söndag 29 september 2013

Monsters of film 2013

Monsters of film is a fairly new institution in Stockholm, having only had a couple of one day engagements but now it is finally growing into something bigger. I for one welcome our new insect overlords, watching horror at the big screen isn't something you get to do that often and here is a report of the movies I managed to catch (as of writing it isn't over, only my part in it).

The Monsters of film festival is over for me now and I did manage to catch a couple of really cool flicks, and a couple not so cool.

Return to Nuke em high
It's Troma, what the hell would you expect other than a lot of cheap, gross jokes and lots of boobs and gore. Which we got. Can't really hate it.

Fresh meat
A black comedy about a girl coming home from boarding school only to find out that... her family has embraced cannibalism. And then a group of incompetent criminals take them hostage. Not so clever and funny as it thinks it is but still quite entertaining. Temuera Morrison is always fun to watch as he turns on the ham

Dark touch
Strange movie this one, gives the impression that it wants to make a statement about child abuse and fuses it with a Carrie-ish plot but never quite manages to create a good mix. Well made and well acted though and stays with you long after the movie is finished.

Girl is raped and killed, but returns from the dead to wreak vengeance upon everyone who has wronged her - told way too slow and a bit too arthouse. Well shot though and not without merit, just not my cup of tea. Director Karen Lam was there for a QA afterwards and came off as a really warm person with a lot of interesting stuff to say about low budget filmmaking in Canada

I declare war
Kids playing war and we see the guns as the kids see them through their imagination. Very interesting and well visualized with a group of excellent childactors, though not really horror, instead giving us an excellent picture of how it is to be a child. Really liked it.

We are what we are
Jim Mickles remake of a Mexican movie was the best movie of the festival, a meticously crafted drama about a family of cannibals. Another movie that wasn't really drama per se, but a really dark and incredibly well acted drama about a family that has some rather odd religious traditions. The only thing that keeps this from being a bona fide masterpiece is the ending which doesn't sit right with me, especially after all the goodness that lead up to it. Not a bad ending in any way, just slightly dissapointing. Do not let this stop you from seeing it though.

Here comes the devil
Adrian Garcia Bolognias latest movie after the excellent Penumbra was quite a letdown, mostly due to the fact that it felt like it was rushed together on the cheap in maybe a week or so, which is a shame as the story is really interesting. Two children vanish for 24 hours after going up a mountain and come back changed. The script has the guts to go places that most movies would never dare to, but when the whole thing looks like a telenovella it doesn't really matter. An interesting but wasted opportunity.

And that was it for me, other than a lot of technical problems during I declare war the whole Monsters of film enterprise was a hit and I really hope that it continues

But what was up with all the cock-biting? There was penis-chewing in every movie I saw on friday and I was told there was in the one I missed as well, Tulpa. (and in the movie I watched on the bus on the way home, 1975 Hong kong horror Magic curse. Can't really blame that one on the festival though, I guess it just was one of those day...).

Until next year.

måndag 23 september 2013

Devil's pass aka The Dyatlov pass incident (2013)

I have no qualms about saying that Renny Harlin is one of my favorite directors when it comes to violent, easy going entertainment. Deep blue sea is a masterpiece in cheesy fun, Die hard 2 is one of the few sequels out there on par with the original and I adore his Exorcist prequel (Paul Schraders version is just plain boring, a horror movie made by a person that did not want to make a horror movie). And let us not forget Prison, a really fun eighties horrormovie that deserve a lot of praise. When I heard that he was making a found footage horror movie my expectations soared. I have not given up on the genre yet and Harlin sure as hell didn't make me want to quit it. Yes, this is quite a good movie actually.

Devil's pass is based on / inspired by a true story about nine hikers found dead in the Ural mountains in 1959, their deaths shrouded in mystery and strange circumstances that has fueled conspiracy theories ever since. (You can read about it here). A group of American filmmakers decides to travel to Russia to shoot a documentary about the event and, well, strange things start to happen as they arrive on the site where the bodies were found. Then there is a twist in the end. A quite nice one actually.

It'll be safe to say that Harlin does not reinvent the wheel here. There is nothing new on the agenda but he does bring his professionalism along on the ride, which means that all the trappings of the genre are there but so much more bearable than what we might be used to. The shakycam isn't particulary vomitinducing, the characters aren't nowhere near as annoying as in for instance A night in the woods and the fact that it was actually shot on location in Russia does wonders for authenticity. The script takes it's sweet time building up until the final events but the atmosphere is great and the final half hour pretty damn exciting up until the final twist which is actually quite fun. The actors do their jobs and we all end up with one of the better Found footage movies of the last five years.

