Only two films to discuss here, but both of them well worth their own little space in this...series? Better stop with the introduction before I get too full of myself. Graded on the different types of horror to suit each taste. Not graded on a curve. Here we go...
Aside from The Blair Witch Project found footage movies are about as appealing to me as watching a slide show of your Carnival Cruise vacation. Horrific in all the wrong ways and just as boring. What gets most tiresome about them are the labored comments about why people continue to film as some rampaging demon/ghost/backwoods creep chases them. Just one of the (many) great things about V/H/S is the simple and clever ways it justifies the camera to keep rolling without getting in the way of the stories' momentum.
Speaking of momentum, it would be too easy (and too boring) to get into the plots of each of the the stories, so lets just say if your taste is for the "monsters" of the eighties pared with the grainy gore of the seventies you will be well satisfied. There is a great deal of talent behind the cameras in V/H/S. Ti West of The House of the Devil, the film I like and you don't (pushes glasses up nose with forefinger motion), has a segment that, while not as instantly satisfying as the others, lingers with you long afterwards. Simon Barrett, author of the amazing The Guest, and Adam Wingard, director of the amazing The Guest, created the wraparound story. Barrett also wrote a story involving two Skype users that has a nice, odd twist.
I'm trying to keep these reviews short, one to two paragraphs at most. Obviously I blew it with V/H/S but there is just too much to say, even when you're trying to be spoiler-free. This film, with all its talented contributors, really leads you down the internet rabbit-hole so rest assured I will be writing some reviews in the future based on the writers/directors/actors I discovered watching V/H/S. Not for the faint of heart, but if you don't want to be scared why are you watching horror movies anyway?
General Horror Fans: A
Jump Scare Fans: B+
Creepy Vibe Fans: B+
Gore Hounds: A
Yours Truly: A+
So, even though you know the plot, you still should do yourself a favor and check out Halloween III. Panned by everybody when it came out, the film is now getting a revival thanks in no small part to John Carpenter's excellent score, Dean Cundey's lighting and cinematography, and director Tommy Lee Wallace penchant for weirdness (gotta give Fright Night 2 another watch!). It is obviously no overstatement to say the world is a better place thanks to weird, wonderful movies like Halloween III.
Halloween III Grades
General Horror Fans: B
Jump Scare Fans: C
Creepy Vibe Fans: B-
Gore Hounds: B-
Yours Truly: A+
In between keeping my children occupied as we hunker down for a LONG time at home together I have been able to catch up on some films I've wanted to see, but not had the time to watch. So when I take a break from writing projects or reading WAY to many news articles I wind down with some horror movies which, no matter how good they are, don't seem so scary anymore. As you may have noticed (anyone out there?) I have not kept up with the blog. Life gets in the way of plans sometimes. But, in order to be a bit more frequent, I'm going to review each movie after I see it. Since my first viewings piled up I will tackle them all in this post, then review the rest as I see them. Me being a teacher with nothing to grade, I'm going to do the old-school grade method for different horror and general movie types. So, without further ado, here we go!
The scene is horrifying, akin to a gang-rape, but severely undercut by jokes about the band members looking up sacrificial rites on google. I suppose it shows their callousness, but I think the scene was played for laughs so it just didn't sit well with me. Uncomfortable for the wrong reasons, and if directed by a man could've been interpreted as insensitive at best.
Beyond that, its just not scary because to my mind, Jennifer is the victim here. Played as a body horror from her perspective, and as a revenge movie if she got the opportunity to go after the band, I think this could've been great. Something like "The Fly" meets "I Spit on Your Grave." But it is basically mediocre fun, worth watching, but more interesting to talk about as how it could've been done differently. If you like Diablo Cody's writing and are interested in discovering how Megan Fox is actually a good actress and can carry a movie when given the chance, it is worth a watch. If you do watch it, do yourself a favor and watch the unrated cut. Not at least to watch a Maxim cover star puke up blood.
