Sunday, May 30, 2010

Tales Of Terror (1962)

4 / 5 May '10
Tagline: A Trilogy of Shock and Horror!
Directed by: Roger Corman
Written by: Edgar Allan Poe, Richard Matheson
Actors Include:  Vincent Price, Basil Rathbone, Peter Lorre
Genre: Horror
Length: 89 minutes
Banned: Nope

This is a very cute yet slightly uneven trilogy of tales featuring the irresistible Mr. Vincent Price. It's got Roger Corman directing and producing plus it's loosely based around Poe tales...what more could one want? The first story "Morella" is about a daughter returning home to her Father (Price) who just happens to be rather unhappy to see her. He blames her for her Mother's death, and Mommy's corpse is still in his house even! The daughter doesn't have long to live so the father and she try to get along. The thing is, Mommy is still very unhappy... It's rather cheesy and the effects are laughable but yet it's still a decent little tale.
The second story "The Black Cat" is probably the best retelling of that tale that I've seen yet. I love Peter Lorre as the grumpy intoxicated black cat hatin' Montresor. He tales his wife's sewing money for booze because he's such a drunk even though it's their food money, he treats everyone rather cruelly but he knows his wine. He brings home fellow wine taster champion Fortunado (Price hamming it up big time) who just happens to start an affair with Montresor's wife. Let's just say this doesn't go well and if you know the story you can guess what happens next. Definitely the best tale of the trilogy.
Lastly we have "The Case of M. Valdemar" which has a dying Price who is being hypnotized by a cruel jerk who manages to prolong his peace in death by keeping him partially alive and trapped in a hypnotic state. It's kinda neat and not a bad tale but it could have been a little more exciting.
Still it's a fairly charming and memorable little trilogy, very little graphic stuff and blood despite what the back of the case would have you believe. Still great actors and creative story telling takes this a long way.

Availability:  On DVD

Amsterdamned (1988)

4 / 5 May '10
Tagline: The city is murder
Directed by: Dick Maas
Written by: Dick Maas
Actors include: Huub Stapel, Monique van de Ven, Serge-Henri Valcke
Genre: Thriller, Horror, Action
Length: 114 minutes
Banned: Nope

Ever since I heard the name of this film when I was a little girl I've wanted to see could you not? Luckily it was as good as it's name, I found this to be a rather original and scenic thriller film thanks to dutch director Dick Maas (De lift [The Lift]). It's very cool that it was shot in the canals of Amsterdamned, it has an exciting speed boat chase, gruesome murders and intrigue! The idea is that there is a serial killer who is into diving and he lurks in the canals springing up at any time to collect his next victim. It's in the style of a who-dunnit, almost like a giallo film which is pretty neat. We follow around a Police Officer and his daughter as they try to figure out who the killer is and of course prevent the next victim from being claimed. This really does have a bit of everything, it's got a sense of humor even...they really made this an interesting little film that should appeal to most.

Availability:  On DVD (region 2 though)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Three Extremes (2002) aka Three Extremes 2 aka Saam Gaang aka Three

2.5 / 5 May '10
Tagline: When two just ain't enough!
Directed by: Peter Chan, Ji-woon Kim, Nonzee Nimibutr
Written by: Teddy Chan, Matt Chow
Actors include: Hye-su Kim, Bo-seok Jeong, Suwinit Panjamawat
Genre: Horror
Length: 129 minutes
Banned: Nope

So the scoop is that this 3 Extremes film was released on DVD as 3 Extremes 2 despite the fact that it is actually volume 1. The sequel was more popular and therefore I believe was released as volume 1 instead of 2. Now that I've been super confusing, let me just say that the other 3 Extremes tales I really enjoyed each of them, quite fascinating. This time I found them rather dull and derivative, even when some were trying to be artsy it just seemed like drawing out the obvious. The first tale was about a woman who wakes up without memory also we have a husband who can't remember why his woman left him. The wandering woman calls a number on her dry cleaning bill (the only thing she has on her) and her husband finds a bloodied bag at his place. It's very confusingly told but at the same time it seems obvious what is going on despite all of the nonsense. It's got a bit of gore but it's very unsatisfying. The second tale is much like the film Dolls only a lot less amusing. This time it's traditional oriental dolls who are coming to life and they seem to cause voodoo like damage on folks. It's not as fun as it sounds and it goes on for way too long. The last story is the most interesting, a fellow has a dead wife in the tub who he believes is real. He bathes her and talks to her as though she's coming back to life and she speaks to him in his mind. When a neighbor pops by to look for his missing son he ends up tied to a chair and kept hostage waiting for the dead wife to revive herself. None of the stories were nearly as interesting as the other film, none were as shocking nor were the stories as clear. I do recommend seeking out the 2004 film called Three Extremes but this one I thought was a rather big dud...and over two hours long to boot.

Availability:  On DVD

Raising Cain (1991)

3.5 / 5 May '10

Tagline: De Mented, De Ranged, De Ceptive, De Palma
Directed by: Brian De Palma
Written by: Brian De Palma
Actors include: John Lithgow, Lolita Davidovich, Steven Bauer
Genre: Thriller, Crime, Horror, Drama
Length: 91 minutes
Banned: Nope

It's not bad, though it's definitely not one of Brian De Palma's best. It features John Lithgow as Carter...and Cain and a few others. His Wife is concerned with the amount of time and attention he's giving to their daughter plus he's constantly monitoring him. When the wife meets up with an old boyfriend and sparks start flying things get rather dangerous. Especially when people warn her that her husband may be into recreating the experiments that his evil Father worked on. Lithgow is very over the top here yet he does a good job and really without him the movie would have very little. This does involve a few killings though we aren't exactly going to see much, it's more about the idea. It's also rather confusing in places as we see his hallucinations and various other things that we think are happening but later find out they aren't so. This leaves a slightly unsatisfying taste in the mouth yet at the same's DePalma seemingly trying to borrow from Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch so of course it's weird. Oh well it could have been worse and at the end it made sense for the most part.

