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Sunday, October 25, 2015

October is Horror Month!

October 2015 Films
Early in this month I have to spend some time covering films that are products of the people I might see at Rock and Shock, then I will finish with whatever comes to mind.

After completing the month I have to say sticking to wathing something everyday was really challenging.
The List of what I watched.
Oct. 1st - Demons (1985) - Love this movie
Oct. 2nd - Wendigo (2001) - Under rated oodness
Oct. 3rd - Breeders (1986) - So bad but so good
Oct. 4th - A Blood Story (2015) - So awful
Oct. 5th - Asmodexia (2014) - Religiously heavy twist
Oct. 6th - Rites of Spring (2011) - Too split and unfocused
                Almost Mercy (2015)- Not the greatest acting but decent use of voice-over
Oct. 7th - The Butterfly Rom (2012) - Thriller elderly fun Love Barbara Steele
                 Blood Reservior (2014) - Oh My!
Oct. 8th - Army of the Damned (2013)- Too scattered to be a serious film
Oct. 9th - Donner Pass (2011) -  Unlikable characters die
                The 4th Floor (1999)-  Rear window without the greatness
Oct. 10th - Day of the Dead (1985) - Love this because of the happy ending
                  Evil Dead (2013) - NO FUN version of a good film clouded with shit
                  The Ricky Horror Picture Show (1975) - How I miss Tim Curry
Oct. 12th - The Walking Dead Season Premiere
                  Supernatural Season Premiere
Oct. 13th - Last Shift (2014) Well that was a bad first night on the job!
Oct. 14th - Subspecies (1991) Full Moon's take on the Dracula story.
Oct. 15th - Hardware (1990) - Richard Stanley's tale of a robot and the love he so desires.
Oct. 16th - Blood Glacier (2013) -  A good old fashion monster movie
                   Upsidedown Cross (2014) - William Hellfire film about a really evil exorcism priest.
Oct. 17th - The Sandman (1995) - Some really dreadful Tempe Entertainment horror.
Oct. 18th - WalkingDead Ep.2
Oct. 19th - The Pact (2012) - Surprisingly entertaining horror mystery.
                   The Pact 2 (2014) - The not as interesting continuation of the story.
Oct. 20th -  Manhattan Baby (1982) - Fulci's mix of horror, possession and  dimensional portals.
Oct. 21st -  The Keep (1983) Cool weird period piece, with music by Tangerine Dream
Oct. 22nd - Tales of Halloween (2015) - Anthology worth the rent, I love Lucky McKee!
Oct. 23rd - Burning Bright (2010) Locked in a house during a hurricane, with a hungry tiger.
Oct. 24th -  Oculus (2013) - Sometimes mirrors are evil.
Oct. 25th - Suspiria (1977) - Girl goes to a predominant dance school and finds a coven of witches.
Oct. 26th - Phantasm II (1988) - Great explosions in this one.
Oct. 27th - Call Girl of Cthulhu (2014) -  Exec. Producer Michael Raso brings us goodness.
Oct. 28th - Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (2014) - A Spike Lee vampire joint, that has some pacing issues.
Oct. 29th - Piranha (1978) - Cameo by Kevin McCarthy was great, great political message, fun!
Oct. 30th - The Atticus Institute (2015) - Mocumentary about a possession
Oct. 31st - Mad Max : Fury Road - A good film that didn't need the last scene.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Rock and Shock

Feeling old, everyone is so young tattooed, pierced and in black and here I am in their midst 51 with a bad knee and overweight in a polo shirt and jeans. Rock and Shock the (what's the style of rock music? I don't even know death metal?) and horror convention began at 5:30pm at the DCU center today. I showed up and appreciated the parking directly across the street, the restaurants close by the well organized crew at the event. It took maybe 10 minutes to get into the convention hall a space filled with movies, books, arts tattoos and collectibles. It being my first convention ever I was less than organized and had no idea what to do with myself. I wandered a bit and accidentally found the celebrity signing area. It was so empty that I thought that I entered before it was opened. Not sure what to do I hung back and watched what was happening. A line had formed in one corner and I was thrilled to see the unmistakable visage of the master George Romero. By far the star of this show I made my way to that line as the first person I wanted to meet. Quick as can be I was faced with what to have him sign. A poster? An image of himself? OR How about that original replica script of Dawn of  the Dead for $65. Lets remember that I was the guy when who thought these events are just a giant money suck without the happy ending. I have to admit it is that but the ending is not so bad. Each person I talked to was enthusiastic about the horror related art they created and the three signings I went to each person was kind and gracious. Mr Romero signed my script and offered to take a photo, he chatted and was very nice. I have to admit I was star struck. His movies more than any are responsible for my love of horror and it was the greatest honor to meet him.
  Next to him was Rachel True and diagonally across this corner Traci Lords but for me to the left of Rachel was Tom DeNucci, maybe not the most recognizable name but having recently seen his film Almost Mercy was was happy to have Tom be my second visit. That film while lower in budget does some things really right. First it has a wonderfully draw pair of protagonists, their stories are balanced with supporting roles that are from known actors stretching themselves to play against type. The voice over is a an example of a well used example of that device. Finally the turn in the script is so well executed and the character involved fits the turn so it all works very well. I am not giving anything away here so you make a point to seek him out and watch this film.
  Realizing that I was a newbie and had no way to carry all the shit I was collecting I made my way to the Troma booth to say hello and to purchase a nice bag to carry my collection of signed items. Back in the signing area I made my way to Felissa Rose the wonderful actress famous for Sleepaway Camp. She was the nicest most giving person I met. She loves her fans and we love her and meeting her was more of a conversation. A really great experience. She does a sell of an image with her that her assistant takes and is posted on her website. I honestly did not mind giving her $20 of my hard earned money. She was so genuine and friendly she seem to really appreciate all the people who visit her. I have followed her on Instagram for a bit and already know that this was true. She is such a loving Mom and hard working actress it was great to meet her in person. While standing in line to see Felissa I was handed something by a guy and when I turned to see who it was there standing before me were William Hellfire and Erin Russ, writer, Director and Star, respectively of the film I came out to see tonight, Upsidedown Cross (2014). Thrilled I was sure to let them know I was coming to the file at 7:30pm.
  The film room was sort of out of the way, on the third floor and around back but the locations were easy enough to find with signage pointing the way. Sparsely attended but enthusiastically received the film tells a straight forward story of a shady priest and the exorcism of  Nadine (Erin Russ), a junkie who returned to live with her religious mother (Colleen Cohan) after her boyfriend, pimp is arrested by the police. Mom who is losing her house with a "God will provide" attitude feels her daughter is possessed by a demon and calls the Preacher (David Yow) to perform the exorcism. The rest of the story is a depiction of that intervention and its unfortunate (for Nadine) cost. The film is well executed both in film and sound considering the micro-budget nature of the production. The music is an enhancement but is noticeably missing from late first act to early second act as the exorcism start towards the turn. This middle half hour is a bit flat and could have used a upping of the ante in a more dramatic way. Even a base tone that changed to  add emphasis to the change in the Preacher's behavior could have helped this section of the film. The plot also was a bit to simplistic lacking a subtext other than the motivations of the Preacher. I wanted more, a close call with the Mom, or her second guessing after seeing some intervention she was not intended to see. A suggestion that the possession was real, there was a hint but it was dispelled quickly, or maybe that the Mom was the actual possessed person, but lets not rewrite the movie here. For a super low budget movie it is made with skill  but missed a couple notes that would make it better.
  I did not get to stay around to talk about the movie but I am going to make a point to give some unwanted feedback if I see them again in the next couple days. So considering my humbug attitude I think I actually had a very good time at Rock and Shock tonight.  I will add images later of the stuff I bought from the great vendors and the links to the great artists here
  Day 2: Well I have to say that the first day was all I really needed from this event. I did go over again and found my way to she shorts program featuring New England films. It was pretty enjoyable with six shorts. I was disappointed to learn that my friend Izzy had her movies moved out of the block to be shown at other times. I wandered around a bit more but found I'd really lost interest in the event. So I headed home early and called it an event.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Rock and Shock Wocester MA 10/16-18/2015

