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The cover art really does have a LOT to do with the film, just not literally
There have been many posts about what this film is about, so I'm going to concentrate on the controversy surrounding the cover art. So many complain that it's misleading art, but it has everything to do with the film and its story, it's just not a LITERAL depiction.Those that keep damning the cover art for this film don't seem to know what's really behind it. It's not a borrowed painting; you can clearly see it's Millie Perkins' face, and the decapitated head she is holding is in the image of her father. Granted, this was not the original artwork for the film, it was used much later and it helped gain attention and viewers. However, it at least does have enough symbolism to still be associated with the story. What the cover art does is capture the essence of the film. People should realize the importance of this, art is not always literal.
In Arrow Video's 2016 set American HORROR PROJECT Vol. 1 which includes the full 88-minute cut of The Witch Who Came From the Sea, there is a book that explains a lot about the actions and thoughts of the character Molly which relates a LOT to the cover art that so many bitch about not having anything to do with the film (but it DOES!).
In one scene Molly and a man are looking at the Botticelli painting The Birth Of Venus. Venus was born in the sea and her father was a god. He was castrated, and his sperm was dropped into the ocean. "The sea was knocked up, Venus was the kid," he said. The Arrow booklet's article states "As her eyes dart over the image you can see her brain forming the same analogies we are." Molly loved her father despite his incestuous actions and she felt he was like a god, since he was a sea captain. She also then seeks out "perfect" looking men and the castrations and killings begin.
The painting on box cover is a representation of all of this -- what kind of cover did people really want? A viewer's job is to read (like the back of the box) and educate yourself before just snatching up a video and expecting a literal interpretation of what you see on the front of a DVD / Blu-ray / VHS box. Especially these days where info can be retrieved about anything on your phone, it's easy to find out for sure what you're getting into.
I love this film, there's so much more going on psychologically than what you see on the surface (another problem people are experiencing with the film The Witch, not researching a little before heading into something that they weren't really going to be into in the first place). The Witch Who Came From The Sea is much smarter than many people realize, and I for one love the cover art.
Bravo to Arrow Video for restoring it to the full cut (the Subversive and Cult Epoch DVD releases were just the R-rated 83- minute cut). The commentary in this newer release has been ported over from the DVD, but Arrow edited the commentary to fit the longer running time. I'm so happy they put so much care and respect into films like this!
Um Pistoleiro Chamado Papaco (1986)
Had more potential had it not held back so much and not used too much editing trickery.
Here's the main thing: If Papaco was being touted as a bisexual western, then by golly GO FOR IT instead of only giving vague tidbits of said male bisexuality and holding back too much. And if you play around too much with editing to disguise the use of body doubles, it gets tedious.
When I first saw Um Pistoleiro Chamado Papaco, I was pleasantly entertained by this Brazilian film. It had everything going for it. I was also intrigued by the fact that many adult films from Brazil contained all persuasions of sex: heterosexual, bisexual, and gay male (not so much on the lesbian angle). The fact that they contained a bisexual element was interesting enough, but the ones I had seen were borderline bizarre (among them being two vampire- related ones and the other just some sort of plot but it all seemed like it was made by a crew that had liquored up quite a bit!).
Papaco was different than those in being it is a western. Other reviewers have elaborated on the plot, so I'll not add more to that. My focus, which other viewers / reviewers have left out, is the fact that the initial "gay" scene is all implied, no nudity, just body motion. The second "gay" scene, while graphic orally, then blocks the view of the gent's lower front while he was receiving from the man behind him, and you never saw that actual act explicitly. Those were the only two scenes of that kind in the film, though Papaco is described as a bisexual. All the other scenes are heterosexual sex and full on views of everything from every angle.
The other issue no one seems to talk about is that there seemed to be a body double for actor Fernando Benini in all scenes, except for one which I'll get to in a moment. You never see his face and full frontal in any sex scene, they keep cutting to the close-ups of the genitals and then to his face, but never both at once. It was difficult to tell the difference between his body and the double's, but to never show all at once was suspicious. In the scene where he's with five women at once, they are always blocking his face with their bodies when showing everyone on camera together. Now, there is ONE scene where I am 100% certain it IS Fernando doing the real thing. At the scene with the blonde woman (at about the 55-minute mark), there is the usual cutting back and forth between his face and her servicing him. However, at nearly the 58-minute mark where you see a member being maneuvered behind the woman, the camera pulls back to show both actors in full view. When the man turns his head, it is indeed Fernando. Even a few "adjusment" motions with his hand when he pulls her up into a different position seemed genuine, however the rest of the scene is the usual cutting back and forth as if a body double was once again used. This process of constant cutting back and forth just becomes too noticeable with each subsequent sex scene.
