Someone's in the house. He's watching. He's creeping round, only you can't see him. He's watching you from the walls. He's right behind you now. Looking over your shoulder. He wants the remote control. He's a bad boy. He wants to watch bad movies. Bad bad Ronald...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Lancelot LINKS: snubdom's review of classic TV movie Bad Ronald

I came across a link to Rick Tremble's website of wild, trippy illustrated movie reviews -- and other stuff -- snubdom. It's a funhouse full of subversive movie reviews, music, comix and other shit.  I parked myself down in the review archives for a couple few, I was having such a blast!  And, while reading my way through, I came across this review -- Bad Ronald! 

Undoubtedly, one of my all-time favorite TV Movies of the Week.  Scared the cripes outa me as a kid, and still puts the willies in me when I see it now.  It's not your traditional horror fare -- more a suspense thriller -- so it's not full of big frights or leaping cats.  What got to me was the brilliant perforance by Scott Jacoby as Ronald.  When he finally takes that turn into insanity, he is simply a big creepy creepster.

So sacred this movie is, to me, that I have not yet done a review of it, myself.  I figured I'd ask Rick if I could post his unique review here.  He said I could.  And I thank him greatly.  Enjoy!

PEEPHOLE REVIEW: Damned by Dawn (2010)

Damned if You Do...
Come on, come on... Take a!  Take another little piece of my heart, now ba-bay!!
It's interesting, the title of this flick.  It's so close to the alternate title  of The Evil Dead (Dead by Dawn), a movie that the filmmakers and distributors just love to compare it to.  Content wise, it has the same high energy visuals blasting throughout, just as Sam Raimi's movie did.  The filmmakers of DBD certainly get an A for effort.  They put in a lot of work to try and make this film LOOK foreboding.

The problem is... they overdid the doom and gloom, and unwittingly overburdened the audience (while at the same time, underwhelming them with lack of plot).
If I find that damn fog machine, I'm gonna trash it!
From the opening fog-enshrouded title sequence through to the very end of the movie, the screen is so filled with a deathly blue/gray pallor that we're sapped of any pleasurable feelings.  Every exterior sequence is absolutely drenched in fog, fog from a fog machine AND computer generated (computer generated fog is up there on my annoyance list, along with CG blood splatter and CG frost breath). Yes, building a foreboding feeling is a helluva tool for horror, but too much of it works against the emotional hinge of the story.

Claire and Paul (Renee Willner and Danny Alder) head to the country to visit Claire's sick grandmother (helluva good time to introduce the family to your new beau!).  Claire is entrusted with an funeral urn, by her grandmother (who already looks like she's been dead for weeks), with the eerie and vague notice that she'll "know what to do with it, when the time comes."  Well, the time comes when a wailing Banshee comes to take grandma away to the hereafter.  Apparently, grandma knew that her grandchild would screw up and kill the banshee, and then have to use the urn to fix up the entire mess.  Grandma -- always knows everything, she does.
Do you think I should sue those nincompoops down at the spa?
This may have been an interesting film, had the filmmakers put as much effort into the story and the performances, as they did the effects.  Director/Writer Brett Anstey expresses his love of the great Hammer Studio horror films (the footage of his old Super8/videos from his youth demonstrate his love of horror), and how he wanted his film to deliver the same feel. But he misses the mark.  The Hammer films were filled with vibrant colors and vibrant performances.  They were gruesome, but also sophisticated.  The performances were earnest, and the stories and direction innovative.  With Damned by Dawn there is an utter lack of any of these qualities.  The characters move through their environments with no aim or goal.  Claire enters the bedroom of her grandmother frequently, but for no other reason than to just happen upon another clue to the plot.  It's very much like watching someone play a video game.  The player walks the character to a room, they find a clue, they leave, they go find another clue... on and on, until you come to the confrontation with the adversary.  And then the clues and whatever else is found, is used in battle.

the plus side is some of the creature effects.  They are quite old school and clunky computer generated goblins, but the effect of them all flying after Claire, as she tries to escape in the climax, is really pretty creepy.  If I had only an inkling of worry about the character's well-being, I might've had more of a connection.

All mood and atmosphere, gore and goblins.  The only ghost here is the plot.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Spit Take

They're coming in February, 2011!!  Both... simultaneously. 
"They do respect her but(t)...
"...They love to watch her strut..."  Bob Seger

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gone (2007)

Another bad day for the outback backpackers.
For reasons that I can't quite comprehend, the Australian horror scene got a real bad knock after the controversial Wolf Creek ripped through the horror headlines.  So many people said it was a disgusting, all-for-the-thrill-of-gore movie.  Many unjustly threw it on the torture-porn funeral pyre, along with Hostel and Saw and their cousins (Wolf Creek was miles better than those pieces of mule shit).  Others -- the Aussie locals who recalled the tragedy it was loosely based on -- were outraged that filmmakers would so quickly capitalize on a brutal true-life crime.  Me?  I thought it a fantastically built upon suspense yarn that explodes into unrelenting, and horrific terror.  I was disturbed and unsettled... and I like that.  Gone didn't deserve to be shoved aside because of the other film's controversy.  In fact, outside of some similarities in their storytelling maneuvers, the films are quite different.