Availability:  On DVD

District 9 (2009)

3 / 5 May '10
Tagline: You Are Not Welcome Here
Directed by: Neill Blomkamp, Peter Robert Gerber
Written by: Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell
Actors include: Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, Nathalie Boltt
Genre: Sci-Fi
Length: 112 minutes
Banned: Nope

Well conceptually interesting, I'm pretty sure I get the point here and it did have a few neat moments. The thing is, it raised more questions than it bothered to answer and I found it entirely unsatisfying. The plot is about stranded aliens who are kept in a slum like area and abused by humans for the most part. The aliens look silly and are often called prawns because of the similarity, nearly comedic and they wear bras and things...erm okay? The slum area is considered District 9, and it offends people so they want to try to move it elsewhere so they are trying to evict the aliens. One fella ends up investigating some alien gadget and is sprayed in the face with goo. This causes him to transform partially into one which is where the neat effects and whatnot come into play. Not an original idea, but it's rather well done I guess and adds a point of focus (even though I didn't at all care for the actor in the role). I guess I'm just old fashioned, I'm not big into effects, I'm more of a story hound and this sort of throws us in the middle of a situation without giving us much fact. I'm sure many people will really like this but I was underwhelmed.

Availability:  On Blu-Ray & DVD

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dolores Claiborne (1995)

4 / 5 May '10
Tagline: Sometimes, an accident can be an unhappy woman's best friend
Directed by: Taylor Hackford
Written by: Stephen King, Tony Gilroy
Actors include: Kathy Bates, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Christopher Plummer
Genre: Thriller, Drama, Horror
Length: 132 minutes
Banned: Nope

Well finally, another successful King adaptation, so few pay off but I think this one was quite effective. I think I read the book many years ago but my memory is quite hazy, the story is quite wonderful. Kathy Bates is brilliant as Dolores Claiborne, a Woman who is accused of murdering Vera the elderly Woman she has spent years caring for. The thing is when Dolores' husband Joe was found dead under mysterious circumstances years before. Some folks thought she was guilty including the Detective in charge of the Vera case and even her own daughter Selena blamed her. Selena returns home to aid her Mother during this time after not seeing her for 15 years I think it was, so their relationship is rather strained. Of course as the story unfolds we learn more and more that things aren't quite what they think they are. It really does teach that one shouldn't make assumptions and so forth. Although it's a very long movie the story is gripping enough that it should keep anyone's attention. The continual flipping between the past and reality was a bit much at times but I still thought it was easy to follow. Recommended for those who enjoy a good story and a good King adaptation.

Availability:  On DVD

Monday, May 3, 2010

Eye Of The Devil (1966)

3.5 / 5
Tagline: we've got your number!
Directed by: J. Lee Thompson
Written by: Robin Estridge, Dennis Murphy
Actors include: Deborah Kerr, David Niven, Donald Pleasence
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Length: 96 minutes
Banned: Nope

This is a rather elegant picture with beautiful black and white photography really quite well made. Sharon Tate actually makes her first appearance here even though I think they dubbed over her voice oddly enough. What it has also working in it's favor is that it's actually rather creepy...some of the imagery is impressive and eerie. It's sort of a precursor for The Wicker Man in some ways, it's about Philippe de Montfaucon who is summonzed back to his hometown castle leaving his wife and children behind. Of course they get lonely and show up at the castle, but something isn't quite right. Especially when his wife walks in on some sort of black magic rite with everyone in hoods. It's better than I had expected yet the lead character is so square that it's kind of annoying in some ways unfortunately. Still a stellar story and really they did do a good job making it unsettling which I liked. Recommended but maybe not something to rush out and try to see.

Availability:  Not currently on DVD
Eye of the Devil

Leviathan (1989)

3 / 5 May '10
Tagline: Welcome to your worst nightmare, welcome to Leviathan
Directed by: George P. Cosmatos
Written by: David Webb Peoples
Actors include: Peter Weller, Daniel Stern, Ernie Hudson
Genre: Sci-Fi, Horror
Length: 98 minutes
Banned: Nope

Pretty silly clone of just about any sci-fi film you've seen but mainly it "borrows" from Alien and The Thing From Another World [The Thing]. The cast is mainly familiar, we have Peter Weller acting like a robot though I'm quite sure he's supposed to be human...his acting style is questionable at best. Also we have Ernie Hudson, Hector Elizondo and Daniel Stern too in the roles of miners who work undersea blowing up rocks to find silver. One of the divers finds an abandoned Russian ship which he pillages. It turns out the vodka has some sort of vampiric alien virus in it that infects most of the cast. It's pretty much an eye roller for the amount of "borrowing" that goes on, really nothing is even close to original. At least they bothered with a budget for the monster and effects and so forth, it's at least watchable. It's a shame they didn't do some more editing too because it was way too long and had tons of pointless scenes. Not as good as I'd hoped it would be but it's alright for the sort of thing that it is I suppose.

Availability:  On DVD