Tag Archives: Mystery

Review of Hellraiser: Deader (2005)

25 Jun

Hellraiser: Deader (2005) is a straight-to-video mystery/thriller/horror film and the seventh film in the Hellraiser film franchise.

Directed by Rick Bota (Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005), Harper’s Island (2009 TV)).

Written by Benjamin Carr (Super Hybrid (2010), Zarkorr! The Invader (1996)) and Tim Day (Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002)).

Starring: Kari Wuhrer, Paul Rhys Doug Bradley, Marc Warren, Georgina Rylance, Simon Kunz and others.

We open up to  some chick waking up in a crack-den, then just walking out. Turns out she’s a well-known journalist. Obviously not well-known amongst crack-heads. She goes to some office and her boss shows her a snuff film of sorts, where a chick shoots herself in the head and then comes back to life. The journalist says “tell me it’s some kind of special effect”, but then, of course, she instantly abandons this idea and goes to Romania to investigate.

During her investigation she gets her hands on the puzzle box and soon bad shit starts happening, mostly to the viewer of this film. We are once again subjected to pointless hallucination/dream sequences, as she tries to find out more about this cultist sect called “deaders”.

She visits some guy who gives her various information, which he has acquired by being a leader of a gang that is an insult to Romania’s subway system. Because there is a whole metro train, he and other subculture euro-trash people are living in. I suppose you can have your own train, if you keep up with the schedule. However, it compliments the educational system by having everyone in Romania speak good English.

At first I thought that the movie was going for a certain tone, but then I realised that the tone is created by the combined blandness of digital video and a boring script.

It seems Rick Bota had chosen to make the Hellraiser series about people seeing things and nothing actually happening, because the previous one was like that, this one is like that and the next one is in a way also like that. Why did they let him do three movies? Why can’t they write scripts for the series and not rewrite unrelated ones? Why?

There is one cool scene, where a character wakes up in the night, to find a knife stuck in her back and tries to get it out. That was the only interesting scene in the whole movie. Pinhead appears a couple of times and delivers some words of wisdom and I was grateful that at least they didn’t make him the villain.

Overall, there’s some flashes of interesting choices, but it doesn’t hide it being a total mess, it’s really bad. Not recommended.

“Ahh! It sucks that I can’t bend my neck, otherwise I could just let these chains slip over my head!”

Review of Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002)

15 Jun

Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002) is a straight-to-video thriller/mystery/horror film and the sixth film in the Hellraiser film franchise.

Directed by Rick Bota (Hellraiser: Deader (2005), Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005)).

Written by Carl V. Dupre (Detroit Rock City (1999), The Prophecy 3: The Ascent (2000)) and Tim Day (Hellraiser: Deader (2005), Roulette (2003 Short)).

Starring: Dean Winters, Ashley Laurence, Doug Bradley, Trevor White, Rachel Hayward, Michael Rogers and others.

The movie starts and we see that Ashley Laurence is back, that’s great, Hellraiser was at its best with her. She is in a car with her husband and they crash into the water. Why? Because they start kissing while driving a car, that’s not an accident, that’s suicide. Laurence drowns.

You start thinking „Oh, it’s a dream, no way they would just use her for five minutes and then her character dies. Right?” Wrong. During the whole movie she appears for like 10 minutes total.

After the crash, the husband wakes up in the hospital, gets sedated, wakes up during a brain surgery and then wakes up again, so the brain surgery was a dream. Or was it? It’s less than 10 minutes into the movie and I’m already confused, a great sign.

What is cool about the movie, is that it looks like it’s shot in the early 90’s and except for the scenes in the office, where the guy works, there’s not much that would make it seem like it’s not. Ok, there’s a CG eel that crawls out of the guy’s mouth at one point, but the CG is bad enough to not disrupt the 90’s feel.