Some might say, what's the big deal! I can see that argument. But having seen a tremendous amount of films including adult films, when obvious edits are used, it catches my attention. Have you seen THE BEAST IN SPACE? They didn't even try to hide the fact that the body doubles' bodies didn't even come close to resembling the main actors. At least they did in Papaco. However, hiding most of the visuals in the gay scenes (really, they went to an extent, so just go all the way) and SO many edits to disguise Benini's body (they wouldn't even show him full frontal when the little man pointed a gun to Benini's rear end and Benini purposefully got off the bed in a manner as so that you wouldn't see his genitals), it gets distracting.
Yes, I was entertained. Um Pistoleiro Chamado Papaco was fun, even quite arousing. It just came short (no pun intended) of being a really great adult film had they not tried to hold back so much. See it to have the experience of seeing it, but I for one pine for the possibility of what it COULD have been.
Where Joey Lives (1970)
All-male adult film nostalgia at its best, excellent display of traditional masculinity.
*CONTAINS SPOILERS* (If that's possible for an adult film that's 99% sex!)
A "blast" from the past, 1970-style! WHERE JOEY LIVES is a perfect example of traditional masculinity: real, everyday-looking men with beards and moustaches. No "Ken dolls," no manscaped buffed boring models going through the motions. Those looking for an escape from cutie-boy twinkfests or over-buffed hunkfests will appreciate what's on display here.
From a time when adult films involved a storyline, no matter how loose, in order to integrate sexual encounters. This story starts off with a "tour" of an empty mansion, with brief ghostly appearances of the cast from scenes that will appear throughout the film. Joey is the man who narrates all this, and appears at one point talking to the camera. He recalls past parties and sexual encounters between men that happened there.
There are three main sexual segments, the first two being duos and the third a trio. The first encounter really takes you back to that period of time, as the two men that meet at a party are wearing plaid suits! However, their physical look is timeless, both bearded. The second segment involves two men as well, one bearded and one moustached. There seems to be a step-by-step setup to the first two segments, as they both progress in the same manner, down to each physical act and editing. I'm not complaining, though. It may be basic but not poorly done nor boring. The third segment involves moustached Joey himself, first being lead up a staircase by a mysterious naked bearded man to be involved in a threesome with another bearded man (this one having a hippie-like quality that was common for the late-1960s/early 1970s).
A rarity that you just don't see in modern adult films of any kind is genuine affection. All three segments in WHERE JOEY LIVES contain a lot of kissing and affectionate foreplay, even before the clothes come off. For the romantics, this is a very welcome thing.
Joey himself turns out to be one of the "ghosts" apparently, but that doesn't really spoil anything -- I seriously doubt that you'd be watching this film for the esoteric content. A particular music piece is heard throughout the entire film as well, A LOT. Since there is really no natural sound, if you don't care for the music you can always turn the volume down and supply your own music! The copies I've seen of WHERE JOEY LIVES on VHS (even legitimate copies) were mysteriously missing any opening and closing credits. Just a sudden start and end. I've never been able to find a cast and crew listing anywhere. However, I'm 95% sure that Joey is none other than porn director Joe Gage. He rarely acted in any adult films other than MORNING, NOON AND NIGHT and would appear in the background in orgy sequences in most Gage productions. By comparing his looks and voice from Morning, Noon And Night and Where Joey Lives, I'm convinced it's him. Any information to verify this would be appreciated! Nowdays, younger generations have been brought up to believe that body hair (particularly on men) is bad, and if you decide to keep any, it should be trimmed down or shaved off entirely. Where JOEY LIVES is a great nostalgic trip back to 1970, with a natural masculinity that's very appealing. Regular builds, no tribal tattoos, no piercings. To me that's a lot more exciting because it's real and accessible. With the thousands upon thousands of adult films released over the decades, this is one that never disappoints and can be enjoyed over repeated viewings.
Hopefully someday someone will find a print that's complete -- Since Joe Gage is still out there working on projects, maybe he can help. Otherwise, good luck hunting down copies of this enjoyable film! It's worth the endeavor.