  I stopped writing this blog when readership fell too low for the effort I was putting in. I was still watching and thinking about horror movies but was just not recording those thoughts. I miss it a bit, writing got me more involved in the horror community and I have met some great people and attended many screenings. I have fallen off the map of the horror community since then and I think this event is to at least see what people are doing. I'm going to this event even though I have never been to a horror convention and have to say I am a bit weary of the crowds and noise. So tonight it is a very slow start. I am going to check the scene and attend a movie at the convention center by William Hellfire. He is what I would call an underground film maker who has mostly done micro budget horror and soft porn with Seduction Cinema. I know him and Erin Russ from the always entertaining Alternative Cinema podcast, so I look forward to the film.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

It Follows (2014) Horror Monster

It Follows (2014) - Going to the movies is something I avoid as much as possible. You always have to make the decision of going in on time to get the seat you want and having to sit through 25 minutes of previews, or showing up later and sitting in the seats that are left. Considering the movies are $12 at the Solomon Pond Mall the fact that I have to make this choice pisses me off. Really, the only reason I went was to support a horror movie at a time when so few are even getting runs in theaters. Gone are the days when crowds would line up to see the latest horror flick we are now in the time of VOD and streaming and although that has made it possible for more smaller films to get exposure it seems to have put a large dent in the movie going audiences for the same type of film. So it was surprising to me to see national advertising dollars being spent on "It Follows". Being plugged as the "scariest movie of the year" it at least is getting some push and setting expectations through the commercials which always sets films up for failure. I was pleasantly surprised by the audience at the 4:30pm show I went to. It was a dozen or so adults, no chatty kids, no phone checkers just a bunch of grown ups.
The primary storyline is promising a young woman, Jay (Maike Monroe) after a few dates with a young man Hugh (Jake Weary) has sex with him in his car. The post sex behavior of the young man is less than to be desired knocking her out and tying her onto a wheelchair. Hugh tells her that he is being chased by a being that comes unrelentingly. He can get a respite from the stalking by passing the curse on to others through sexual interactions. He lets her see the being coming before releasing her. If the creature captures you it will kill you so staying ahead of it is the challenge. Hugh is creating a sex partner buffer zone by passing this curse onto Jay, one could assume he probably, or should have multiple partners that way increasing his chances at a longer life? How would that work, would Hugh give the curse to each new sex partner in order from most recent to least. Lets assume he had sex with Jay then Sharon then Michelle, would the creature go after Michelle, then Sharon and finally Jay before pursuing Hugh again? What if each of them had sex with three partners? Would the creature then go in order by time of the sex acts or would Michelle's 3 people be first then Sharon's 3 etc? What if there are multiple sex acts with multiple the same set of partners, could you confuse the monster? What constitutes a sex act in this case, seems like the movie is saying intercourse but what if you just had oral sex, does the monster still come after you? Instead of killing you it just smacks you hard in the face.
What also is as tired and old as going to the theater is the allegory of this film. Since the dawn of film casual sex has been punished in horror movies. Wrapping the message up in an allegory about STDs does little to change the fact that the message is worn. When you think about it, the lead is being punished for casual sex, something I encourage all young adults to engage in if they find it fulfilling. After this she is haunted by the act (diseased) and has to contemplate whether it is okay to continue this behavior with others knowing she will infect them too. Then in the end monogamy is the only answer the film gives us as a solution, tough message.
You could think Hugh a decent guy for telling Jay about the creature. She will have a fighting (running) chance, but really he is just increasing his chances of having a longer run without it coming after him again. Hugh could do a bit of self sacrifice and commit to two things, lots of plane flights and not passing this on to someone else, but no for him the buffer seems the route. The better Jay does at avoiding the creature the longer he can rest without pursuit. Jay has some help in that department with Sisters, Yara (Olivia Luccardi) and Kelly (Lili Sepe), unrequited love on his side Paul (Keir Gilchrist) and handsome next door neighbor Greg (Daniel Zovatto). Together these "Scoobies" will look out for Jay even through the thick and thin of the adventures to come.
  The creep factor of someone relentlessly coming after you is a great idea. An idea shown with better effect in the film The Dead (2010) where resting is no an option when the dead are coming and sense the living. Still this film does a nice job creating the atmosphere that poor Jay can get proper rest unless she herself creates a buffer. She tries not too but eventually is worn down to the point that she passes the curse on. Now the film does not show her doing this it just implies it and it does not let us know if she also passed on information about the curse to the recipients. Leaving us guessing about what kind of infected person she is, a responsible one or not. Well structured to have adults not be an option to turn too the film isolates the Scoobies and leaves them to problem solve on their own. Set in the suburbs of Detroit there are not a lot of options to earn money and make a run for it. The nature of the creature and some math could have made their lives easier. Timing the pace of the creature and determining how long it would take it to reach a place could have made for a manageable problem but the lack of financial resources doom this group. You can't run forever if you have no funds.
  Eventually the men in the group step up to be the buffer for Jay, and there is a nice piece of writing with the teen drama of choosing Greg over Paul. Poor Paul even when he finally gets his chance he with the girl of his dreams it means a lifetime of looking over his shoulder. His idea of hooking up with prostitutes is a cruel and mean solution, granted it looks like the prostitutes in the Detroit area are not real busy. Still the idea that he would pass the curse on to possibly hundreds of people is really an indication of his lack of moral backbone. (Sure in his position I would go on a prostitute binge with all my savings, and I would be asking for the hardest working busiest ladies on the corner. I am an asshole though.) I thought the nice kid would be better than me.
  Overall the film works if you do not think too much about the mechanics of it. Once you go down that road it unravels quickly. Purposely creating a out of time environment, with old TVs and lack of technology. I am sure the compact computer was in there just to make you scratch your head but overall the effect was okay. It works as presented and the characters are decently drawn and the situation presented in a way that most of their decisions can be justified. I liked that the actors in are close to the age they are playing in the movie.
 It adds a credibility to the story. So many times we see thirty somethings playing late teens and early twenties these actor seemed more of a match. The film does have some false advertising because the scares are few and far between. It may be the scariest film of the year but only because it is April and their have been so few horror films released. It seemed that Writer / Director David Robert Mitchell really pulled punches in this film. Many of the scares are the cheap kind like knowing the creature is outside and crawling up to the hole in the door to have a look. The music builds the we get close up and Boo!, that kind of scare. I did like the sense of dread the story structure created and wished that the moral choices the kids were making were either explored with a bit of exposition or shown in the horror of what they had to do. Jay, Greg and Paul all are implied to pass the curse on to others but never do we see the devastation of those decisions. In fact the one time we see the creature capture a victim it is quick cuts and then just shot of the dead face. Very disappointing to have such a good monster idea but have only the one kill. Considering how slow the film is as a whole you would hope to see more of what the monster can do towards the end of the movie. It is with reluctance that this film gets a recommendation I wanted more from it than it delivered but it does pass muster to a point. If I had it to do again I would probably have waited for VOD.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Sennentuntschi: Curse of the Alps (2010)

