It's beginning to look a lot like Hallowe'en Part 14 - Kris watches Funny Games

so i watched funny games in the comfort of my bedroom, which many a lady can tell you is one comfortable place, alone with the lights off.

I think i may be sick.
i mean, in referring to a comment that Joe pointed out in his Martyrs review i came out of that flick calling it beautiful and that shit made funny games look like The Ref.

But at the end of that screening some one mentioned Funny Games and compared the two and i've had a number of friends tell me how fucked it is. How it made them all fucked up.

This was mostly boring and it was the original German version not that lame ass we're all pretty we're English version. What frightens me is that i didn't care at all. Maybe that shows that I'm desensitized to violence but i really didn't care. And i didn't get the mind fuck. It wasn't torture to watch, it was actually really easy to watch. It wasn't satisfying seeing people die, but i didn't care that they died. So a kid got shot. he was German! with blonde hair and blue eyes.. he had it coming.

oh and i found the bad guys very charismatic, like a sadistic unfunny abbott and costello.

man fuck this movie, and my head. i'm going trick or treating


It's beginning to look a lot like halloween... part 13: 1980s Kinder Surprise Advert

As Scott proved in his Gumby post, sometimes the scariest videos of all are not the slasher films, the zombie flicks or the ghost stories...


It's Beginning to look a lot like Hallowe'en.... Part 12: MURDER PARTY!!!!

Sometimes a film comes along and you think that it was made especially for you. It somehow tailors to everything you like. I got that feeling with Murder Party.

Murder Party is a comedy/horror and a damn fine one too. It's about a man named Chris (or Kris???) who on his way home on Hallowe'en, armed with candy corn and just rented horror flicks, finds an invitation on the ground to something called "Murder Party", the invitation stresses he should come alone. So, rather than stay in Kris bakes some pumkin bread, goggle maps the location of the party, and prepares his hallowe'en costume. When he arrives at the party which is in an abandon warehouse in Brooklyn, there are only 5 people there who take notice excitedly of him and knock him out whilst saying "welcome to your murder". When Kris comes to, he is tied and gagged to a chair observing the going ons around him.

These 5 people are part of a rogue art collective who are going to kill our hero in the name of art. Each of the 5 guests represent a different medium of the form, they are all competing for a grant from the host of Murder Party who arrives later.

The film is the most fun I've had since Speed Racer. It's smart and improvised humour. And the gore is bloody and disturbing. There might not be enough gore to quench the thirsts of the likes of Kendahali or Joe the ripper but the money shots that are here are well worth the price of admission.

The film some how manages to tribute my favourite horror films and non (the painter of an artist is a Baseball Fury from The Warriors which is just fucking frightening when shit hits the fan) and take a big steamer all over society's current idea of art - which i like to run my mouth off about on the day to day. Even though the film does tribute other horror films with the music and camera work it isn't a straight send up like Shaun of the Dead. This is wholly original and is a pure horror genre film that is a pure comedy genre film. It is it's own movie and it is absolutely fantastic.

Let's see.. this film is like.. reservoir dogs meets hostel and they didn't use protection so they had a kid who was Shaun of the dead but Shaun of the dead was really suppose to be a twin but it's twin became a tumour above it's right hip that you can barely make out as a little fetal child and they can't cut it off cause Shaun of the dead would die so Shaun of the dead lives with this thing but it starts to control him and that things name is Evil Dead 2. Evil Dead 2 makes Shaun of the dead kill a bunch of people and then kill himself and then detaches itself from Shaun and crawls across the subway tunnels into a good Christopher Guest film... or something.

Anyways, this is for the moment my #1 Hallowe'en film and i want to pop it in again and watch it over right now! oh dope maybe i will. You can rent this bad boy at the Film Bu...oh...



It's beginning to look a lot like Hallowe'en...part 11: Mister Lonely

Okay so it isn’t a horror, but when the film centers around a commune where all it’s members are full time costume-donning imitators of pop figures present and past and live in a huge castle, I think it qualifies as being in the spirit of Hallows Eve. There’s even a creepy hanging at one point. The first hour or so of the movie are sidesplitting; with a classic scene of our Michael Jackson wanna be at an old folks home leading them in a call response of MJ yelps and ‘Never Die!’ and a great turn by Werner Herzog as an aero-priest. When we begin with Michael we see the smiles and laughter he can provoke in spectators, but it soon becomes clear that he cannot build nor sustain any meaningful relationships; when asked if he likes Paris he replies “no, not really”. Once surrounded by fellow fake-celebs he finds it easier to open up, etc. as the place really functions as a big support group, hidden away in ‘the highlands’ away from the general public. The commune of impersonators in action is something to be seen; a unique perspective on the effects of popular culture. The emphasis on aesthetic by big media, the glorification of image and so on, has made this cast of misfits completely uncomfortable in their own skin and their appearances, so much so that they only have confidence when they imitate figures whose narratives have already been established, whose identities are fully formed and are instantly recognizable to the general public. The strongest scenes of the film are the slow, hard, pastoral duties shouldered by recognizable symbols of wealth and glory; such as a potty mouthed Abe Lincoln, screaming profanities at James Dean and Sammy Davis Jr. to guide the sheep “down the fucking hill!’ back into their pen. While the film is slightly uneven in the closing half hour or so, and rushes towards a resolution, it never loses its bittersweet effectiveness. Fairly strong performances all around, and while Werner Herzog and his nuns might seem added-on at the last minute, I loved every minute of it. It’s quickly becoming my favourite 'dramedy' since The Royal Tenenbaums. So if you need a break from horror but don’t want to lose the halloween spirit, I urge you to check it out.