Hmm... you think this cage this guy has behind us is some kinda foreboding omen?
Brit boy Alex (Shaun Evens from the gawdawful After Dark Horrorfest IV entry Dread) arrives in Australia with nothing but a backpack and a tourist guide. Looking lost, a charismatic American traveler Taylor (Scott Melchlowicz from Mean Creek) invites him along to party Aussie style with a couple local gals he's hooked up with.  It isn't until after Alex crawls out of a sleeping bag with one of the girls that he fesses up that he's in town to meet up with his girlfriend.  Oops!  What to do with the incriminating Polaroids that Taylor snapped of all of them last night?  Not a problem.  Taylor is such a cool dude, he tosses the pics in the trash at the gas station, before delivering Alex to his rendezvous with his girl Sophie (Amelia Warner, who did a number of period pieces before tagging onto some genre flicks) -- except that he's not gonna exit the scene that easily.
They didn't sign their postcards
After an initial day of fun and frolic on the Aussie beaches, Taylor drops the news that after a one night fling, Sophie's gal pal Ingrid (Zoe Tuckwell-Smith) grabbed the earliest bus outa town, leaving the two lovebirds with a third wheel on their romantic getaway.  Naturally, this doesn't sit well with Alex, seeing that Taylor has the scoop on his infidelities AND is being very obvious towards his girlfriend.  The pot starts to boil over when the lovebirds run into another fellow traveler who is a link to Taylor's sordid, maybe violent past. Envy, paranoia, distrust... all items on the menu on this vacation from hell.
He's attracted to me?  Oh please.
I don't understand why this flick didn't get more attention.  I guess that by the time Gone had entered the horrorspehere, people were already leary of the tourists-meet-tragedy flicks, like Touristas, Donkey Punch, and the Hostel twins, so they didn't bother.  It's a shame, because fans were all abuzz about Lake Eden (another romantic excursion gone wrong) but no one seemed to notice that Gone was written by James Watkins, the fellow who directed, and also wrote, that fine flick.

Much like Wolf Lake, the film takes its time to let the characters breath, to interact and react to each other. The performances are pretty much solid, with Scott Melchlowicz pulling off the double-edged task of being both charismatic and slimy.  And the direction by Ringan Ledwidge is so wonderfully subtle. Nothing is obvious, and that's exactly why this flick works as a suspense thriller.  The character of Sophie could've easily been the usual pissy, underappreciated hot girlfriend, but Ledwidge steers Amelia Warner towards a performance that is more genuine.  She's a girl who wants to enjoy her time with her boyfriend and gets effected by the change she sees in him.  She's definitely a cute girl, but her looks and fashion sense are downplayed, so as not to be just some body for the camera to focus onto.
Yeah, she's mine.  Can't you tell?
 Taylor is certainly dubious and has ulterior motives towards Alex's girlfriend. And Alex is a guilt-ridden freak who knows he doesn't deserve a girl as sweet and genuine as Sophie.  These personality conflicts are what build the suspense.  There's no body in the trunk that we're waiting for the unsuspecting lovebirds to discover, no detective knocking at doors to get us all riled up, no big shows of violence (until the 3rd act!).  It's all character driven thrills.  But, unlike Wolf Creek, the gruesomeness is not so much slash-'em-up kind, but more pulse pounding (with a white knuckle "chase" scene climax that is absolutely maddening), cat-and-dangermouse kind.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

PEEPHOLE REVIEW: Dead Hooker in a Trunk (2010)

Twisted Sisters Wanna Rock!
Finding a slaughterd hooker in your trunk -- Oh, but that could ruin a day, huh?  But not for the Soska Sisters.  No sir, these hot little doppelgangers turn such a sordid occasion into one helluva gut-busting action gore flick.  After seeing these sweet twins in action (they write, direct AND star) you'll be wondering why some of the boys are even bothering to pick up a camera.
Grrl-icious Badass (Sylvia) and her twin sister, the those-glasses-can't-hide-the-sexy Geek (Jen) set out to run a few simple errands with their pals Junkie (Rikki Gange) and the Jesus loving Goody Two Shoes (CJ Wallis), but instead wind up on the wrong side of trouble when they discover the body of a dead hooker left in their trunk. While they try to get their shit squared away and figure out what to do with the corpse, they face off against persistent police, a sleazy motel manager, chainsaw wielding triads, and a brutal serial killer. And, the mysterious Cowboy Pimp.
Move out the way, boys
Jen and Sylvia Soska have presented themselves as a force to be reckoned with.  They wrote, produced, directed and starred in this debut flick, and not only do they display an obvious love of the genre, but they had the, um... balls to tackle the task with a surprisingly intuitive eye for storytelling.  There's none of the usual fanboy worship you find so prevalent in these low budget eye-poppers.  There's no mindless odes to their favorite movies, no dry humping the same old cliches.  Instead, the Soska girls came to the game with their own ideas, and their own brand of fun. Seeing the Soska Sisters in action will answer that age old question of what would happen if Quentin Tarrantino were to mate with the Suicide Girls?  Dead Hooker in a Trunk is a gut busting grrl power trip.  And the Soska Sisters are on fire.