Thursday, December 19, 2019

Bio Hunter (1995) serves up a fun gory anime.

I'm a bit obsessed with monsters. I just think they're fuckin awesome... Frankenstein, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Wolfman, Nosferatu, the Mummy, Dracula, Freddy Krueger, Jason, Chucky, Michael Meyers, the Thing, the Blob, Alien, Predator. The list goes on and on. Since I'm in Tokyo now making a monster movie, naturally I have to dig into whatever monster anime I can find, and thankfully I have a great Japanese friend to give me recommendations (thank you Sho!). So much of horror anime deals with transforming. I love that. They took the Wolfman myth and shoved crack in his veins. Forget a wolf. These fuckers can turn into anything. The best thing about anime is they can do whatever the hell they want especially looking at these gory creative 80s/early 90s titles. They are exquisite (I'm sure no one ever used that word before to describe Bio Hunter) but seriously, this stuff is awesome. Devilman, Wicked City, Geno Cyber, etc. It's all gold. Ok, you have to be a little crazy like me. Alright, more than a little but I think anyone can appreciate their imagination and unbridled creativity. No? Ok, well, I tried. I'm nuts, but like Michael Keaton said in Batman, let's get nuts. Nobody reads this, do they?

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Tokyo Species (2012) is a tad underwhelming.

Love the poster but the film feels very cheap, which I'm sure it was. The CGI especially is not good and the lead actress (AV star Maria Ozawa) gets almost no dialogue so you can't connect with her character much. Cronenberg was very smart with his writing on The Fly remake to be certain Seth Brundle didn't lose his speech until the very last transformation. Clearly, as you can gleam from the title of this Japanese movie, it's an obvious ripoff, erm I mean "clone," of the 1995 sci-fi flick Species. Regardless, I still kinda like it but it's a shame they didn't have more money and give Maria Ozawa more of a chance to actually act. I wish filmmakers would stop using bad CGI. It's a lot easier to forgive bad practical but bad CGI looks so lousy you are instantly thrown out of the movie. I always wonder about films like this. Were they trying to make something great or just something cheap to cash in? But I guess it could depend on who you ask: the producer or the director.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Tokyo Gore Police (2008) reminds me of RoboCop.

I love the satire and black comedy. Plus, fountains of blood win me over every time. Eihi Shiina, the lead actress from Audition, is outstanding of course. If only the film had a higher production quality. It looks way too cheap camera wise but you get loads of cool outrageous FX. Mostly practical. Some more convincing than others. There is some weak CG at times. The story reminds me a bit of eXistenZ and Cronenberg too with its engineer flesh keys. The PSAs about cutting yourself and harakiri are hilarious. It does cross the line of bad taste a few times for me but clearly that was the goal and I admire that it holds nothing back like it was born straight from the mind of a madman. The inventive FX and concept that allows for half-monster half-human hybrids is brilliant. I would definitely watch the promised sequel if it ever happens. It's an excellent concept with all kinds of potential.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Wicked City (1987) is an anime classic.

I'm a huge fan of Ninja Scroll and its director Yoshiaki Kawajiri so I was very excited to watch this film. It didn't disappoint either. If only Demon City Shinjuku could've been on the level of these two but it was alright. I just didn't feel it reached these towering highs. I love the style of his films and the compelling nature of their stories but not going to lie. The insane bloody violence and sexuality are incredible too. They don't feel excessive in his work but integral to it although you could argue anything is excessive because it's all a matter of opinion. Something you feel is essential, another person could claim wasn't necessary but I really like what he shows and doesn't show. I wish we could get some live action movies as crazy as these. I don't think anything as really come close. I guess because you can get away with more in anime and you don't have to worry about doing such difficult FX. The demon designs are amazing and shocking.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Brain Damage (1988) is a lot of gory goodness.

I love the practical FX in this film. Sure, sometimes, they're not entirely convincing but they're always charming, original, and imaginative. The voice of the creature is excellent, and the story is compelling with a metaphor about addiction to drugs. Plus, it's all quite twisted with a lot of fantastic dark humor. The history of the creature is interesting and the film is a joy to watch. I already want to see this again. Frank Henenlotter is a filmmaker I really enjoy. I wish he had made even more movies like this and Frankenhooker, Basket Case, etc. I need to watch Bad Biology. So far my favorite of his would either be this or Frankenhooker. We're so lucky these films were even made. Damn I love the '80s. I really want to see every horror movie from that decade, good or bad. Even the bad ones tend to be better than most of what we get today.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Bio-Zombie (1998) is really funny.

You can tell these guys love movies, and their film is quite clever like when they pull the split screen trick or the amusing, unique opening credits. Clearly, they didn't have much money, and the FX leave a bit to be desired, but the banter between the two leads more than makes up for that. They're lowly video store clerks... pirated crappy videos at that as one customer complains about but their schemes and conversations never fail to entertain. I wouldn't call it horror even though there are some zombies and at least one tragic kill, but it's definitely an effective comedy. I enjoyed it immensely. I haven't seen many Hong Kong zombie films either so I like that unique angle too. It all takes place in a pretty cramped shopping mall but obviously such a location isn't foreign to amazing zombie films. The fate of several characters is actually surprising, and you do get some different zombie scenarios too like a prelude to the recent popular zombie love story shenanigans.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Freaks (1932) remains endearing and effective.

I always heard this is a horror film but nothing in it seemed horrifying to me except the sad old tale of a kind lover being tricked by a deceitful, sinister manipulator. That is hard to watch. A person's good heart robbed and taken advantage of particularly when that individual should know better but they fall prey nonetheless. Even more depressing is the one who stands by them despite such an awful betrayal that shouldn't be forgiven. That companion is truly a saint. Anyway, I don't want to give the whole story away, but it works, and it's a powerful film regardless of the year it was made. That makes it an even more stunning achievement. People constantly label films as old even when they're just from 1986 and it rubs me the wrong way since the 80s isn't old. 1932, yes, that's old, but tons of amazing films were made back then, and we should never discredit something simply because of when it was made. I love watching "old" films.

