Wednesday, 30 June 2010
People are closer to the Bill Hicks trope of "What are you reading for?" and in one of the previous buildings where I worked, one call centre worker proudly scoffed about how he'd not read a single book since age eleven. What a c**t.
Anyway, I saw a film. That's what all of this is about. I saw a film from Canada and it was low budget, but kind of fun. Pontypool. But not the Welsh one, the Canadian one. I know, I wasn't aware of that either, and what a name to choose. It's based on "Pontypool Changes Everything" which sounds a bit mad.
We're introduced to an old radio dj who wants to be Howard Stern and anyone else vaguely controversial. Actual controversial, not Chris Moyles cuntroversial (and I bet Censor-Bot doesn't block that, see how I flaunt these loopholes in e-mail rules!) He has two women working with him, his producer and a young Afghanistan war vet who's their techie and looks like she's only just old enough to be in a teen tv show. I'm surprised I've not seen her in Degrassi, my teen show/trauma vehicle of choice.
Things start simply enough although they bicker on and off-air constantly about the dj wanting to rant and the producer wanting him to get on with local news and weather (delivered by a man in a car pretending to be in a helicopter). There are hints things aren't right like people not being here in the radio station/disused church for work. Then we start getting information called in to the station about a riot outside a doctor's office. The terms used are not only indicative of a zombie outbreak, but simultaniously not. There's word of people piling on folks, of them babbling the same thing over and over, about U-boats and things like that.
Confused, the rebellious dj breaks the news, but isn't sure what's going on and when pressed by the BBC keeps things under wraps. Auntie thinks it's terrorists, which in Canada seems like a weird idea. What's there to bomb? Who'd want to kill LoadingReadyRun? Given I've never heard your stance on them, possibly you, but I'm a fan. The portrayal of the BBC seems to be that they're looking for confirmation on their own beliefs rather than finding something out. That's a bit more American isn't it?
Anyway, contact with the outside lessens and lessens until we get a few moments where you wonder if any of the cast are infected as they're saying strange things or repeating phrases. One of them, it turns out, is. The Afghanistan vet girl starts making a high pitched noise and isn't responsive, about the same time as a Groucho Marx/Robert Winston-looking doctor turns up. He's escaped the riot of zombies outside his surgery and provides exposition with easily the worst acting in the film. They lock themselves in the radio booth as the war vet techie starts looking for them. At first she's acting normal, but can't seem to see them when she can't hear them. Then she attacks the glass of the booth, running into it head-first. Then she starts eating her own mouth. When I was kicked in the mouth at age 12 or 13, pushing a couple of teeth through my lower lip, I did develop a slight habit of gnawing at the giant bloody scab to stop it growing over my face. A horrid habit. Still, she takes it a bit far. Then, looking like a low-rent Joker, she continues headbutting the glass before vomiting herself inside out and dying.
During all of this, the doctor explains that it's the language which is infected! Yes, you heard me. The English language is infected. A bit Grant Morrison, so I'll let it slide. It's a strange premise to undertake, but why not. It can't be any less reasonable than Zombie Rednecks' infected still or Condemned 2's sonar hubcap things.
More audio-zombies appear, repeating anything that's said and banging against the glass of the booth. Communicating in writing, then in French, the dj and producer determine that the doctor's crazy and when they come up with a way to ditch the infected, they flee.
The fleeing and talking in French fall through a few times. I don't know if their repeated giving up on the French is to fill a quota of English in a film to allow an American release (which is, if I recall correctly, a real thing).
The escape fails hideously but the dj realises something which again, ticks the Grant Morrison buttons. I'm realising I keep going back to the mad scotsman as a frame of reference, but he is my favourite comic book writer and if I will watch surreal films, then comparisons will be made. Anyway, the cure. Apparently it's to make the words lose sense. Say something enough, write something enough and it starts to lose meaning in your head. The infected words seemed to be words of love, hate, anything with emotional resonance.