Sennentuntschi: Curse of the Alps (2010) - Switzerland's first genre film? What a horrifically sad tale this film is. The characters who are victims are helpless to stop the circumstances of their demise and it is heart wrenching to watch. The film is one that straddles the line of horror being horrific but not entertaining the audience with horror movie tropes. More of a drama mystery with some horrific behavior by characters and devastating consequences for all involved. This is not a film for people sensitive to the abuse and exploitation of women, as there are some very graphic abusive situations with very limited nudity. The stories behind those abuses are told unflinchingly told to tell a tale of tragedy in a small mountain village. It is full of secrets to be revealed and further tragedy to the inhabitants as it plays out in long flashback until the viewer has the full story. Very well made holding each turn close to the vest and springing it with effective flourish the film is worth the view but at times is also hard to watch. It opens with the discovery of a body in the mountains near the village 30 years after the event. Lead to the remains by a ghost of Albert (Joel Basman) a little girl finds his skeleton while hunting for mushroom. When she identifies him in the list of missing persons for the area the police are confounded. It has been thirty years since he vanished, how could a little girl recognize him? They chalk it up to it being a kid but the stage is set to tell a story. Since the story is based on a German legend it is good to add the early supernatural bent to set the table for what is to come. Smart writing makes it so much easier to slide into the tale and this film does a nice job of it.
  The legend of the title is one that is believed in the alps of Switzerland and Germany by shepherds and dairymen. Lonely men would create create a straw doll women that would be their companion in the lonely hours in the high pastures, talking to, dancing with and sleeping with the doll. In the wee hours of the morning it is believed that the doll would come to life, She would retaliate for any wrongs done to her by the man and he would be obliged to stay with her and there is the idea that she could rip the skin from his body for any crimes committed against her.
  The main story takes place in 1975 in the village and above at a farm in the Alps. A beautiful setting with vibrant cinematography makes the film visually compelling. The wide shots with deep fields of vision add a real sense of isolation when they are in the mountains. The story begins in tragedy with the suicide of the young priest in the village. The villager a superstitious group feel the weight of his death as a curse. The local policeman is Sebastian Reusch (Nicholas Ofczarek) and he is not going to let local's beliefs stop him from doing a proper investigation into the young man's death. Then there is the first turn of the story. While the funeral procession returns from burying the man a young woman (Labelled in the film credits as the Sennentuntschi (Roxane Mesquida)) wrapped only in a blanket collapses at the back of the line of people. Reusch is there to help and collects her. The villagers seeing the stranger and lead by the head priest are immediately suspicious of the stranger. Reusch now has a dual storyline of finding out the story of the young priest's death and figuring out who this strange beautiful mute girl is. Opposition by the priest and villagers to his investigations are the main obstacles for him in the film.
  The second storyline, this one a flashback from days before Sennentuntschi enters the village and is cared for by Reusch, centers around a goat farm high above the village where farmer Erwin (Andrea Zogg) has taken a volunteer from the city to help in in his summer chores. Martin (Carlos Leal) is a man with a cloudy past who is running away from the city with the law at his heels. An alpine farm is the perfect place to get away from the heat. Those two along with the farmers mute nephew Albert are the focus of the legend. After a night of drinking Absinthe they build a woman doll and dance and party all night. The arrival of Sennentuntschi to the farm makes them think that the legend is more than a tale.
  Slowly through the twist and turns of either following these to plot lines we learn the full story of the girl and how she came to the farm and then to the village. The suicide of the priest is a story that also gets resolved as well as learning of the darker side of small village life. Finishing with a tragic flourish before returning to the present day of the movie book ending a really good but sad tale. Being a mystery talking about the plot too much will ruin the film. A film has again shown us why going to or living in a small isolated place is not a good thing.  Secrets in these places are protected to the end of time and those who would expose them put themselves in peril. Seek this film out  and see how a good mystery is put together. Definitely recommended.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Blood Sisters (1987) Horror Slasher

Blood Sisters (1987) -The film starts setting up the killer as many a horror movie does. A small boy is traumatized by a little girl, with her making fun of him. See she knows that the boys Mother is a prostitute in the local brothel. The boy runs away from the taunting. Goes home and shoots his Mother to death with a gun that is way too big for him. This is especially important information about the killer when we jump forward whatever number of years to when he is an adult and again free in society, Edmonson College 13 years later. We see pledges getting ready for their final task for Cappa Gamma which is to spend the night in the house where the murders took place. Nothing good will ever come of this but that is what makes it a horror film. Pretty standard fare for a slasher at first I thought there were some high ideas to be explored in the film but the cut was bad. Then I watched the interview with veteran Director Roberta Findlay and she basically said she threw this film together on the quick to avoid a tax penalty. It shows in the film with a couple different tracks the plot takes and some of the ideas never being fulfilled in the film.
There are a couple things we can learn from this movie and horror in general. If the killer is a traumatized child and it is years later but we never are shown the killer, then the killer is someone we have seen in another role in the film. Stealing from the great psycho this killer is seen in bits, a hand here, a back there but never fully seen. Women's clothes are in frame sure but since we sort of know it was a boy that killed his Mom we know this is to throw us off the track. This blocking is to have a big reveal at the end of the film and chances are the killer is one of the cast who has been introduced earlier in the film. So who will it be. Well since the victims will be women we can safely go with the men that leaves it to about four people. So which of them is the secret crazed killer? The second thing we can be sure of is that each of the girls will have a trait to define them. Linda (Amy Brentano) the sorority's head is dating the football player John (Brian Charlton Wrye).  Make a point at identifying the Jewish girl, Bonnie and there are several jokes she makes to make her look stupid. There is also Diana flirtatious one, Helen the cautious on,Cara is the psychic one, etc etc.
Guys had set up a whole lot of gags in the house to make it spooky, skeletons, and a coffin and some prerecorded noises. They are played to be buffoons and are played by the actors more for laughs with lines like " Eat my shorts tampon breath." One is a bit jumpy thinking the house is haunted. Played for comedy there is a whole sequence getting Larry more and more scared until he leaves. The girls for their part will be creeping around in the dark on a scavenger hunt.
 The girls are blindfolded and driven to the house. Instead of using the scene to really accomplish something the director is happy to let it be filler with meaningless gabbing. So they arrive and the killer up in an upper window moves a curtain so we will know that he is there.
  So you would think this is all a setup for your average slasher. Problems with the script though have the story going different directions so it never quite gets there. Early on there are visions of ghost, primarily seen by Cara but then mirrors also flash back to scenes of the past. What is frustration is those parts never really play a part in the plot. The characters don't react to the ghostly apparitions in any meaningful way. They don't really add any depth to anything we don't already know about the house's history either. The spirits don't threaten or interact in anyway with the girls so they are wasted.
  The killer returns to his childhood home theme is filled with references to Psycho. The kills are not particularly graphic or suspenseful and there is no final girl. Oh and the cops in the New Jersey town are the worst cops ever, brushing off the last victims story of murder so casually you would think the production ran out of money the day they were shooting.
  So in the end this is not a film that is worthy of a recommendation.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Exists (2014) Horror Bigfoot