Then this guy starts getting hallucinations every couple of minutes, so if anything weird happens, I instantly doubt if that’s real. And as the movie goes on it gets even more fucking confusing. 30 minutes into the movie, the guy just wakes up at work and I’m not sure if I’m just thrown back to the last time I saw him at work, like 15 minutes ago.  Did I just spend 15 minutes watching him dreaming?

You gradually understand that our hero is a cheating bastard and, as we know, in Hellraiser movies these don’t have the best of fates. Even more, the guy is just this total asshole and the only reason you sympathise with him, is that you’re forced to, since everyone around him are even bigger assholes.

Seriously, the movie is so fractured that when at one point the guy wakes up from a hallucination that turns into a dream, from which he wakes up to have another hallucination, I just gave up and stopped caring. How am I supposed to feel any suspense when I know that the movie spends a minute in reality and then it sinks into five minutes of some nightmare jumpscare world.  All the scene transitions are him waking up.

However, for an unrelated script, just like Inferno, this does play on the pleasure/lust/whatever else aspect of the series and the tone is even more similar to Inferno than the previous ones, but it’s still ridiculously hard to watch. It’s a psychological thriller both for the main character and the viewer trying to make sense of this mess.

Pinhead and some cenobites do appear briefly, but they’re both unimpressive and unimportant. Just thrown in there. Ashley Laurence appears again at the end in a plot twist, that isn’t awful, but I just didn’t care at that point.

Overall, visually decent, but terribly annoying to watch. It’s torture on your brain that is used to more or less cohesive films. It’s a stupid movie, not recommended.

Pictured: The influence of Hentai on Hollywood(‘s straight-to-video section).

Review of Hellraiser: Inferno (2000)

10 Jun

Hellraiser: Inferno (2000) is a straight to video mystery/thriller/horror film and the fifth film in the Hellraiser film franchise.

Directed by Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005), The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)).

Written by Paul Harris Boardman (Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000)) and Scott Derrickson (Land of Plenty (2004), Sinister (2012)).

Starring: Craig Sheffer, Nicholas Turturro, Doug Bradley, James Remar, Nicholas Sadler, Lindsay Taylor and others.

With this one the Hellraiser series dropped into the almost guaranteed shittiness, that the straight-to-video format brings. However, sometimes horror movies benefit from the lack of restraints of theatrical releases. Is it the case with this one? Yes and no.

We follow a crooked cop, who snorts coke and is good at chess. A three-dimensional character if there ever was one. He goes to a crime scene where a guy is ripped apart. He is not as familiar with a scene like that as we are. Of course there’s the puzzle box somewhere lying around.

The cop goes home and he has a wife and a young daughter. Oh, he’s a family man, that’s nice. Then he leaves and fucks a prostitute in a motel room. Him being this total sleazebag helps to create this mood of dreariness, lust, perversion. After banging the hooker, the bad lieutenant goes into the bathroom and opens the box.

I don’t get why every time the box works differently. This time the Pinhead doesn’t instantly come, he’s transported to a weird house, where there’s some cenobite chicks, and the upper  body half version of Chatterer. The cenobite effects are really good, they look creepy. He runs into Pinhead and… wakes up on the bathroom floor.

From then on various shit starts happening to the cop. People he knows start dying and by their dead bodies fingers of a child are left. He must investigate, because that’s what he does. That and being a dick.

Craig Sheffer is really good as the cop, you feel him slowly descending into paranoia and madness and his untrustworthy face is suited for the role, because he’s a good guy, who is also a total asshole. James Remar has an interesting role as a priest/psychiatrist.

Here the tone of the series also shifted dramatically, it’s not so much a horror movie, than a psychological thriller, although, both of the terms are kind of loose and often interchangeable. I didn’t mind it much, because at least this dark thriller encapsulates the themes of rage, sex, pain, pleasure and nightmares a lot better than Bloodline or even Hell On Earth. Also at some parts the detective starts talking in voice over, so the movie feels like film noir.