It's beginning to look a lot like halloween... part 10: True Blood

My selection of movies over here is rather limited. Basically, with no video rental place anywhere near me, I'm confined to what I can rent from the school library, whatever is playing at the little cinema (very reminscent of the good old Eaton Centre theatre) nearby, or what I can find online. Well, you can imagine how great the selection at my school library is, and I've already seen the movies that are playing at the theatre here. This has made the task of finding decent horror movies to watch this month and include in the countdown somewhat more difficult.

But thankfully, Alan Ball has temporarily solved this dilemna for me by creating True Blood. After not being able to find anything good at the library yesterday I recalled hearing about this show premiering not long before I left, but never recalled hearing anything about whether it was decent or not. Although I've only watched two episodes of the new project from the creator of Six Feet Under, I'm well addicted already.

Set in Louisiana, True Blood follows waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), who can (for yet unexplained reasons) read peoples' minds, and how her life changes one night after she meets a vampire, her first since they 'came out of the coffin' two years ago. Now that a Japanese company has perfected synthetic blood, vampires claim that they have no need to kill anymore and just want to be like the rest of us. However, as one character points out in the first episode - would you give up all your favorite foods and drink just SlimFast for the rest of your life?
This show, similarly to Six Feet Under, is not a joke show, though their premises might make them seem like they could go that way. The show is sexy and violent, sometimes more disturbingly it is both at the same time, though Ball would not be the first person to cash in on this portrayal of the vampire world. Despite the fact that this show is much more fantastical than Six Feet Under, Ball seems to have counteracted this element of unrealism by cutting back a great deal on even the dark, twinge of humor that his former HBO hit had, although there are still some traces of it.
So far I like this one, but I may have to update after a few more episodes.

It's beginning to look a lot like Hallowe'en...part 9: City of the Dead (1960) aka Horror Hotel; or, Who Let the Fogs Out?

I'm talkin' 'bout John Llewelyn Moxey's foray into the witchtastic realm of devil worship and the occult. Without a doubt the foggiest film I have ever seen.

See, when the end of October nears and Samhain grows closer with the hour, for some reason I feel drawn toward books/art/music/film that deals with ghosts, monsters, and most of all...witches. Re: the latter - City of the Dead delivers in spades.

We begin with a flashback to the 17th century where one Elizabeth Selwyn is being tried (read: tied) for witchcraft by the townsfolk of a small Massachusetts burg (Whitewood). After her burning at the stake, we jarringly jump cut forward to modern times (well, modern for when the film was made, 1960) with Chris Lee's Prof. Driscoll lecturing a bunch of college kids in what looks to be the bird course to end all bird courses, Historical Witchcraft 101. While most of the jocks in the class snicker at Driscoll's intensity on the subject, one particularly keen student, Nan Barlow, takes things a bit more seriously, and, against the will of her brother, Prof. Richard Barlow, and her beau Bill Maitland (Tom Naylor doing his best Jimmy Dean impersonation), decides to visit Whitewood for a bit more of a hands on approach to researching her paper on witchcraft.

So she goes, checks into the Raven Inn, whose proprietress, Mrs. Newless, looks uncannily like Elizabeth Selwyn. Things begin to seem a bit off, and the further Nan gets into her studies, the more she begins to suspect she may be rooming among the very witches she came to research. Anyway, Feb. 1st rolls around, Candlemas eve, and Nan, the pretty young virgin, discovers a bird with a skewer through it (a starling, I noticed) in her dresser drawer - a sign that she's pretty much a goner. Soon afterward, she is spirited away post haste by the witches and sacrificed to some pagan god - no, it's probably Satan himself; these witches don't play. One of the witches in attendance at the sacrificial altar is none other than Prof. Driscoll! So he was a witch all along! I'm thinking that with post-secondary education enrollment rates dropping, more and more professors may be turning to black magic to secure tenure. Ba-dum-bing! (I'm sorry, that was horrible...)
Two weeks later, her brother and her beau begin to get suspicious that Nan hasn't returned, so they venture to Whitewood to find out what happened. Long and short of it is this: they discover that their arrival marks the second night of the year when the witches must make a sacrifice (the first was Candlemas eve) - and the witches have their eye on the only other good person in town, the preacher's granddaughter, Patricia, who has taken a bit of a shine to the recently arrived Prof. Barlow. Well, a bird with a skewer through it (I noticed it was a cedar waxwing - what does it all mean!?!) and a sprig of woodbine on the door means that Pat has been targeted to be the next sacrificial lamb. Many thrilling close calls ensue, but it ends with Pat and Barlow escaping, Bill dying (when Mrs. Newless whips a friggin' dagger across the graveyard and it lodges in his back - wicked scene - but not before he can carry a cross that literally shoots tongues of flame at the witches - it's dope), and Mrs. Newless being outed, finally, (as if it wasn't painfully obvious for the entire film), as Elizabeth Selwyn. Actually, if the heroes had simply phonetically reversed "Selwyn", they would have realized that "Newless" isn't far off....dummies.
I absolutely love this film, the amount of fog pumped in is immense. It really has a creepy, mysterious vibe, but retains a sense of fun throughout. Beautiful black and white photography, and a loopy, oboe-heavy jazzy score complete the picture. This is director Moxey's high watermark - he mostly cranked out workmanlike fare in television for the rest of his career (everything from Coronation Street to Magnum P.I., and everything in between) - though a close second would have to be the Darren McGavin vehicle The Night Stalker, the first of two TV-movies that were followed by the incredible series Kolchak: The Night Stalker.

