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Friday, December 31, 2010

The Kiss (2008) - Horror Vampire

The Kiss (2008) - When I received this film for Christmas I was disappointed that it was not the great and awesome "The Kiss (1988)" Where a women keeps her eternal youth by stealing it from young women she gets close to with the help of an African god idol. But alas instead we have this strange film that doesn't seem to know what it wants to be. Is it comedy, horror, or just horrid. The opening with its explanation of the different clans of vampire and the burial of the snake clan queen left me worried that this would be a movie full of its own importance. The horrid acting in that first scene shaded my hopes for the film.
Jeremy Williams (Lendon LeMelle) is the picked on kid in the apparently one room schoolhouse, a loner with a disconnected Mom he goes through his days listening to his head phones and trying to not get noticed. One day when hiding in an abandon house to avoid some bullies, he hears the cries of our buried vampire queen. After opening the tomb and carrying the dried corpse home he goes about, and I guess this is the comedy part, collecting small animals for blood for her. Her psychic connection to him grows as she gets more blood and reforms into the beautiful Santa Maria (Lourdes Colon). Upon becoming fully formed again she fucks him to seal the deal. Note: If you are going to bring a latina vampire queen back from rotting hell make sure you get to bang her as part of the deal. No longer a virgin Jeremy now has a new confidence and some amazing powers, well they are her powers to keep him safe from the bullies. Jeremy has a start to a normal relationship with the startlingly blue eyed Carrie (Angela Rachelle) that never quite goes anywhere but was getting us thinking Jeremy is semi normal. Then of course he starts acting like a dick, he has a group of girls hanging on his jock, he is confident even cocky with the former bully Javier (Michael Galvez) and in general is not an appealing guy.
Santa maria wants more than dogs blood so she has Jeremy invite the groups from the high school to her place for a "Party", she really is the only one who gets to party at this event though. When they arrive Jeremy is all uppity under the spell of Santa Maria and the kids seem to not notice that non of the guest at the party spend much time interacting with them. They are ghost summoned to fill out the room and have little interest in the living. Santa Maria now goes about looking to feed on the kids, two end up in a bedroom for a romp, Fonso (Vincent Rivera) and Sandra(The ever so sexy assed Noel Signagio) and while she is in the bathroom putting in her birth control, Santa Maria comes in a hot little nighty and bites the shit out of him. Then snacks on Sandra when she comes out. Here though we get to see the real flaw in this film. The makeup! Santa Maria has this big latex mouthpiece of fangs that looks like a Halloween, five and dime store bought costume. It spoils what so far has been a fairly decent low budget vampire flick. Up until this point writer/director Scott Madden had done a nice job hiding the bad makeup with quick cuts and deceptive angles but here it is on full display.
She goes about killing off the other kids and when finally we come to pretty Carrie we get surprised that she is killed too. Jeremy was shocked and so was I. My thought was there would be a choice for Jeremy between the two women but really his choice is to either die with them or join Santa Maria as a vampire. Finally the last bit of bad fake mouth is shown in full light and looks stupid and the film comes to a close but what about that explanation about the vampire clans? How will this come into play? Well it won't, you will get a couple throw away lines and realized that whole idea could have been edited out and it would not have impacted the film at all. Now I want to recommend this but boy it is really close, this really is not a good film but I still enjoyed it. Maybe because I watched it after Katiebird so anything would seem better than it is.
Rating (5.0 barely) 5.0 and up are recommended, in the Zombiegrrlz system only rent it!

Notes on the year: Back in January the Finalgirl Blog launched a plan to watch 100 movies in the year and I was trying to match that effort on this blog. I did not break the films up into categories, like she did but figured that with all the films I missed as a youth I could get 100 in in the calendar year. Well this is my 100th review this year. Cheers for me!!!!!!