People have complained that Pinhead barely appears, but come on, he’s not a slasher movie villain, he’s this mysterious figure who does what he is told and not some one-liner whore. He is basically an angel of death, just a messenger.

There’s a peculiar scene, where the cop sees various people attacking him and one of them is his partner, who repeats „I trusted you!” and throws knives at him. Guess where he gets the knives from? His back! Clever or cheesy? I think both. The ending is really cool, although, a bit predictable.

It doesn’t feel like a Hellraiser movie, but for an unrelated script, it certainly hits most of the right themes and offers a lot more satisfying use of the mythos than the previous two movies.

Overall, a very atmospheric thriller, I enjoyed it quite a bit, definitely my favourite Hellraiser sequel, although Hellraiser II is very close. Recommended.

“Ah, yes, that’s the spot, yeah, scratch it, look, my leg is shaking!”

Review of Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)

30 May

Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996) is a horror/mystery/sci-fi film and the fourth film in the Hellraiser film franchise.

Directed by Kevin Yagher (Tales From The Crypt (1989 TV)) under the pseudonym Alan Smithee.

Written by Peter Atkins (Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992), Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)).

Starring: Bruce Ramsay, Doug Bradley, Valentina Vargas, Charlotte Chatton, Adam Scott, Kim Myers and others.

It opens up in space, the year 2127. Already, it is not a good sign. At least Friday the 13th waited until the 10th movie to send Jason into space.

There’s some exterior space scenes, where the ships look pretty cool, because they’re probably models and not CGI. But then we cut to awful CG shots of the puzzle box being solved by a robot hands. The actual robot, however, is some cheap animatronic that looks like a cross between T-800 and that robot from Short Circuit.  And the interiors of the spaceship just look like some warehouse.

A guy is controlling the robot and he releases Pinhead and then gets captured. Guess what happens next? We switch to fucking 18th century France as the guy tells about his ancestor, who is a toy maker and he makes the „Lament configuration” puzzle box. He claims this is his best work yet, but then his wife comes in and isn’t terribly impressed by the thing. I wouldn’t be either. It’s a puzzle that has no logical way of figuring it out and everyone who has had it solves it in a minute.

The toy maker runs to the guy who ordered the puzzle box and he has like an assistant played by Adam Scott, who I cannot really take seriously after all his recent comedy roles. So some bad shit happens, they summon some chick.

And we switch to 1990’s. Ok, three time periods, was it really necessary? Anyway, we now follow another one of his ancestors, who, fortunately for the villains, all look exactly the same. Then again, in movies they more often than not do.

There’s also Kim Myers from A Nightmare On Elm Street 2 and she still looks a lot like Meryl Streep. Doug Bradley steals his scenes, but in this movie it’s not saying much.

Considering that a lot of the movie was directed by a special effects guy, none of the effects are very impressive. There’s a clever, but kind of comedic scene, where twin brothers are turned into conjoined twins cenobite. Cenobites are a bit better here than in Hell On Earth, but that’s really like saying that being constipated is better than diarrhea, it’s debatable, but it’s really not worth it. The end result in both cases is shit.

We get a climax, it’s all ok, we feel like the movie should be over now, but wait, aren’t we forgetting something? That’s right, there’s 20 more minutes to go and we return to the future.

The movie turns into Alien as people just run around the spaceship, while cenobites run after them. The movie is no more about craving of pleasures and stuff, now it’s just Pinhead and other cenobites chasing people for the sake of it.

Oh, and [Spoilers] Pinhead is blown up in the end. That is the single most pointless thing they could’ve done. Sure, if they ever decide to set another Hellraiser movie in the year 2128, it will have some effect, but still, that did nothing. He is not a villain. [Spoilers]

Overall, a dull movie which tries to pack way too much in, so everything is watered down to keep the running time in check. Definitely one of if not the worst Hellraiser movie in the series. Not recommended.