And although Lee is highly touted on the DVD box and in the credits, he really only plays a small (admittedly important) part in the film. Some false advertising of the "star" that reminded me of the top-billing of Brooke Shields in Alice, Sweet Alice (aka Communion), although she lasts all of five minutes before being killed. A metaphor for her career?

City of the Dead (aka Horror Hotel in North America) is quite easy to find for a couple of bucks as a public domain print on countless "Horror Classics" collections - I have one of these and the print actually isn't bad - but I'm such a fan of the film that I recently upgraded to the more expensive but beautifully presented and extras laden VCI edition. I hear the Roan Archival Group edition is also very worthy. Check it out if you get a chance. Highly recommended for a spooky good time.


It's beginning to look a lot like Hallowe'en...part 8: Halloween, Pumpkinhead, Return of the Living Dead, Demons...

...and A Nightmare on Elm Street (sort of).

So, last Saturday, I over-ambitiously hosted a "Dusk 'til Dawn" (supposed to be 7 pm-7 am) horror film fest, which was supposed to feature about 10-12 guests and somewhere around 10 films, over the course of the 12 hours, give or take...

Somewhere along the line, though, things went wrong.

Two (and a half) guests throughout the night (Jen G, Kris, and my sis Katie, who counts as the half because she's a sibling), mixed with overzealous drinking and incredibly salty snacks ended up with me in bed by 2 am, with a few stragglers around until about (I'm told) 3. Oh well...

The films I did manage to see were John Carpenter's Halloween (a perennial fave), Pumpkinhead (Stan Winston's ode to the creature feature of yore), Return of the Living Dead (zombie-gore-punk classic), and Demons (an Italian take on the living dead genre, and one I watch EVERY October). Things began to get real shaky around the beginning of Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street (the terrifying original, not to be confused with the self-parodying sequels), soon after the onset of which I retired for the evening. Kudos to the diehards (Kris, Katie, Robyn) who saw the film out to its conclusion.

A few lessons learned for next year's installment: pace yourself, get lots of sleep the night before, and invite people more than a few days beforehand (and people that actually might show up).

Regardless of the hiccups, I'm looking forward to 2009s edition...


It's beginning to look a lot like Hallowe'en...part 7: The Old Dark House (1932)

SEE the original dysfunctional family! WITNESS the deranged brute and half-wit butler Morgan, crazed with lust and violence and filled with smouldering menace! FAINT with terror at the beautiful damsels in distress! HEAR the creaking vocal cords of the man-child Sir Roderick, confined to his bed and wrinkled beyond recognition, uttering cryptic, terrifying warnings! LEAP with ICY FEAR at Saul, the most dangerous son, waiting in his room, twice-locked from the OUTSIDE, plotting, plotting....!

Yes folks, The Old Dark House is one of my favourite films (I especially love to watch it near Hallowe'en), and presenting it as some kind of late October carnival sideshow attraction is not altogether inappropriate. Weirdness abounds, there's madness, mystery, murder, and romance. When they came up with the old adage "they don't make 'em like they used to", they could very well have been referring to The Old Dark House, which has many surprisingly risque (and since much-copied) components for the era in which it was made.
We begin with three travellers (Raymond Massey's Philip Waverton, Melvyn Douglas' Roger Penderel, and Gloria Stuart's Margaret Waverton) on a dark and tres stormy night (natch) who eventually become completely stranded by the storm, conveniently, at the steps of a decrepit mansion. They expect to be welcomed into the home and perhaps be granted a night's shelter there, but we know, as soon as the door opens a crack and Karloff's heavily made-up, slashed and sneering brutish visage peers out menacingly, that the travelling trio is in for the night of their lives. Things get increasingly weirder as each Femm family member is introduced - from Ernest Thesiger's wonderfully eccentric and nervous Horace Femm, Eva Moore's selectively deaf, pickled onion-loving, bible-thumping Rebecca Femm, to Elspeth Dudgeon's horribly eerie androgynous invalid patriarch Sir Roderick Femm, and finally, to Brember Wills' Saul; clever, insane, and needing to kill.

There are some virtuoso camera tricks used as well - particularly in the scene with Moore and Stuart in the bedchamber with the distorted features in the mirror, coming across as a twisted version of Alice in Acidland played though the most warped of funhouse mirrors. Not to mention many motifs carried over from Whale's previous film, that one about the mad scientist and the monster.

I can't even really put into words how much I love this delightfully insane film. The template for SO many films to follow, and certainly not those limited to the horror genre.

The one, the only, The Old Dark House, is James Whale's masterpiece. Frankenstein gets all the glory, but what we have here is a bona-fide CLASSIC, and a film that I can safely say makes my top 20 films of all time. There are a few clips from the film on YouTube, but I chose not to include any here, as the film is really better served if viewed in its entirety.

Go. Watch. Then have some exceptional gin, and don't forget - have a potato.


Today's the day...

Regardless of your political stance, get out and vote today. There's still time...

It's beginning to look a lot like Hallowe'en...part 6: Gumby on the Moon

Horror ....

Everyone is afraid of something; rats, spiders, the complete graphic evisceration of a nubile young virgin, confined spaces, vampires, 3 bean salad, Germans, ...the list goes on. Fear, and our emotional response to it, seems almost universal in it's appeal. Something in us likes to be scared, likes the rush that comes from being afraid, nervous and uncertain. For whatever reason, I avoid horror in cinema, but judging from the blog lately, I'm obviously in the minority around here.