Katiebird *Certifiable Crazy Person (2005) - Horror Serial Killer

Katiebird *Certifiable Crazy Person (2005) - Justin Paul Ritter wrote and directed this torture porn feature about a CCP (Certifiable Crazy Person). Through a current time storyline where an older Katiebird (Helene Udy) tortures and kills her therapist Dr. Richardson (Todd Gordon), we hear her tell the story of the beginnings of her serial killer life. Then through flashbacks to her teen years (Taylor M. Dooley) we see her torture and kill her first victim under the guidance of her serial killer father (Lee Perkins).
The film attempts to be philosophical about the "art" of the kill and through some very interesting camera work the director keeps the audience interested for a while. There is a captivating soundtrack composed by Daniel Iannantuono and some really interesting split screen making the viewing interesting, ultimately thought it is just a crazy person killing people, torturing them first in a really in your face manner, then killing. The father figure is there to spout philosophy about the importance of how to kill but really do we need this? Is there really a noble philosophy for really psychotic behavior? No and because of that fact the film just becomes grueling to watch. I kept wanting the character to get on with it. It wasn't like I didn't know what was coming. There was no real surprise. Sure the attempt was made to stylize the ritual and certainly the tools were there but really what was happening was teeth being ripped out. We get to see the same things in both time lines, it would have been a bit more interesting if Katiebird had grown as a killer and the older version had some new tricks.
What is with movie making that is about bad things for the sake of bad things? Where is the character development in this film. Katiebird is a complex character yes but we get to see only the one aspect of her character, she likes her victims to hurt her as she tortures them. We never see much else in the character or any of the story of her life between the first kill and the last. So really there is no story except "Hey look at my first kill" and "Hey look at my latest kill."
So as much as visually I enjoyed what was done here I am not going to recommend this one.
Rating (3.9) 5.0 and up are recommended, in the Zombiegrrlz rating system I would say Skip It!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The House On Sorority Row (1983) - Horror Slasher

The House on Sorority Row (1983) -Ah college life! or death on this case. The film opens with a birth scene, Dr. Beck (Christopher Lawrence) brings a child into the world. At this point the scene is amazingly disconnected from anything because it is just to let us know a baby was born. We don't know why and will not for some time. So about twenty years later we are at college, at a sorority full of lovely young ladies. They are unhappy with the House Mother Mrs. Dorothy Slater (Lois Kelso Hunt) because she is difficult and strict. Wasn't she the woman in the birth scene? Oh so did the baby not live? Is she dealing with having no children by looking after the sorority house?

Party! that is what they girls want and they go about getting things ready for this. Of course the cantankerous Slater wants no parties, What do these girls think this is some kind of sorority? The girls talk about how they should prank Mrs. Slater to get back at her for being a bitch. Vicki (Eileen Davidson) is really upset and comes up with an idea to prank Mrs Slater. Katherine (Kate McNeil) is wary of the prank and wishes everyone just get along. It is a really well pulled off prank and the old woman is at first horribly frightened but then accidentally killed. What are the girls going to do. Call an ambulance as Kate wants. No lets just use group pressure and fear about their lives being ruined to cover up the death. What? Really? Sink the body in the dirty pool and have your party anyway?

Well that was the solution, the party starts and we get some really good gory attacks and deaths as the girls are knocked off one at a time, Liz (Janis Ward), Jeanie (Robin Meloy) Diane (Harley Jane Kozak) Morgan (Jodi Draigie) and Stevie (Ellen Dorsher) with Kate and Vicki now are noticing their numbers shrinking and worrying that the old lady was not dead but trying to get them. Little do they know the son of Mrs. Slater saw his mother die and the trauma from this and a medical condition turned him into a Pyscho-Killer!

I was impressed with some of the gore they added in post to this film. In general I think the movie holds together well for an 80s slasher film. It has some personality, a wierd looking killer and the hair and clothes caused flashbacks. The premise is silly and why they ever remade it will never make sense, but the $400,000 or so it cost was all made back and more when it made 4 million. The pacing is decent and even though the heroine is a bit of a stick in the mud, the film is worth a look.
Rating (5.1) 5.0 an up are recommended, In the Zombiegrrlz system I say Rent It!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Wind of Fear (2007) - Horror Ghost

