Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Call of Cthulhu (2005)

After a week or so traveling, it was nice to get home and enjoy some good entertainment. Having the house to myself, it was also nice to be able to enjoy something a little more artsy than usual, with the quiet allowing my to enjoy one of my favorite elements in filmmaking, the silent film. While, I could have chosen a time tested classic, I decided to take on a modern entry, with the 2005 adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhlu.

Plot/ The Call of Cthulhu is HP Lovecraft's most famous story. It is the only story to feature the celebrated monster Cthulhu and in many ways it encapsulates the ideas that went on to permeated Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. The film follows the story's three-part narrative construction, and it moves from the 1920s to 1908 to the1870s and back, as the story does. The story embodies Lovecraft’s nihilistic world view, his cosmic perspective, and his sense that mankind is doomed by its own insignificance. In the story, a dying professor leaves his great-nephew a collection of documents pertaining to the Cthulhu Cult. The nephew begins to learn why the study of the cult so fascinated his grandfather. Bit-by-bit he begins piecing together the dread implications of his grandfather's inquiries, and soon he takes on investigating the Cthulhu cult as a crusade of his own. As he pieces together the dreadful and disturbing reality of the situation, his own sanity begins to crumble. In the end, he passes the torch to his psychiatrist, who in turn hears Cthulhu's call.

I have to admit that this movie blew me away. As a fan of black and white silent films and H. P. Lovecraft, this flick came together as a perfect entry for me. It is clear that the director has many of those same feelings because the care and respect that went into this film is visible from the start. While roughly only 45 minutes, the atmosphere created by the 1920s cinematography is incredible. The acting is solid complete with the over-the-top expressions required by the project and the soundtrack is the perfect glue to bring everything together. Do not get me wrong, there are a few flaws (especially the stop motion sequences with Cthulhu), but in the end, it does not matter. If you are a fan on Lovecraft, this is a must see! However, if you are looking for gore and a modern take on his work, this may not be for you.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

ETSY Update

As I finish up a few small things before embarking on my trip, I figured I would take some time and finally add some things and update my ETSY page. So, after digging around I decided to add some Cabinet of Curiosity Items and a OOAK Zombie Statue (cake topper), along with some more great vintage horror magazines.

Do You Like Hitchcock? (2005)

As I prepare to take a brief vacation, I decided to enjoy some more Dario Argento. My choice, 2005s Do You Like Hitchcock? (Ti piace Hitchcock?)  Often cited as the Italian Hitchcock, Argento may be the perfect person to try to recapture some of the genius created by Alfred.

Plot / A college film student, obsessed with the works of Alfred Hitchcock, investigates a murder committed in the apartment building across from his and suspects that his seductive neighbor hired a girlfriend to commit the deed.

This tribute to legendary filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock may lack the gore that Argento is often noted for, but it is a solid effort. The made for TV tribute centers around the Hitchcock classics Rear Window and Strangers on a Train. While not really a scary flick, there is an air of suspense and some creepiness. The acting is solid and the plot is outstanding, and Argento does a great job at weaving some of his stylish scenes into the constructs of the movie. Like I mentioned earlier, being a made for television entry, the gore is almost non-existent and can never compare to his classic entries, so gory giallo fans may be turned off. However, if you are like me, and enjoy the work of Hitchcock, you will find it an extremely entertaining film.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Opera (1987)

After being almost driven to sleep by The Nun, I decided to move onto something that I was sure to perk up my mood, Horror Maestro Dario Argento’s Opera.

Plot / A young opera singer gets her big chance when the previous star of a production of Verdi's Macbeth is run over by a car. Convinced the opera is bad luck she accepts, and becomes the target of a psychopath - a man she has been dreaming of since childhood.

True to Argento’s work this is again one of the one of the most stylish Horror movies of the genre. While the film comes together as an incoherent combination of slasher and giallo, much of the plot is rather simple (layered but simple) featuring his inventive and often gruesome death scenes. The acting is sound, the visual effects definitely become creepy and the cinematography is tremendous (pins on the eyes and raven’s, who could ask for more?). It appeared that everything was there to make this a truly great movie. However, the strange additions of heavy metal to the soundtrack and the almost pointless ending (which almost seems like a forced appendage) really take something away from the overall appearance of the film. In the end, this remains an underrated effort by Argento, yes, it is not his best work, but it is an entertaining foray into the depths of horror and one that should be seen if you have the chance.

