Reviews written by registered user
|26 reviews in total|
Rated 10 because this movie does not deserve the 3.9 rating in has (as of the date of this writing). It's detractors here call is preposterous and unbelievable as if Toho Studios had intended it to be realistic! Well, I'll let you in on a secret: they didn't. I just watched the 2007 DVD release, the 90 minute version that was not shown in the United States. With all the connecting scenes intact, one may follow a particular narrative logic, but its just enough to justify the film's wild, out of this world visuals. For once, this series of films starts out with a very human story. After the pre bomb sequence, we jump to (the film's) present and learn that a boy is scavenging the area for food. It is assumed that he is a casualty of the Atomic Bomb, orphaned and left to fend for himself like an animal. Introducing this character into the world of giant monsters, a genre that Toho exploited after the success of GODZILLA, makes explicit what the other films in this series imply. Add to that, the fact that the boy's blood beats through his veins aided by a heart carried across oceans, from Nazi Germany before the end of World War II. This Frankenstein creature is a child born from the unsettling union of war time villains; World War II's two fallen countries. He has been tossed out into a hostile world, destined to tower over all, feared and shot at, like the creature born of dead bodies imaged by Mary Shelley. The monster foe that Frankenstein eventually fights has been awakened from the earth's core. We first encounter it during an earthquake at an oil rig. The implication is clear. The Toho special effects were rather obvious even back then. But if you settle on the notion that the story itself reaches outside anything realistic, one finds widescreen splendor in the surrealistic visuals that grow more and more operatic as the film progresses.
Slow and boring a badly told story: are the two objections reviewers here reiterate in different ways over and over. And yet, the film I saw couldn't be more enticing. PORNOGRAPHY: A THRILLER is methodical, character driven, but certainly not boring; and considering its ambitious three part narrative, I'd say this seamlessly rendered film ends up being the engaging puzzle it was intended to be. Writer/director, David Kittredge has clearly thought about his subject long and hard, for the kind of cubist back and forth he's cooked up brilliantly exploits thriller hooks to explore the relationship between hardcore sex acted for the camera and the imagination of those who get off on watching it. Even with the ghost of David Lynch in obvious attendance, Kittredge's thriller plot does not seem stolen or manufactured, as others would have you think; it reflect the artist's ambiguous relationship to the subject. The film is saying that pornography arouses us, body and mind, with temptation and dread; two sides of the same coin. Here's a gay film that truly challenges its audience to think. No gay bar clichés, no stupid, camp posturing pandering to a marketable demographic. If someone says this is boring or not well done, it means the film went over their heads.
Most comments want to trash Zombie's movie because it's not the original, or it doesn't do what the original did. Too bad, because Zombie's film is both a respectful homage to the original and, in a way, a summary footnote to it. Zombie's movie works best when it's as far away from the original as possible. And really, it's not boring, pointless, drawn out, and all the other things people are calling it. I would say that most of the negative comments here are really subjective complaints that chastise the film for not being what the writers want it to be, totally sidestepping what the film actually is and what it does. I'm not saying the film works totally from beginning to end, because it doesn't. But there's more good here than not. Zombie takes this kind of story seriously. His focus on Michael displays a disarming sincerity that gives the film's best moments the kind of weight missing from the most recent, generic horror films. Rob Zombie is an important director and, even with its faults, this movie is well worth our time and our money.
Peter Bogdonavich has made a handful of truly great films, and THEY ALL LAUGHED is one of his best. The cast couldn't be better equipped to play this light but slightly bittersweet screwball comedy. Interestingly enough, the witty, light touch Bogdonavich so effortlessly employs gives the film a rather disarming emotional core. Fresh and immediate, the film starts with absolutely no explanation. There's no soundtrack music to cue us. We meet the characters in action, and as Bogdonavich glides down the streets of New York, the film unfolds effortlessly. Robby Muller's camera captures it all with an understated simplicity that seems accidental, but surely isn't. The cast is terrific. In every way, a classic.