“Yo, guys, this guy with some crazy ass piercings all over his head came up to me and gave me this, he said it’s called… um… something like “lame ass refrigeration” or something!”

 

Review of Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992)

24 May

Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth (1992) is a horror/mystery/thriller film and the third film in the Hellraiser film franchise.

Directed by Anthony Hickox (Waxwork (1988), Submerged (2005)).

Written by Peter Atkins (Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988), Fist of the North Star (1995)) and Tony Randel (Children of the Night (1991), Grunt! The Wrestling Movie (1985)).

Starring: Terry Farrell, Paula Marshall, Doug Bradley, Kevin Bernhardt, Ken Carpenter, Lawrence Mortorff, Sharon Ceccatti and others.

It opens with some guy walking into some kind of an art gallery and a homeless looking guy gives him the pillar of souls for whatever amount of money he chooses. Sure, he’s a legit art dealer. Then we switch to a TV reporter chick, who witnesses a guy being ripped apart by chains and after seeing her for a minute you realise that she is the blandest character you’ve seen so far. This means she’s our protagonist.

Of course she has to investigate and she goes to a night club called „The Boiler Room”, which is probably the most 90’s sounding fictional night club name they could think of. The owner of the club is the guy who just bought the pillar of souls. The pillar itself looks quite different from the last movie, but they definitely improved it.

There’s also some goth clubber chick played by Paula Marshall and I wish she was our heroine, because she was the only character I really liked. Although, there’s this whole stupid plot device, where she tells the reporter that she can’t dream (she probably just doesn’t remember her dreams) and the reporter is understandably like „yeah, ok, whatever, in my dreams, I see my father fighting in a war, so not worth it”, but then the goth chick is motivated to help Pinhead just because he promises her dreams. Really? After good dreams it’s disappointing to wake up and why would you want bad dreams? Dreams suck.

The club owner guy has sex with a Jane Krakowski looking chick in front of the pillar and the old pervert Pinhead opens his eyes. The pillar gets mad at her awful line delivery and shoots chains at her. There’s a lot of chains in the Hellraiser movies. What did hell use before the invention of chains? Ropes? Licorice? Pinhead eats her skin, we get a glimpse of some more skinless effects.

This Pinhead is evil and there’s Elliot Spencer who is the human side of him. A bunch of shit is thrown in there that completely demystifies Pinhead. This movie thinks he’s Freddy Krueger, I don’t have to know if Pinhead molested and killed and molested children before getting nails in his head.

The effects in this movie is far worse and unimaginative than in the previous ones. Especially the new cenobites, they look kind of silly.

Doug Bradley is as always great as Pinhead and even though they fucked around with his character, there’s a bad ass scene at a church. Pinhead’s cenobite power is to always have blue light coming from the background, so when they throw him outside standing in a field in direct sunlight, he looks kind of absurd. Imagine looking outside your window and seeing your neighbour standing outside in his lawn in full Pinhead costume and make-up. Pretty much the same thing.

Overall, quite disappointing and feels completely different from the previous two films. This one feels more like A Nightmare On Elm Street movie. It’s not entirely bad, but pretty mediocre. Not Recommended.

Pictured: Something that looks a lot less scary than what my action figures looked like after my dog chewed them up.

Review of Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)

19 May

Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988) is a horror/mystery/thriller film and the second film in the Hellraiser film franchise.

Directed by Tony Randel (Infested (1993), Children of the Night (1991)).

Written  by Peter Atkins (Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992), Wishmaster (1997)).

Starring: Ashley Laurence, William Hope, Clare Higgins, Doug Bradley, Kenneth Cranham, Deborah Joel, Barbie Wilde, Simon Bamford, Nicholas Vince and others.

