Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Gothic (1986)

Every once in a while, I enjoy venturing back into the 1980s to find a classic film I enjoyed during my teenage years. While many discount that decade, there was some great cinema created, especially in the horror genre. One of my favorites from that decade is my next selection; the 1986 entry Gothic. 

Plot/ This is the story of the night that Mary Shelley gave birth to the horror classic "Frankenstein." Disturbed drug induced games are played and ghost stories are told one rainy night at the mad Lord Byron's country estate. 

Ken Russell’s Gothic is one of my favorite movies from the 1980s. Atmospheric, dark, and intriguing, this interpretation of how the classic Frankenstein came to life is an interesting flick. The acting is solid, the script is entertaining and the storyline comes to life on the screen with its stunning imagery. Yes, it does have some incoherent moments, pacing issues and may be a bit complex in many areas, but those flaws are extremely minor. In the end, if you enjoy surreal horror that provides some food for thought, you must see this film. Not for everyone, this is an entertaining flick that offers a stimulating story as to how a horror icon was created. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

I Spit on Your Grave (1978)

It is funny, Hollywood continually remake movies that often do not need that type of treatment. One such movie is I Spit on Your Grave. While I have not watched the remake, it is clearly a film that did not need to be remade. Straightforward and powerful, that movie made an impact in one viewing during the 1980s when it finally came off the banned movie list. Last night, I decided to watch it again.

Plot/ An aspiring writer is repeatedly gang-raped, humiliated, and left for dead by four men whom she systematically hunts down to seek revenge.

I remember seeing this one for the first time in the 1980s and I was shocked at the pure violent acts that took place. When I watched this one again last night for the first time since, the same appalling feelings filled my mind. This is not a typical exploitation flick from the 1970s; it is purely the terror of rape and the type of revenge that could develop. This is straightforward and lacks the cinematic efforts that often try to sugarcoat the degrading act. While the acting is uneven, the characters rather flat an unlikeable, the movie works by instilling a sense of realness in creating the true horror of an unthinkable act. In the end, I Spit on Your Grave (AKA Day of the Woman) is not for everyone. But it is a movie that is much better than may realize and one that will leave a lasting impression if you can make it through it.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Hollywoodland (2006)

While I was resting my back, which I injured the other day, I decided to find something a touch different to keep me company. What I wanted was a nice mystery, or true crime entry, to possibly help my creative mind focus. After some searching, I stumbled upon the 2006 entry, Hollywoodland.

Plot/ Struggling private investigator Louis Simo is hired to investigate the death of George Reeves, televisions Superman.

Hollywoodland was an awesome interpretation of historic event that remains a mystery today. While true crime movies often suffer from characterization flaws, this one is different. Between the solid script, standout performances, and heavy atmosphere, this movie delivers where many in the genre fail. While not my favorite actor, Ben Affleck does a tremendous job bringing the Reeves to life. Yes, some of the flashbacks add some unneeded confusion and the pacing may be a touch slow in parts, but that does little to stop this one. In the end, this was an entertaining movie that dove deep into one of the biggest unsolved Hollywood mysteries. If you have not seen it and enjoy crime/mystery dramas, give it a shot.

Friday, April 18, 2014

You Can Help Support the Road Trip of the Dead

Many people believe that the birthplace of the zombie genre is centered in the Pittsburgh area. That comes for a great reason. Director George A. Romero has centered many of his masterpieces in and around the Steel City. Horror fans from across the globe hit the city and the surrounding area to find these horror hotspots. Of course, much as that landscape has disappeared over the years and they discover a much different backdrop.

Today, a couple of independent filmmakers (with help from Pittsburgh original, Iron City beer) are setting out to create a movie focused on these horror fans. Unfortunately, what they find is not what they expected and their documentary runs awry.

With any low-budget entry, the filmmakers need support to give their vision life.  At this point, they have secured commitments for horror icon Tom Savini, and Night of the Living Dead alum Gary Streiner (Living Dead Festival) to make appearances in the film, which is a reality-based slasher instead of the somewhat predictable zombie entry.

To help with this endeavor, creators William Sanders and Kevin Kriess launched an Indiegogo campaign to help fund the film and could use all the help they can get to boost their subsidy efforts. Road Trip of the Dead looks like an awesome project and one that should make any SW Pennsylvania horror fan excited to help out; for more information on this movie, check out their facebook page or their Indiegogo site.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

We Are What We Are (2013)

I often enjoy finding time to sneak in a unknown horror flick. That is exactly what happened last night after Repo, when the rest of the house went to bed. After some debate, I decided on the 2013 low budget entry, We Are What We Are.

Plot/ The Parkers, a reclusive family who follow ancient customs, find their secret existence threatened as a torrential downpour moves into their area, forcing daughters Iris and Rose to assume responsibilities beyond those of a typical family.

As usual, I went into this one knowing very little and what I found; I absolutely loved. Relying more on atmosphere, story, and soundtrack this film rises way above many of the other low budget movies that have been released in some time. This film was well made, with outstanding cinematography, solid acting, and detail-oriented script. While the pacing is spot on, there is are some uneven moments sprinkled in that will potentially turn off some viewers who are obsessed by quick-twitch scares. In the end, this was an entertaining movie with a dark tension being permeated throughout. It is not for everyone, but if you enjoy dark atmospheric films, you should enjoy it.