The Wind of Fear (2007) - "Hasta El Viento Tiene Miedo" This Spanish film about a girls mental health facility, where young women are treated for eating disorders and suicidal thoughts. Claudia (Martha Higareda) arrives after a suicide attempt and is not welcomed with open arms by the other girls. In this facility run by Dr. Bernarda (Veronica Langer) the idea is to confront the feeling and behaviors the girls have head on. Through group therapy and physical activity they are to be treated for their problems. Soon after arriving she learns of a girl who died at the school and Josefina (Danny Perea) one of the other girls says her ghost still walks the grounds. The film for the most part was a bit slow and meandering. It tried to create a ghost story but was not scary. It tried to have an aspect that was reform school but that fell flat. Some of the actresses were very beautiful including our lead, Ivette (Elizabeth Valdez) and Silvia (Magali Boysselle) In the end there were some twist and turns but it never really held your attention. When the turn comes featuring one of the doctors and her lesbian relationship with the dead girl you will already have been watching too long and probably have lost interest. The copy I had although DVD was of really grainy poor quality which was also a distraction.

Rating (3.8) 5.0 and up are recommended, on the Zombiegrrlz scale I say Skip It!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Last of the Living (2008) - Horror Zombie

Last of the Living (2008) - Writer Director, Producer, Best Boy, hell just about everything in this low budget New Zealand zombie flick was done by Logan McMillan. Its existence is because this guy had a vision and worked really hard to make it happen. It is a story about three guys, Morgan (Morgan Williams), Ash (Ashleigh Southam) and Johnny (Robert Faith) after the world has ended in a zombie apocalypse, as we all know it eventually will. They are just surviving, gathering food, killing zombies for fun and generally not getting on in a world without purpose. It would have probably stayed that way but for the chance that they ran across a guy (Mark Hadlow) and his daughter Steph (Emily Paddon-Brown). These two have a cure for the zombie virus, but in the meeting the three morons break the last vile and Dad is bitten by zombies. So the three must go with Steph to a hospital to make a new sample. I was about ready to give up on this film before this. It was very Small scale low budget with stationary footage that took place for no particular reason. Little in the way of character development had been done and to this point the plot was nonexistent. So now we had a plot but the execution was just awful. The one foreshadowed event was Johnny's berserker fighting move and it was pretty lame too.
They get to the hospital but before the sample is finished being spun the power goes out in the building. This sets up two things, Morgan and Ash heading down to the cellar to get a generator going and Johnny and Steph upstairs, while all the security locked doors come open and the zombies get in. They finish and fight their way out while Morgan and Ash resolve some pent up feelings in some of the most poorly constructed dialog I have seen in a movie. Still they all make it outside and only Johnny is bitten so onward to the berserker so the other three can escape. They head to the airport with Steph now bitten. They have to get to Stewart Island before she changes into a zombie. Suddenly also there are new zombies with red eyes who are fast and chasing them. Whatever, this movie was bad... an example they get to the plane and get in the air and the two guys go in back and take a nap. Yes with the pilot bitten and sure to turn into a red eyed zombie and they nap. Still they manage to get her out of the plane and then Ash manages to land it. Then the worst is that the whole story is for not as in the end they all fail even though they make it to the Island. WTF!!!
The movie is just pointless and hard to watch. All the camera work is reduced fields of sight like there was just one camera and a tripod or handheld. The plot goes nowhere fast and then when it gets a purpose the character interaction does not fit the situations. They introduce a new zombie type for plot convenience with no explanation. None of the characters is more than a outline and then the ending is a downer. So besides the credit a independent film maker gets for getting a project done, Last of the living gets a poor score here.
Rating (2.6) 5.0 and higher are recommended, in the Zombiegrrlz rating system I would say Skip It!

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Book of Eli (2010) Post Apocalyptic Thriller