Not classic Kazan, for sure, but not a total failure either. Was lucky enough to see the film in Paris a few years ago on the big screen. Was struck by Kazan's attempt to break free from the well made play structure he'd so successfully mined in the past. The linear story, though, won out, making the film uneven and stylistically self conscience. But even so, what a marvelous failure. Kirk Douglas, in Kazan's opinion may not have filled Brando's shoes, but, my god, he tried. Dramatically speaking, the film is exploring a state of mind; the character played my Douglas remains, for the most part, in a very static position throughout. Douglas never allows the stain of self pity to disfigure his action. Sitting still, thinking, we see in Douglas a man pulsating with anger, remorse, and the need to act. It's a valiant and satisfying performance even though, like the film itself, we're more aware of what it's reaching for than what it actually holds. The performance, though, that really struck me as being brave and bold is the one given by Deborah Kerr. She's the wife, and she has a lengthy scene late in the film where she and Douglas stray into the intimate area of their married life. Sexually frank and mature, the scene alone is worth the entire film. These two characters discuss intimacy, and then act on it, in a way I've never seen in a film. Kerr was one of the most adventurous actresses of her day; a truly great talent. She gives Kazan the raw, unguarded kind of performance one usually associates with Liv Ullman in her Bergman films.
Most of the critics, even those who like the movie, miss its point. Not
a 'good guys/bad guys" kind of movie, it's not actually even a horror
film. We might think it is because Zombie's visual prowess rips the
screen; in this, his power is damn near overwhelming. Right away, he
pins us down with in your face close-ups and fast cutting, and we stay
down all the way through the movie. The point is not so much the story
that unfolds, it's the experience of the story that's important. The
viewer is the main victim here, and I don't mean that as a criticism.
Rendering us powerless is, I think, the film's goal; Zombie wants us to
feel, but he also wants us to think about what we feel. In a good
verses bad melodrama we stay hooked because we want to know how the
story is going to turn out in the end. Given the extremity of this
experience, I think it's pretty clear from the very start that nothing
good will come from this; the good guys and bad guys are pretty
interchangeable, and by the end dust and blood is all that will be
Some critics seem to think Zombie glorifies his violence. Some even go so far as to say he wants us to root for the crazy family. This confuses me, because at no time did I feel Zombie condones the Firefly family antics; their victims, unlike in most Hollywood movies, feel what's happening to them. Indeed, the Firefly's, themselves, feel what's happening when the Sheriff turns the tables. Nothing glamorous here, at all. And if, for instance, the Entertainment Weekly critic really believes this film is a Hard Rock, guts and glory celebration, I really wonder: what movie did he see? Because Zombie's movie is not about rooting for this character or that, it's about the conflict between power and powerlessness. We're inside a world of moral and physical decay, a world devoid of meaning beyond that which stimulates senses, otherwise dulled and empty. HOUSE OF A THOUSAND CORPSES starts off with " God Is Dead" on a truck crossing the frame. Yes, He most certainly is, and with each mindless, crazy pop culture reference that follows, we begin to realize that culture and though is also dead; dead, but eating itself. Zombie has defined his point ever further in this movie. Torture in DEVIL'S REJECTS comes with comment; the characters talk, talk, talk; I think what they say is an attempt to give their actions meaning. But what meaning is there, even when the Sheriff does his bit, in annihilation? I think that's the film's point. We are meant to feel the physical and moral force of the film's violence; from the beginning it's a no-win situation all the way around the board. That ending, with Zombie's ironic use of Freebird, is the ending of BREATHLESS, BONNIE AND CLYDE, THE WILD BUNCH, THELMA AND LOUISE, and maybe a bit of WHITE HEAT all rolled into one. Zombie's two movies are both sharp and sophisticated social satires masquerading as exploitation movies. Within this form, Zombie can cut to the bone. He doesn't have to be nice or even justify his intention. He can leave out motivation that, in other kinds of movies, distance the viewer's relationship to violent and unpleasant action. We live in a violent world, and, with terrorism and such, it just seems to be getting worse and worse. The Fireflys do terrible things - and we accept what they do as being terrible - but the movie does not make them hockey mask killers with supernatural powers. These characters are human, they are a family; being so, they come at us with a frightening reality. Real people do terrible things. Zombie's vision seems modern and unpretentious to me. These people are real, and seemingly hopeless. What they believe and want out of life is reflected in how far they will challenge and tempt and goad those who have the unfortunate luck to be in their path. Sexual gratification doesn't seem to be the point: to them, an act of torture is a challenge, it's a philosophical act. That final moment chills us not because it's the Wild Bunch taking their last stand; we are effected because these characters have nothing, stand for nothing, and, somehow, they know it. This is a brilliant, serious film, a masterpiece that, I think, in time, will reveal much about our world and its current condition.
Rob Zombie is one of the most important directors of his generation.