Exists (2014) -  A weird mix of stupidity and contrivance works to make this poorly shot Bigfoot movie less than enjoyable at times. Okay that is a bit harsh but this viewer is tired of the shitty camera work as a way save money, pretending it is a do it yourself  film while disregarding the contrivance whenever convenient. GoPro cameras,  a camera centric fifth wheel make for the filming all the time and shaky views of the monster. Structurally the script is so well worn that most of the beats can be predicted with ease.starting with the stupid opening fact that "Since 1967, there have been over 3,000 Bigfoot encounters in the U.S. alone." which is ridiculous since Bigfoot has never and will never exist. Still tell yourself to suspend disbelief and the fact still seems completely wacko. It was nice to here when listening to the commentary by Director Eduardo Sanchez and screenwriter Jamie Nash that this was completely made up. So silly but this is what you get from a monster movie like this. Like Nash I grew up in the 70's and I did spend my share of time as a junior High student reading about the urban legends of the United States. Bigfoot was a big part of that but critical thinking and education can make anyone acknowledge the poor basis for the myth. Suspend disbelief...This is going to be a weird review because although I was not thrilled with the well trod story or the filming technique, I do like a monster movie so I was left with mixed feelings.
  Five friends head to uncle Bob's hunting cabin in east Texas, off the grid and without anyone knowing they are going.  The slow motion opening scenes with the friends on a road trip works to establish them as out to have some fun. Little do they know the hunting is not done by the people visiting the cabin but instead by the Bigfoot that lives in the area. The two brothers Camera guy Brian (Chris Osborn) and Matt (Samuel Davis) know the stories of the cabin but being dangerous but just don't believe the stories. So Matt with his brother and girlfriend Dora (Dora Madison Burge) as well as couple Todd (Roger Edwards) and Elizabeth (Denise Williamson) drive out to the remote place for a weekend of fun. Recording it all is Brian with his multiple cameras which we have to guess is the footage the film is put together from.
  After hitting a creature on the drive in, they are terrorized by one throughout the movie. The normal setup of playing with toys, swimming and being amorous set up the spotting of the monster and then the couple nights of terror when Bigfoot decides a house won't stop it from getting the group. Escape plans are tried and in the end we have watch as the members make a desperate attempt to flee the area. The film feels inevitable throughout with the group seemingly over matched by the creature. The poor decision making alone almost dooms the group as they fumble through the nights with the Monster hot on their heels. Then there is the fact that an over 6 foot creature is a borrowing animal with a dug out lair? That does not really make a lot of sense. Still this film is about a monster coming after people and creating a body count. It accomplishes that and there is some taught thrilling scenes.
  Not an enjoyable viewing experience there is way too much night vision shaky cam. The viewing is just not very good. Directed by Eduardo Sanchez who also is responsible for the Blair Witch Project is improved in the quality of camera and the editing of the handhelds and mounted units but fifteen years and still using a really tired technique that is past its time. In the commentary he says that it was not going to be so but they felt because how people have reported sighting of Bigfoot it made sense. Not a lot of the film is actual GoPro footage but the impression that it is is used throughout the film. So they could have made a good looking well filmed film with the equipment they had but chose to make it look cheap and unprofessional. That is even more disappointing to know.  So it is a movie shot by the characters but it is not a Blair Witch, the classic found footage. There is a score that actually adds some depth to the film.
  On the positive side if you can get past the film making you do have a Monster movie where the monster is seen and active throughout the film. My prediction early on in the viewing was correct and that was a bit disappointing. Brian's filming his friends death instead of helping was particularly tired. How many times since Sanchez's first hit have we seen this? As well as the surrender scene fuck that bullshit. The film somewhat passable in it ridiculousness will probably be cool to some youngsters. This jaded viewer is left feeling like this kind of movie is really no longer something I enjoy viewing.
The film as a whole is not bad it builds nicely from the car strike, to finding footprints, to the monster closing in on the characters. It goes somewhat quickly to action which saves it and gets it a recommendation from this blog.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Shrine (2010) Horror Demon