Welcome to Earth (2005)
It's like you're right there at the party!
Aliens have been on Earth for a year, and will reveal themselves to the world at a special summit in Sri Lanka that will be broadcast worldwide. Parties are everywhere that day, and this film is about one particular group of friends in Connecticut that get together, talk about what could be ahead for the world, and of course their own personal issues surface especially in the relationship department. This of course is where you realize "Welcome To Earth" is more of a metaphorical title and not just relating to the backdrop of the alien situation.
Welcome To Earth is one of those nifty little indie projects that definitely has its own identity. While very low budget (shot over six days with two cameras), it's no lazy affair and it's refreshingly unpretentious. It shows you can make a great story without big stars, big sets, or big special effects. With good dialog and good acting, keeping it simple is a plus.
All aspects of personalities and insecurities are represented here, and unlike director Mongillo's previous film The Wind where relationships are made worse and even destroyed due to the consequences of actions, in Welcome To Earth you find that they face issues and each other and see that there's hope for them and chances to better themselves. Of course throughout the film you feel like you want to slap some of these people, and then realize, wow! I KNOW people like this, have witnessed and experienced times like these at parties as well, and you find yourself listening more carefully to see how they will work things through. The dialog is that good, and the natural delivery of the actors keeps things realistic and always interesting. One scene in particular with the two sisters Jill and Rachel in a kitchen is extremely powerful and very impressive.
While some viewers might complain about this being "another indie film with a hand-held cam," this might help you understand the way it was shot: I think that it makes the viewer feel as if you are there at the party, partaking in the drinks and "smokes" and standing right there with the characters. A review on Film Threat also had an interesting point, that the shaky cam movements, zooms, and "dizzying close-ups help create a situation where our drunken individuals cannot escape from conflict." It helps make subsequent viewings more meaningful and enjoyable when thinking of it in these aspects.
Michael Mongillo has delivered three award-winning films so far that are unique and fascinating in their own right -- The Wind (2001), which was unfairly criticized by some viewers online due to the fault of MTI Video's interference in the marketing. It's actually a great psychological drama (Really, folks, check it out with an open mind and you'll see what I mean)... Welcome To Earth (2005), as reviewed here... and Being Michael Madsen (2007) which is very clever and very funny. They're all projects that are labors of love and reflect the joys of indie film making.
The DVD has two interesting and informative commentaries, as well as production stills. A worthwhile purchase for your money, and it helps support the future of indie projects!
Fascinating, tight little thriller ... why are so many viewers confused by this film?
There are so many people confused by Artefacts ... frankly, I'm confused why everyone is so confused! If you just pay attention, and give the attention this film requires, you'll understand plenty. Just because it has an open ending, that doesn't mean answers weren't given.
Kate is a career gal that seems to have things going for her, except for a failed relationship. All of a sudden her employee and friends start turning up dead, killed by doppelgangers. Even the news reports mention a strange metallic artifact (spelled artefact in the film, due to its Belgian production I assume) that has been found inside each victim. Kate finds that her own doppelganger is hunting her down, and the implant is possibly a tracking device for the doppelgangers to find each victim. The arrival of each doppelganger is preceded by a clicking, ticking sound as well. Through investigation on the internet she finds a big clue to what is going on around the world, and she is just another pawn in the whole thing.
She then meets up with a man named Carl Francken who reveals just enough for us to know some of the "why" of the situation but only just a tidbit to keep us in the dark and still trying to figure things out. In a way this would have made a great X-Files episode, much of the atmosphere and story fit that well. I'm also very much reminded of the wonderful 2008 feature "The Broken" with Lena Headey (which equally baffled many U.S. viewers but, if paid close attention to, gave more answers to its mystery than Artefacts does). There is also an "experiment/game" element that reminded me of the 2005 film "Experiment." However, Artefacts is a story and film of its own, and I feel holds up well.
These days, particularly in U.S. audiences, people want easy answers and wrapped up solutions in their movies. If they have to think while watching a film or try to think some more after the credits roll, they get angry. I've read some very severely hateful things in comments online about Artefacts, The Broken, Session 9, and a good example -- the 2001 film The Wind, where people just didn't get it. They were upset that they had to think, figure things out, and put the puzzle together. They weren't easily handed blood and boobs on a platter; just angry that they had to do a little work as well as sit back and watch.