Deciding to do the right thing rather than escape, the dj and the cured producer head back down to the booth and start spreading the cure by saying word-substitution gibberish. We hear helicopters overhead and as our diminished cast say random things, we don't know if the 'cure' is setting in and we can hear the helicopter believing that our babbling duo are infected. They're acting just like the zombies after all. One of the things I guess I've not touched on as much is the idea that apparently the infected are people flipping out as their aphasia and their mental faculties are going all wibbly. Then, much like Night of the Living Dead and any zombie movie with government types, it's explodey doom time.
We get the inevitable scene during the end-credits where we hear noises that the virus isn't just in Pontypool anymore. Then a coda which is a bit more Kill Bill than anything else. I'm not sure why it's there, but the style it, and the mass obituary section earlier are shot very prettily. I'm sure it makes some kind of sense.
The acting's ropey in places, although the dj is fantastic. As we're almost always on his face, the fact that it looks like some kind of alien landscape helps. He looks like Timothy Olyphant's dad in any western he's been in. Cowboy clothes, gravel voice, and a pair of bug eyes which just help the bizarre landscape we see. Other than that the acting's a little off in places and only helped by things going weird. Maybe that's what they were aiming for.
The horror's alright, more suspense than anything else and that's going to bore the f**k out of the people I'll inevitably show this to, and most horror junkies out there. There's little gore (yay!) and only a few jump-scares. It's more the isolation and the uselessness of the cast to deal with the situation which brings the horror. Everything happens out there, out of our view. We're trapped, waiting for the inevitable.
This film could be about our current issues with language, as per my rant earlier, about our relationship with each other through language. It could be about the military's attitude towards friendly fire although that's brought in at the last second. It could be about many, many things, or it could be about some freaky arse zombies in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes a zombie is just a zombie.
I give this the Grant Morrison rating of Platypus out of Verisimilitude.
Wednesday, 23 June 2010
I was in a horror mood, and decided to watch "All The Boys Love Mandy Lane" starring the lovely but unknown Amber Heard and a bunch of people even less well known than her.
This is actually shot really nicely. Blurred and surreal in some spots, but almost reactively trying to revert back to the standard slasher-flick faire and lazy direction. It's like if half the film thought it was Gus Van Sant's Paranoid Park, there are moments where time just slows down, plays strange music and just sits there, watching Mandy Lane, but in more idolisation than voyeurism. That one-itis which happens in our teenage years, that beautiful girl who you just can't get. And that, the camera tells us, is Mandy Lane. Of course, alongside that is the fact that she has very few lines of dialogue. She's this thing which is unknowable, you can't really see what she's thinking, because you know it's not you, as that would break the illusion.
Anyway, enough of my baggage. We're introduced to a relatively small and barely sympathetic cast, starting with a poolside party. A loser kid who hangs out with Mandy and is evidently in the nonsexual best friend place, gets beat up by jocks, most of whom are trying to get off with her, too. Her best friend Emmett, then drinks on the jock's roof and when confronted, launches into a massive speech about how the jock is boring, he's bland, he's beige. Hell, he's not even beige, he's taupe. He convinces the jock to dive into the pool, which goes awry as the jock falls to his death. When it happens, we pan to where he should have landed, and his body flops into it, evidently from where it crashed into the poolside. Nice.
Nine months later, Mandy's not talking to Emmett because of that, instead she's with a bunch of girls who hate her and some boys wanting to cop off with her at a "dude ranch" in the middle of nowhere. So, typical high school as far as I'm aware.
We have a token black guy who fancies Mandy Lane. A boring jock guy (one born every minute in these films) who fancies Mandy Lane. A stoner guy who fancies Mandy Lane. A blond neurotic desperate for any attention and a brunette who's called 'fat' by the neurotic. Again, your usual gaggle of miscreants.
They drink, the neurotic takes some pills (her brother's, for his ADHD, apparently) and the 'fat' (quotation marks for Hollywood fat) girl runs off angrily. She goes down on the jockish type who refuses to return the favour and wanders off. Then she gets a quite grisly death scene with a shotgun butt in her mouth. Ick. I was wondering what the horrid crunching noise in that scene and naively thought the killer was eating a carrot, like Clive Owen from Shoot Em Up. But no, that was her. Again, ick.