The Hellraiser franchise, I sort of have fond childhood memories about it. I remember a time when I was about five and watched one of them (probably one of the first three). That is, I watched it for a few minutes, until my mom came in and turned it off. That might be the only time I remember not being allowed to watch something, not because it’s past my bedtime, but because there’s a guy with a ton of nails in his head. Then some time later, during my childhood I bought a lollipop, it was from the high-end, where inside the wrapper they had one of those tattoos, that you stick on your arm and hold under stream of water. So for about a week I had an awesome Pinhead tattoo on my shoulder. So now, whenever I think of how I used to watch a lot of R rated movies when I was a kid, I remember this one time when I wasn’t allowed, probably just because of the intriguing image of Pinhead.

Enough about my traumatic childhood, let’s get into the movie.

It starts with what seems like a recap, but it’s just random clips from the previous movie, that were totally unnecessary, since later on they go over what happened before. If that’s like a setup, to get you in the mood, then if you haven’t seen the previous one, you’d be like „oh, so it’s going to be about a bunch of monsters and cartoonish lighting bolts” and yes, this movie also has probably the only 80’s special effect, that I don’t like – the stupid drawn lightning effects, they are horribly dated, when other effects leave me wondering why modern movies do shitty CG effects instead.

We see the creation of Pinhead, but you do only see him turned from human to a cenobite, nothing is really explained.

Kirsty from the previous movie wakes up in a psychiatric hospital (always a pleasant surprise) and has the brilliant plan of telling the truth – monsters from hell came through a puzzle box and killed her family, leaving behind a bloody mattress, which works as a gateway. Of course no one believes shit like that and the main doctor there keeps the mattress for himself.

I like Ashley Laurence a lot, if I had to choose from all the virginal heroines from horror movies, she definitely would be one of my favourites, because she’s actually not bland. Also she reminds me of Heather Langenkamp.

In the room next to Kirsty’s there’s a girl who just solves puzzles all day. I bet this won’t play any part later in this movie about a puzzle box.

The doctor’s protege sneaks into the doctor’s house and finds out that doctor is actually a sick bastard, who has been studying some of the mystical shit. He puts one of his patients on the mattress (how nice of him), but then the mental guy starts cutting himself and from the mattress emerges Kirsty’s skinless stepmother Julia.

The first two Hellraiser movies had a lot of skinless people, but they later abandoned this, which sucks, since the skinless make-up is just mind-blowingly good. It’s terrifyingly realistic and disturbingly beautiful. This one could be a bit much for people who aren’t used to horror movie special effects.

So for a while skinless Julia just walks around the house in doctor’s white suit and leaving blood stains everywhere. The doctor has a very medical idea, he bandages her up so she looks like the Invisible Man.

Julia kills and devours a bunch of people until she looks like Clare Higgins again. So Julia and doctor guy open up a puzzle box and all things go to hell. See what I did there? To do it, they bring in the puzzle solving girl, but really, what’s the point, the box seems like the easiest puzzle ever. It’s like twist/push a button, a part emerges, twist that and it’s done.

Sadly as the cenobites appear logic disappears from the movie. There’s a bunch of random imagery in the cenobite realm, like babies with their mouths sewn shut, clowns, Kirsty suddenly appearing in a living room that starts bleeding, the puzzle box changing shape, people having blurry sex, something about Leviathan the lord of the labyrinth and other things that happen only because it’s not the real world. It would be ok, if the characters were as surprised as I was seeing those things, I feel like I’ve missed a meeting on „random hell stuff”.

The doctor becomes a cenobite and develops a knack for one-liners like „The Doctor’s in” and „I’m taking over this operation”.

Overall, a decent sequel with some great effects work, but a terribly confusing third act. Recommended.

“Shh, you don’t have to say a thing.”

Review of The Dead Pool (1988)

12 May

The Dead Pool (1988) is a thriller/mystery/action film and the fifth and last movie in the Dirty Harry film franchise.

Directed by Buddy Van Horn (Pink Cadillac (1989), Any Which Way You Can (1980)).