The Shrine (2010) - The film opens with an American traveler strapped down and then brutally sacrificed in a ritual. That quick little start without back story or character development is all that is needed. The next sequence explains it all and sets up the film including the character development needed to get the players where they need to be. Carmen (Cindy Sampson) is an aspiring journalist at a small paper  who has been shunted to the community interest section after stepping on too many toes. She is driven, the kind of reporter who does not give up on a story and this gets her in trouble. It has also strained her relationship with her boyfriend Marcus (Aaron Ashmore), a photographer who wants her to be more present in their relationship when they are together. Carmen not excited about writing about missing bees works in secret with her intern Sara (Meghan Heffern) on a story about missing travelers in Europe, explaining the first scenes. She and Sara recruit Marcus to travel with them to Poland to investigate the area our opening scene victim vanished. Armed with his journal and a whole lot of moxie the trio do one of the scarier things for most Americans, they head to a foreign country to an area where they will not be welcomed. This outer threat is a good way to put the audience on edge.
  Eric Taylor the hiker who disappeared mentions in his journal that there is a strange fog near the village he was visiting at the time of his disappearance. With this knowledge our leads know they are in the right place. The initial trips into the fog were great creepy things. The statue a demon holding a heart is well designed. Carmen after venturing into the fog to find Sara comes across it and there is a nicely chilling scene of her investigating. Both Sara and Carmen make it out of the fog separately and both have seen the statue. This is significant that the two women see the idol but not Marcus and as the story progresses it all becomes clear.
  Children leading you around in a strange place where you can't speak the language should be frowned upon whenever traveling. Our group fresh from the fog are lead by the little girl Lidia (Julia Debowska) to the body of the missing hiker. Going down the dark shed to a place where they could be trapped is never the smart thing.
"Hey guys Eric has to be in one of these"  (didn't like that line)
 They find him and he has a mask with the same symbol of the church. Lidia vanishes and locked them in. The scene does a few things which is always a positive thing in screenwriting. First it reconciles the search for the hiker, he is found and the group can report him dead. Second it adds knowledge about the mask; it attaches to the face deeply so its a spiked mask like in the great film Black Sunday (1960). In that film the masked placed on a witch played by Barbara Steele as a why to trap her evil spirit in the body. Knowledgeable film goers now have a hint about this film. Third it keeps the players in one place long enough to allow the townspeople to catch up to them, making the next chase scene possible. This really is how to approach screenwriting, make your scenes settle something, give some new information and set up something. I always appreciate it when this happens and this film is smartly written by Jon Knautz.
The capture sequence includes another thing I liked but may have accidentally foreshadowed the outcome for some of the character. Carmen apologizes 40 minutes into the film usually that does not happen until it is too late. So what will happen to Carmen. hmmm.
Some of the village back in time things is also a bit weird. I get that these are people who want to stay out of the larger world. They have a secret to hide and don't want strangers coming around. Still some of the clothes and technology implies they never have contact with the outside world. One would imagine there is still need for commerce. Some interaction with the world have to be possible. There is after all a government in Poland. Why is Henryk (Trevor Matthews) using an antique cross bow?
  Brought to the priests, who stares them down. I like that all the polish and there is no translation so they really do not know what is going on. The girls separated from Marcus are brought back down underground and are stripped of their cloths (awful lot of ripping there) so sacrificial dresses that match the coffin people can be put on them. Sara is brought to the alter while Carmen is caged. There is another really good thing going on here as we see Sara the first into the fog is having some really creepy hallucination. The change in her was signified by her vomiting which also foreshadowed the same problem for Carmen.  Set up like poor Eric from the opening she sees monster faces around her Now we see a fuller view of the mask and its worth the wait. We are also starting to understand what is going on. While this is going on Marcus gets to dig his own grave, one of the villagers is questioning their behavior. There is some doubt for the first time that not everyone agrees with there actions.
Slamming spiked masks onto people is really not the way to attract tourists. They will fight back and this is what Marcus does. He manages not only to free himself but Carmen too. Now we are primed for the final sequence. Carmen is throwing up and hallucinating, something in the ether? Chosen so now her body is getting ready? Shouting in English to people who don't understand it is always something that never works. Carmen is seeing demons now so I don't think she is getting out of this. Carmen is freaking out a bit while Marcus is trying to get the keys to a families truck. Shaking house and demons with everyone she looks at. Little kid says she has seen the statue which I am not sure needed to be revealed. At this point the astute audience member could be piecing it together. but I guess the writer felt it was not clear enough. So seeing the statue is what causes the hallucinations and as we see a lot more.
 Significance of rain brings the final third of the film, a classic trope that I notice every time it is used.  The final scenes fighting the demon are great for not being in English.  Really a strength of the film to leave the characters guessing through their circumstances at what they should be doing or trying to relay to those around them. The good demon fight at the end with casualties and close calls all around was really enjoyable.   Henryk who to this point seemed like an antagonist finishes it with Marcus help. The storm ends and the plot is finished.  Next day we learn that Henryk  knows some English and I am begging the screen for him not to try to explain to Marcus about the fog. I have all I need in this story. It is complete and I get it. Let there be a bit of mystery. It is good the explanation was short and in broken English saving me from ridiculing the ending. It is painful when a plot must be was felt to need an explanation when it is over. That should have happened during the film. In this case it was short enough not to detract from what was an enjoyable film. So Even though the IMDB is a bit hard on this film only a 5.6; I give it a hardy recommendation. There is a lot in both the writing and directing by Knautz that really works well. The acting is good and the story very well drawn.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Hunger (1983) Horror Vampire

The Hunger (1983) - When I realized I did not remember this movie from the year after I graduated high school it was a fine reason to revisit it. I know I have seen it but where? Sometime in the mid to late eighties I started watching a lot of VHS and with that most of the horror movies I had missed the decades before. So probably this is the time period. This film stylishly executed by Tony Scott is an example of a film with a rich design but with just something missing either in the script or the execution that keeps it from being a great movie. It certainly had star power with the lovely Catherine Deneuve playing the lead Miriam Blaylock. A beautiful and wonderful actress she pulls off a complicated role in the film as the Maker vampire with a compulsion to not be alone. She is known for her roles in Repulsion (1965), Dancer in the Dark (2000) and 8 Women (2002). David Bowie as her companion John is pivotal as the made companion who sees his time coming to an end. Susan Sarandon as blood doctor focusing on anti aging,  Sarah Roberts who may hold out a bit of hope for John and Miriam. Director Tony Scott was at the beginning of a long and successful career that is still going strong today. This is the film before his first giant hit Top Gun (1986) and he certainly shows in this film he has some chops. Later he would have many more hits, Beverley Hills Cop 2 (1987), True Romance (1993), Crimson Tide (1995) Man on Fire (2004) and Deja Vu (2006). Maybe not giant hits but worthy films. I like Denzel Washington so several of his films fell into that ball park. It was also funny to see a young Willem Dafoe in a bit part at the beginning of his career before he killed it in Streets of Fire (1984).
  The story is a bit of a sad one, Miriam is a vampire from ancient Egypt who has survive the years of loneliness by creating companions through blood exchange. The problem is that after a couple hundred years the companions suddenly and rapidly age until they are husks of themselves. Still alive but not able to interact with the world they are confined to an eternity in coffins Miriam keeps in her house. Unable to bring herself to destroy the companions she loves she really makes them suffer a fate worse than death. She really is a sick character, not only does she never relinquish her hold on her rotting lovers but she grooms the next knowing that the aging is coming. In this film there is a fourteen year old girl Alice (Beth Ehlers) who she and John teach classical violin to. It seems like a way for the couple to interact with the world around them until you realize that Miriam has that girl targeted as her next companion. The creepiness factor of the film goes way up with that realization.  
  John knowing that his rapid aging is beginning seeks out Dr. Sarah Roberts who is working in the field of aging but is unable to get much help from her before he too is so decrepit that he is boxed in the attic of the lush apartment. This is after he makes one last ditch effort to save himself by feeding on young Alice killing her in the process. A nice subtext is going on in this scene where he knows his fate. He has seen the boxes in the attic. He also knows that Alice is his replacement so to kill her also is a stab at Miriam who had promised him they would be together forever. Taking out his replacement is a wonderful passive aggressive expression of the anguish he must be feeling about being replaced.
  Sarah comes into the story after John has been boxed, having been unable to help him she wants to check up on him. Unfortunately for her Miriam is now looking for a new companion, it speaks to the vampires character that the thought of even a day without a loving companion is more than she can tolerate. She seduces and does blood exchange with Sarah in a love scene that is all style. Primarily this turn in the film gives the film a way to end. Sarah after the afternoon tryst begins transforming and in the process is examined by her doctor friends. This leads to the idea that the vampire blood in her system is fighting her own for control of her body. The inverse would also be true if enough human blood was introduced into the vampires system.  So when the final confrontation between Sarah and Miriam happens the dreamlike scene that occurs can make sense.
  There is a final scene with Sarah appearing to be the main vampire in another city, the haunting sounds of Miriam moaning in a box in the apartment does not make a lot of sense. So I did a bit of research (thanks wikipedia) and read that the scene was added later to make the possibility of a sequel more viable.  In the end this is a bit of a slow burn film full of mood,  odd angled shots and a dreamlike quality that could have used more of the outside world to break up the monotony of the sad lives of the characters. I can recommend it as there is some really well shot sequences that are worth seeing. If though you are easily bored this may not be the picture for you.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Open Windows (2014) Thriller