The Book of Eli (2010) - The Hughes brothers (Albert and Allen) direct this religious story about the world after a great war has thrown it into ruin. Taking place in the United States we see Carnegie (Gary Oldman) a ruthless gang leader searching for a bible. He believes the words to move himself to be a great leader is hidden in the book. He is older and remembers the words and knows how people are moved by them. So he sends out his illiterate gang searching for any books they can find hoping to gain the last copy. We also learn why there are not any left. After the great war many people blamed the bible for causing it and sought to burn them from existence. Probably a good move on humanities part. Of course this is a bit of a ridiculous story point because really, in this retardedly overly religious country there is no way that would ever happen. But a plot point is a plot point and next we meet Eli (Denzel Washington) travelling west he stops in Carnegie's town for trade and water. After some bad ass fighting when he is messed with by some thugs, he ends up on the wrong side of Carnegie, but Carnegie seeing something about this guy tries instead of direct hostility to bribe him with the lovely Solara (Mila Kunis). She learns through her night in his room that he indeed has the book that is so sought after. Before he can get it though Eli and Solara get away and hit the road. The rest of the film is now the search for Eli on the desert roads heading west towards San Francisco. So we have the setup that is played out. You know since I don't think I will recommend this There WILL BE A SPOILER COMING!!!!

After Eli is caught and the book taken from him things finish with him continuing westward with Solara while Carnegie gets back to the town he runs. Surprised that when he gets the lock on the book to open, it is all in Braille. The only one that can read it is Solara's mother Claudia (Jennifer Beal) and since Carnegie is such a dick she is not inclined. Back on the West coast Eli reaches Alcatraz prison and find there is a group there collecting and protecting old world knowledge. So now we see the truth about Eli, he is blind. Wait what? No he isn't he walk straight and purposefully down so many roads, he shot guys from rooftops with a handgun from 500 yards. He single handed fought 15 guys in a bar and killed them all without breaking a sweat. How could it be?

Well in paying attention to the film you see how he had an unbreakable faith that he was on a mission from God, and like Eli of the bible this one comes to bring back the word of God. He has memorized the King James version of the good book and he never needed it to deliver the words. His mission was to bring religion back into the world and before his death he does just that. So many things where his non reaction to danger looked like faith could be seen in light of his blindness revelation as handicap. Still I do not think they sold this very well in the film. Too many times he was too sure footed, too agile and just too damn competent to be blind. So it must have been a combination of faith and luck and good hearing? grrrrrr...

I really believe that the Hughes brothers were making a movie about the importance of religion, the light in the darkness to them. They think they were saying that the freedom that come with religion is as important as the control, that Carnegie wanted to wield through it. I think that real message may be that religion will untimately cause conflict becasue it is always an interpretation. What about the other religions of the world? This country is a salad bowl of beliefs yet here it seems the only words that mean anything are Christian? What happened to the other beliefs, were all holy books burned? Would Carnegie settled for a Koran? Oh well it was a nice try.
Rating (4.7) 5.0 and up are recommended, in the Zombiegrrlz system Skip It!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Return to House on Haunted Hill (2007) - Horror Ghost

Return to House on Haunted Hill (2007) - The remake House on Haunted Hill (1999) was a rethinking of the original 1959 version. but similar enough to attempt to capture the spirit of the story. With a fairly decent cast including Geoffrey Rush, Framke Janssen, Ali Larter and Taye Diggs the story followed original close enough, the one large change was the story of the house and its mechanical system that locks it down. The film was an okay but not great attempt at a remake. This new film is a poor substitute for that mediocre film. There are no actors of note and the story is contrived. In it the sister of the Ali Larter character form the 1999 version, Ariel (Amanda Righetti) and her boyfriend Paul (Tom Riley) are kidnapped by a gang of art theives lead by Desmond (Erik Pallidino) and taken to the house in search of a valuable artifact. Also at the house at the same time is Dr. Vannacutt (Jeffrey Combs) and two of his students who are also looking for the statue. The ghosts of the house very quickly lock the groups in and soon they are searching around and dying gruesome deaths. If there is value in the film it is that some of the deaths are just gross. Innards ripped out, face cut off, torn into quarters or head crushed by a refrigerator deaths are bloody good. Sure they effects can always be improved on but hey this was not bad for that.
The story ends up a real survival story with everyone trying to find a way to end the slaughter. We learn that the statue is the power of the house and the only way to get out is to somehow get it out of the house. Being locked in is a problem but our ever resourceful Ariel has a solution and really the movie is centered around which characters survive to see that solution executed. I guessed correctly about half way through. We know the main character is Ariel so at least she will survive, who else though hmmmm....
Not a very compelling film nor a particularly entertaining one this dud will leave you scratching your head. Even if you see it it probably will not satisfy.
Rating (4.1) 5.0 and up are recommended, in the Zombiegrrlz system I say Rent it for the gore.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Unstoppable (2010) - Action Thriller

