Archive for August, 2009

dario-argentoShould Dario Argento just stop making films already? It’s sad, really, that the guy who once made gems such as Suspiria and Deep Red has devolved into somebody who, just today, was referred to as a “bad Uwe Boll” by an Ain’t It Cool News contributor. Which, essentially, is equivalent to saying “shitty feces.” Glimmers of hope that Argento could bumrush skepticism and deliver another balls-out murder mystery poked through when word came that his next one, the no-frills-titled Giallo, would be in the vein of his past gore-shows, and even star an Academy Award nominee (Adrien Brody). It may not be a slam dunk, but surely it’d be better in actual quality than his last, the awful-yet-tough-to-look-away-from Mother of Tears. If not, somebody please take the man’s camera away from him. 

fourfliesongreyvelvetWell, as that “bad Uwe Boll” comment alludes to, word on Giallo is that its a steaming pile. Laughable for all the wrong reasons. Full of poor acting and overall ineptitude. The film recently screened at Frightfest out in TKTK, and the bad reviews are trickling in at a growing clip. What a shame, because at one time (way before MY time, mind you, though I can revisit it thanks to DVD) Argento was one of the most exciting horror filmmakers around. Last week, I gave his 1971 “lost movie” 4 mosche di velluto grigio (Four Flies on Grey Velvet) another spin—-certainly not his best film, but definitely one of his most overlooked. It’s part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s upcoming Agrento retrospective series, and since I won’t be able to attend I set up my own personal viewing. 


Four Flies on Grey Velvet has everything you’d want from vintage Argento—drawn-out, elaborate kill sequences that erupt in geysers of visually-stunning, almost radiant bloodshed; random occurrences and small touches that make no sense yet work due to their sheer insanity (a baby-faced mask and usage of flies as jewelry-dressing here); and classic Argento murder setpieces, including one great offing that employs a backward tracking shot down a flight of stairs that’s pure Psycho/Arbogast. There’s also a final “killer reveal” that is obvious all along, but is resolved so crazily that the laziness of the twist is forgiven. That last point leads to today’s Scene of Mine: the final shot of this film, which you’ll find at the end of the Spoiler-Heavy Youtube clip linked here. Out of context, the five minutes leading up the last shot will be an utter mess of confusion and overdone melodrama, I’m sure, but bare with it. The way that Argento sends off the killer in such a out-of-left-field manner is worth the time spent watching the entire film alone. Especially the unnecessarily-slow-and-long You’re About To Die POV he uses, which—I’m guessing—was an inspiration for Quentin Tarantino’s four-perspective crash sequence in Death Proof

Here it is, the final shot of Four Flies on Grey Velvet. Check it out while mourning the once-unbeatable anarchy that was a Dario Argento-staged on-screen death: Youtube — Four Flies on Grey Velvet (Final Seven Minutes)


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Over at Critics Notebook, I’ve assessed Rob Zombie‘s sequel, Halloween II, an infuriating grab-bag of nicely-viscersal kills and overwhelmingly-shoddy storytelling. For more of thoughts, expanded upon, head over to…..  

Critics Notebook: HALLOWEEN II


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“For archival purposes,” as they say. But, also, because There Will Be Blood is indelible genius that I routinely revisit. Any chance to promote that ish is embraced. And I’m back in my pro-Tarantino high-horse these days thanks to those Basterds. This is a double-dipped Molotov cocktail of cool [after the jump]: (more…)

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More on the movie itself to come soon. But, yeah, this poster is serious:


As the folks over at /Film somewhat point out, this poster for The House of the Devil (written and directed by buzzing horror newcomer TI West; set to open in limited release the day before Halloween) looks like it could’ve been dug out of some lost bargain bin full of old obscure Italian gore-flicks. Something Lucio Fulci would’ve made. The way the girl here is staring down, lost and corpse-like, even brings to mind one of the flesheaters from Fulci’s Zombi 2……one of these nasty bastards:


The House of the Devil‘s sneak attack of a trailer, after the jump:  (more…)

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shutter island martin scorcese dennis lahane book cover

Frankly, I’m spending way too much energy thinking about this, but so goes it. That left-cross I felt Friday night when I first read that Shutter Island has been pushed back from October to February hasn’t healed yet; it’s still numb, and I’m dropping these thoughts onto my keyboard simply because my fat-lip is puffing past the point of comfortable speech. 