I thought I'd try and trace the genesis of this current disinterest in the macabre by thinking back over the media I've watched since childhood to attempt to find the moment when I witnessed something so terrifying, so deeply disturbing, so visceral that I would turn away from horror forever. It stands to reason that something must have galvanized my decision to avoid the horror genre all these years, but what was it?

I recalled seeing “Happy Birthday to Me” at the Hanover Drive-In in 1981, a scary-as-shit birthday party from Hell B-movie that really got under my skin. I realized that, while instrumental in my detour around the genre in subsequent years, this wasn't the source of my disinterest in horror cinema. I'd have to go back further. Orca and Jaws freaked me out, but it turns out, I'm not all that afraid of sharks and killer whales. Well, a little bit maybe. No, it was earlier still.

I liked the old Universal horrors of the 30's, although they were hardly terrifying by today's sick standards. I'd watched most of them by the time I was 10 and slept like a baby on the nights they played on TV. I sneaked into a theatre with my childhood pal Greg Yeoman and watched about 20 minutes of the Exorcist before we got caught and were led out of the North Bay Odeon Theatre by an usher barely older than we were. They actually stopped the movie, turned up the house lights and led us out of the theatre. Yes, it was completely humiliating, but not the thing that turned me off horror forever. It was earlier still.

What was it then?.... I pushed back further – through that acid trip Wizard of Oz stop motion TV show that forever fucked my generation in ways that we're only now beginning to understand, past the episodes of the Twilight Zone with that giant-headed Rod Serling blathering on about strange events and earwigs, further back still to the sickly backgrounds of the earliest Spider Man and Rocket Robin Hood cartoons that still make me queasy 40 years on, and then I found it. The source. 6 minutes and 16 seconds of sheer, unadulterated, gut-wrenching terror. It's a 1956 episode of Gumby and Pokey, called Gumby on the Moon and it forever changed me. I was probably about 3 or 4 when I saw this sick little number and rewatching it all these years later took me back to a place I'd rather not talk about.

He said he was my Uncle, but that's another story.

This evil claymation short seems innocent enough – the triangle-headed Gumby, for reasons never quite explained, ends up on the moon being chased around by little orange moon-pylons bent on his destruction. Pokey, like all childhood friends (including Greg) is nowhere to be found right when Gumby needs him most (just like Gumby's magically disappearing/reappearing black utility belt). Mind-fuck synthesiser moon-music amplifies the tension, ratcheting it up until all you can hear are the screams of a little boy named Scotty. Gumby's dad, in a segment that still really bugs me, takes a ladder truck and shoots up to the moon, safely protected in a hampster suit, to save Gumby and bring him home. Somehow, the ladder both reaches (ridiculous, even to a four year old) AND ends up right-side-up on the moon too. Years of engineering experience tells me that somewhere along Dad's stupid ladder journey to the moon he would have had to turn around to go down the steps on the moon. This really annoyed me in 1966 and it hasn't gone away. A giant plot hole, to say the least but that notwithstanding, it doesn't get any creepier than this baby.

So...You can keep your French torture-porns, your Dario Argento, your Zomedies, Cabin Fever's and endless variations on Saw and Hostel. None of them matches up to the godless black horror of a little green piece of plasticine, his useless orange horse-friend (who obviously had better things to do that day than help his pal out in his time of need), and his physics-challenged Dad being chased around by vicious moon triangles for no good reason. THAT is terror. I challenge all of you horror-mongers to scope this 6 minutes and 16 seconds out and tell me I'm wrong. I'm not.

Tell me the little baby head trapped in the frozen emptiness of space right at the end doesn't leave you gasping.

You've been warned.


...if you dare.


It's beginning to look a lot like halloween... part 2: The Strangers

Last night, as I ignored the pile of work on my desk for the second day in a row, I decided to watch The Strangers, the fantastically frightening debut movie from director Brian Bertino. This film seriously gave me the willies, people. The entire movie takes place over the course of just a few hours at the conveniently-out-of-the-way summer home of leading man James (Scott Speedman).
His girlfriend, Kristen (Liv Tyler), and he have arrived at the summer home late in the night after attending a wedding. During the first fifteen minutes of the film we become privy, through various flashbacks to the night’s events and conversations between the leads, to the fact that this relationship of theirs is not exactly in a good place at the moment. Just as the pair are about to partake in what looks to be some kind of very hot hate and/or break-up-sex, a knock comes from the door. A young, somewhat dazed girl, stands in the shadows of the doorway, giving only minor glimpses of her face as she asks if “Tamara” is home. James informs her she has the wrong house and sends her politely away.

Now that their totally hot fun has been interrupted, and because James got Kirsten so worked up in those few short seconds they were at it, she really needs a cigarette. Unfortunately for both of them, she’s all out. James being the stand up guy that he is offers to drive and go get her some. As Joanna Newsom plays on the old record player (Joanna Newsom on vinyl?) and Kirsten knocks back a beer, a knock comes yet again from the door – this time much slower, and much louder. Through the security of the wooden door, Kirsten asks who is there, to which the young voice from the shadows again asks for Tamara. After informing the voice that she has already been here before, we can hear retreating footsteps.