Open Windows (2014) - Sasha Grey is actress with an attitude Jill Goddard. Star of Dark Star: The Third Wave she is a sought after woman by fans around the world. One lucky fan Nick Chambers (Elijah Wood) thinks he has won a dinner with the actress but unfortunately the contest had been cancelled. Sadly he traveled all the way to Austin TX to have the meeting but is left hanging. In his hotel room he is contacted through his computer.  A hacker or some sort of guy on line gives Nick the opportunity to see the through all the devices at the convention. So Nick is hacking into the life of the actress after she cancelled his prize. One of the funny lines early in the film is that Jill Goddard has never shown her breast while we all know in real life that Sasha Grey made her name in porn. Not to disparage Miss Grey as she makes valid effort at leaving that behind and make her name as a non adult film actress but it a funny tongue in cheek reference.
The film very quickly goes from being a hacker helping a jolted fan get some spy time, to a weird and twisted and not believable thriller.  The technology being displayed early in the film is so unbelievable with access to all things around Nick. Chord (Neil Maskell) the voice on the other side of the is a hacker extraordinaire and leaves Nick set up to watch Goddard in her hotel room has a choice to make. He can or can spy if he wishes without anyone knowing. She is meeting her agent and lover, what will Nick do? You also have to mix in a wild card and in this case there are another group of hackers trying to impress Chord by cutting in on his feed. Only the thing is that Chord is already off  line so the guys are just talking to Nick. The situation gets set up where Nick is following directions and what seems like being played. Early in the film you have to think that this is an elaborate stunt being played on Nick by the movie people. There is too much already set up for the events to be anything but that. They have to jump through hoops to allow us to be able to suspend disbelief. They set it up that Nick must follow instructions and after he stun guns the agent he could be in trouble with the police so he is obliged to continue in this game.
  So much depends on the the viewers ability to accept the scenario of the hacker running Nick. This was the catch for me and I just could not get past it. Everything hinges and fails with this premise, especially since the end game seems to be making Nick guilty of crimes while the hacker what wants to see her tits? The film very quickly spins out of control with Hacker Chord an obvious crazed Goddard fan running things. Nick who in the turn ends up more than at first thought has the most unbelievable transformation. The three hackers who are helping him while they try to prove themselves to Nick who they believe is another famous hacker. It all gets even more outrageous as the plot thickens leaving the view either riding the roller coaster to the end or as in my case being annoyed and just wanting to see where it goes.
  There is certainly some messaging in this film about our voyeur society that constantly wants more and more from its celebrities. It is also about how we have (or imagine we have) the technology to see into the lives of  anyone with a device. This film has cameras in computers, phone and security systems to use as a window into the world of Miss Goddard and Nick. Even as Nick becomes mobile and enters his car, there is the transponder in the car, and those of the police cars to track. There is some mumbo jumbo about composite imaging multiple devices. It all culminates into a message about how all our electronics might be a window in the world none of us really wants.
  In the end this is a film that pushes boundaries of belief. The ridiculous wild plot twists lead this to the film just being too crazy for this viewer.  It did not really work for me but I could see it really being something many people could like. So no recommendation but I would not warn you away from it.


Friday, February 27, 2015

The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears (2013)

The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears (2013) - WTF! I don't understand.

Swingers Massacre (1975) Horror Swingers

Swingers Massacre (1975) - Originally titled "Inside Amy" this strange little film looking at the psychological effects of on a couple who start spouse trading in a swingers club will get your attention. Charlie Tishman (James R. Sweeney) is a married and bored lawyer who is looking to spice up his marriage. Sadly we see from the brief, oh so brief, love making session with his wife Amy (Joyanne Mitchell) that there is no satisfaction in her love life either. When Charlie suggests that they start going to a swingers club to seek alternative mates, Amy is reluctant but knowing Charlie cums in 20 seconds she realizes she might actually get something out of it. Everyone is sweaty and horny at the swingers club and it is not long before the couple are invited to a private party where partners will be switched. Amy is still reluctant why Charlie is glaring at the other women and seems more open to the idea.
 Going to the private party we see that poor Charlie can't seem to get it up with the attractive wives of the other men. Counter that with Amy who seems to love every advance and performs with any of the men that approached her. I think this is where the original title Inside Amy comes from where for the first time she is experiencing the effects of good sex. Her development is the change in her character where she realizes that good sex is possible. Not the vulgar interpretation that she has every possible man inside her. 
  Really what going to the swingers party does is highlight the inadequacies of Charlie while allowing Amy to be satisfied for the first time since they got married. He is embarrassed by his lack of performance and hits the bottle instead of trying to deal with his issues. He hears the comments about how good his wife is. He is ashamed by the encouraging comments that he can try again. Like in his marriage when he fails to perform for his wife he rolls over giving up; here at the party he hits the bottle drinking himself into a stupor that completely negates the chance of him rising to the occasion. He effectively makes the problem worse. Let's say that when he could not satisfy Amy at home, instead of ignoring the problem he had spent some time trying to digitally stimulate her instead of the more extravagant idea of becoming swingers. He and she could be closer and more involved, but he does not want to confront his issues. Instead the stimulus of swinging seems more alluring instead of say wearing too condoms so he won't cum too fast when with Amy. It is a sad result for a poor plan that drives Charlie just a bit insane.
  This is a story that takes place before the first great slasher films were made. So Charlie becomes more of the crazed mentally unstable killer than the slasher killer. A Norman Bates type with a psyche broken from the humiliation of his wife's pleasure at the hands of others. Charlie cracks and suddenly he is looking to kill anyone who has been with Amy. As the bodies pile up the police begin putting together that there is a group of swinging couples and that they are the ones being killed. Since everyone goes by first names their task is not easily but eventually they get Charlie the lawyer they know at the court house. As they close in on him, he is confronting Amy in what will become the his final climax.
 In the end this film was a bit boring as a horror film. More about the psychological toll of erectile dysfunction than scary. The print I watched although a dvd seemed to be a full screen rendering of a VHS, too dark at times for good viewing. The kills are simple and the ending all too predictable so no recommendation can be made for this film. It is a time capsule piece about the swinger attitudes of the seventies. Not a cautionary tale so much because Charlie was not healthy enough in the head to warrant that. It wasn't this is what could happen if you swing. More it was a warning that if you are having marital woes it is best to spend some time in house taking care of those problems before relying on exotic solutions.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Nothing Left to Fear (2013) Horror Cult

