Monthly Archives: October 2013

Jurassic Park Trilogy – 115

Jurassic Park

Covering the Jurassic Park Trilogy, with a little Lovecraft and Nosferatu thrown in.

Movie: Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979) 63/100 Very gratuitous, flatly acted movie but with some scenes with flair

Zombie Flesh Eaters aka Zombi 2 (1979)
Zombie Flesh Eaters

From what I’ve read of it, this one seems somewhat overrated, but it does have its moments. Apparently marketed as some sort of sequel to Dawn of the Dead in some places, these zombies aren’t quite the same as those of Romero’s universe. They’re even slower if anything, and more listless, and their facial and bodily features are not as ‘naturalistic’ as Romero’s walking dead (it’s all relative, of course). In this one, the animation of the dead goes back to older zombie lore, back to voodoo and cursed histories. Even so, it’s not really explained, and we are just left to it.

Most of the action is set on a Caribbean island Mantoul, and here we have some too-ing and fro-ing where some doctor at the end of his limits is trying to figure out what’s going on, whilst failing to take any sort of precautions against frequent cases of the reanimated dead. Throw in two couples investigating the disappearance of one of the girls’ father but being stranded by a damaged boat, and you have the main protagonists.

They are a tired lot, and the film is a little boring in places. The best acting by far comes from some brief work by the doctor’s wife (she ends up with her head skewered on a wooden splinter and gets out early), and there’s a decent enough score. The constant use of drumming when you go to island scenes is a little too close to Chinese water torture for my liking.

Having said all that, there are a number of pretty good scenes throughout – a “deserted” yacht floating into New York harbour; a definite “the one where…” moment when a zombie fights a shark that is quite amazing (how did they do that?); an eye on a stick moment; and a graveyard of ancient corpses rising; final shots where we see the world has gone down the tubes.

Overrated I think, and not in the same league as any in the original Romero trilogy, but definitely worth a watch if you aren’t too averse to unrelenting gore and zombie chomping down on the ever decreasing band of goodies.

Movie: Flavia the Heretic (1974) 60/100 Can’t quite decide if it’s art or trash, but winceingly entertaining whatever

Flavia The Heretic (1974)

Flavia The Heretic

Either the movie, or I, can’t decide whether it’s art with a political/feminist agenda, or sleazy eurotrash. It has artistic bits (some of the imagery, especially one very distinctive scene of a naked woman climbing inside a cow’s carcass, and definitely the music). Sometiimes is succeeds as art and trash at the same time (the horrible scene of a woman being raped in a pigsty while the pigs excitedly stamp around her – it’s a poorly acted rape, but you have to feel for the actress being naked and on her back while largeish pigs scurry around her – too close), and in its artistic life, it shows us quite well how men rule – they castrate a horse without regard for its suffering, they rape and get away with it whilst the smallest infraction by a woman means they get flogged (if lucky) or tortured to death if not.

It kind of works partly, and the atmosphere veers from rather fine when the odd imagery and music come in, to being undercut by the poor sound design, some poor acting, and the extremeness of the sleaze.

I kind of enjoyed it, when there wasn’t a wince on my face, which was often.

I definitely saw a cut version by the way, because the end of the uncut apparently has an extended flaying – my version cut sharply just as that started. I don’t feel hard-done-by in missing it though.

Movie: Les Diaboliques/Diabolique 68/100 Highly regarded French thriller that’s too wordy by half

Les Diaboliques/Diabolique 68/100

Les Diaboliques

Highly regarded French thriller that I think owes its reputation to being in the right time and place. It was, I understand, the first foreign language mainstream hit in America in 1955. Frankly, it seems overwordy and unnecessarily long getting to the third act, though the actors are engaging and fun to watch. I have a very similar problem with Clouzot’s other (superior) movie Wages of Fear, that I can only watch (and really, REALLY enjoy) if I just skip the whole first hour. This movie, though, if you skip, you do miss the slow build of tension that is nice (even if far too slow) and does actually pay off in the last 20 minutes or so. And that last act is rather fine, but I couldn’t help but wonder how the bad guy came up with a plan that meant major discomfort for him for hours on end (and indeed, how he seemed to hold his breath for hours on end, when he was left in the bath).

What happens to the character of one of the actresses at the end spookily happened to her in real life several years later. Ahh, the circle of life/art.

Movie: Horror Hotel (aka City of the Dead) 74/100 Rather fine, striking horror movie from 1960 that has strangely parallel plot-beats with Psycho

Horror Hotel (aka City of the Dead) (1960)

Horror Hotel

Rather fine short horror movie, made in the UK with the actors doing American accents. A great beginning with the witchiest-looking witch you ever saw (well, without green makeup at least), atmospheric middle and striking end make this a real pleasure, and whilst it isn’t scary, it is atmospheric, creepy and rich, with some great scene-setting and sudbued, well-written characters and plotting. It also has some amazing parallels with Psycho (which came out just 3 months before), including a similar twist where the audience is misdirected about who the main character is, some fine black-and-white photography, right to a horrific reveal at the end.

It also resembles another great horror movie of 1960, the Italian production Black Sunday, and in fact I think Horror Hotel, despite the grindhouse title, is a better movie than Black Sunday. It also shares plot elements with the later Wicker Man, as noted by Danny Peary in his Guide For The Film Fanatic.

And I didn’t even mention it has Christopher Lee in a central role (doing an American accent too).

Produced by Milton Subotsky, who went on to found Amicus pictures.

Well, worth watching.

Movie: Nosferatu The Vampire 90/100 Deeply enthralling, but with some baffling casting choices that add to the weirdness

Nosferatu The Vampire (1979)

Nosferatu

Directed by Werner Herzog, and some of its hazy, dreamy shots and atmosphere reminiscent of other Herzog movies such as Aguirre, this will bore some and entrall others. It enthralled me, but it is glacially slow and mannered. The tenseness in the odd scenes where, for example, Dracula (for that’s what he’s called here) just stands staring at Harker are mesmeric. There’s plenty of what I think is called “Rembrandt Lighting”, and an amazing shot where virtually all is black apart the the Count’s white, revolting face, who looks wistfully with a 1000-yard stare into his own personal abyss. Equally haunting is Isabelle Adjani as the heroine, clearly dressed, made-up and deporting herself like a silent-era scream-queen, and some amazing shots in the rat-infested city, such as troops of black-clad men carrying coffin after coffin.

Some of the characterisations are just weird. Van Helsing (or Von Helsing here – by the way, I watched the German version) seems a tired old guy, as does some town official charged with arresting him at the end, who is an oddly Monty Pythonesque scene starts arguing with the man in charge, because there is no one left to guard prisoners, as everyone died of the plague…

I really enjoyed this movie, it did the three things I need for a film to be great – it entertained, it enthralled, and it enlightened. Really glad I watched it, thoroughly recommended.

Nightmare on Elm Street 6,7 – 114

Freddy's Dead!

Even more Freddy goodness, with extra cheese. Maybe you’ll never sleep again?

Nightmare on Elm Street 4,5 – 113

Nightmare on Elm Street

Freddy Returns! Plus we discuss some PC games (Warhammer), American Mary and Byzantium.

Star Trek The Original Series Season 1 Episodes 01 to 10 – Odd One Out 044

Star Trek

Mark gets oldschool with Star Trek, Series 1, episodes 1 to 10

Nightmare on Elm Street 1,2 and 3 – 112

Nightmare on Elm Street

Mark and Sam are ready for Mr Krueger

Blade, Blade 2 and Blade Trinity – 111

Blade

Mark and Sam talk about Blade, Blade 2 and Blade Trinity, as well as the game Diablo 3