Now somewhat afraid, Kristen calls James’ cell phone and tells him to come home quickly, just before the phone is cut off. Kirsten goes to get her own cell and finds that it is out of batteries and needs to be plugged in. As she wanders around the house, checking the windows to see if the young girl is outside anywhere, our lead villain finally makes his first quiet appearance – watching Kristen from the edge of the next room, already inside of the hom, a hood-like mask drawn over his face. This quiet introduction lasts an uncomfortably long time (in an awesome, horror kind of uncomfortable way), yet without it seeming unbelievable that Kristen does not spot him. When she eventually turns around the masked-man is gone, but seconds later she hears a door being shut. Grabbing a knife she goes to investigate and finds some things amiss in the house that obviously lead to someone having been inside with her. She returns to the spot where she had plugged in her phone only to find it missing. And then the knocking returns.

Hearing another noise at the window Kristen moves to investigate, and, drawing back the curtains, she is now confronted by the hooded man who had watched her earlier. Terrified, Kristen hides in a back room of the house until James returns and finds her in hysterics. Skeptical of Kirsten’s story, James says that he has left his cell phone in his car and will go and get it, only to find that his car has been smashed up and his cell phone has also been taken. The couple returns to the car together and this is when the torture-through-terrifying begins as James at last sees what Kristen already has. Over the next hours until early day-light finally comes, the couple is chased and menaced by a voiceless “family “ of three mask-wearing psychopaths who over-and-over again taunt them torturously until eventually, as day finally breaks, the two of them end up bound beside each other and come face-to-face with the menacing-Mansons.
Finally being confronted by them, Kristen asks them ‘why?’ to which the young girl replies ‘because you were home’.

Perhaps I enjoyed this movie more because I am somewhat mourning the lack of Halloween on this side of the pond, but, the very minimal presence of blood and gore in this movie, along with absolute creepiness of the villains and the manner in which they induce fear for no obvious reason, really made this one great. My only qualm about this movie would have to be the publicity-stunt-like addition of a disclaimer at the beginning of the film which states that the movie is ‘based on true events’, which upon further investigation one quickly finds out is not exactly true. Speedman and Tyler are both superbly understated in their roles, there is no obscene over-dramafication by either one. And, although at first I thought the movie might have done well without the back story of their relationship in turmoil, I found that, in fact, it added a necessary element of distance and mistrust between the two characters.
All in all a good one.

It's beginning to look a lot like halloween... part 1: Mother of Tears

Mother of Tears is the long-awaited finale to Dario Argento’s series of The Three Mothers, preceded by Suspiria, and Inferno. It was premiered last year at TIFF midnight madness which I, very unhappily, was unable to attend. I feared that it might be ages before it was released on DVD and was even warned by Joe of a rumor that the DVD release would be a much duller, less gory version than what was screened at the festival. This is why I was supremely excited to finally get to watch this the other night, in full. Although after finally watching it? Well...

True to Argento style the gore certainly does not disappoint; within the first ten minutes the blood is spilling and the guts are flying (as well as being used to strangle people). Sarah (Asia Argento, Dario’s daughter) is a student at the Museum of Ancient Art in Rome where she and her colleague open an ancient urn, sent by a priest, intended for their boss (and Sarah’s extracurricular love affair). As Sarah runs off to collect some books to decode the ancient script on the urn, her colleague opens the urn, unleashing the Mother of Tears, the third and most beautiful of the three sisters who appear in Argento’s series. The contents of the urn include a red tunic, apparently the witch’s most powerful relic, which the Mother dons to regain her powers, summoning demons who kill Sarah’s colleague in a superbly-grotesque fashion.

Sarah returns with the books only to see her friend being viciously murdered. She runs from the building, encouraged by a loud, unseen female voice. The police think that Sarah’s story is quite insane and have her followed. They do not beleive her story despite the fact that the city of Rome is suddenly now boiling over with evil and tearing itself apart; thiefs, murderers and rapists fill the city streets day and night along with gaggles of half-goth, half-harajuku girl-type witches. Seriously, these witches look like some kind of glam-rock meets pirate-hooker leftover from the era of 1980’s Inferno. And still the police think that Sarah is insane and in need of their unrelenting surveillance?

("You Harajuku Girls you got the wicked style. I like the way that you are, I am your biggest fan." - Gwen Stefani)

After her torrid love affair/boss/boyfriend’s son is kidnapped by the Mother’s cult, and he is then captured while attempting to find his son, Sarah is eventually forced to go on the run from the stupid cops and gothy witches chasing after her. Sarah escapes to find the last surviving exorcist recognized by the church. In his home she meets a woman who knew her mother and finally gives an explanation for the encouraging yet mysterious voice that has been pushing Sarah onwards to fight against the evil that is consuming Rome. Now prepared with her white-witch powers gifted to her by her dead-but-alive-via-apparitions mother (the voice), Sarah can finally kick some pirate-goth-hooker ass. Well, that is if Argento hadn't insisted on maintaining the stereotypical Italian-horror traditional roles which require Sarah to run about in heels and dresses without any clue what to do. Luckily for her, and basically through random chance, the chicken with its head cut off apparoch leads her to the Palazzo under which the Mother is living. At this point, without the use of any of her magical powers which took nearly most of the movie to be discovered and honed I might add, manages to shed the Mother of her tunic, burning it and causing the Palazzo to crumble, unleashing a tower which impales the Mother in an uncharacteristically lame death by Argento. Even at this point, after killing an entire coven including one massively powerful with who managed to effectively tear Rome apart in mere days, Sarah still requires the help of a man, the one cop who believed in her all along, to make her way out of the cave, because apparently it's just too... icky.