In short, unremarkable yet very entertaining horror. Well worth your time.

onsdag 4 september 2013

Within the rock (1996)

Recognize this story? An large asteroid is heading towards Earth and total destruction is inevitable. A team of miners are dispatched in a spaceship (actually, they're close by, harvesting other asteroids) to drill a large hole in it and blow it into tiny pieces. There are two problems. First of all, they have to drill deep enough in a very short amount of time to be able to detonate before it reaches earth. Secondly, it seems that someone has used this particular piece of rock to store a very nasty alien creature that of course breaks out and starts to play Ten little Indians with the mining crew. We know exactly how this will go. And Xander Berkeley plays yet another asshole. Which is nice.

Yes, Within the rock is truly and well a standard movie, there is nothing original about the concept. The script is for a lot of the running time just a jumble of scenes we've seen before but thanks to a director who paid attention to his evening classes the movie works a lot better than it really should. The sets are nicely detailed for its budget and the camerawork suitably claustrophobic, making the stolen scenes from Alien much more worthwhile than you'd expect thanks to a cast and crew that elevates the material to a point that is almost better than it deserves. If you, like me, love Alien clones you will adore this movie. We have a guy in a cool rubbermonstersuit running around killing people and sometimes that is more than enough to make your evening wonderful. I'd choose this over any Saw ripoff everytime and so should you.

The Final terror (1983)

I will admit, The Final terror was a really positive surprise. I was expecting a straight forward slasher, this having been shot just a year after Friday the 13th and with what on the surface seems like a very similar plot and the poster didn't make me think any differently with its lovely hysteric depiction of a young couple running away from something.

And sure enough, it starts out with a whole collection of cliches. A young couple is killed in the woods, we skip forward to a group of youths about to head out into the very same forest complete with possibly deranged handyman, a campfire retelling of a horrible event that happened years ago and people going missing. But then the movie transforms into something else. Instead we get a movie about the remaining people trying to survive, hunted by an unknown assailant and we find ourselves watching something much more similar to Deliverance or Rituals. And it does quite a good job with it too all the way to its maybe not particulary surprising but still very exciting conclusion.

If you went into this expecting a slasher I would not hold it against you if you were dissapointed but I quite like the direction the movie takes, even if you take into account the fact that the exploitation factor is quite low. There is very little gore and nudity on display here, the body count is not very high but we are rewarded with quite a lot of atmosphere as the survivors trek through the rainsoaked thick forest followed by something that wants to kill them. The characters might be a bit standard but most of the acting is fairly good with some familiar faces like Daryl Hannah, Rachel Ward and Joe Pantoliano before they hit the big time (and I was relieved when Rachel Ward actually has a british accent).

So, in short, a good watch that might not be what you would expect it to be. If you like movies like Deliverance or Rituals you'd probably enjoy this too. I watched this on a fairly poor rip from a vhs which makes some of the nightscenes a chore to watch so I really hope that this will pop up on dvd or blu ray soon.

tisdag 3 september 2013

The Horror at 37000 feet (1973)

An internet acquaintance wrote that he used to watch this over and over again after taping this from telly and I can tell you that I am quite jealous of this, The Horror at 37000feet is a movie I would have loved to watch when I was a young. There is a certain strong cozy feeling about this kind of movie and you know what I am talking about if you've seen a few of the cheapo tv disaster-movies that were mass-produced in the seventies. That is basically what this is, a disaster movie with a cast of faces you recognize and an event onboard that is about to bring the plane down. Only this time it is supernatural.

A wealthy architect and his mentally fragile British wife are bring parts of an old ancestral abbey on board a plane and plan to bring it to the US. Of course, this means that they are bringing ancient druid spirits along for the ride and they are not happy to leave their home country. They demand sacrifice! Will it be Buddy Ebsen, the grumpy billionaire? Will it be William Shatner, not at his best as an alcoholic priest who has lost his faith which of course means he will be integral to the conclusion? Will it be Chuck Connors, slumming it up as the plane’s pilot? Or any of the other cast members of which several are speaking with really bad English accents?

The Horror at 37000 feet is first and firmly very cheap which means that as a tv-movie we are not allowed to see just about anything of the horror itself. There are very few deaths and the horror elements are no more than a lot of dry ice and slime pouring out of a hole in the carpet rug. But somehow this is quite effective in spite of really just being silly, as in the scene where the passengers try to calm down the angry spirits by sacrificing a doll to which they've glued human hair and nails upon which it erupts from within with that strange slime. Odd and weird in a nice way. The actors overact like any normal American tv-actor should and I wouldn't want it any other way. Yes, this is by the numbers but I like this kind of math a lot and as it is only 70 minutes long it is over before you know it. Great fun and I really wish I had been 10 years old when watching this for the first time instead of 40. I'm pretty sure it would have haunted my nights well into my teens.