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Archive for October, 2009

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I must say, all of the love and bank this film has amassed has me feeling prit-ty, prit-ty, prit-ty…..pretty good [trademark, Larry David]. As it does, I’m sure, for every other longtime horror head who has spent years on end digging through genre websites for those little flicks-that-could-if-one-of-the-dumbass-major-studios-would-wake-the-hell-up. 

Oddly enough, though, I’m sitting here more excited to read that excerpt from Uncle Stevie’s Under the Dome than I am the cover story. What else can be said about Paranormal Activity at this point, really? The cover itself is the real victory here.

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And she was in both Zombieland and The Stepfather recently (one really good, one not so much). So these totally belong on this blog, then. You’ve been disclaimed. [From her new FHM shoot]

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Full-size pics, after the jump:

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**As expected, the clip was promptly excommunicated from Youtube. So much for that. But, basically, Katie comes back upstairs into the bedroom after Micah runs down to see why she’s screaming; she sits alongside the bed, in a daze, and then a couple of fuzz-members (cops) come up the staircase. Katie approaches them, and the fuzz, seeing the blood on her shirt and no doubt having scoped Micah’s corpse in the living room, fire rounds into her. The end.

Astonishingly, I’ve yet to find someone who outright hates Paranormal Activity; sure, a handful of folks have nitpicks and problems, but no one seems to hate the film. Which is pretty incredible, frankly. I’ve already stated my thumbs-up piece about the film here, so there’s no need for any pathos today. Rather, I want to show all of you heads out there that have pushed the little $11,000 film into the $60-mil-plus range how writer/director Oren Peli originally concluded the film, since the main qualm I’ve heard has been, “That final Boo! shot is corny as fuck.” And I agree, it is borderline cheesy, and does deflate the wonderful creepiness of the film’s final section.

After the jump, you’ll find one of the film’s two original ending. Make your own judgment about its merit, whether it’s better/worse than the theatrical one, etc.; as for my opinion, I’m opting for that over this: (more…)

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There’s a great little horror flick opening this weekend that I wish could generate the Paranormal Activity-level hype, but that won’t happen. A crying shame, though, because Ti West‘s The House of the Devil has an incredible amount of replay value. I’ve watched it three time through my DVD screener over the last couple of weeks, and, if my weekend schedule permits, I’ll catch it on a bigger screen. It’s being dubbed into the same designation as films like Hatchet and My Bloody Valentine 3-D, intentionally-made throwbacks to 1980s-era horror, but in this case that label is a bit unfair; West’s film (about a money-hungry babysitter’s unexpected encounter with Satanism) literally feels like a film made 20-some-odd years ago, right down to the smallest production design details (old Coca Cola cups….check).

57283279For Critics Notebook, I chatted with West about the film and other horror/cinema head areas of interest. Definitely one of my favorites interviews in close memory; the guy has an engaging motormouth, giving answers you know he’s said in one form or another during his recent press run with the vigor of a first-time interview. He’s gotten somewhat of a bad wrap lately, due to some drama over his self-imposed exiting of Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever, with reports calling him everything from “arrogant” to a basic prima donna. During our discussion, though, that couldn’t have been further from the truth. After the jump, I’ve posted his post-game thoughts about that Cabin Fever 2 dilemma; see for yourself if he sounds bitchy or not.

Here’s the link to my kind-of-epic-in-length Critics Notebook feature on Mr. West:

Ti West on THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL

After the jump, parts of the interview that didn’t make the CN piece: House of the Devil 4
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 superpsycho

It’d be a waste of time and energy for me to sit here and type about how much I detest MTV’s numbifying My Super Sweet 16; how the show broadcasts everything that’s wrong about rich kids, while people defend it as some sort of “aspiring to be” fantasy for middle-to-lower class teens. Pure nonsense, that stance will always be. There’s an audience for the program, clearly, so I’ve learned to accept that it’s there and move on; I just simply never watch. And that’s worked well enough.

The idea of MTV somewhat lampooing the show in a made-for-TV horror film, timed for Halloween, hadn’t seemed like a total whopper of an idea, either. Slightly more optimistic, but not by leaps. Thing is, watching some pissed-off adult or outcast high school student cut his or her way through the cool kids is one-note, and would lose its appeal after the second body drops. And that’s precisely what I was expecting from My Super Psycho Sweet Sixteen, which aired last night. Utterly-hokey title put to the side, MTV’s tailor-made slasher had one other huge strike against it from second one—-the inability to go hard-R, due to the network’s always-gonna-be-there censorship restrictions. I went in thinking, Here comes an even-tamer version of that painful Prom Night remake.  