Immediately after finishing this movie I was quite excited by it. As mentioned before, gore is one thing that Argento does brilliantly and which, hopefully, will never change. But, as I thought about the movie more over the last couple of days I realized how blinded I was by my sheer wanting for the film to live up to its potential. Truthfully though: not such a good plot, terrible acting and an uncalled for amount of gore. This, as my friend pointed out, might be said of many of these ‘classic’-type horrors but Mother of Tears (save for the gore which, although uncalled for was certainly a pleasure) really took it to a level that I simply couldn’t appreciate in the long-run.


aesthetics 3

Ok, with apologies to the Kris(t) child for putting the blocks to him a month or two ago when he “loved all over Joe” about the updated blog font/colouring, .... this new one is really good. It's a shame that the people running IE or Chrome will never see it. Nice one Joe.

A first kick at my top 13 newish releases this year. Feel free to rip them apart and add your own


Pee-Wees Big Adventure - love and coping man-child style

Recently I had this need to watch a batch of “break up” movies. I’m talking about films about break ups and how to cope on the most basic human levels with said break ups. I needed a guide map of sorts because I was at a loss.

Since I couldn’t think of any good ones, I ended up just grabbing a batch of films at random that I’ve been meaning to watch for awhile. I threw them all in a bag and picked one out at random. I had no idea what I was in for. What fate had in store for me was probably one of the best break up films I have ever seen.
Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure is seemingly a film about man child Pee Wee Herman and his quest to find his stolen bike but you would be oh so wrong.

Pee Wee is lost in his own world of contentment. This world is bizarre to you or me but it shapes who he is. His Bike is his most coveted possession and its existence in Pee Wee’s life is what keeps him living the way he does without feeling embarrassment of the outside world. He can’t go anywhere without his bike, and it becomes a part of who he is or at least who he thinks he is. The only other person who can see what value the bike has is another man child, the neighbourhood bully Francis Buxton. Francis is a fat rich snobby guy who, with the help of his father’s bank account, gets whatever he wants and he wants what Pee Wee has. See Francis doesn’t want the bike per say, what he really wants is the happiness Pee Wee receives from it which is impossible. You can’t change who you are, and you can’t feel the same way for something as someone else does.In stealing Pee Wee’s bike he sees how hurt Pee Wee is and how at a loss he is to deal with it. Francis ends up throwing it away and never taking fault for it but fully understanding that he could never feel that way for the bike. In his loss Pee Wee abuses his friends, walks madly down rainy streets howling like mad, and sits still for hours. No one can comprehend his loss but him. Sure there’s other women vying for his attention but Pee Wee wants only one thing, and that’s more than just a new bike, or someone else’s company. He wants what he had and he can’t function at all without it. In his despair he turns to a fortune teller who leads him astray and tells him that his bike can be found in the basement of the Alamo.

This is what starts an epic quest across the country to reclaim what’s his. Which forces him outside his bizarre world and into the real one we all live in.

He meets a convict wrongfully charged and on the run. Pee Wee decides to help the man, but the friendship they share is short lived. The convict, like Pee Wee, is looking for something and he needs to be alone so he ditches Pee Wee in “the middle of nowhere”. In this dark and sad place Pee Wee meets Large Marge who, like Pee Wee, is lost. She tells a story of a terrible accident that she witnessed ten years prior on the very same road they are driving down. Pee Wee realises later on that large Marge died in the accident she spoke about ten years ago. Large Marge rides down the same strip of road in the middle of nowhere trying to understand the why of her accident but the years have made her bitter and angry and now she has nothing left in her heart for anyone else.

Pee wee next meets Simone, a friendly but sad waitress who watches the sunrise with Pee Wee. They talk about life and what their dreams are. Pee Wee wants what he had and she wants something new. Simone is in love with Pee Wee but Pee Wee’s heart is already given to another.

He runs into a biker gang who take Pee-Wee under their wing. This represents how bad his pain has really become, it has pushed Pee-Wee to running with bad groups of people and partying and drugs and emotionally unsatisfying sex. When Pee-Wee takes this route as far as he can he wakes up in a hospital. His fever dreams have only taunted him of his bike. He says goodbye to the party life and continues to search for the love of his life.

Sure, he does find the fucking thing. However, i feel that the ending where we see Pee-Wee watching a big budget version of his own story with all his friends proves to us that Pee-Wee has changed. The only story continuing on about the love of his red bike is this big budget movie with better looking people and new scenarios and even a new bike. This represents how people move on and change. Sure you loved that red bike and that love is yours to keep and it makes you crazy sometimes and act like a child. And maybe the only role you have in the next story of that bike is a badly acted cameo but you loved and you moved on and are happy and ready to share new things with new people.


Brit's to Remake Speed Racer


Just so you know, Tom hated Speed Racer. He is therefore out of our club and will be getting a letter of reprimand, which will stay in his Film Buff employment file. My understanding is that he thought the steering wheels were on the wrong side. If I recall, they were in the middle, right?
By the way, nice helmet Tom.


Doomsdayer's Holiday (2008)

Not really "film" related, but I've been listening to this album non-stop since it was released on Tuesday. Here's an awesome video for the recently released album by Grails. If you like the video, buy the album; it's fantastic. This is EXACTLY what I'm looking for this time of year. Plus, any video that manages to incorporate both Fletch and the Blind Dead is A-OK in my book...

Doomsdayer's Commercial from The Fact Facer on Vimeo.