Written by Steve Sharon, Duck Pearson and Sandy Shaw.

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Patricia Clarkson, Liam Neeson, David Hunt, Jim Carrey, Evan C. Kim, Michael Currie and others.

Harry is back, his hair now is even whiter, face wrinklier, constipation frown even more intimidating and why he’s not in retirement or jail is anyone’s guess. Harry has changed, he is now a lot more liberal. But one thing stays constant. If there’s one thing Harry hates more than criminals, it’s bureaucracy.

We’re now deep in the 80’s and rest assured, this movie won’t let you forget it. We get to see a young Jim Carrey acting mental and lip-synching to „Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns n’ Roses during the filming of some The Exorcist inspired music video, directed by Liam Neeson with a more prominent Irish accent. Watching it now, it seems sort of delightfully bizarre, but back then?

Carrey is in the movie for like 5 minutes, however, and dies from a drug overdose. Oh, and in exchange for their song to be used as the background for Carrey’s junkie rock star video, Guns n’ Roses members cameo in his funeral scene. In another scene Slash even gets to shoot a huge-ass harpoon through a window.

When they want to assign a new partner for Harry, even he himself acknowledges that his partners aren’t the luckiest of people, but maybe he just doesn’t want an asian partner. I know he slept with an asian chick in Magnum Force, but who wants a partner, who is a bad driver. Ok, you might call me racist, but the movie isn’t any better, because soon we find out that the asian cop knows martial arts.

Patricia Clarkson is also in this and I don’t think I’ve ever seen her this young, but she’s still hot so it was no surprise she was stunning back then.

The dead pool is this game where people predict death’s of famous people and suddenly the ones from Liam Neeson’s list start dying. The idea is kind of interesting and makes the movie very mysterious, but then again the game is pretty pointless, since celebrities don’t actually die like every other weekend. Although, if I had this list, Amy Winehouse and Whitney Houston would’ve definitely been on it.

It’s also a decent commentary on celebrity pressure and violent movies influencing people to be violent. Liam Neeson is an arrogant horror director, who’s movies are being replicated in the ways some people are killed, so there’s some slasher movie elements thrown in. And it sort of goes with my opinion, that only already unstable person could be influenced by a movie enough to go out with a hockey mask on and slash teenagers with a machete. But to quote this movie „Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has them.”, I’m thinking about making this the tagline of my blog.

There’s a very interesting chase scene, where the chaser is an RC car. A pretty fucking powerful one at that. And watching the chase I realised that it must be a bitch to live in San Francisco. All those steep streets, it’s like going up the stairs for a whole block, I mean, you must feel like Rocky when he ran up those stairs in Philadelphia, but what if you just want to go to the store for some smokes? You’d die, before you had the chance to develop a cancer.

Overall, a fast and entertaining movie, cheesy, but with at least some substance. Not one of the better Dirty Harrymovies, but recommended nonetheless.

“Duuuuude, Mr. Popper’s Penguins is so funny on heroin.”

Review of The 39 Steps (1935)

5 May

The 39 Steps (1935) is a British mystery/thriller/romance film based on the adventure novel The Thirty-nine Steps by John Buchan.

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock (Frenzy (1972), The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927)).

Written by Charles Bennett (The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961)).

Starring: Robert Donat, Madeleine Carroll, Peggy Ashcroft, Godfrey Tearle, John Laurie Frank Cellier and others.

Here’s an early Hitchcock classic, with the familiar theme of an innocent man on the run.

Our hero is a Canadian man, who displays neither a Canadian accent or exceptional hockey skills, but other than that he is very happy-go-lucky type of guy, quite kind, jokes a lot, is totally unsuspicious and stays calm even after a woman is stabbed during the night in his apartment. This is kind of odd, since the stabbers leave after killing the woman. They probably got out of the house and were like „Oh, shit, we forgot to kill the guy! I swear, we’d forget our heads if they weren’t attached to our necks. Oh well, let’s just wait for him on the street, he’ll walk right out of there after he finds the chick with a knife in her back.”