Artefacts, to me as well as some open-minded friends, turned out to be a tense well-made, well-acted thriller, and smartly made on a low budget (only $100,000) with an intriguing premise and execution. I love to view it with friends as a double-feature with The Broken, as each has its own strange world to absorb and mess with your head. Some folks may say it's a European thing, but I sure welcome a viewing challenge and for me it paid off quite well. Oh, it's just plain creepy too...
Being Michael Madsen (2007)
"Michael has been perfecting that persona of 'badboy' since he was 12."
Before Being Michael Madsen was making rounds in the festival circuit, two young gals came into the store where I work asking for ANY DVD that starred Madsen. "He's just the coolest, hottest guy ever!" they gushed. I informed them that I knew of a film called Being Michael Madsen that would be released some day, and their eyes just lit up, making sure they wrote that title down. I still smile when I think of that, now having seen the film when it was screened at the Dances With Films festival in June of 2009 in Los Angeles. I can now say I agree with those gals, and while this film seems to be about Michael it's obvious everyone else is getting their share of the fun. He has some good competition with his sister Virginia here as well. Michael is so cool you want him to be your pal, though you might get the feeling he still could punch you. But you'd appreciate that he did.
Director/writer Michael Mongillo has done something I've always wished would happen: turn the tables on the paparazzi and/or tabloid reporters and have THEIR lives invaded and exposed, showing the skeletons in their closets. And while Being Michael Madsen turns out to be a mockumentary, there are still times when you forget about the faux part of it since actual facts about Madsen's life are intermixed with fiction. Whether or not you feel that completely works, there's no doubt you'll be hooked and go along with the ride. The full audience at the screening seemed to be willing and had a lot of fun. It's very apparent that when you have people putting together a film and enjoying doing that instead of it being just a "process" for them, something good will result.
The film sets up a scenario that a well-known tabloid's reporter/paparazzo Billy Dant wrote an article that Madsen killed a film extra (though no body was ever found), then gives us a background to Madsen's life and career, to then bring us back to the Dant situation. He then hires a three-person documentary crew to follow Dant and basically make his life hell. It was nice to see Mongillo regulars like Davis Mikaels (The Wind) as the camera guy, you just knew anything he was going to say in the rest of the film was going to make you laugh. Throughout all this we get interviews with Madsen's sister Virginia (who is absolutely amazing and very, VERY funny in her "seriousness") as well as friends Daryl Hannah, David Carradine, and Harry Dean Stanton (who got the entire theatre laughing by simply uttering the word "bullsh*t"). Of course the documentary crew has its own inner conflicts, so things get mighty out of control very quickly.
Re-enactments of past situations were wonderfully performed in stiff, schlocky form, and I never imagined that a scene of a woman undressing could be so hysterically funny instead of erotic. That scene alone brought in some hearty laughs, along with Billy Dant getting bonked in the head with a boom mic.
Those that go in thinking this film is a real documentary will not be disappointed after realizing what's really going on, and those that already know the joke will still get a kick out of all the fun. The cast is having a great time (you can bet Paige Davis was having a grand time of it), and while some may say this is not a perfect film, its sheer entertainment makes it worth getting high marks. Some may say it's not a mass audience pleaser because of it poking fun at a particular part of the Hollywood scene, however that's not the case here since there's something for everyone. Fans of the Madsens, film insiders and officionados, and word of mouth can especially make this one a winner as well. Sit back with some snacks and enjoy! Be sure to stick through the credits for some surprises.
Michael Madsen says in the film: "There's one thing I can't live with: a flat-out lie." *WINK - WINK* !!
Nightmare Man (2006)
"There's Nothing New Out There"....just more frogs.
Remember the episode of Seinfeld, where while standing in line to see a film "Rochelle, Rochelle" Elaine says guys will sit through anything for an hour and a half just to see breasts? That seems to be the case for the positive reviews of this flick from young teen guys that can't get their hands on Girls Gone Wild videos and manage to buy DVDs like Nightmare Man, gushing mainly about the hot chicks, the boobs, possible girl-on-girl, etc. but not much about the quality of the movie. For them, they're easily distracted by the nudity so they don't care about the rest and can also claim they're watching a "legitimate movie" in case they're questioned by parents about what they're watching. I'm not against nudity in films, I love naked people! But when it's just a tool to distract the viewer from the lack of scares, humor, or PLOT, it's a cheap shot.