The fact that I can’t see Martin Scorcese‘s flick for another five months isn’t the most infuriating aspect of this news. What’s really irking me is the bottom-line reason for the delay, an inability on the half of Paramount Pictures to get down on their knees and slob down the Oscar voting committee. At least that’s what it feels like to me. When the defense on the studio’s part for this move is that they won’t be able to pay for a proper Academy Award campaign for the film as their books stand this year, how can I not think that? Other reports say that star Leonardo Dicaprio won’t be available to promote Shutter Island internationally, which seems a bit inconsequential.

The name of this disappointing game is Money Can’t Talk; rather than just release the film and bank on its actual quality to either convince or dissuade the Academy, the studio retreats, leaving the film in February’s unbefitting terrain for a Scorcese film.

There’s a good chance that I’m wrong here, and that my not being in the crust of Hollywood dollar-crunching has left me misinformed. I could also be coming at this from a purely one-sided “fan” perspective. If so, color me biased. I’m just struggling to decipher why a Martin Scorcese film starring Leonardo Dicaprio that’s been apparently testing super-strong and has ever-lengthening word-of-mouth buzz can’t stand on its own laurels. If it’s good enough that Paramount considers it worthy of an expensive Oscar push, then let the film lobby for itself. Make it a hands-off awards season event, instead of a February 19, 2010 passer-by.

As far as I’m concerned, the most intriguing thing about Scorcese’s Shutter Island isn’t whether it’ll become a Best Picture contender or not, nor if Dicaprio can finally earn that elusive Best Actor statue. Intense curiosity is favoring how Scorcese will handle the novel’s definition-of-polarizing twist, which has been a catalyst for widespread hatred for Dennis Lehane‘s book. While I completely understand the anger directed at Lehane’s decision to turn the tables with a conventionally-overused reveal, I’m able to look past the head-shrugging and appreciate the great ways that Lehane sets this twist up from the first page. It holds up well upon repeat readings. How Scorcese will be able to manipulate the audience well enough to not spoil the twist is what I’m really excited to see unfold. That trailer has already given away a good deal; Scorcese has hands full now.

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This may sound ludicrous, but it’s actual fact. This news hurts nearly as much as the news that hit me back in late March, when I found out that my place of employment at the time was shutting its doors due to economic woes, leaving me unemployed for what turned out to be three stressful, uncertain months. Yes, this ultimately minor turn of events here pains me almost as much.

ShutterIslandPosterParamount, in an attempt to deliver a gut-punch to yours truly using a battering ram instead of a mere fist, has just announced that they’ve moved Martin Scorcese‘s adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island (a favorite book of mine, read it three times now, the third concluding this afternoon) to February 19, 2010—-a whole four fucking months after its original, seemingly-set-in-stone date of October 2. Which had been marked on my mind’s calendar in permanent, dark-as-night Sharpie; Shutter Island has been my number one must-see film of 2009 since late 2008. Its opening was rapidly upon us. More specifically, though, me. Now, I’m feeling like Teddy Daniels around the page-340 mark.

In most cases, a pushback such as this would signify that the film is plagued with negative issues, the change of release a last ditch effort to prolong a thought-to-be inevitable failure. But, according to Hollywood know-it-all Nikki Finke, word from Paramount is that the Leonardo Dicaprio film, already atop many critics’ Academy Award Watch lists, has been testing in the low-90-percentile, and the consensus on the trailer has been hugely positive. I’m in that majority, with watching the trailer a daily routine in my life.

So why in shit’s name has this happened? The primary reason: Blame it on the economy, sadly. In the words of a source of Nikki Finke’s:

“Paramount told the filmmakers it doesn’t have the financing in 2009 to spend the $50M to $60M necessary to market a big awards pic like this.”


Like I said, this one is a Tyson-in-his-prime uppercut. Just minutes ago, after seeing Quentin Tarantino’s dynamite Inglourious Basterds for the second time, I was ranting all giddily to some friends about how excited I am for Shutter Island. Even got them equally amped. October 2 was locked in as a big night for the three of us. Gone with the wind, now.

Link to Nikki Finke’s full story: Deadline Hollywood Daily

The trailer, my current obsession, after the jump: (more…)

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