Of course he knows he has to bail and we get a cool transition from a screaming woman, who finds the girl’s body to a train blowing it’s horn. The guy is now on train and the police gets on that train. He escapes and goes to some crofter’s house and the police find him, sure, it’s interesting that they are able to find him this quickly all the time, but even more amazing is the fact that characters keep reading about the developments of this investigation in the newspapers. Multiple times, even during one day. In 1930’s newspapers knew how to work, no wonder now printed press is dying.

Some negative aspects creep up here and there. There’s some sped-up shots during a foot chase, which look just cheesy. We also have the age-old „saved from a bullet by a book” trick, which was even getting old by the 1930’s. It’s not exactly a smart movie, but it is fast-paced and entertaining one and we still this kind of action romances today pretty often.

Robert Donat is very charismatic as the lead. He acts and looks something like a blend of Clark Gable and Brendan Fraser. Kind of goofy, but at the same time very suave and at times malicious. And he has a nice chemistry with Madeleine Carroll as the romantically reluctant female lead.

The last shot is just perfect. Not that Hitchcock’s movies lack perfect shots. Although some film critics tribute Hitchcock with calculating and polishing every single shot of his movie to perfection and knowing exactly what emotion that will bring out in the viewer. I don’t think I necessarily agree, I think it’s more that he was so talented that his intuition was what told him the exactly right way to film scenes. Of course, with years of experience he also developed masterful technique, but this movie was still made quite early in Hitchcock’s career.

Overall, I wouldn’t count this as one of Hitchcock’s definitive works, but it still is a nice little romantic man-on-the-run flick. However, I don’t recommend this as an introduction to Hitchcock’s work and suggest picking up some of his later, more refined classics.

“Shit, man! Though, it would’ve been more impressive if I hadn’t seen that War-vet missing both legs there by the punch bowl.”

Review of The Cabin in the Woods (2011)

27 Apr

The Cabin in the Woods (2011) is a horror/comedy/mystery film, which adds a little more to the stock horror clichés.

Directed by Drew Goddard. This movie is his directorial debut.

Written by Joss Whedon (Alien: Resurrection (1997), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997 TV)) and Drew Goddard (Cloverfield (2008), Lost (2004 TV)).

Starring: Fran Kranz, Anna Hutcherson, Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Jesse Williams and others.

Watching the trailer I was quite intrigued by this movie, a “cabin in the woods” movie, which turns out to be something more. Sounds good enough to me! However, the trailer also created this misconception, that it is totally a standard college kid horror flick until it turns out there’s more to it, which would mean the movie is already spoiled. And that’s what I’m going to be very careful about, because there’s a lot to spoil. However, the movie opens with a scene in some scientific facility, so they’re really not hiding this fact, but they do keep to themselves a lot about why all the stuff that is being done there is done.

It is best to avoid knowing anything about the movie, since there’s so many twists and turns, which combined with the mysterious organization that is behind it, makes the movie really unpredictable.

There is some genre-bending as it slides from the usual horror stuff to some comedic lines, to the very dark meta humor, that is going on in the control room, where Jenkins and Whitford …control stuff, which intentionally plays on their similarity to horror screenwriters picking out from various stock monsters, characters and settings.

The college kid characters are the basic jock/slut/smart guy/comic relief/virgin ensemble, but here there is a reason for it and they are actually likable and not one note, they all have at least a little bit more to their characters, but they are forced to show only these sides of them. And the comic relief stoner guy is very funny and seems to be the only one who actually is aware that their vacation is turning into a horror movie. At one point the jock (played by Thor) suggests they should split up and he’s the only one who goes like “Really?”. And this was one of the rare times in a horror movie, where I really didn’t want any of the kids to die.

