Contemporary horror master Eli Roth is back in the director’s chair, after 7 years of not directing a feature film. After releasing Hostel: Part II in 2007, Roth directed the short film within a film Nation’s Pride for Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, he wrote two rather disappointing films (Aftershock and The Man with the Iron Fists), he tried acting again (please, don’t) and of course he’s been super busy slapping his awesome name on every new horror film, I’m sorry, I mean he’s been doing a lot of producing. Continue reading
Here’s something cute. It’s always fascinating to see where artists get their inspiration from. Sometimes it comes from the most obscure and random places like South Asia, and then it lands in one of the most beloved horror films of all time: Joe Dante’s Gremlins (1984) produced by no one other than Steven Spielberg. The creatures in question are the iconic Mogwais, which bear a lot of resemblance with a real animal that lives in the Indian subcontinent: The Grey langur. The langur is a monkey of the Semnopithecus species and likes to chill in the Himalayan area and in Thailand. But what about late post midnight snacks? Continue reading
Jeffrey (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) just killed his business partner and his estranged wife. He’s now taking his two daughters Victoria (Megan Charpentier) and Lilly (Isabelle Nélisse) and driving them to who knows where. The road is icy and he’s driving like a maniac. They have an accident: The car slides down the mountain and into the woods. They find a cabin. Time to kill the children and then himself, but not on Mama’s watch. Who’s Mama? A mysterious figure with long black hair and super skinny arms. She saves the two innocent girls, but can they really grow up in the woods with a ghost? Continue reading
Lisa (Abigail Breslin) is a fifteen year old who can never turn sixteen, because she lives in a house where she just re-lives the same day over and over again. Yes, it’s just like Groundhog Day only with ghosts, 70s fashion and no Bill Murray. Lisa tries to uncover the mystery of why she is trapped in this house with her family. She tries to go out, but that doesn’t work. She travels time, she eats a lot of meatloaf and she re-watches the same episode of Murder She Wrote until she just can’t fucking take it anymore, and who can blame her? That Angela Lansbury is one annoying bitch, like my grandmother (RIP) used to say and my grandmother was a great person. Continue reading
Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) is still trapped in the body of a creepy 80s doll named Chucky. On his sixth adventure Chucky is shipped to a seemingly random family: A middle-aged mother (Chantal Quesnelle) and her young disabled daughter (Fiona Dourif), living in the middle of nowhere (of course). The redheaded doll gets immediately trashed, but then obviously it’s only a matter of time until he takes revenge. However: Why this family in particular? Why the new haircut? And why were the practical effects on the Chucky doll better 25 years ago? C’est un mystère! Continue reading
Marko (Mihajlo Jovanovic) is a struggling filmmaker who can’t raise money for his high-concept sci-fi horror adventures. One day out of the blue he meets a vicious porn producer who introduces him to the world of adult filmmaking. Not satisfied with the unsurprising lack of artistic interest in the pornographic community Marko decides to hire a colorful group of adult film actors and set up a traveling sex show. The first porn cabaret, as he likes to call it, turns out to be quite the fiasco. Nobody in Serbia cares about watching a bunch of people fucking each other, while unsubtly promoting some sort of social commentary. The porno gang is struggling. There is no food. They live in the woods. Drugs keep their minds off things. Then one day, Marko meets a snuff film producer. He offers him a deal he can’t refuse: To film murder. Naturally they’re going to kill only people who agree to die and some of the money will go to the deceased’s family. Still, this is the beginning of the end of the porno gang. Continue reading
Fiend Without a Face (1958) – 6.5 (IMDb 6.1) – Sci-Fi, Horror, Criterion (UK)
One of the few horror films in the Criterion Collection, so of course I had to check it out. While I liked the story and the cheesiness, I can’t say that I was a fan of the “creatures” and especially the creature design (it’s disgusting, but not in a good way) or how everything had to be explained to the viewer. Were they afraid we were too dumb to “get it”? Fiend Without a Face is set during the cold war, when all the atomic energy hysteria and “invisible” enemy stuff was hot and on everybody’s mind. The film follows a military officer who tires to stop an unidentified menace, save the girl and make America safe once more, for it is the biggest and best country in the world. Sorry, I was just rambling, like this film! I liked the photography, so many 50s sci-fi films felt they needed to go Technicolor, but I’m glad these guys chose to shoot in black & white. The sets looked a bit too much like sets. The acting is all right, I especially appreciated the writers writing a strong female part, well, for the 50s anyway. That’s all I have to say.