Nothing Left to Fear (2013) - The attraction to this film came primarily from the fact that it was produced by Slash who also had a hand in the music. Probably not the best reason to seek out a film. The story itself is one of those "this is why you can't trust small town America" stories. The town has a dark secret and the new arrivals are of course going to be the targets. The first story like this I remember is The Dark Secret of Harvest Home (1978) with Bette Davis and Rosanna Arquette. The final twist on that one really made it clear that moving to the country was for fools. In this film it is Minister Dan (James Tupper) and his family who are the unsuspecting targets of small town malice. His loving wife Wendy (Anne Heche) two daughters Rebecca (Rebekah Brandes) and Mary (Jennifer Stone) and son Christopher (Carter Cabassa) have no idea that they are part of a long line of sacrificial families. What seems like a struggle to adjust to a small town and the bordom that comes with it soon becomes a fight for survival.
  The story centers around a set of rituals that unfortunately were poorly explained in the film. The current minister Pastor Kingsman (Clancy Brown) and his flock have a ritual that satisfies a demon in their midst. At one point he says that there are no angels to fight this demon so they must do what is necessary to sate it's hunger. This involves blood rituals to call the demon into poor Mary who once possessed will hunt down and kill her family. Like in the film Jug Face (2013), the mythology is left sketchy at best, I guess not wanting long expository dialog to try to fill out the myth they went with this is how it is accept it. It is always hard to accept with something so crazy. In Jug Face the use a pit in the woods to heal the community even though they could get care in town, with the negative side that they regularly have to sacrifice members of the community to the pit to keep it happy. In this film we have a community feeding unsuspecting outsiders to the demon instead of reaching out to the Vatican or what ever and getting help. Its always hard for a city dweller like me to understand why anyone would live in small town America anyway. Always portrayed as insular and singular in their approach to the world, having a real lack of knowledge of diversity of cultures. It makes you wonder why anyone stays. Every scene in these small towns make then look boring and uninteresting.
  Once the plot becomes clear and poor Mary starts doing her deeds, the townspeople huddle in their homes marked in lambs blood like Moses in the old testament had the Jews mark their doors. They will not help because they are willing to sacrifice outsiders to protect themselves. How very Christian of them. Rebecca being led through her part in the ritual by hunky Noah (Ethan Peck) seems to be fleeing but in the end is lead to the final ritual place by her new boy friend. When the cycle completes leaving the orphan Rebecca in the community we realize that this will happen again. The last scene with the newly arriving sacrificial family is a corny add on not really needed.
  Overall this film took way too long to develop running time is 100 minutes and for most of that we have the introduction to the family and small town creepiness. The creepiness comes from the fact that there are really only three people in the town who take the time to get to know the new family. Considering that they town folk know these are lambs to slaughter it makes sense but you would think the family would notice how they are being shunned. When we finally get to the mostly unexplained demon possession you have to wonder how this ritual was built up over the years. Was it Pastor Kingsman who realized there was a demon? Human sacrifice seemed like the thing to do about that? When was the first episode of cutting  and doing the blood ritual to raise the demon? Why not avoid raising the demon, does it come anyway? How did this start? Considering how much time they spent boring the audience with small town family life you would hope they would have explained something about the origins of this creature and how they came to know what steps to take to deal with it.  After the ritual ends and the one family member is welcomed into the new town. Why the fuck is she not finding every gun she can and blowing the heads off these assholes who just killed her entire family? So many questions are left by this story that it is not very satisfying. So I can't really recommend this film as it left me a bit pissed off at the lack of realistic responses to the situation.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

KM31 : Kilometre 31 (2006) Horror Ghost

KM 31 : Kilometre 31 (2006) - "KM 31: Kilómetro 31" (original title) This is strange film right from the start with its eerie music and effeciency in getting the story going. A women Agata (Iliana Fox) after an argument with her boyfriend Omar (Raúl Méndez) is driving to stay with her twin sister Catalina (also played by Fox) in the mountains of Mexico. At the kilometre mark 31 she hits a small boy who runs into the road. She screeches to a halt and gets out of her car to check on the child laying in the road. When she walks up to check the child is a transformed specter, a ghost child that causes her to recoil, right into the path of a truck coming up the hill. She goes under the truck a mangled mess. Her sister not far from the site of the accident goes into a convulsion and sees with that special twin connection ability that her sister has been hurt. She rushes off to save her. This is just the set up and only after her Agata has had her legs amputated and is laying in a coma do we start the meat of the story. She is trapped between life and death. Catalina must solve the mystery of the ghost child so save her. The bigger mystery of that marker on the highway looms for her and with the help of Omar and her own boyfriend Nuno (Adrià Collado) she will try to find the secret of the child ghost and save her sister.
 The horror themed music by Carles Cases frames the supernatural mood perfectly. Having worked on some other well scored films, like The Nameless (1999), Dagon (2001) and Darkness (2002) Cases knows how to set a mood. The music and sound design add to the creepy feel of this film, giving the viewer chills at the right times. It helps in the creepy factor of this film which does have a very creepy mood most the way through. Writer / Director Rigoberto Castañeda does a very nice job creating a world that crosses from real to spirit world and back again mixing the fantasy with the events of the characters to create a strange and scary film. The "La Llorona" style plot points are a bit strained at times but in the end we have a dark and chilling film.
  There is a sequel to this film planned for this year, it should be interesting to see what will be done with the material a full nine years after the original. Iliana Fox will be back to raise her parts of Agata and Catalina from the grave and the director is on board but considering the ending I wonder where the story goes after its somewhat final ending.
  Overall this is a decent film with a haunted stretch of highway that has cause many deaths as we learn from the obsessed cop Ugalde (Carlos Aragón) then why is this not a very publicly known phenomena. The real plot hole in the film has to do with the location. When Agata is struck at Kilometre 31 Catalina runs downs the street to the location. So that means she lives on the route not far from the accident scene. So how does she not know about the haunting, or at least all the accidents and deaths at that location. Considering it is the route between her home and Mexico City how is it that she has not had a strange experience or eight. Once the plot delves in the trouble seems to happen every few nights.
  I liked the blurring of reality where the ghost world is merged in at times and the plot twist is one that is dark enough to hold attention. The director does a good job with some interesting visuals to enhance the effects. Particularly in the climax enhancing Nuno's hallucinations with background visuals that help separate his perceived reality from the actual setting he is in.  The ending is more than expected and for this viewer going with the expected route was enjoyable. This is not strongly recommended because the story could have been a lot cleaner. Some themes about Omar, Catalina, Agata and Nuno relationships were touched upon but some of the drama from those ideas were blunted by the ghost plot before fully being explored. Still I would recommend this film as a solid ghost story.

Monday, February 23, 2015

BSFFF Day 8: The Final Day ... for me

  That coughing you heard during the Saturday program was me. I apologize for the flu I passed on to each and every one of you who got it. At the time I though it was just the remnants of a cold I had a couple weeks earlier but it ended up being a full blown flu. This week after the events were over I ran a temperature of 101+ for two days before finally kicking it.  So needless to say I had to miss the Marathon not wanting to spread the plague any further. A sort of sad ending to what has been a really decent week of science fiction. This seems to be the cost of interacting with people for the last couple years I end up sick from whatever bug is going around the community.

One More Day (2014) - Touching little fantasy about a future where euthanasia is required at eighty years old. Sometimes though there is more living to be done and fighting the system is necessary. The short does a really nice job at creating a world where all the choice is removed from character's lives while showing a mask of caring. It also has the cutest golf cart escape you could have. The script is efficient and the emotions of the characters very connectable.
Hemera (2015) - For a 5 minute short this tells a complete story, creates a future and then tells of the interpersonal story of a couple trying to leave earth for the new planet Hemera. Some nice space shots also make this a fine little short.
Love and Other Devices (2014) - Artificial Intelligence avatar the Sirina S-2000--is being unveiled and the designer is having all kinds of issues getting it to work correctly. A commentary on male, female  relationship view points it missed with me although it was a bit funny at times. 15m;
As You Were (2014) - Could have been an advertisement for treating or injured war veterans better. In a not distant future where soldiers returning home with prosthetic limbs need support and understanding but instead are not accepted in society where a anti robotics movement is flourishing. Heavy on the value the wounded warrior and short on stop the wars that created them. Did have Actress Christine Woods who recently appeared on the Walking Dead. 22m;
One Day Some Day (2013) A very interesting scifi premise, what if everyday you woke up in the body of another person. For a day you had to live their life?  Then the next day you move onto another body for a day. The short wonders about the lessons the human race could learn focusing more to the positive ramifications instead of the drawbacks. Writer Director Arthur Cartwright has a very good idea he explores. 21m.