20335I must say, this is one instance of pie-in-the-face that I’m not mad at; My Super Psycho Sweet Sixteen is, and I’m dead-serious, really good. Well-developed, nicely-acted. Handled with an applaudable appreciation for the horror gods, and intelligent enough to honor the teen-movie standards without succumbing to them. Jacob Gentry, the film’s director, is coming off of 2007’s tiny-budget gem The Signal (of which he was one of three filmmakers), and this one proves the guy’s really got it. The kill sequences push the censors to their limit, hardcore and sans goofy spirit. They’re mean as hell. A nice counter to the self-aware energy palpable whenever the cliche teen stock characters run the show, all familiar types (the weird loner girl; her nerdy guy friend; the bitchy popular girl; the sensitive jock) given clever tweaks to make them all register.

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Madison, the school’s ice-queen/future prom queen (played with Rachel-Macadams-in-Mean-Girls quality by Julianna Guill), talks her money-bags father into having her Sweet 16 bash at the abandoned Roller Dome, a local skating rink that was the scene of a gory killing spree 10 years prior. The rink’s demented owner lashed out at the spoiled douchebags that didn’t respect his venue, and his final flatlining-acts were witnessed by not-even-10-year-old daughter, Skyy. Back in Madison’s present, Skyy (Lauren McKnight, in a turn I hope brings her much more work) is the borderline-Goth chick with a heart of gold, and she’s suddenly striking up a romance with Madison’s stud ex, Brigg (notice the stereotypical names “Madison” and “Brigg”). As all of this teenage angst and complexity is underway, so is the reemergence of Skyy’s insane daddy, whose body was never found after a car acciden that prevented his jail-time. So when it’s time to party for Madison’s big night, the corpse tally ticks and tocks.

To say that I’m surprised by how much I dug My Super Psycho Sweet Sixteen is more of an understatement than “Cirque de Freak looks downright boring.” [Continued after the jump] (more…)

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I finally earned my complete George A. Romero fanboy stripes last night. You’d think that years of constant re-watching of his entire Dead/zombie films would be enough to give me pride, but that was sadly not the case. Romero, the independent-minded filmmaking legend, has a cluster of non-zombie flicks that are mostly regarded as unheralded classics. Cult favorites, if you will. The Crazies (1973) is one that I’ve long admired, but other than that one I’d inexplicably slacked off on seeing his other works.

martin1The reconciler that I am, I’ve put the remainder of his filmography into the top five of my Netflix Queue, and last night the Romero film fest kicked off with 1977’s Martin, a film that many consider to be the man’s best. A tall order, considering this is the guy responsible for the original Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Dawn of the Dead (1978), two undeniable horror masterpieces. Romero himself has even said that Martin is his personal favorite of his movies, which explains why I made it the first one on my list.

 

The verdict: strange with great mood, but not entirely effective for me. There’s a lot of great things going on in Martin; for one, the way Romero deconstructs the entire vampire/Nosferatu mythology is fascinating. The title character is a quiet, socially-awkward 20-year-old with a penchant for draining the blood of women, after drugging them to sleep. His older uncle represents the Van Helsing character, the skeptic who believes Martin to be Dracula himself. It’s confirmed, in more words or less, that Martin is indeed a bloodsucker, though he constantly denies it to others. It’s just that, the usual defenses against vampires are futile around him——garlic has no effect, he’s visible in mirrors, and religious crosses are yawned at.

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What Martin lacks is a constant thread, though, espcially toward the end. The final 15 minutes feel like a loose string of scenes edited together, leading up to a predictable (but thankfully gory and hardcore) last shot that comes out of left field. The film, at times, seems more like a collection of Romero’s ideas rather than a fleshed-out narrative; his outline, or treatment, instead of a full-on script. His ideas are strong on their own, the sum of a film’s part being greater than its whole.

Romero is such a great master of tension, though, that Martin never falls from interest. The picture has a steady macabre that’s forceful, a lingering bleakness rising shotgun alongside the overpowering notion that Martin can turn ghoulish serial killer at any moment, which is a testament to the performance of actor John Amplas. The best of the film’s stalk-and-drain sequences it the reason for this post, a Scene of Mine. Where Martin breaks into an attractive local woman’s home, expecting to only see and murder her, but an unanticipated booty call of her’s spoils the fun. Well, adds to it, actually. You’ll have to fast-forward a bit through the first Youtube clip, and continue at the start of the second. [Scene, in two parts, after the jump]: (more…)

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In less than 24 hours, my one-man consensus (made up of inner thoughts and schizophrenic debates) flip-flopped on this one, Law Abiding Citizen. Initially, I wasn’t all that mad at the film; I was entertained, though not stimulated in any way, nor was I expecting to be, though. The problem areas were rather visible, but I was willing to give it a pass…..until this afternoon, when hours of post-game pondering led me to realize that the bad in this Jamie Foxx vs. Gerard Butler endeavor suffocates the sporadic good.

For an expansion of this thought, head on over to my Critics Notebook review:

Critics Notebook: LAW ABIDING CITIZEN (2009)

LAW ABIDING CITIZEN

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