It is a movie for both the horror savvy and the not so much. Because for the horror fans this can be like a game, where you laugh about the next cliché that is thrown at the characters and guess what is a reference to what. Like “Hey, is that guy with the buzzsaws in his head a reference to Pinhead from Hellraiser?” or “Hey, is that werewolf a reference to any werewolf movie in existence?”, so it’s really fun. The other group can give into the suspense, jump at the jumpscares and laugh about the comedy.

Also it has a great cameo at the very end. I think I’ll stop right here, because the less is said about the movie, the better it is to watch it. It is a beautiful mess, where not everything is explained and it only gains from it.

Overall, a very fun, entertaining and clever film. Definitely recommended for both horror fans and those who just like some thrills with their laughs.

"Wow, I'm not doing that with my arms! ...oh, and also I'm not a girl..."

Review of Magnum Force (1973)

24 Apr

Magnum Force (1973) is an action/crime/thriller film and the second in the Dirty Harry film series.

Directed by Ted Post (Hang ‘Em High (1968), Good Guys Wear Black (1978)).

Written by John Milius (Apocalypse Now (1979), Conan the Barbarian (1982)) and Michael Cimino (Heaven’s Gate (1980), Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974)).

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Hal Holbrook, Mitch Ryan, David Soul, Tim Matheson, Kip Niven, Robert Ulrich and others.

Detective „Dirty Harry” Callahan is back with his huge fucking Magnum. Need I say more?

I just loved the opening titles and the theme. After that we see Harry as always working and disobeying orders. He’s got a new partner, to which he is oddly nice, although we don’t see them being assigned as partners, so maybe they’ve been working together for a while now.

Eastwood shows what might be one of his best abilities. Making everything cool. There’s not many people who can make the elbow-patches on a jacket look bad-ass, but he does. One might argue, that other than being cool, he doesn’t do much else in the movie, but I’m not asking for anything else. Oh, and as if he wasn’t cool enough, a hot asian chick just randomly appears and a few minutes later is crawling into his bed. That lucky bastard.

In Dirty Harry, it seemed that Harry doesn’t like his nickname all that much, but now it appears that he enjoys the „dirty” work.

The interesting thing about these movies, is that except for the asshole cop Harry Callahan, they aren’t very connected. You can pick up any of the Dirty Harry movies and you won’t have any problems because of not knowing the back story and unless you’re afraid of getting confused by Eastwood’s age, you can watch the movies in whichever order you like.

They throw the n-word around quite a lot here and that is what I enjoy about the 70’s cinema. In a way it is the grittiest it has ever gotten. The golden/silver age sterility is destroyed and the political correctness of the last three decades hasn’t arrived. Not that I approve of the n-word. Although, since neither me or my ancestors have had anything to do with slavery, I don’t feel any white racial guilt. However, one thing Harry is not is homophobic, that is, if you can shoot well.

What I found the most intriguing about the concept, that the antagonist force Harry faces is also a vigilante one, so it plays more one the line of „how far is too far?”. This sort of pulls back Harry’s own fascist view of the world and states his policy of fighting crime in contrast of the Traffic-Cop Killer’s complete vigilantism. And although it sort of is obvious who is going around serving merciless justice, there’s a couple of unexpected turns to it.

A very young Suzanne Somers appears and shows her breasts at a pool party, but it just made me feel dirty as I enjoyed it and at the same time cringed as I remembered growing up watching her as the mom in Step by Step. It felt like I saw what I wasn’t supposed to.

It has a very exciting car chase, which is odd, since I’m not a big fan of car chases. What I loved about this one, was that it had no background music, so there’s just the sound of engines roaring, tyres screeching, guns blasting and nothing else.

Overall, this is my favourite Dirty Harry movie, I think it is better than the first one and it’s the most entertaining. Definitely recommended.

"Hey, Davis, you know how my last partner died?"
"Yeah, I heard he was sucked into a jet engine, why you ask?"
"No reason."