Unstoppable (2010) - There are not many actors I go to the movies to see, but looking at Denzel Washington's filmography I have probably seen 85% of his films in theaters so I guess I am a fan. Denzel in many of his movies is often a flawed hero. A guy that does something noble but still is not the all American guy. In this film he is a veteran freight train driver, Frank who risks his life to stop a run away train going against his corporations wishes to do so. Teamed with young guy Will (Chris Pine) who is also dealing with personal problems they find themselves on the same line as the train that is going full throttle with no driver. Adding to the thriller is the fact that the train has cars with explosive fluids that will explode if the train derails. Well if this was not bad enough, there is a corner on the tracks in Stanton PA where if the train is not slowed down it will derail exploding and wiping out the town.
This is the premise and as an action movie you do not need much more than this; just set the train in motion and then try to stop it before time runs out. Then get your writer (Mark Bomback) to mix in a cold and corporate business structure, a lovely and competent yard manager, Connie (Rosario Dawson), some threats to kids and neighborhoods along the way and BANG! you have a thriller action flick. The thing is the early threats are obvious red herrings because of when they happen in the film. If someone had actually gotten hurt it would have moved the threat of this film way up, but instead we get the idea of a threat but not the balls to make it real. Still the writing is good enough, the information about characters is leaked to the audience rounding them nicely as the story plays out.
We already know who the heroes are so we know any attempts made by anyone else in the film will fail, so the cops and the corporate solutions are just filler until Frank and Will catch up to the runaway. Still I think you can step away from these realities enough to enjoy this film. Director Tony Scott keeps the film tight and energy packed with enough cutting away from the main characters to develop the setting and enough development for secondary characters.
Mostly action films leave me feeling a bit empty, like candy they taste really good but have little nutritional value. This film tries to build the characters enough to avoid this but ultimately fails. Still it is a nice ride and engaging enough to give it your rental dollars.
Rating (6.2) 5.0 and above are recommended in the Zombiegrrlz system, wait and Rent It!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Children (2008) - Horror virus

The Children (2008) - Children of the snow. As a virus infects the children of a couple families having Christmas together the sick children get pretty evil and begin to kill the adults. There is not a lot more plot than this really. There is the conflict between couples about permissive upbringing versus strict rules based child rearing. There is the teenage girl sort of flirting with her aunts husband and his creepy acceptance of it. Then there is the fundamental disbelief the parents have when the harm starts. Of course as a parent there is no way you are going to think your child is trying to kill you. This movie co-ops the fear that behind the innocent faces there is evil waiting to strike. When my daughter was small 3 or so I had this dream that I awoke and heard her little feet pattering out of our room. Strange I thought and got up to follow her, the apartment we had could be circled in going room to room. I would hear the patter and follow only to not see her. Then I entered the kitchen after the footsteps, flicked on the lights. Joy was up on a chair reaching enough to pull a butcher knife out of the block. When the light went on I only saw this in a glimpse as she push it back in quickly and leaned to the sink saying, "dwink, water". The whole dream was wrapped in a feeling of being a bit afraid. This is what this film does. The parents can never quite be sure what is going on. There is a threat but it is from the least likely to cause it.
When I think of evil children the movie that comes to mind is "Children of the Corn". It is a more overt film with the theme being right out there from the beginning. The children killing the adults of the town is one of the first scenes and you know from the start what will happen. In The Children" The process is slower and the immediate danger is not there, but the threat grows as more of the kids get infected. The film is effective at not letting the parents catch on too quickly and even though the teenager seems onto the games of the kids. Being the teen she is not really listened to by the adults and in fact becomes distrusted as the possible killer.
There are not too many ways this plot can go so I was waiting for the reveal that the problem was not just an isolated incident but a worldwide epidemic. When the last couple of survivors try to get away what will they be running to? Will they escape and infected zone or just be heading into new terrors? You will have to watch it to find out.
Writers Paul Andrew Williams and Tom Shankland (who also directed) do a good job making this a believable story and the horror of parents being attacked and having to defend themselves against there children is chilling. The directing was sharp enough to build a believable survival story. There is that one thing though, when is it when the people are in a car and see what looks like a dangerous scene, one or both of them have to get out of the car to investigate? I can see early in a film but late in a movie when the characters already know there is a ton of danger.
The acting was solid with Eva Birthistle and Rachel Shelly as adult sisters, Stephen Campbell Moore and Jeremy Sheffield as the husbands, and the lovely Hannah Tointon as the teenager Casey. Oh and one more thing, Blue Crayon!
Rating (6.2) 5.0 and up are recommended in the Zombiegrrlz rating system I would say Rent It!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Appeared (2007) - Horror Ghost