I was a Teenage Superhero Sidekick (2013) - I thought that  I was going to dislike this film more than I did. Not strong praise I know but whenever a title is so long that it is a sentence I become weary of the film that follows it. Hell the title could have been the tagline, but still the film was not as tongue in cheek as I worried and ended up being a nice little relationship film.

An Evening with Douglas Trumbull  - What seemed like a long advertisement for a new theatrical product Trumbull brought a bunch of ideas together in a presentation that was reasonably entertaining. Having worked on some really wonderful science fiction films in his time Trumbull has the gravitas to talk special effects all night. From the unmatched practically produced effects of 2001: A Space Oddyssey (1968) alone he could have spoken the entire night on how they executed the remarkable space effects. He worked also on Silent Running, Close Encounters of the Third Kind,   Blade Runner and most recently The Tree Of Life. Special effects though were just a small part of the nights conversation.
  A few other themes came from the presentation, one a new form of recording and projection that he and his team have been working on. Designed around high frame rates in both filming and projecting it is supposed to be an more natural way to view a film. His western Massachusetts farm, studio is the place to go to see this new process in action, and I sort of want to see it. The application of this new technology is not quite so clear cut. Since theaters and the movie industry have a structure for filming and showing films in place it seems unlikely that asking them to change equipment for the new system will ever go anywhere. Trumbull has that covered too. He is proposing modular theaters that can be constructed inside existing museums, malls etc. as a way to show films made in his new process. Certainly leaving it as a novelty this idea could at least get the process some exposure and thus giving the value a chance to be seen. There is still the problem of churn, where the proposed modular theaters are slated to have 40 or so seats this will effectively limit the length of the films produced for those theaters because the churn necessary to maximize the space will probably be somewhere around 20 minutes.
  Another theme for the night was the Overview Effect a documentary that has people who have been in space talking about the effect of seeing earth from space.

Trumbull who feels the need for us all to look at the Earth as a very small fragile thing floating in the vast darkness of space, showed the video to reenforce idea that this planet is close to a tipping point. We as a people need to start understanding just how little stands between us and the empty death of space.
  Another less enjoyable aspect of the night was the conversation that focused on his team building a mobile UFO hunting machine. I always loose just a bit of respect when people start talking about finding UFOs. So when this part of the talk came up I cringed just a bit. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I will allow that he may be just choosing a course so he can sell a television show, probably to SyFy.
  Overall the presentation showed a man following his interests in his later years. With resources Trumbull can certainly explore more thoroughly than most of us. He is still a smart man with ideas that could be relevant with some backing. The night was entertaining and I look forward to a trip out to see an example of his new filming process.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

BSFFF Day 7:

Boston Science Fiction Film Festival Day 7:

Kindred (2014) - Here is the synopsis from IMDB "A cynical young Indigenous man and his family are abducted by aliens. Leading them on a breathtaking escape, he discovers the aliens' origins, shattering his worldview forever."  What was cool about this is you don't often see an alien abduction movie where the people taken fight back causing the spaceship to crash. Well put together and very entertaining. The ending that is a selling point is not quite so mind shattering as it is being sold but still this is a decent short on the subject.

The Sighting (2013) - Put off by the premise of the film it was difficult to really take this character filmed story seriously from the start. Joshua (Doug Dezzani) a doctorate student working in emotional trauma gets approved to film a trip with his girlfriend Mia (Megan Reinking) to the location of her Mother's disappearance. This is a killer to the plot because that would just not happen in the real world. You would never base your work on someone you are having an intimate relationship with. The boundary issues, your ability to be objective and the patient's ability to to relate to you as a helper are all compromised. Now since this is a film it is necessary to suspend disbelief but this is a tall order.  The second drawback is having the characters film themselves, this is a tired form at this point 15 years after the Blair Witch Project brought the technique into wide use. It is understandable for financial reasons but it makes the viewing experience unpleasant. It is not too much to have a film look good as well as tell a good story.
  Past those substantial hurdles the film does a nice job balancing between what is real and imagined in Mia's story. When she was young she was abandoned by her mother on a desert road near the New Mexico town she lived in. In her memories her Mother was abducted by aliens and with the alcoholism of her father it meant a hard life for Mia growing up in foster care. What is first defined as a yearly depression at the time of year her Mom vanished we get to journey with this couple as they visit the location and the dynamic of the story change. Josh who is at first a sympathetic boyfriend trying to help his girl reconcile her past he become more of an antagonist as Mia's alien abduction story gains momentum. We watch and learn of his inability accept her story and see his agenda is not to learn about her story but instead to help her accept that it is not possible. Mia ends up being the more sympathetic character while Joshua seems like a bit of an ass.
  In the end though this is an alien abduction story so know what to expect.

The Noah (1975) - An interesting choice for the science fiction festival fitting in as an apocalyptic film but could easily have been mistaken for a castaway film. The desire to have this one was because it was a lost film for 40 years before a print was discovered. Garen Daly who puts on the film festival made the viewing memorable by bring writer, director Daniel Bourla on hand to see the film on the big screen for the first time since it's discovery. The film as a whole was just okay a one man act played out with the voice over of the voices in his head. Lead actor Robert Strauss rants and raves his way from lonely stranded soldier to a God and back to a lonely man in an inventive monologue. The cacophony of noise in his head may have or may not have helped him keep his sanity. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

BSFFF Day 6: Doctor Who!

Genesis Ring (2014) Well I really felt for film maker Deigh Kelin after his film finished playing. In attendance unannounced to the audience he got to hear an earful about the work he spent a year creating. Many people were not kind in their opinions of this meditative but thin tale of a bleak future where the characters in the film make a play for a brighter future. Stylish to a fault with long panning shots, minimalist dialog and the most slender of plots, where the viewer almost gets to watch the journey outside the city in real time. The feature could have really used the old film making adage "In late, out early" as every scene was too adoring of color, mood or movement. Mixed in was the idea of immortal beings and how they would view the world. Interesting that one monologue states that originality would be seen as nonexistent. Having seen endless cycles of ah hah moments the immortal would recognized that everything they are seeing has been done before. That it is mortality that allows us to think we are seeing an inspired piece of art. Sadly at only 51 yrs I can say I have seen this film before, a meditation on how to look at art and creativity by someone who has to learn first to tell a story. Hopefully Deigh will take this experience as an opportunity to reach for his next ah-hah moment.

The final two films were a real treat for us old timers and next to the film Blessid probably the best attended films of the festival so far. Made at the time of the first Doctor they are unique little films developed before the idea of regeneration became part of the story. Both of these films star the great Peter Cushing as the doctor, but more a clever earthling than a time lord of Gallifrey. On a personal note, being a fan since public television started air the Tom Baker Doctor in the late 70s it was a real treat to see both these films on the big screen. Neither is more than an entertaining novelty but both were enjoyable.