Jennifer's Body Grades:
A haunted mirror, ooooohhhh, scary. Well, actually, it was. Honestly, if I didn't know Mike Flanagan of House on Haunted Hill fame directed this I probably wouldn't have checked it out and my life as an unread blogger would've have been less meaningful by it. I thoroughly enjoyed Oculus, even though it takes a bit to get going. I love the interweaving of the protagonists childhood and adult interactions with the mirror, and it pays off particularly well at the end. It not only serves as backstory, but is pivotal to the plot and how the mirror can deceive people. Don't want to give away too much with this one. A classy, well made film. Never cheap or gimmicky with its scares, and you get to see Karen Gillian without blue make up.
This one had been recommended to me many times, and I can see why. I loved it, and want to watch it again some time in the future, but I can't universally recommend it. If you love slow burn, not much happening, mood pieces this is a movie for you. If you don't want to sit though a woman walking the halls of a house for about an hour before anything plot-worthy occurs you should give it a pass. It is heavy on late 70's early 80's aesthetics. Director Ti West even filmed this movie with FILM on cameras of the era! So it looks great, has that creepy, exploitative grain to it. But not a lot happens. and when it does it may not be enough for viewers who want more bang for their buck.
So after finishing ANOTHER revision of The Illusion Queen I decided to take up sketching while I wait for the proof-read and the cover art to come in. I did try some writing but the burn out was pretty obvious. It can be exhausting to write, even on a good day, and I needed a creative outlet that would help me charge up for the final push of proofing and putting the book together.
This is my latest sketch, of one of my favorite subjects, the silent film actress Anna May Wong. What appealed to me about this one was the pose (so far I have just done faces) and the way the light outlines her face and arm. I was pretty happy with this, but I would definitely put more work in the details on the armband, hands, and dress next time around.
This is from a photo of a young Gary Cooper. It was my first attempt at a profile, and aside from making his forehead dip too steeply I was pretty happy with it. It was also the first one that didn't elicit laughs from my children when they saw it.
The intensity of his stare and the way the cigarette dangled from his lips is what drew me to this portrait. If I was a writer in the 1930s I would do a pose like this for my book jacket!
This is the upraised fist of Nelson Mandela. Hands are a challenge, and this one especially because it is very different from my own. The image itself appealed to me, but also the shape of the fingers and the challenge of making it somewhat three dimensional. I have also tried drawing Mandela's portrait, with far less success.
My art teacher helped me greatly with this. Her help was invaluable in learning how to get the angles right, and telling me how to draw shadows, not lines, to make a more realistic look.
Another portrait of Anna May Wong (told you she was one of my favorite subjects). I would redo the hair, and I don't think I quite captured the slightly mischievous smile on the photo. This was a challenge. The slight angle on her face from looking over her shoulder made drawing the eyes the most labor intensive part. Not entirely successful, but far better than my first attempt, where I ended up making her look like she was transforming into an alien.
I've really enjoyed my break from writing, and want to continue sketching whenever I have the time. The fun part for me is the feeling that, by drawing people from the past, I am in a way bringing them back to life. Not trying to sound pretentious, but it struck me how it really did feel that way as I finished the portrait on the top!
Of course this is a crazy idea because we saw her funeral. Well, the funeral contains one of the key clues that Padme faked her death. For one, whoever prepared her for the funeral made her look pregnant to deceive Anakin that his children were also dead. But how would that person know to place Anankin’s Japor necklace in Padme’s hands? The only person, er…thing, present when Anakin gave it to Padme was a snoring Jar Jar. As far as I can tell she is never seen wearing it again, so how would anyone know the necklace had any significance at all for her? Who, besides Padme, would even think to place it in her hands?
I'd been listening to Mica Levi's astounding soundtrack for months, and I was almost afraid to watch this because if it sucked I wouldn't be able to separate the two. Lucky for me it didn't. This is not really a bio-pic (which I usually loathe), more of a snapshot in time. Gave me the courage to try out a couple more dramas, which I usually avoid on flights.
RIFFTRAX does R.O.T.O.R.
I could do a whole post on this hilarious train wreck of a movie. When you are watching a bad movie alone, having either Rifftrax or Red Letter Media commentaries to help you through it is essential. The scene where two characters are doing something pointless in the foreground while a skunk-haired scientist-woman is kung-fu fighting the robot killer in the background is the most unintentionally hilarious scene in cinema history.