Oh, the plot: a woman with a mental problem eats pills as often as Tic Tacs and claims to be chased by the Nightmare Man ("That mask is HORRIBLE" she keeps exclaiming, and she's right -- it's just a terrible cheap mask that induces laughter instead of fear out of the viewer). She meets up with two horny young couples in a luxury "cabin" in the woods where the gals find numerous ways to be seen undressed. Killer shows up. There ya have it.
I went in with a very open mind, and found myself losing hope within the first 10 minutes. Nothing scary yet, and we're treated to the camera moving up Ellen's naked body in the shower (notice they never do that when a guy is in the shower?), and the Nightmare Man ripping open Ellen's top shortly after...I just knew where this was going. Even by hearing bad things about a film you can't really know for sure until you see it yourself. Well, thank goodness this DVD was part of a set (bought all eight 2007 After Dark Horrorfest titles together for a special sale price at Best Buy), because there is no way that the current $19.98 retail price (nor any future lower prices) can justify purchasing this. I've known plenty of friends who've walked out on this one when it was showing in theatres in their area as part of the Horrorfest, and I can fully understand why.
About 20 years after There's Nothing Out There, you'd think writer/director Rolfe Kanfsky would have improved on his craft. Most of the budget on that first flick went on the then state-of-the-art opening credits, leaving the rest of the film to naked girls and no scares nor great laughs (as it was intended to be somewhat of a parody). All these years later, Nightmare Man had nice opening credits, and the rest the same old thing of girls naked or wearing nothing much and no scares at all. The really sad thing is this was intended to be a serious horror film, not even a parody. In Kanefsky's statements he says he's very proud of this "flick." But he just really didn't try to give us anything original nor different. You've seen this type of film dozens of times before, and there's an obvious lack of an attempt to make the presentation look decent. Bad lighting, extreme acting, lazy dialogue and plot -- man, did that first chase through the woods go on forever, with so many chances for Ellen to get caught. Actually, she was caught a few times and too easily got away again and again. Low-grade effects included Ellen cutting her wrist with a knife, with blood ALREADY there on her wrist and looking like thick orange-red paint. The color was NOT set wrong on my TV. All in all, just nothing new here, no surprises. It's as if Kanefsky figured his loyal fan base would blindly praise and support anything he makes. Apparently they do, as someone keeps funding these projects and the DVDs keep coming.
Easily the worst of the 2007 After Dark Horrorfest along with Lake Dead. As Ellen kept annoyingly screaming, "Where are my pills? Where are my PILLS??" I felt I needed some pills too from this viewing experience...but was just left with the sound of frogs croaking, a Kanefsky trademark. One can't help but feel insulted from that.
The Deaths of Ian Stone (2007)
Familiar territory? Maybe so, but it's still its own story and sheer entertainment done right...
THE DEATHS OF IAN STONE is a very ambitious flick indeed. It doesn't waste its time getting right to the action and as it moves along like a speeding train it reaches out and scoops up the exposition and keeps its pace going. It has an interesting story, the film looks great, and doesn't waste time with unnecessary filler to appease those that feel horror/sci-fi/fantasy films HAVE to contain gratuitous elements.
Basically, Ian Stone keeps waking up at the same time each day and as he starts to remember more from each previous time, he's consistently hunted by mysterious creatures that are intent on killing him again and again.
Some criticize the film for its familiarity (Groundhog Day, Dark City, Matrix, et al) while others mention the familiarities as basic influences as a positive. I find the latter to be the case -- any film that can be inspired by other films (this one did not really steal) and can hold on its own is worthy of standing on its own too. If anything, the "Matrix" comparisons like the attire are silly -- I found that aspect reminded me more of the graphic novel/series "Ranxerox" from Metal Hurlant magazine, which is a cooler source.
Plot holes? Who really cares when the story moves right along and you are at least 90% aware of what's going on at some point. I find that The Matrix had holes as big and wide as the Grand Canyon and wasted time with filler and visuals, while Deaths Of Ian first and foremost gave us a story. The creatures involved would make a great graphic novel series, and the effects accentuated the story without overrunning it or trying to be the biggest part. Great visuals blending creature suits and CGI as well instead of bad CGI for actors to just pretend to be afraid of. Of course I had some reservations as to why the creatures just didn't take care of some deeds and get things over with, but gradually bits were explained here and there (mainly by the female villain) that eased us into why and how without doing the "now I'll explain it all to you" scenario. That was a big plus in my book.