The guys all cockblock each other while the girls seem more enamoured with the creepy farmhand. One of them stops the power, giving us a nice fake-out with the black guy not actually dying. Instead, the jock kid's evidently the person not getting any from Mandy, so he's voted out of the house and goes back to finish the job for the 'fat' girl. He drunk drives around, not killing himself, but instead going to a lake they all swam in earlier (Mandy in slow motion, natch). He finds the girl on her knees, alive? Dead? Whatever, it'll all be the same soon enough and he's shot by the same antagonist. Remember when bad guys were iconic, with claws or hockey masks or stuff like that? This one's in a hood with a shotgun. Anyone could be like that. An ambitious chav could pull of the look. Oh well.
The drunkard's car is driven up to the shack and fireworks are launched at the group. The person leaves, chased by the black guy. Oh look, it's Emmett. They have a brief chat, punctuated by a brutal fight and a nasty death. Of the black guy. If the killer died at this point, it wouldn't be much of a film.
The remaining kids (and Garth, the farmhand) hide indoors, trying to keep away from all the madness out there. Garth provides some backstory about having to kill a whole farm's animals at one point. Nicely unpleasant, but why? Why are you telling us this? It's too late in the film for anyone to have a sympathetic backstory.
The stoner and the neurotic girl start making friends, aww. I've just realised how llittle I've actually said about Mandy Lane here. Well, other than the guys trying to be the only one around her during a blackout, and her talking to the neurotic and taking some pill thing, that's about it. I admit, the part of me which is still an 18-year-old lech, was going "Kiss!" as there was some moments where they were far too close to not kiss. Still, it just teased.
Trying to leave in the morning, shots fire at them from offscreen, Garth is hit. The stoner tries heading out the back way, followed by the neurotic, so you KNOW they're being killed soon. If you leave the potentially-evil farmhand and the leading lady together, then you're the one who'll die next, basically. They run down a road, but the sense of despair even out in the open sunlight is still huge. As they stop to kiss, which normally seems contrite, but here I reckon it was because they knew they were screwed, so why the hell not, the stoner's shot. The girl runs off.
At the same time, Mandy Lane actually does something, and not all in slo-mo. Shocking. She leaves Garth and finds a knife, facing off against the morning sun like a warrior, like a Spartan! But no, she's not heading after the guy shooting everyone with a knife, let's face it, that'd be dumb. Instead, the dumb move is on the neurotic girl who runs to Mandy, onto the knife, and they hug until Emmett turns up in blurry, Paranoid Park effects, and watches Mandy drop the neurotic's body to the floor.
Shock, horror, it was their plan! Why? I don't know. Did I guess from the start? Well a couple of bits were telegraphed, but they kept it hidden well enough that when we saw the neurotic running towards Mandy, there was just this creeping feeling which was growing, instead of just yelling at the screen.
Apparently their plan was to kill all of them and then themselves, all romantic-like. Apparently Mandy's not planning for this and he didn't trust her enough to kill himself first. When she tricks him, the pair get into a fight, punctuated by a poor, confused Garth who dies (again). Mandy ends up falling into a big hole o' bodies. She ends up beating Emmett to death with a bit of wood, returns to Garth who is actually not dead (again), and leaves with him, pretending to be the only survivors of these horrid murders.
The last modern slasher movie I saw was Prom Night (the remake). It was terrible. There was no motivation, the characters were horrid, the killer was uninteresting and a good actor (Idris Elba) was underused.
In truth, replace Idris Elba with Amber Heard and you've got the same kind of thing. And yet this is much better. It's still not wonderful, but was the best modern slasher film I've seen in a while, somehow getting past my bullshitometer. The killer was a bit bland until the end where it all went a bit kablooey. The effects were mainly screwing with the camera, rather than anything special. The disfiguring and possible death of the 'fat' girl was a scene which will stick with me, horror-wise, and that's what I often repeat as being good with horror. Not the scenes which are just gore, but the ones which will haunt you.