The Appeared (2007) - Aparecidos is a ghost, serial killer type thriller wrapped around the living history of post Pinochet Chile. Siblings Melena (Ruth Diaz) and Pablo (Javier Pereira) are called to the hospital where their Father is dying. The estranged man is brain dead and they must prove who they are in order to shut off his machines. The bureaucracy proves difficult and the documents they need are away in a small town of their youth. Adding to the need for a road trip is that Pablo wants to see where his father is from. So taking their Father's car they head to the past metaphorically and a bit literally.

At an early pee stop, Pablo sees, or imagines a girl digging at the wheel weld of the car. Investigating he finds a diary. It is no ordinary diary though. As he explores it he sees it outlines the travels of one of Pinochet's doctors. In this case a man who hunted down, tortured then killed people who were thought to be socialist or communist, or teachers, artist, possibly anyone who was against the military dictatorship. The writing and Polaroids show Pablo and the viewer, that trip long ago was almost twenty years to the day. Pablo works his sister to retrace the steps of the killer while on the way to the old family house.
This is when the film takes more of a ghost story feel and tempo. It does a nice job of getting the past story of the hunted fugitives to interact with the siblings in the present. Can actions today change the past? Can Pablo and Melena do anything to change a fate that has already happened? The story is so much more than this device, it allows the viewer to learn about the era of Pinochet through these characters while they in turn are exposed to some amazing revelations within their own story.
Not wanting to spoil this fine film at all no further plot point will be discussed. It should be noted that the film goes from ghost movie to thriller and does a really fine job at it. Writer /Director Paco Cabezas does an excellent job on creating a multi levelled story with subtext and meaning. In the end you are left with the desire to learn of the injustices of that time in Chile.
Rating (7.5) 5.0 and up are recommended, in the Zombiegrrlz system I would own it!

Sugar Hill (1974) - Voodoo Revenge

This review is part of the Final Girl Film Club, run by the talented and awesome Stacy Ponder. I do not think I would have ever found this film on my own. It is a mid seventies, blaxsploitation voodoo revenge story and I have to say they are not my main focus. The story goes like this; Langston (Larry D. Johnson) owns the hot Club Haiti and is doing well in his business. Local underworld crime boss Morgan (Robert Quarry) is trying to get Langston to sell the club at a thieves price. Lanston the cool operator tells him to step off. So Morgan has his men beat him to death in the parking lot of his club. This happens quick almost right after the opening credit. I have to say the theme song that plays in the credits is... Just fucking excellent it was "Supernatural Voodoo Woman" by The Originals you can here it on YouTube here.
Fine and fierce girlfriend Diana 'Sugar' Hill (Marki Bey) sees this and wants revenge. She inherits the club and while pretending to be subordinate in her relationship with the aggressive Morgan she secretly heads home to set up her revenge. She gets aide from Mama Maitresse (Zara Cully) an aging voodoo priestess. Together they do a ceremony to call upon the the king of the dead Baron Samedi (Don Pedro Colley). He agrees to help her get her revenge by raising a zombie army to do Sugar's bidding. She then uses the very cool metallic half ping pong eyed zombies to kill Morgan's thugs one by one.
The rest is pretty standard revenge flick as the setup of each killing , then the killing take place and the pressure on Morgan grows. There are subplots, and ex boyfriend cop, Valentine (Richard Lawson) who reconnects to Sugar after Lanston's death and investigates the killings. He is a lost plot point in this and never quite catches up to the goings on. There is also the racist girlfriend Morgan constantly belittles and verbally abuses, Celeste (Betty Anne Rees), her ending is the strangest of all.
Overall this is a good movie, the story is straight forward, the zombies are creepy, the bad guys get what is coming to them. Still there is something missing, it is too straight forward. It never challenges, to question if revenge is right or wrong. It does not explore, nor seem to have negative effects. Getting revenge with zombies is just how things happen and the price is not very high for this kind of help. In this story Sugar is right to do what she does and there is never a question of whether she should. Then the ending really gives Sugar a free ride and for me, at least, it took away from the impact of the film.
The whites in this film are the bad guys and boy being a progressive open accepting person it is very difficult and disturbing to hear the misogynistic bully Morgan does with Celeste and even harder to see and hear such racist dialog. It may fit their characters and certainly the messages of this genre are not lost on me, but my hair was on end with some of this.
Performances are good in this film and it was really cool to recognize a couple of the players. Zara Cully would later be Mama Jefferson on the show The Jeffersons, I loved her on that show and here she does a fine job with her crazy white hair and time worn look. Then on top of it Count Yorga himself Robert Quarry, as a kid one of the scariest things I remember from movies, is Count Yorga running straight at the camera with his bloody red eyes and claws up. That's the way you scare a twelve year old.
Rating ( 5.3) 5.0 and up are recommended, In the Zombiegrrlz rating system I would say Rent it!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Son of Frankenstein (1939) - Horror Monster