I was also pleasantly surprised that the film didn't find the need to go the typical route of naked gals, lesbian subplots, and big gore to cover lack of true scares or attention spans (like Rolfe Kanefsky seems to rely on, just look at Nightmare Man or There's Nothing Out There...we get it Rolfe, you like naked gals. If that was taken out of his films you'd notice the obvious lack of thrills). THE DEATHS OF IAN STONE seems confident in itself that there is enough here to entertain everyone no matter what age or sex that enjoys this genre. Nothing gratuitous here, just straightforward entertainment with no filler.
While I'm not one for pretty-guy heroes, actor Mike Vogel proves his acting chops really well here and won me over. Instead of presenting his character Ian in an over-macho or show-offy manner, he presents a vulnerability that's quite refreshing in a male lead. It works well with the confusion and discovery his character is going through.
Hey, every film can have some flaws, but THE DEATHS OF IAN STONE will make you forget about them and sweep you right along with the fun. I WANTED to know what would happen next, and never looked at the clock to see how far along the film had gone on. This is sheer entertainment and well worth your time. One of the best I've ever seen offered by the After Dark Horrorfest series.
Daring, brutal, and undeserving of its negative fame.
First and foremost, Cruising is not a film about gay men in general. Friedkin explains this perfectly on the DVD -- it's a murder mystery of a cop going undercover that just happens to have a gay element in it. To those familiar with the 70s Italian giallos, Cruising is a "U.S. giallo" -- a successful combination of murder mystery, sex, alternative lifestyles and subcultures with that, and how getting into something too out of your element can affect you. Unlike the Italian giallos that often featured a gratuitous lesbian tease, Cruising gave us a masculine leather theme instead.
The controversy and protests surrounding Cruising were based on misinformation and unfairly gave the film a bad reputation, though lately many critics that originally panned it have since recanted their negative comments, finding more to appreciate about the film.
Two things factored into why people were uncomfortable with Cruising: First, the murder story was not the real reason. Frankly, they saw not effeminate stereotypes, but masculine gay men dancing, kissing, and experiencing S&M activities. When gay characters are weak and fey, many heterosexual men feel safe. They want non-threatening characters that will be kept in their place. The disclaimer that appeared before the film (that has thankfully been removed on the DVD) was to appease gay men that felt the film would be perceived as a representation of the whole gay community. If that's the case, then films like The Birdcage and TV's Will & Grace should have disclaimers as well that say not all gay men are effeminate finger-snappers that watch Desperate Housewives, are drag queens, nor are FABulous well-groomed clean-shaven cutie boys.
Second, the locations and activity in the bars was as it actually was (and still is to a degree) in many places. The characters and extras were "real" for this story -- bearded leathermen enjoying what they do, instead of buffed party circuit boys dancing to the latest diva tunes. To add to the darkness and mood of the story the bars were blasting with serious hard-driven songs by Willy DeVille, John Hiatt, Rough Trade, The Germs, The Cripples and others instead of loopy diva dance music. Some gay men as well as straight had a problem with this, thinking it was not a decent representation of what gay men "should" listen to. To date this is still one of the coolest soundtracks around, I cherish my vinyl LP copies of it.
Yes, this film was brutal. It will leave an impression on you. THAT'S A GOOD THING! It's what film is supposed to do. Amidst all this the journey of Al Pacino's "out of his element" slip into a different mindset was a great touch. It affected his whole being, his treatment of his girlfriend, his whole outlook. And it wasn't just because he got to dance with some leathermen, it was because the murder investigation he was doing was so horrifying. What, you were expecting a sweet ending? The only reasons Pacino distanced himself from this film was because footage was cut that he felt fleshed out his character better, and the protests during filming distressed him.
And think of it this way: if this were a film about lesbians, it would be hailed by hetero guys as an erotic masterpiece. But when it's about masculine gay men, it seems hard for some of them to handle it. This may sound cliché, but I know many straight guys that actually understood Cruising and have told me (on IMDb as well as in person) they thought it was quite a cool film.
After all these years, Cruising still packs a punch and does what it sets out to do: unnerve you. It's a taut thriller and a mindblower in its complexities. That's quite an achievement and while many films are forgotten, this one still seems to be well remembered no matter what. I for one love this film and think Friedkin and company deserve much praise for their effort.