Anyway, the filming was good, the acting was alright, despite the complete unknowns and the typically unlikable characters. Someone has to be able to do a good slasher movie these days. Deputy Dewey was a sympathetic character in the Scream Movies, and I always yelled at the screen when it looked like he was in peril. I can't see why that's not doable. And there was a scene where I think they all get drunk and/or high (signified by blurry camera effects), dance badly and, I think, spray squirty cream into their mouths. I think. Unless it's a some kind of special spray that's getting them high, but I've never heard of that. I don't know. I think that's the dumbest moment, but there's a lot more good than dumb. Although I've just spoiled the end act. Oh well, as some point I've also got the see the terribly-named "Wackness" by the same director. Not a horror movie, but his directoral efforts were good enough here that I might actually crack open that dvd finally.
Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Ok so on day two I saw the Pang brothers "The eye". I've actually seen this film advertised in the uk (no link for you work slave) and had confused it with the transgressive-pornography opus "The story of the eye" which I've read... and found so distasteful that I have no real desire to re-read it nor see a film interpretation of it. In fact I can't even describe that book here because of your stupid censor bot.
Anyway "The eye" is a Hong Kong film... (you'll remember last time we did Japan and Korea). The jist of it is "Eye see dead people" (har har har), you could be forgiven for thinking this is a pretty direct reinterpretation of sixth sense..... in fact both of today's films borrowed heavily from western cinema..... So our main character is a blind woman (and awful violinist.. unless that's her style) who has an operation to get new eyes so she can see...... little did she know... that they were CURSED EYES!!!!!!! yep seriously. The concept of the whole beginning is great, it is full of genuinely sympathetic characters and the weird theory surrounding the idea of re-learning your "Visual vocabulary", I found really interesting..
So all is going well when... She starts to see ghosts... It's worth mentioning that the effects and direction in this film are superb... but the ghost are kinda benign.. there's only one crazy ghost with a fixation on a chair who well make you jump... but that's it. Most of the first half of the film features her getting used to seeing ghosts and dealing with it as oppose to going mental all the time.... Also in this half of the film we meet "Dr. Lo" 'worlds worst psychoanalyst', who's speciality is dealing with the mental issues of people who've had eyes transplanted... His office is like a f*&king ghost town, there's probably a “Trappist Monk opera-house” that sees more business than him)... He falls in love with our girl and helps her deal with the ghosty problem...
ok ok so far if anything it's like a watered down version of the sixth sense......right?..... ok well lets gets introduced to something that's probably gonna become a theme of these films... The big twist....
So all seems good and the stupid doctor isn't a dead guy either so the weirdness starts proper when our girl can't even recognise her own face... she sees somebody else's head in its place. Turns out that some of the visions she's seen are through the eyes of this person... guess who??? THE EYE DONOR!!!! so yeah we've got to go check her out... The donor came from Thailand and it's interesting to see that the Chinese look down on Thailand the same way Japan looks down on the Chinese (i.e. Hick farmers). So we get to Thailand and start meeting other Doctors who apparently have no ethics and give away information about the donor without much persuasion, it soon becomes clear that she didn't have a great life in the village as the doctor says "Even I used to throw stones at her.... when I was younger". In fact life was so bad that she was branded a witch or devil or something and blamed for a big fire that messed everything up round here. Anyway in a massive anticlimax turns out the girl killed herself.. The main character gets the girls mum to make up with her spirit and all is good, leaving us with images of the village and the villagers now being at peace.... a strange reward for people who drove a young girl to suicide.
So on the way home on a bus in a crowded street our girl sees a whole load of reapers (oh which she sees as "Shadowy Figures" pre-empting disaster ... how see knows what a shadow is, being blind all her life... no-one knows) heading past the truck, loads in fact... The stupid Thailanders have crashed a gas truck up ahead and clearly have no idea how dangerous it is... nor how to smell that danger. Long story short she realises that this is why the girl in the village was shunned... She could see these events about to happen and in warning people about it took the blame.... Cassandra anyone? Sure enough the gas tanker explodes and kills almost everyone (alot) and we're treated to particularly graphic images of everyone nearby on fire (seriously! even a bus full of children). Luckily our girl survives... luckier still she loses her CURSED EYES... So she's blind again.... Thank you film for that pointless little stroll into your world... so all that happened to what? give a blind girl perspective?
