February 2010


Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein: A classic and with good reason. I laughed aloud in this movie, something modern comedies don’t often get me to do. Seeing this on the big screen with a willing and affable crowd was a genuine treat, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This is why we have places like the Carolina.

Bonnie & Clyde vs. Dracula: A really interesting idea for a movie with some genuinely great moments and some inspired scenes. It does suffer from some low points and there isn’t nearly enough of the “vs. Dracula” part – and what there is doesn’t really make much sense – but when it hits, it hits. The leads portraying Bonnie & Clyde give really genuinely magnificent performances and the movie strikes a lot of its best notes when it emphasizes that those two characters are psychopaths in their own right. It also features the single best vampire-bites-victim scene I’ve ever seen in any movie. It has problems, make no mistake, but its peaks are some of the highest I’ve ever seen in a vampire movie. I would genuinely love to see the same people make a straight-up Bonnie & Clyde story because all of those parts are seriously fine work.

H.P. Lovecraft’s Re-Animator: For decades this was the single best Lovecraft adaptation on film and even though it takes broad, broad liberties with Lovecraft’s original short story it still focuses on the same themes. Jeffrey Combs delivers what’s probably his finest performance in a Lovecraft adaptation – he’s been in a million of them – and the whole movie is basically non-stop awesome. I hadn’t seen it since, I don’t know, 8th or 9th grade, something like that, and I loved it. I noted afterwards, when talking about it with The Boyf and Mr. Pink Eyes, that I’ve never seen Re-Animator 2. I looked it up online out of curiosity only to find that a third movie, House of Re-Animator, has been announced for production this year and again it stars… Jeffrey Combs. How freaking rad is that?

Shorts program They’re Coming To Get You Barbara!:

Shapes: A nicely thematic little short that was well-made but didn’t necessarily break any new ground.

The Ugly File: Quite frankly, lousy. I liked the idea behind it but the execution lacked energy and resources to the point of distraction. I kept finding myself studying the decorating choices of the houses where it was shot and not the movie itself.

Monstrous Nature: Extremely well-executed and genuinely scary, even though I stayed ahead of it by a couple of minutes at any given point. The effects were particularly startling given that it tries to be more of a psychological story for the first 90% of the film.

Pigeon: Impossible: A very clever and genuinely funny animated short, well worth watching. I don’t really get how it wound up at a horror festival, but I’m glad I saw it.

Hector Corp.: A genuinely funny and slightly freaky short. Imagine the love-child of Office Space and Gremlins and I think you’re probably on the right track. Well made and gleefully delivered.

Snuggle Time: Another animated selection that is genuinely warm and funny in its delivery of a pretty straight-forward story. Any child could watch this and love it.

Dead Walkers: A really ambitious attempt at a wild west zombie story that suffers from never being quite sure what kind of movie it wants to be and a “twist” ending that is so ham fisted, by the book and yet simultaneously out of left field that it soured the whole experience. A box of good ideas that’s been shaken too hard. Great production values, though, and a net-positive experience in terms of pure entertainment.

Dead Creek: Extremely well-shot and with a genuinely compelling question at its core of whether it’s going to be a revenge movie or a monster movie, but one of the leads is so teeth-grindingly bad in her role that she drags the rest of it down with her. When the character finally turned up dead I honestly thought, well, at least something good happens in this movie.

I’ve seen one full-length movie and one collection of three shorts. Here are my thoughts so far:

Strigoi: Easily one of the most creative vampire films I’ve seen in years. Everyone is comparing it to Let The Right One In and for good reason: what that film achieves by mixing winter, loneliness and childhood together with vampirism, Strigoi does by mixing the end of Romanian Communism, small town life, the humor of practical matters in the face of fear and the annoyance of family ties with that same supernatural element. Beautifully shot and full of great performances, the only problem is that the sound is marginal in places. It’s filmed in English, but the accents are thick and the dialogue tramples itself sometimes. Subtitles would be most welcome.

AM1200 & Other Shorts:

Sinkhole: A great little short that does its thing and then calls it quits to good effect. The real estate agent is portrayed all too believably, perfect for bringing the real world into the movie with us, and the crazy old coot whose land he’s trying to buy has one of the better monologues I’ve seen in a horror movie. Lovely, big round of applause by the audience at the end.

Shrove Tuesday: “Very artistic” was the best I could do afterward. Interestingly filmed in places and interestingly animated in others, it never could quite figure out whether it wanted to be a cautionary tale, a dream sequence or a splatter flick. I could get behind a lot of individual parts of this movie but not the movie as a whole.

As always, the balcony had assholes in it and they seemed to find this movie hilarious at all the wrong times. For real, would it be too much to ask to have a house manager stop in upstairs once in a while? I can only move so many times in one movie. Ah, well, they shut up for the important bit, AM1200.

AM1200: An exquisite film with lush production, beautiful photography, sharply minimalist writing and incredible performances that focuses on creepy rather than jump-out-and-go-boo. This is a movie to which the term horror most definitely applies. Lovecraft could easily have written this and I mean that in the very best way. A guilty conscience leads the main character from one bad choice to another until everything spirals out of control and the entire time the audience sits there silently pleading with him to turn around, go back, look over his shoulder, lock the doors, anything but what he’s doing at the moment. When three or four hundred people simultaneously cry out in protest or shock and then stifle themselves, it’s like a low moan doing the wave across the theatre and it happened several times. Otherwise, almost utter silence throughout the cinema as everyone was captivated. Worth canceling other plans to go see this 40-minute film. It was the last thing I thought about last night and the first thing I thought about this morning.

You do know that the 2010 Nevermore Film Festival is this weekend, right? Lord, but it’s snuck up on me. I am not at all ready, but I am going to get ready tonight when Pants Wilder and I sit down with a schedule and talk interesting movies.

And let me assure you, there are a lot of interesting movies.

On my extended short list:

  • Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
  • AM1200, which has Ray Wise (aka Leland Fucking Palmer)
  • Bonnie and Clyde vs. Dracula, which would be on the bubble were it not for Drac
  • Dawning, which looks fantastic
  • Evil Angel, though I’m not really sure what it has to say about gender
  • The shorts collection Four Minutes ‘Til Sunrise is required.
  • Re-Animator, which is honest to (old) gods one of the best Lovecraft adaptations on film.
  • Strigoi, for that Soviet Bloc vampire flavor.
  • The shorts collection They’re Coming To Get You, Barbara!, which remains one of my favorite shorts titles evar.
  • Witchboard, which is also kind of on the bubble but does remind me of some great times in junior high so, y’know, yeah. I’m there.

Like I said, that’s the extended list. I’m going to watch most of those, though, so if you’re in the area and see something on the list that you’d like to watch with someone virtually guaranteed to be more nelly than you, give me a shout.