The DVD released in 2007 can be considered a bit of a "director's cut" since Friedkin made some additions and changes. For a thorough article on the exact changes and where they occur, check out the magazine Video Watchdog #152, November 2009.
Dark Ride (2006)
"My whole situation reeks of cliché."
"My whole situation reeks of cliché." I knew I was in for trouble when that line was uttered early in the film.
I've been around for the start of this kind of genre way back in the 1970s. I've seen 'em all. Granted, it takes a lot for me to be scared, and basically it takes a bit of originality to do that these days. Call me jaded if you like. But when a film like Dark Ride comes along with no regard for originality or even any attempt to really be good, it just makes me angry. When I'm not impressed by a film, I usually just don't comment here. But when I feel insulted, I feel I have to speak up.
Expendable "college-age" pretty teens with problems sums up the cast, and as for the plot? There was not even an attempt to try something new. You've seen it dozens of times before, and even those other ones weren't that good. Teens with the typical cliché personalities go on the road to spring break, and stop by an old amusement park to stay the night at the dark ride there. Just happens to be the same night a psychopath from a mental institution shows up, seems he used to live in that dark ride years ago. Arguments, pot smoking, sex, look-at-my-boobs, and lots and lots of running around and around (like the cast of Scooby Doo trapped in a warehouse/castle/candy factory/etc.) The company that put together this film, My2Centences (though backed by Lions Gate), must have only put 2 cents into this project. Remember how the "ride" was supposed to have cars on tracks? Um, did anyone actually see any tracks when the teens were roaming around, going in all kinds of directions, rooms, etc? Though in the prologue the car seemed to have a direct route, some overhead shots showed fog trying to hide that there were really no tracks. Even though Bill warned a gal to watch out for the tracks (much later, at that), you could clearly see on the floor there weren't any, and while they went into other rooms there was no logic to the place, no real directional way that the tracks would be able to take a car around in them. There were plenty of shots of things hanging and dropping down, dummies popping up nowhere near where the ride would have been going....you get the idea. It was a set that was a bunch of walls, halls, and stairs that didn't have any use. Lots of fog too to make the set look more busy. While Jim (dufus guy) was in the basement trying to fix the power later, there was no reason electrically powered dummies and items would be there in the first place. Oh, yeah, actually just for the camera to show a close-up of to fill in time and "scares."
Surprises? None to speak of. When Bill ran off and was never seen again until the end, how could any viewer not be suspicious? Reminded me of Farley Granger disappearing early in The Prowler (1981) and even when a character in Scream 2 was just NOT there for 2/3 of the film and shows up again near the end.
Some that have praised Dark Ride (one person on here actually calling it a modern masterpiece!) go on about it being an homage to those 70s and 80s slasher flicks, including The Funhouse (which didn't scare me when I saw its initial run in theatres in 1981). Honoring other films that are supposed to be classics is one thing, but just taking elements from them to slop together a new film with no real care for its own personality is quite another. I could just imagine the folks responsible for Dark Ride saying "give the kids what they usually will go for: violence, gore, pot smoking, and boobs (well, usually ignoring what the gals would want to see nudity-wise). They'll easily be distracted by those things and probably won't notice there's not much else going for this." Frankly, I'm surprised I didn't hear the word DUDE throughout the film.
I like that the After Dark horrorfest opted for indie projects in 2006 (even if it was more economical), and some had real merit to them, particularly Unrest, Reincarnated, The Abandoned, and The Hamiltons (Penny Dreadful was fun enough, just padded though with extra victims). Dark Ride was the worst of the lot for me. I can forgive a film for being bad if they actually TRIED to do something creative, but Dark Ride was a clichéd, tired, and tedious disposable project. I have a suspicion that Lions Gate would have originally just released this as a DTV title, but since they were going to be involved releasing the After Dark titles, they forced Dark Ride into the bunch (notice how "A Lions Gate Film" was on the beginning of the credits, while basically the other After Dark titles didn't). They should not have touted that these films were too much or "too graphic" for most audiences -- if that were the case then these would all be NC-17. I don't listen to hype, and went into these films on my own, finding some worthy of being very creative and some just plain wastes of time (like The Gravedancers and Wicked Little Things being no more than "Sci-Fi Channel productions" that you'd watch on a Saturday night).
You win some, you lose some. Dark Ride showed that someone paid a lot of people to do a project that just doesn't show any kind of care was put into it: 'just get it done and chuck it out to the kids.'