It's beginning to look a lot like Hallowe'en...part 5: Inside (2007)

Holy hell. I just finished watching this and don't have time for a full post, but just had to say.....holy hell. And here I thought Martyrs was brutal. Watching certain scenes of A l'interieur had me so fucking freaked out I started laughing. And more than a few times I suddenly clued into my position - sitting there, every muscle taut, my mouth wide open and my hand clamped firmly over it. My fingernails are bitten down to the quick. I am still trembling. No joke. I may have met my match. Stay away. This is not for you.


A Call to Wrists....

Boys, I need your help. The year end “best of” flyer needs some writers. I'm hoping I might get some input and short reviews on hits and misses from 2008 to add to my nattering.

Any takers?

I think I'll publish a list of everything released so far and we can divide up some candidates that fall into the great, average and misses. I intend to cull the blog for a fair bit but will likely need some added pieces to fill up the flyer this year.

Any help would be appreciated



It's beginning to look a lot like Hallowe'en...part 4: Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer (2007)

Now if this isn't an old-school piece of gory hilarious fun, I don't know what is.
JB:MS is a Canadian produced horror flick that is incredibly entertaining, and while it isn't incredibly original and runs a tad too long, it doesn't take itself too seriously and is a hell of a good time. It's refreshing to see a horror film that is self-aware without being SELF-AWARE (if that makes any sense). Instead of merely overcoming its budgetary limitations, the film is more endearing for them. Loads of unpretentious fun, practical effects (no CGI here, baby, which in itself is laudable) and a patently Canadian vibe of understated comedy, this is destined to become a cult classic, and one that I'll drunkenly revisit for years to come.

If every Hallowe'en you throw on Demons (either of them - not counting the later, most tenuously attached entries...), Night of the Demons (any of the three), Night of the Creeps, Slither, or Evil Dead (again, any of the three), while putting on your costume, you can now officially add Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer to the list. Bonus points for best head bashing-in scene since Irreversible, best use of duct-tape (as a bandage), and Robert "I'm not really Freddy Krueger" Englund.

Turn up the good...

Indiana Jones 4: Raiders of the Lost Art

…of film making.

The old adage greater than the sum of its parts must have an inverse metaphor, wouldn't you think? It there is one, it would apply to the 4th instalment of the Indiana Jones series. Somebody has got to get George Lucas to retire! He just can't write a script that involves anything beyond marginally connecting set pieces together with a threadbare plot. Spielberg and Ford manage a little better but this a film that just didn't need to be made. It even manages to lower the tone of the originals.

There's no denying the first film's place as one of the greatest adventures in cinematic history and the first two sequels, while not great, still managed to keep us engaged. Not so with this latest entry. It wants to be everything to everyone but ends up being nothing much at all. The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is certainly big and loud, but in the race to harvest the earlier film's charm and swagger they fumble all the basics. Firstly there's entirely too much story, none of which is very compelling. Secondly, they give Indy yet another sidekick, this time it's Shia LaBeouf (aping Marlon Brando circa The Wild One). Thirdly, the Red Menace villain played by a moose and squirrel accented Cate Blanchett borders on Jar-Jar-Binks bad ….and the list goes on.

There are a few interesting bits scattered throughout, including a totally weird sequence in a nuclear-test-mock-town complete with plastic people, bungalows and mushroom clouds, but mostly it's just too much of everything. A bloated kitchen sink imitation rather than an homage to the originals. Harrison Ford comes out the least scarred by the whole affair and manages - at 65 years old no less – to bring a cinematic character revered by many back to life. Kudos to him for that. It's just too bad they couldn't pull together a half-decent story to let him sink his teeth into.

While it's hardly the worst film of the year (that would be Street Kings), it sure left me jonesing for the first one.


I had this great idea for a sci-fi film script. Imagine if you will, a futuristic society where the people are focused on ever higher living standards built on nothing but promises and IOU's. Over a 30 year period, they stop producing, manufacturing or creating anything of value and concentrate solely on entertaining themselves with trinkets and noise-makers and getting B.A.'s in Art History. They slowly eliminate real money until it is just an abstract click of numbers on a computer screen and invest some of these mouse click numbers in a massive ponzi scheme called The Martrix. The Martrix operators build countless computer programs that become so complex that the initial value of the original mouse clicks cease to have any correlation in either direction to the final product. The people merrily trade these huge blocks of vapour-cash and spin off huge vapour-returns on gains that don't really exist because they stopped actually producing anything years earlier. They buy big houses and big cars and little cell phones and tiny music players and thin computers and fat holidays and $500 shoes and big-ass ride-on lawn mowers with all this vapour-doe and then borrow the rest of the cash they need to live like kings because, they deserve it. The computers whirl in the background accumulating and mincing up all this borrowed bling and turning into saleable mega-blocks of vapour-debt that count into the trillions. Big empty company shells with tens of thousands of employees trade the mega-blocks of debt back and forth and keep cranking out more and more money from various governments to lend to people down below. The debt balloons float back up and they trade them with other guys doing the same thing. The computers keep track.

This end product – its value now completely esoteric – is traded to ever higher levels of perceived value until one day..... the shit hits the fan.

The massive computer systems that were used to create these endlessly complex and indecipherable value-units don't actually come to life and take over the world but rather end up accidentally becoming too complex for anyone other than the programs themselves to understand. Without a way to evaluate the incomprehensible value-units created by these massive systems, the humans accidentally screw themselves because the actual value of the Martrix could be, well.... nothing, in fact. The computers unknowingly crash the whole people-system and now nobody knows who owes what to who. The computers know but nobody knows how to ask them.

