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Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

19 Nov

Scuzzy filmmakers ahoy!

When a movie is titled “Cannibal Holocaust,” it’s absurd to expect anything other than over-the-top shock horror. That this film offers measured and intelligent social commentary along with its horrific violence and impossible-to-forget imagery elevates it far beyond mere schlock. Continue reading

City of the Living Dead (1980)

5 Nov

Oh sure, he may look menacing now, but just wait til you see him in action.

City of the Living Dead” was an unplanned selection for 31 Nights of Horror. I had expected to get a new movie in the mail, but it didn’t arrive in a timely fashion, so I was left scrounging for something to take its place. Netflix recommended this one, which didn’t seem familiar based on its summary. By the time I realized what I was watching — and which famously gruesome death scene I was about to see — it was too late. Lucio Fulci had won again. Continue reading

The Devil’s Backbone (2001)

18 Oct

 

Carlos' beatific reaction to seeing a bomb stuck in the courtyard of his new home is beyond weird.

 

The Devil’s Backbone” is another genre-bender from visionary director Guillermo del Toro. Del Toro’s films tend to be beautiful and poignant while at the same time suspenseful and terrifying, an uneasy marriage of art and horror. With this film, he adds another layer — a coming-of-age story — and creates an altogether different interpretation of what at first appears to be a traditional ghost story. Continue reading

Thirst (2009)

18 Oct

 

So a priest walks into a blood bank ... Stop me if you've heard this one ...

 

Chan-wook Park has never failed to impress me with his measured, mature films. His “Vengeance” trilogy was aesthetically bold and accented with jaw-dropping action sequences, but beneath the stylish surface was a series of masterful takes on the complex emotions which inspire vengeance. So when the auteur decided to take on a vampire tale with “Thirst,” my interest was decidedly piqued. Continue reading

The Human Centipede: First Sequence (2009)

12 Oct

 

You should really believe me when I tell you that in this movie, the mad scientist is much scarier than his monster.

 

You may think you don’t want to see “The Human Centipede: First Sequence” because of its absolutely horrific concept, all the other various horrific functions which arise from said concept, or merely because you don’t enjoy the sub-genre of horror commonly monikered “torture porn.” In reality, you don’t want to see it because it’s a shoddily-made film that undermines its horrific concept with gaping plot holes and severe logic issues. If for some reason you don’t already know what the central concept is, you should stop reading now. Spoilers will be necessary to talk about this film in any reasonable fashion. Continue reading

The Girl Who Played With Fire (2009)

13 Sep

Don't let this photo fool you. This film is boring.

Lisbeth Salander captured the world’s attention in the wildly successful “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” The character’s complex blend of indifference, intellect and sex appeal proved irresistible for readers and film audiences alike. Unfortunately, “The Girl Who Played With Fire,” the second installment in the Salander trilogy, isn’t as compelling as the initial offering, and the marked decrease in strength of story casts serious doubts on the trilogy’s finale. Continue reading

Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

20 Aug

Good thing you don't have to count calories in a visual feast.

Sumptuous. Luminous. Stunning. It is pointless to attempt any discussion of Hayao Miyazaki’s “Howl’s Moving Castle” without paying well-deserved homage to the sheer beauty of the film. Lucky for us, there’s more than simple surface value to this multi-layered fairy tale. Continue reading