The Nun (2005)

This has been a week! Sickness overtook the house, forcing me to take my six year-old to her first concert (a horror show in its own right), followed quickly by my body being overtaken by the same virus that got some of the family. Feeling a bit better, I decided to take a cue from my Girls and Corpses Magazine that talked about nunsploityation flicks, with none of the recommended titles available, I chose the The Nun (La Monja).

Plot / A group of teenage girls are terrorized by Sister Ursula, a nun that believes she must rid the world of all sin. After Sister Ursula mysteriously disappears, the Catholic school is closed. Many years later, a ghostly nun terrorizes all of the grown up women. The daughter of one of the women sets out to find out what happened all those years ago.

This movie started very promising, building some intrigue and suspense. Unfortunately, that promise quickly turned into a combination of bad acting and cliché (I even had a Twilight Zone flashback at one point) that definitely ruined what could have been a decent flick. The plot, the acting, and the sound quality offset the production value and some decent special effects (especially with the water). The cinematography, eerie soundtrack and solid editing do offer some bright spots, but even that cannot save this. True, there is some gore, but not enough to warrant watching this film ever again. Some horror fans may like it, but I recommend staying away.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Walking Dead - Episode 3 - Tell It To The Frogs

 As my Steelers sucked last night, I decided to turn that boring game off and enjoy some zombies. So far, the Walking Dead has been a great addition to my television viewing, I just hope that trend continues.

Plot / Rick and the gang drive out of Atlanta and to the survivor’s camp along with Glenn in his noisier than all hell sports car. Rick finally meets up with the rest of the survivors, including his wife and son, as his best friend and former partner Shane, who just happens to have been having a post zombie-apocalypse affair with Rick’s wife Lori. By the end, some survivors were heading back to Atlanta to rescue the despicable Merle Dixon, who they left on a rooftop in the last episode, and grab the bag of weapons that Rick lost in his pre-tank scuffle with the zombie horde in episode one.

This episode spends it time establishing what life is like at the survivors camp, introducing us the to key characters in the series, something that is needed. While there are some touching moments and solid character development, the overall feel of the episode was a bit plodding and dry. While the cinematography and visual effects were sound, the slow pace really detracted from what was started by the first two episodes of the series. I can only hope that things start picking up again in the next show.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Manitou (1978)

After taking a couple days off from Netflix or my DVD collection, I wanted to get back into the horror genre. So, as I was grinding some bones for a project for my Cabinet of Curiosity, I decided to watch something with my daughters, our selection for the evening was the 1978 horror comedy The Manitou.

Plot / A psychic's girlfriend finds out that a lump on her back is a growing reincarnation of a 400 year-old demonic Native American spirit.

Wow, I know it had been a while since I had seen this movie, but man, did I remember it differently. Yes, I knew it was silly and laughable, but it was a lot worse than I remembered. While the acting and scripting is passable, this horror comedy fails to excite. One of the features that gets to me (especially in this modern era) are the special effects. Some of them are truly top notch, while others are about the most miserable attempt at an effect (even for that age. One of the best parts is the creepy shaman, wow; short people can wield some powers. However, the not even a beautiful set of breast could rescue the ending from the cheesy sci-fi space and lightning bolt scene (not to mention the lizard, where did which come from?) In the end, it is what it is, a cheesy 1970s horror comedy. Sure, it really is quite ridiculous but there are far worse films out there than this one.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Walking Dead - Episode 2 - Guts

As I prepare for a new week, I figured it was time to finish my review of The Walking Dead. Today’s entry, Episode 2, Guts, from November 7, 2010.

Plot / Stuck in the tank, help comes to Rick in the form of a voice at the other end of two-way radio. The voice - Glen - has eyes on Rick’s position, and advises him on which direction to make a run for. They meet up and make it into a department store, where a few other survivors (a supply team from the camp outside the city) are holed up. Unable to travel by sewer to escape, the survivors take to another more dangerous method for potential escape.

While not nearly as good as the pilot, episode two Guts, continues to show that The Walking Dead is a brilliantly made show. However, it is far from perfect. The characters to this point have been very stereotypical of the genre and their development has been lacking. Yes, the acting has been solid, but the bouncing storylines and lack of characterization could become problematic. So far, this has been a great example of atmosphere and zombies, but less dialogue and more action would be a welcome sight. Do not get me wrong, I will keep coming back for more because I am a huge zombie fan, but for the passer by, it may take a lot more to keep them interested.