Son of Frankenstein (1939) - Son of Frankenstein was the last time the great Boris Karloff would take the role of the monster. This was also a star studded film with Basil Rathbone as the son, Wolf von Frankenstein and Bela Lugosi showing his versatility as the crooked neck Ygor. The story is that the son inherits the castle while away in America with his American wife and son. I know you are thinking, "But didn't the castle get blown to bits in the last movie?" Why yes it looked like it did but amazingly it was just damaged. When Wolf and the family move in they are in a post modern castle of sparse furniture, shapely angles and distinct contrast of light and shadow. The sets are almost stage like in there simplicity yet striking.
The villagers are not happy to have the family in town and give them a cold shower on the rainy day they arrive, all leaving as the Son speaks of wanting to get to know them. Of course if your family let the monster get out into the community not once but twice, you would be wary too. Just like in the prior movies the Wolf von, falls passionately for the work his father was doing. Amazingly he is another in a long line of scientists. When in the lab surveying the damage he is almost killed by Ygor and when he is exposed to the dormant Monster the fire come alive in him. Just like his father before him he dives into what makes the monster growl.
The town people are not so much the fools they once were, or so they would like you to think. Inspector Krogh (Lionel Atwill) continues to check in with the Frankenstein's prying as much as possible into the goings on in the castle. He continually finds ways of showing up and moving the story on through his persistent inquiries.
Still the Son seems unstoppable and acts as possessed by the experimentation as his father was. He gets the monster going again but learns the persuasive Ygor seems to have control of the Monster. He sends him out for revenge assignments, since the towns people of the village put Ygor on trial after the father's crimes, he was found guilty by eight jurors. Now he sends the monster to kill each one. Did I mention that when they found him guilty they hanged him til dead. Yeah baby but luckily when Ygor was pronounced dead he actually wasn't and they apparently have double jeopardy in this village.
Of the three Frankenstein movies I have reviewed I think I like this one the best. Lugosi is exceptional as Ygor and the Monster seems wiser and more world worn. There are many subtle subtexts about the coming war, WWII and the consequences of the actions of our parents. Like many father son relationships Wolf has rose colored glasses about the work his father did. To him the whole thing could have been positive if Ygor had only not messed up with the brains. Like his father wondering at the ability to create life from the lifeless but never asking if it is morally right to do so. Also like his father he has doubts about the monster after bringing it back, but hey its a monster, what do you expect?
Since this classic could be unseen by many of today's blog readers I will give away no more plot points. Rent it and give it a watch, it is not the greatest film but It does some things right.
Rating (5.5) 5.0 and up are recommended, in the Zombiegrrlz rating system I say Rent it!