It's a beautifully made film and the early ghosts do use both creepy and inventive film techniques it just kinda loses all real fear when she's in a restaurant, sees a ghost and her waitress confesses that she sees it too.... IN A COMPLETLY UNBOTHERED WAY! goodbye suspense....You can see why this got a big release compared to the last load of films. But in my opinion it plays it too safe.
FILM FOUR: SHUTTER
This is a Thailand film (what the hell is the noun for Thailand? the Thailandish?). I thought it'd be worth a look after seeing the borderline racism in "The Eye". It's worth mentioning that I decide which film to watch via a bunch of horror forums which allow psychopaths to come together and show off how dead inside they are "Pfff SALO? not scary or gross at all?". So when they all were in a frenzy about how truly terrifying this film is I thought "Daaaaaaaaamn... I'm gonna hafta check this out". Oh yeah and not only does this film borrow abit from western cinema but has also had an American remake.... lol irony..
So we begin at a party for someone about to get married (turns out the don't have stag do's in Thailand so it's a mixed group). It's a cleverly written scene which efficiently tells us "this is a group of close friends. they're kinda jocks. This guy's a womaniser. this guy's a sheep" etc. The guy who's kinda like a sheep is our main character, just out of uni and a freelance photographer. He and his girlfriend drunkenly drive home... while driving they hit a young girl in the road.. Being a sheep he convinces his girlfriend to drive away... BAD IDEA.... so yeah you're probably thinking what we were thinking "I know what you did last summer" yeah? WRONG! but we'll get on to that later. I'll make this one abit quicker and abit more spoiler free, it's good enough that you should probably watch it. They start to get haunted by this girl they killed. They see some of this fact in weird effects on photos taken by our man. They cannot find the body of this girl nor does any hospital have any record of anyone coming in that night... The plot starts to shift when the girlfriend (who we think the ghost is after... driver an all) starts to get lured to places.... only to find photos and items about this girl..... She was already dead.
Not to ruin it for you THEY HAD IT FUCKING COMING!
The effects are good in this... I think had I watched it alone I would have found it more terrifying than I did, The final series of images from this film are great. This has real class as a film....... Take it from me and this goes for all the films so far if a ghost girl appeared at the bottom of my bed and started to climb across it.. I would kick her fucking head off!
Both of today's films were abit more western in many ways... both seemed to take their concept from American films... Both seemed to make you jump more than disturb you... (Apart from the last half of shutter which is excellent). Every single film I've watched so far deals with women being betrayed some how (yes even JU-ON). So I'm starting to see a pattern emerging.
(Oh and watch "A Tale of two sisters" seriously it's the best film I've seen this year, I wish they'd gotten that guy to make the silent hill film... he's just beyond superb when dealing with horrifying, disturbing films..... and that's all there is in that film... no jump moments at all... not one.. all suspense and mindfuckery)
I'm still going strong with this...
Next up. BACK TO GODZILLA-LAND
Monday, 14 June 2010
This is the cause for the name of this blog. An excerpt from an e-mail about “JU-ON the grudge”. I should probably mention that yes, I do think swearing is both big and clever.... Well.... Not really, but normally when I write to my brother he has this stupid censor-bot deleting the contents of my e-mail and sending me a snotty reply. Because I didn't write to him at work this time I'm celebrating the lack of that stupid Robot by talking like an immature twat!
