Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Love Will Tear Us Apart (2023) and Visitors (2023) are both great new Japanese horror films.

Kenichi Ugana is definitely one to watch. I really loved his new film Love Will Tear Us Apart that is screening at Another Hole in the Head Film Festival. The story is really engaging, and it has some very beautiful cinematography like that last shot. I love the twists and reveals in it too. I think you can truly feel for the main character. Sayu Kubota gives such a fantastic performance as Wakaba. The part where she meets someone new in Tokyo and falls in love is incredible especially what happens from there. The meaning behind it reminds me of my first feature although I think his film is better. Between this and the complete version of Visitors I saw on Screambox, I really can't wait to see what this director does next. The two films are quite different but both are amazing. Visitors reminded me of Evil Dead 2 in the best ways. Funny, gory, and a blast to watch while Love Will Tear Us Apart surprised me on its phenomenal somber tone and emotional depth.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

RoboDoc: The Creation of RoboCop (2023) blows away other making-of documentaries.

As a massive fan of RoboCop, I watched this on Screambox and I was astounded at how in-depth it went. It was a dream come true to have this classic explored in such incredible detail. I'm sorry if I sound like a madman ranting but I love behind the scenes and this takes it to a whole new level. I loved their previous documentary on Hellraiser I & II, which is also fantastic, but this feels like they raised the bar. I know they're not the team behind the new Aliens documentary but I really hope that is on par with this. All the anecdotes are just so interesting and real. It really feels like they fully explored every scene. I'm so glad they got Peter Weller to participate but also so many of the crew we've never heard from before. I'm definitely going to pick up the Blu-ray although I think I'll get the UK version just to make sure it has all the bonus features because apparently there was some manufacturing problem with the US one (these poor guys can't catch a break).

Monday, November 20, 2023

Door (1988) is an excellent slice of '80s Japanese cinema.

I'm so glad Third Window Films is finding and restoring fantastic Japanese films like this. The interview with the director is very insightful and interesting too. If you're at all into Japanese cinema, I highly recommend you check out their releases (and get a cheap region-free Blu-ray player off eBay... it's definitely worth it or you'll miss out on so many phenomenal titles and extras). You also get Door 2 as a bonus film with this Blu-ray (it was previously only available on Japanese VHS, having never even gotten a DVD release in Japan before so I'm extremely glad it's included as well). This film does a great job setting up our main character's life and building suspense. They really show a lot of Japanese culture and daily life too with the picky trash rules, nosey neighbors returning trash, talk of the ID number system coming soon, overwork with her husband, their home routine, etc. I especially like how neither character is just good or bad so it's not black and white. It's easy to feel sympathy for the housewife since she is obviously barraged by annoying salesmen plus quite vulnerable when she is home alone (even her husband startles her when coming back) and yet the antagonist tries to be reasonable, at least at first. He stops his sales pitch and just attempts to give her a pamphlet. Then even after she crushes his hand in the door (a bit much on her part but she does feel threatened), he apologizes for losing his temper. Clearly he goes off the deep end after that but seeing how badly hurt his hand is and understanding how that could easily affect his job when he has a quota to fill, you can get a sense of where he's coming from. Maybe he takes it too far too fast but that is more engaging for the viewer and people sometimes snap like that in real life. The psychological games and how crazy it ends up really make this a fun watch along with a clever little twist but I love the way it escalates particularly one chilling moment where the door handle silently starts turning as someone watches (I don't want to spoil it but it's so well done). It's interesting too the director reveals the original script didn't become so violent and this was the first use of Steadicam in Japan. Home invasion Japanese style. Definitely check it out.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Delirium (1987) is quite an unusual giallo.

I love it especially the iconic eye-face effect but the lead actress really steals the show and the cinematography is outstanding too with some great use of shadow (and color of course). Having watched a fair amount of giallo now, this one certainly stands out with the killer's unique bizarre visions of his victims. There are some nice twists and turns too that keep you guessing about the murderer's identity. I'm so happy my friend Jason recommended this to me. Thank you! This is absolutely an awesome film and I just had to get the rare Code Red Blu-ray with the perfect cover. If you're curious to see more Italian horror, this and Torso are my favorites besides Argento's classics of course. Fulci's Don't Torture a Duckling is up there too. It's really an amazing time to be a movie lover. I just hope people keep supporting physical media because so often rarer titles are not on streaming sites (neither are all the awesome extras and I just love behind the scenes docs).

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

The Last Broadcast (1998) reels you in.

You can obviously see how this is a predecessor to The Blair Witch Project, which really makes it very interesting to watch. There are a number of things the two films have in common like investigating a local legend (in this case, the Jersey Devil), the fake documentary approach, the question of supernatural or not, the use of mystery, making your no budget work for you rather than against you, etc. Heck, they both even have two directors. The Blair Witch Project feels more polished and convincing to me (the way they use 16mm film and a Hi8 camcorder helps I think) but I also like this film. It's true the ending doesn't quite deliver (I was surprised though) and sometimes it feels repetitive or stretched out; however, I still really enjoyed this film. The acting feels more real in The Blair Witch Project and their ending is better but both films have merit.

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, 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.