The governments stop killing brown people for a few minutes and run over to see what all the fuss is about. No biggie they say... we'll just put that on the company card, baby. Keep on dancing. When somebody asks who's name's on the card, the answer is, “ahhh... well, yours actually”. “But I'm broke and fucked” the people respond. “Well,” the government says, “you'll be more fucked if you don't just cough up. The computers say so, er... we think.”

“Oh ...and by the way , we've got to get back to killing brown people and taking their oil. You want to drive your pickup don't you? Now run along... this is complicated stuff.”

The computers whirl in the background accumulating and mincing up all this new borrowed bling and turning into saleable blocks of vapour-debt that now count into the quadrillions. These computers rule the world - but in a sad twist of fate that even sci-fi writers of yore never saw coming - they're too stupid to know it.

Instead, the Chinese do.


Go Speeeeed!

I'm going to go ahead and call Speed Racer the most under rated film of the year... probably of the past decade. I can't believe critics gave Indiana Jones a pass this year (quite possibly one of the worst films i have ever seen) but crucified this movie. I mean the critics really shat on this one, sure it's flashy and is incoherent and is filmed with actors on swivel chairs. But there's something about this baby that's loud and fast and just plain amaze inducing. it made me feel like a little kid. I even cried at the end of this one.

then again maybe i was so blown away because i laid in bed watching this one at 10am eating mac and cheese (white cheddar i might add) straight outta the pot trying to get over one of the worst hangovers i've ever had.

Still... it moved me.

Post-Virgin Snow Angels

David Gordon Green’s Snow Angels
Snow Angels is hopeless. It offers up ahundred odd minutes of shattered lives and ruined humanity; the film drifts pass being sentimental and melodramatic into a confused surrender. The two leads give-up from the start of the picture and then the film shuffles through half a dozen more players, ranging from competent to inspiring, before ending with our two heroes dead and all grain of legitimacy or worth sucked out of the story. Green’s earlier films painted a bittersweet (George Washington, All the Real Girls) to tough (Undertow) portrait of American life; probably the best examples this side of Rushmore, of the new style of drama centered around the broken family and the world that pivots around them. These other pictures, particularly George Washington, had at their best organic and well written characters. The best part probably being that rather than having everything dressed in stern stoicism like a starched suit, there was a charismatic hopefulness; a style in which the characters played their parts that was infectious and strange. The most serious of moments would be undercut by a quirk or laugh, something organic, something unexpected and not painstakingly realistic; a refreshing break from the status quo of actors acting ‘realistically’. To show that the human spirit can stand up no matter how hard the fall. Green also at times did the opposite; presenting a heart-wrenched monologue about something in the commonplace, a fresh perspective; and I can’t help to think that the best part of Snow Angels was the militant speech given to the high school band before the football game; about having a ‘sledgehammer in your heart’; “will you be my sledgehammer today?”. Absurd and makes you laugh, but that scene is quickly buried in 6 feet of hopelessness. Dark times call for dark films? Maybe, but what’s the point in building a film around a man whose given up, called all his chips in to god and liquor and guns? When you first meet our man Glenn (Sam rockwell) he is appealing, there is an infectious energy around him; but slowly it’s revealed that this is a mask put on, a last ditch attempt at happiness that is doomed from the start; in short he is selfish and pathetic. The thing that really disturbs me is that the source of the tragic events is written off by Glenn’s estranged wife Annie (Beckinsale) as being “deep down, we just weren’t happy”. I mean this isn’t satisfying. The loss of Glenn and Annie’s child is of course an event capable of destroying the strongest of us, but the film is not centered around this loss; the death is presented as part of a chain of events; the fact remains that her parents had given up beforehand. Green is more than capable of dealing with the subject material of a heavy drama; here he loses his spark by shoving the best characters and story lines to the periphery and focusing in on a car wreck. The ending tries to pass itself off as bittersweet, as the supporting cast seems in good spirits, but does that really qualify in any substantial way the murder-suicide that happened 5 mins ago? Anyways, dissapointing; and along with ‘tropic thunder’ it seems that Green is doing a crash course in ‘hip’ new hollywood film making; the ‘disfunctional family drama’ and the ‘stoner comedy’. Not to say there aren’t some merits to some of the dialogue, performances, and photography. Green brings some strong visuals; but even that pales in comparison to what he accomplished with the South in his earlier works. As you can probably tell i was looking forward to this one and was let down a little.

aesthetics 2

I have to say the blogs layout this month is the worst yet.

It's beginning to look a lot like Hallowe'en...part 3: Nightmare Detective (2006); or, When Did Freddy Krueger Stop Wearing Striped Sweaters?

Shinya Tsukamoto's (Tetsuo) latest entry into the weird, surreal universe of J-horror is merely an OK one. It borrows from all across the genre - most heavily from A Nightmare on Elm Street (the original - still terrifying, dark, and so sorely underrated), but also from Ringu, One Missed Call, Silent Hill, Suicide Club, and even his own work (particularly A Snake of June); hell, there are even elements of Romeo and Juliet in there - but never steals. While the film does contain some original, frightening imagery, and a couple of cool ideas, overall it comes across as an empty pastiche, detached from its precursors, and ultimately, its genre. There were a couple of playful jabs (that I quite enjoyed) at the whole long-haired female ghost thing that's been done to death in J-horror, but overall, the film left me cold. Too bad, as Tsukamoto has been one of THE directors to watch in Japanese genre cinema for awhile now. I'm hoping that this is a rare miss, and that his next effort (ironically, Nightmare Detective 2) restores the faith. Nightmare Detective is worth a watch, but doesn't bear lengthy dream analysis.