Among Friends (2012) – 4 (IMDb 4.4) – Horror, Comedy (USA)
I hate to do this because I think Danielle Harris is a very cool and cute horror actress, however her directing skills aren’t nearly as praise-worthy. Among Friends is an unoriginal, tired and clichéd horror films that isn’t scary or funny. Unfortunately almost everything about this movie is bad and not all of it is Harris’ fault of course, but man, what a train-wreck. The story follows a bunch of young adults that gather together for some sort of reunion only to find out that their host is a completely deranged maniac. The concept per se is fairly interesting (although not new or anything), but what the film does is standard genre fare. There’s not enough gore or scares in my opinion. You never really care about the characters, as you don’t know them very well and most of them seem to be horrible people. At the end of the day if you can’t sympathize with anyone in the film, what are the stakes? There are however some good things about the film as well. Not all the acting is bad, there are some cute little shots only that added a “girly” touch, I wish she had done more of that and it was good to see Danielle Harris in a cameo. Like I said I like her and I want her to succeed, I just hope she picks a more interesting project the next time. This was Harris’ directorial début and I’m sure it’s all uphill from here.
Welcome to another weekly update of the movies I watched during the past week.
Being back home for the summer I try to watch as many films as possible with my family. Naturally they prefer more recent stuff, so that’s what my weekly viewings with them will focus on. Coincidentally, there were also a lot of new releases that I wanted to review and so this past week I ended up watching a lot of ‘newer’ films. My brother being mostly a horror and comedy guy, that was how I picked the movies in terms of genre.
As for the ‘meh’ or ‘just-okay’ films I’ve seen, I only have one on my list and that would be the Maniac remake. In case you haven’t read my review yet, click this.
Like every week I like to turn over the question to you and ask: What ‘meh’ movies did you watch last week?
Thank you for reading my blog.
Today I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Tim Buel’s short horror films are readily available on YouTube. Three of the Californian filmmaker’s shorts have been uploaded so far: Unaired (2009), On That Day (2010) and Outcast (2011). Every one of those is well worth checking out, especially if you’re a genre fan like yours truly.
Unaired (2009) is Tim’s spin on the found footage sub-genre. It revolves around a television crew, shooting a reality show on paranormal phenomena. Much like in Grave Encounters (2011), the troupe ends up being stuck in a real haunted house, unlike that movie (that came out 2 years later) this one shows you less, and that’s why it’s more successful. It’s also half the runtime and overall feels more fresh and fun. The filmmaker realizes the faux documentary angle is a gimmick and understands its limitations, but manages to respect the “rules” the format imposes and doesn’t sway from it.
I watched this one last (I started with On That Day and then went on to Outcast), but I would have to say this is my favorite of his. As a huge fan of the found footage/paranormal sub-genre I’ve seen a lot of formulaic and poorly executed films, but this one is actually quite intense and gripping. It really sucks you in and doesn’t let you go until it’s done, and that’s what you want from a good genre picture. If you know anything about sound design there’s also something for you to appreciate on that level.
On That Day (2010) is Buel’s vision of the classic zombie apocalypse, set in the suburbs. Unlike most zombie flicks in this one the characters are ready for it and seem to be excited about the idea of killing the undead. What sticks out in On That Day is the kickass soundtrack/score, composed by Tim himself. Again, although we’ve seen zombie films a hundred times, this one is definitely done with a lot of feeling, for what works and what doesn’t. Being a sucker for everything with a suburban setting of course I was going to enjoy this one. Clocking in at less than four minutes this is his shortest short.
Changing sub-genre once more with Outcast (2011) Tim does a vampire film. In his own words this is: “A short film about a normal young man who is turned against his will into a creature of the night. He must now live the life he didn’t ask for as an Outcast”. Personally I think that the vampire sub-genre is the trickiest one to succeed in, because of its complexity. This one managed to keep my interest because of the romantic subplot, which was handled and balanced very well with the horror elements in the film. The Trent Reznor-esque score and excellent sound design help enhance the experience, while creating a very specific mood and atmosphere. Being his newest available film I also noticed an improvement in the visual department.
All in all Tim Buel’s films are fun and refreshing takes on old and dusty horror tropes. His shorts distinguish themselves for their tone and atmosphere, but also their heart and genuine love for the genre while combining his passion for music. Besides being multi-talented he also seems like a very likable guy, which translates into his scripts and films in that you like spending time in the worlds he creates. His cameos are always fun to spot and prove that he has a sense of humor. He also seems to have a lot of fun doing these movies with his friends and family, which is always the key ingredient in crafting a successful film, or any piece of art.
Tim Buel is also the co-host of The Golden Briefcase podcast on FirstShowing.net with fellow filmmaker Jeremy K. Kirk. Every week Tim and Jeremy are joined by a guest that is as knowledgeable and charming, to talk new releases, trailers and topics related to the films hitting theaters on the respective weekend. Tune in for great recommendations and get to know their guests, through funny and insightful discussions.