit they have to deal with? Until you are in that position with all that crap reigning down on you as you fight all the elements including motherfucking reality and your own people can you begin to understand the vast hellscape they're being crushed under especially on indies where so often one poor bastard is wearing far too many hats. Just look at the picture above. Staring into the jaws of the beast, that's film directing. Actually, Francis Ford Coppola's famous photo from Apocalypse Now is the most apt metaphor for being a film director especially an indie one.

All that aside, I love directing but you have to be ready to take a beating. Never let anyone say you can't do it but don't assume you know everything because you're a good cinematographer or you've been on a bunch of sets. Direct your first feature and you'll see what it's really like. Direct your first feature and you'll be humbled. Direct your first feature and you'll learn so much. It's really an incredible experience but it's not easy nor should it be. And a strange thing about directing features is it doesn't really get easier the more you make. It does kind of in some ways but it also becomes harder too especially if you really want to make something great.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Down to Hell (1997) can't measure up to Versus (2000).

But that isn't surprising considering the difference in budget and crew. It's hard to believe Versus (2000) was originally going to be Down to Hell 2 since this early effort pales in comparison but it's still cool to see. Everybody has to start somewhere. Even if you watch the first films of Hitchcock, Kubrick, or Villeneuve, it's tough to see the legends they'd become. Unless you have millions to hire professional artists to lift you up, your first film is likely to embarrass you later. That is only natural though. It means you've learned and made progress. You just have to keep working at it and try to always improve, which also means recognizing where you came up short. It's easier said than done. Down to Hell lacks cool FX or kills. Almost no gore, action, or suspense. It's pretty dull but hey, try to make a movie for no money. It's insanely difficult especially when you first start. Sure everybody says they could do better but that's just talk. Put your money where your mouth is then you'll understand.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

XX: Beautiful Weapon (1993) won me over big time.

Having watched Guzoo (and obsessed over it... I love practical FX monsters what can I say), I was curious to see the director's Beautiful Weapon film. It didn't disappoint at all. I quite like this pinky violence series especially Beautiful Beast but this one might just be better. The way the story unfolds is pretty clever and I like the lead guy who realizes the trap of our beautiful assassin. It feels very much like she is a spider luring in her victims with sex, and they always think they have the advantage. It's definitely smarter than it needed to be. Yes, I know the US DVD cover is shit but the film is good. Alright, it's good if you like these types of films. Some people don't? Sorry I'm not normal. Who is normal? Probably not the guy talking to himself on a blog. Yeah, that's a good point. Well, giant atomic turtles aren't normal either but they're good at flying. What were we talking about? Cars. The Pixar movie? Geez, what's wrong with you? Quiet mom I'm writing my novel. Nobody reads blogs anymore? Can I ticktock this?

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Watch out for Dreams on Fire!

I really can't wait to see this film! It's an independent feature shot in Tokyo and directed by Philippe McKie. His shorts "Breaker" and "Be My First" were extremely well done with the first being cyberpunk and reminding me a lot of excellent old-school sci-fi anime while the second was his take on Japan's legendary pink films. Both had phenomenal cinematography with exciting original storytelling. Dreams on Fire provides an exhilarating and intoxicating look into Japanese dance and subculture communities. This movie has already won a bunch of awards at film festivals and the trailer alone is outstanding. I'm dying to see this. I think all artists can relate to the struggle of the main character, just constantly working hard and trying your best to break through while not giving up. We all know how difficult that is. You can watch that trailer below along with his previous short "Breaker."

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Uncle Peckerhead (2020) is an amazing indie.

This film was hilarious and brilliant. Dark but so much fun. I think this really shows what a talented indie filmmaker can do even with very little money although it is so crazy hard to make something as good as this especially for a tiny budget, which makes such an accomplishment all the more impressive. Of course, if you have millions of dollars, you should be able to make a good film but it's never that simple because of too many cooks in the kitchen, a mountain of pressure, strings attached to said money, and just the overall difficulty in creating a truly great movie (even the best directors of all time have misfires). But on the flip side, having basically pocket change compared to Hollywood pretty much buries you under an avalanche of challenges so it's a miracle and no doubt a colossal amount of work behind the scenes when something absolutely fantastic emerges. So glad to say Uncle Peckerhead is definitely an example of beating the odds and delivering an awesome indie. Incredible gory practical FX, tons of dark humor, excellent characters you care about and want to follow, professional cinematography, etc. I really want to see what this director does next and I hope such an accomplishment makes it easier for him to bring his future films to life. I love the name of his production company too, Subtle T-Rex.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Ley Lines (1999) shows Miike's versatility even more.