Monday, May 20, 2019

You should see Densha Otoko aka Train Man (2005).

I probably wouldn't have heard of this film if I wasn't living in Tokyo now, which is such a shame. I love Japanese movies but even then so many can slip under your radar. Based on a true story, just the opening scene felt very authentic even having only been here a short time. Drunk salarymen are a common sight especially on the late trains, and sometimes, they get very unruly. It's extremely unfortunate. This is the story of a very shy nerd who decides to stand up for a girl when she is harassed by such a salaryman and then his ensuing attempts to court said girl who is clearly smitten with him after his heroic actions. What can I say? It's very charming and heart-warming, but you can also see how difficult it is for someone to come out of their shell particularly these days in the age of the internet. Changing yourself isn't easy. I know how that poster looks (and that was the best I could find) but this is truly a good movie with a very important message.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Little Odessa (1994) is one hell of a first feature.

Another director recommended James Gray to me, but actually I never heard of him so I immediately watched a number of his films starting with his debut feature. Damn, what a way to start a career. Crime films tend to work really well for me. They're never boring, and this one especially is extremely compelling. Tim Roth just nails it. He feels almost like the shark in Jaws. A force of nature. Unpredictable. Volatile. He could explode at any moment. It's an awesome character, but he's grounded in reality too so it hits home more knowing there are people out there like him. They give some indicators of how he turned out the way he did but his own father still seems mystified although the dad clearly hasn't taken stock of his role in creating this devastating catastrophe. The stakes feel particularly high in this film. You know some bad shit is going to go down but you're not exactly sure how. It doesn't disappoint. What an ending.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

No one will like A Scene at the Sea (1991).

But I like it. Ok, I'm exaggerating. Some people might like it. The film is about surfing. I don't like surfing. Ok, I'm so-so on it. I love Point Break. But not because it has surfing in it. A Scene at the Sea is not really about surfing. It is and it isn't. It's about following your dream. Following your passion and never giving up. That's easy for me to relate to. That's my life. And I like Takeshi Kitano. He isn't in the movie. He's only the director on this one but his style is so evident. If you haven't seen the films he directed, you really should, and you should start at the beginning. Violent Cop is awesome and no one will think it's slow or boring but he doesn't repeat himself. By the time he gets to this movie or Hana-bi, he isn't interested so much in showing violence anymore or pacing. He's going to go at his own pace and do his own thing. Either you're with him or you're not. Seeing his progression, it all makes sense, and I really like his films. The main character in this movie is someone I can instantly get behind. He collects trash (a garbage man... I don't know why I'm putting this in parenthesis but I love parenthesis... I have a problem) and he never speaks. He's deaf and mute. His girl is always by his side. It's really a fantastic film. I didn't think I'd be so into it. I'm pretty stupid sometimes. But I was really taken by this movie.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Tom Hardy in a car.

That doesn't sound exciting but Locke (2013) is so damn good. It's crazy because the director's other film that year is a Jason Statham action flick with tons of locations, set pieces, characters, etc. yet this insanely simple one-guy-in-a-car film kills it hands down. I had heard of this movie before but didn't see it until recently. Big mistake. It's another one that's worthy of the hype. Why? The writing is phenomenal. Writers never get credit. Everyone thinks they can write. Wrong. Writing is one of the hardest parts of filmmaking. Try writing a feature-length script. If someone says they can write, ask them how many features they've written. You'll find the bullshit real soon. Locke immediately puts you into this guy's world, makes him sympathetic and fascinating (he fucked up but he's trying to make it right), and establishes the stakes. This is life or death for him. His whole world is about to come crumbling down but he's going to try to stop that from happening. Yes, of course, Tom Hardy gives an incredible performance that seems head-scratchily low key at first but then you realize that is brilliant because it gives him so many places to go. If he was at 10 the entire time, you'd be bored. You get to see his entire range of acting, and it is amazing, but I just want to emphasize the writing again. Great writing makes all the difference. The film never cuts away from him in the car. It never shows you anyone else. You only hear the voices of the other actors. I can't believe it works but it does. It really does. I actually feel like I could see everything that was transpiring. I feel like I saw the other actors but I didn't. That's how good it is. Remember Phone Booth? That used the trick of a guy with a sniper rifle to keep you engaged. There are no guns in this movie! None. No car crashes. No police. It's just one fuckin guy going through the biggest crisis of his life. I know how that sounds but it's better than Phone Booth. A million times better. It's personal. Everything is on the line, and somehow it even makes pouring concrete seem exciting. It's nuts. I love this movie. So yeah. Tom Hardy in a car. For an hour and a half. I know, I know, but it's really that good. See it. Now.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

One Cut of the Dead (2017) deserves the acclaim.

Some possible spoilers so watch it first before reading and try to watch it without knowing anything about it. It's easy to see why this film got so much attention. The passion and love for movies is evident in every frame. Plus, it doesn't take itself too seriously, but they literally show you how difficult it is to make what you take for granted at the beginning. You can see all their trials and tribulations, trying to create that one long take. Usually, you watch an indie and you have no clue how tough it was to get that footage onscreen. It's clever too the way it switches format (even genre) and still works. In fact, it works even better, adding another layer to what you already saw. It's really genius when it comes down to it. They thought this through big time and did their homework. This film has blown up as much as The Blair Witch Project, and I think it clearly earns that status so hats off to these guys. Definitely seek it out if you haven't yet. You won't regret it.