An urban vampire tale set it a middle class, Los Angeles neighborhood,
this movie is a low budget gem. It starts off slow and a little unsure
of its tone, but once the vampire antics begin we get one unpredictable
set piece after another; the movie soars.
Director, Desi Scarpone, knows how to stage this stuff. Once he gets all the main characters in the house, the movie slips into a truly compelling visual style that perfectly blends action and environment. He stages shots that often comment on themselves with key actions happening in both the foreground and back ground; what we see is outrageous, but how we see makes it real. This middle class neighborhood where a majority of the action takes place, remains perfectly ordinary, even with extraordinary blood drinking and flesh eating going on in it. The level of parody here is high, but like Polanski's FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS, scary and funny constantly intersect. Visually, the movie creates a low rent kind of poetry; there's meaning in all this if you want it.
What really impressed me is how the story sets up certain expectations and then cleverly subverts them. Once all hell breaks loose there's no telling what will happen next. Most low budget horror directors concentrate on gore. We have plenty of that here (some of it rather well done, too), but, interestingly enough, we also get characters that, for the most part, develop. The acting remains uneven, to say the least, but again, Scarpone serves his cast well with staging that works when performances won't carry.
I really loved this movie. A complete surprise, for sure. If you are a horror fan, rent it; the first ten minutes or so do not inspire confidence, but give it a chance. Once the blood starts flowing, DARK TOWN lights up the sky.
Okay, it's probably true that Sam went off the deep end when he made this movie. The story doesn't make a lot of sense in its later part, and there are many bits throughout that are admittedly bizarre. But when I watched the DVD the other night, seeing it again for the first time since it was released, the movie astounding me. Drunk, crazy, off the deep end: no matter what state he was in, that man could direct action. CONVOY delivers the goods. Forget about the human characters, they don't really matter. The trucks, awesome and majestic, are the real stars here. Peckinpah obviously loves the way these giant machines move through space. At its best, when its up and running, the movie feels like one long Roadrunner cartoon being played by dinosaurs. Each chase sequence is different and the action we follow is intensified by the very fact that we're watching trucks maneuver and out maneuver automobiles! These action scenes quite simply make you want to shout and cheer and cuss and ... well, go off the deep end - in your own living room! Sam, I think, didn't actually work with the editor on this one. By the time the film was in post he had been fired - I think .. But the footage, the coverage was there. Those scenes were shot with the same fluid grace that one associates with Peckinpah at his best. Not only that, but in a Peckinpah film, when it all gets going, the action speeds up but not so fast that we can't follow what's going on; we remain connected to it because the moment to moment actions tell a rapid story we can follow and understand . Compared to the rapid cutting and computer generated jolts that proliferate today's action movies, Sam's drunken cartoon comes off as being fresh, exciting, and vital. Okay, perhaps I'm going a bit overboard here; this is not one of Sam's brilliant movies, and when the trucks stop chasing the human stories are all but inconsequential. But the action IS BRILLIANT, and the movie still rocks with an unmistakable sense of joy.
There's more going on in this little Hammer than meets the eye. The script reaches for something beyond the usual Frankenstein story, and Terence Fisher accommodates with keenly focused, at times inspired, direction. Start thinking about what is inferred when the soul of a boy, the son of a murderer, is transfered to the body of a crippled, deformed girl. The resulting action does not follow a clear and easy "good verses evil" scenario. Within the confines of a Hammer movie's melodrama, Fisher, a classical stylist and at times a superb artist, often created magic. This is one of those times. The performances are all equally compelling. Cushing gives the Baron more texture here than in any of the other films, I think. Thorley Walters is a good foil, and his befuddled affection and respect for the Baron makes some of this really rather touching. Arther Grant's photography has never been better. I urge viewers to watch the film with an open mine. This is not the usual horror film; it's more a fantasy, a fairy tale.
Why all the bad comments? I don't understand it. True, most low budget thrillers are terrible. Serial killer knock offs without big name movie stars usually depend on gore effects, not characters, to keep us interested in what's going to happen next. This movie, though, is a tightly wound little scare piece that takes its time developing the characters and building suspense. The actors are terrific, the camera work unique and unsettling, and the direction always seems on target. The movie's main gimmick reads like it's going to be glib and possibly stupid, but the actors, and the director's ability to maintain a mood of foreboding, quickly dismisses any possible derision. I bought it and recommend it to anyone looking for a good, creepy thriller.
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