The more movies you watch by Takashi Miike, the more you realize he has done just about everything in every genre. The man can literally do anything. He has already done so freakin much that it's absolutely mind-blowing. Comedy, horror, action, crime, drama, sci-fi, fantasy, hell he can do all of them in one film. Just consider this: Stanley Kubrick directed 13 features. Hitchcock directed about 55. Spielberg 37, Kurosawa 32, Ozu 48, Tarantino 9, Guillermo del Toro 11, Jim Jarmusch 15, etc. Well, Miike has directed about 107. That is unbelievable. It's all the more astounding when you discover that Miike was given a chance to direct by a total outsider to the film industry, and yet Miike is like an entire industry all by himself now with the sheer number of films he directed. He wanted to make films that hadn't been done before. Films that the Japanese film industry wasn't making, and Ley Lines is a good example since it's about a trio of young Japanese of Chinese descent struggling to survive in Tokyo. They make friends with a distraught Shanghai hooker and piss off the local crime lord as their situation gets progressively worse. As much as I liked Rainy Dog, I prefer this film although I'm hard pressed to identify why since both really engaged me. I was less enthused by Shinjuku Triad Society although I was still happy to watch it but with Miike, you really never know what you're going to get if it's a superhero comedy like Zebraman or a bizarre surreal acid trip like Gozu or just a badass old-school samurai tale like 13 Assassins. Maybe you'll end up with giant sci-fi roaches in his anime adaptation Terra Formars or get disturbed by his groundbreaking horror Audition or witness his brilliant family fantasy musical The Happiness of the Katakuris. I just think in the end you can't go wrong with Miike. Even lesser Miike is still extremely entertaining and original.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

How did I never see Guzoo: The Thing Forsaken By God - Part 1 (1986)?

I'm just shocked I never heard of this before. True, it's only 40 min long but damn it's pretty cool. I love practical FX tentacle monsters, and this certainly delivers as it attacks a bunch of cute Japanese girls. Apparently, there is no part 2, which is a bummer. This should have been a series with like 40 movies haha. Alright maybe I'm overselling it a bit but it seems so amazing when you discover something like this and I found a bunch of other short FX Japanese horror films too such as Conton (1987), Cyclops/The Unborn (1987), Gakidama: The Demon Within (1988), etc. These are the kind of cool practical FX movies I want to make. Ok maybe more like John Carpenter's The Thing but who am I kidding I'm never going to have his budget, which is why I'm impressed by what these guys did because it was probably done for pennies. Sure, it has flaws and you can see their limitations but still I think it's fantastic what they pulled off with so little. That's the magic of indie filmmaking. And look at that VHS box. That's awesome. As soon as I saw that, I knew I had to see this.

I did some digging and the internet informed me V Zone Video was behind this production. Part 2 was canceled since they went out of business. V Zone was a popular Japanese horror magazine in the 80s but its final issue was in 1987. Such a shame.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Torso (1973) is giallo at its finest.

Like everybody else, I love Dario Argento's work but there's plenty of other giallo out there and Torso is really a favorite of mine. Director Sergio Martino should get more credit for making such an exciting crazy film. It's clever too in the way it misleads you about the killer's identity, teasing and toying with you using the red-and-black scarf. Plus, the film is full of absolutely stunning women in various stages of undress, and it never gets dull for a moment. The kill scenes are well shot and very atmospheric. I always remember the brutal dispatching in the foggy woods. Overflowing with style, Torso is one I can easily rewatch. Sure, it has flaws like some of the FX could have been better but I highly recommend it if you haven't seen it. Just be sure to track down the uncut version. Of course, you probably already saw it. I'm late to the party as usual. No surprise there. Actually, I never go to parties. Mom won't let me do anything fun. She keeps sitting up in her room, staring at me from the window. I told her I have to run the motel. Guests are coming but she always has to belittle me. Yes, I'm ripping off Psycho. No, I'm not clever. I have a blog. How clever could I be? That's not fair. Some bloggers are really clever but not me. I'm like the remake of Psycho. Pointless and lazy. Alright, that's my high point. I'm out of here.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

I really loved The Incubus (1981).

Yes, the very end is slightly cheesy due to the FX but this film is so well directed that it is extremely engaging. I was so surprised. My expectations were very low but John Cassavetes is outstanding in it, and again director John Hough really should be championed so much more. He is famous of course for The Legend of Hell House, which is excellent but I really need to see all his movies now (I'm ashamed I didn't see them all already). I really want to study this film because even just the way simple dialogue exchanges are done is fantastic. How they move the camera works so well. So much does come down to the script, which has to be phenomenal and is sadly the most underappreciated yet essential component, but such compelling direction truly elevates the material too. Yeah sorry I sound like some stupid film student now (or even worse, a film school teacher... please kill me) but I just love this movie.