Welcome to the shallow things I care about in the middle of a recession and imminent “world-death”~
….in fact I did a whole day of Asian horror films yesterday, which ranks somewhere between my watching a four hour documentary about Auschwitz and deciding to play silent hill 1 - 4 back to back in terms of frankly stupid and irresponsible behaviour.... The winner of "Those crazy Asians! what the hell are they doing?" goes to the Japanese (who else) for their film "Ju-on - the grudge"
see the trailer for it here
This film..... ah..... this film... where to even begin... It's a very well made film, fantastic techniques used throughout it... There is however NO PLOT AT ALL! The film might as well be called "Ju-on - the grudge KILLED BY GHOSTS" because "KILLED BY GHOSTS" was the phrase I kept shouting out while watching this. The plot simply revolves around a bad murder having happened in a suburban house in Japan. The murder is bad.... and because it is bad the house gets cursed (Yeah I don't know why either).. So about 5 years after the murder we follow a girl who you'd think is the main character, into the house to check up on some crazy old lady who lives there for social services. While cleaning up the mess of the place she finds a cat and a boy duct-taped into a closet...... Hang on...... Does that mean that the old lady had trapped the 'evil' into a closet with duct-tape? what kind of fucking ghosts are these? So both the cat and the boy hang around being 'spooky' and eventually the girl does see something pretty nasty and runs away screaming. Then with no explanation at all time seems to change and we're still in the house but with a young married couple (whose mother is the crazy old lady). Now I don't know if this is the future or the past or what the fuck, but it seems impossible that a respectable young couple would keep the house in the kind of fucking state it's in at the beginning of this film... Anyway to cut this short.. The Wife gets KILLED BY GHOSTS, the husband finds out but before he can do anything about it he is KILLED BY GHOSTS, the social worker from the start goes home only to be KILLED BY GHOSTS. The sister of the wife earlier comes round to visit and gets KILLED BY GHOSTS. The detectives who find all these bodies (in hilarious “I died while terrified” poses) bring back the original detective that studied the original murder which cursed the place (again I was thinking main character). He has a vision freaks out.. goes to burn the house down.. has a weird vision of a group of schoolgirls messing around in the house.. one of the girls legs it out of the house the other two are KILLED BY GHOSTS, he then has a genuinely terrifying encounter with the ghosts... two detectives rush in to try and stop him burning the house down.. He gets up and legs it.. the two detectives are KILLED BY GHOSTS... This is where it gets excellent.. it jumps ten years into the future (without fucking telling us) and starts following the daughter of the crazy detective man (whose dead, it presumed 'by madness' but as we will see he was in fact KILLED BY GHOSTS). Turns out his daughter is one of the girls from his vision.... yes that's right he saw into the future FOR NO REASON.. sure enough her friends are KILLED BY GHOSTS and then she too is KILLED BY GHOSTS.. the ending kind of lost me because it cuts to someone we've never met before, doesn't introduce them... anyway her and her friend are both KILLED BY GHOSTS...... and that's it!!!!!!!!
FILM OVER GHOSTS WIN!
Every character is given both the kind introduction and exposition that fits in better with a HALO game.... i.e nothing at-fucking-all... Add to this the film has been remade about a thousand times both in Japan and (I'm guessing badly) in America... heh.. starring BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (why Sarah why?). So I have no idea whether it's been deliberately cut down to have more KILLED BY GHOSTS or what the fuck! It's clear that the ghosts are ultimately the main characters in this film, I mean they're so fucking emo about the way their shitty life ended that they will now totally kill anyone who even seems to look at their god-damned house! Going so far as to actually stalk down and kill EVERYONE sometimes using quite elaborate methods.... Which makes me wonder... where are the fucking estate agents in all of this? I mean the house changes hands a number of times! I can only assume that the real body count lays with the estate agents who put up with madness and ghosts to flog the place AS FAST AS POSSIBLE, going out on the town to celebrate before being KILLED BY GHOSTS! Somewhere in Japan there's a town where the only job going for the unskilled is as estate agents and the gutters are filled with shattered blackberrys and ambitions.
I wouldn't bother with it really.... unless you wanted to have a really grim drinking game or confuse people.
So anyway, I think I've probably bored you enough for one e-mail.... (You wanted correspondence here you fucking are) so I'll sign off.
Thus Endith my first ever blog post. The later reviews contain roughly 30% better grammar 20% more humour and about 50% extra length..... Unless I've mistaken them for the obscene tattoo on my penis