Monday, August 23, 2021

So glad to finally see Evil Dead Trap (1988).

I really love Japanese horror films but sadly I didn't see this one until recently because I foolishly thought it was just a ripoff of Evil Dead, which to be fair, I would still be happy to watch. Of course, I was completely wrong. Despite the title, it's a very unique original movie that really has nothing to do with Sam Raimi's films except they're both gory horror. There are some insanely-inventive kills in this that I never saw before, and I very much dug the atmosphere. I immediately had to check out both sequels, which unfortunately were rather disappointing but I'm still glad I saw them all. There is something special and different about this first one. As people much smarter than me have pointed out, this film feels very much influenced by Italian horror like Argento and Fulci. I love their output too so such a mix sounds like heaven to me, and I think this film certainly delivers. The ending really gets nuts but that is part of the charm. I love films that dare to do something different.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Tomie: Unlimited (2011) is an improvement.

I liked this better than the first film in the series but the digital cinematography is a little underwhelming. I really like how they tried to do more of the Cronenbergesque body horror from the manga but the FX aren't quite there. They're close but I really wish Noboru Iguchi could have gotten a bigger budget, a better camera, etc. I'm still not sure about the actress they chose for Tomie. I know that must be the most difficult role to cast though (even Junji Ito himself picking the actress for the first Tomie movie had a questionable result). But sometimes you see a girl in Tokyo that is simply breathtaking. If only they could cast someone like that but maybe those girls can't act or don't want to act. But I hope they keep trying. Tomie really deserves an awesome big budget film. It just needs someone that truly gets the material and can pull it off then they need the necessary budget to achieve that. Easier said than done and I worry the financers have lost faith.

Update: having now watched many more Tomie movies, I realize the error of my ways. Most of the films are pretty boring sadly but Iguchi's adaptation is probably the best. If only they would've given him more time and money but still it's amazing for the few resources he had. I think a major problem for these films is if you've read the manga, you know where the story is going so it's hard for the filmmakers to surprise the fans and keep it entertaining.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Tomie (1998) sadly disappoints.

I'm very much late to the game on this, having just recently stumbled on the freakin 9 Tomie movies that exist. Why I didn't know sooner is beyond me. I'm slow... what can I say but I was extremely excited to check these out. Then reality set in. I'm a big fan of Junji Ito's art even though I'm no expert by any means. I really don't know much except his stuff is genius, and if you read about the Tomie manga or pick it up yourself, you can see all the potential it has. Unfortunately, it seems none of the films have really capitalized on this. The first attempt in 1998 has a lot going for it or at least it should since it was made right around the time of the first Ring and it was shot on film with a good aesthetic that reminds me of Hideo Nakata's classic but Tomie ends up being rather prodding with not much to grab the viewer. It's a shame. Another issue that seems to plague all these movies is the actress they pick for Tomie never seems so irresistibly beautiful to make all the men go crazy over her.

Friday, May 7, 2021

It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) is great to watch.

I love seeing monster movies like this. Them and Day of the Triffids are two of my favorites besides the original Universal Monsters of course (Frankenstein and Creature from the Black Lagoon can't be beat). Yes, the FX don't quite hold up in this but I think there's something charming about a guy in a suit vs. today's CG nonsense although sometimes CGI can be amazing as well (the limited CGI in the first Jurassic Park and the extraordinary work in Starship Troopers). Then again I didn't like the practical FX in Gargoyles so I'm contradictory but I expected a little more from Stan Winston and that was the '70s vs. the '50s here. I shouldn't be so harsh to Gargoyles either since it was a TV movie and full monster suits are never easy. Really I just love monster movies. Even the bad ones are great to me, and I would love to watch every monster movie ever made even though that might be impossible. I like the characters in this film and the way the story develops. At first, no one believes our hero, the only survivor from the first encounter, but once they see the monster for themselves, they know he is telling the truth. It's a common storyline especially in vampire flicks but I like how our guy isn't bitter at that. He understands why they wouldn't believe him. I'm so glad we even got a toy of this monster. One thing is certain: if you want a great monster movie, you need a ruthless unstoppable monster. Alien, Terminator, Jaws all have this in common. The harder it is to kill the beast, the more suspenseful your film will be. Same thing goes for how lethal the creature is. Monster movies really have clear stakes, which I think makes them very effective. Rarely are they boring, and I just love monsters.

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