Monday, November 29, 2010

Horror Rises from the Tomb (My First Paul Naschy Film or Hello Naschy)

It is the in the death of November and the birth of December that we celebrate one of the true cinematic geniuses in the world. Sadly, he is one that you may have never heard of, but to remedy this, the kindly and kitten kicking Vicar of VHS and Duke of DVD from over at Mad Mad Mad Mad Movies have organized a blog-a-thon in which to spread the word of all things Naschy, or Jacinto Molina as he was born. Indeed, it was an opportunity for me as I have heard of the man, but never seen one of his films due to apparently a grievous omission in my movie watching history. To start, I have picked what some have heralded as his best film, Horror Rises From the Tomb.

I chose wisely.

While not as outrageous sounding as some of his other films, this one truly proves to be a remarkable force to be reckoned with in terms of horror that rises from the tomb. We are first introduced to Alaric de Marnac, the movie's villain and a rather heart-wrenching type of character, in that he likes to pull people's hearts out to give them to Satan. This is probably why he and his cohort, a luscious little number name Mabille, are being taken to the local hanging tree to be strung up during that grand old period we call the Inquisition. Well, Naschy doesn't make it that far, being beheaded after spitting out a gem of a curse. Fortunately, we do get to see his nubile companion strung up, thankfully without her clothes, as it is the only proper way to hang a witch. Then she gets shanked, but not before a little voodoo hoodoo curse of her own for the crowd.

Enter--the future!

An artist and his friend (also played by Naschy), meet and go out for drinks, hooking up with their ladies in the process and then, because it's the hip thing to do, decide to go out for a seance. Here they summon the ghost of Alaric who tells them where his head is buried, far from his body so he can't rise. Like any good group, they decide to go and dig it up to find out what all the hubbub is about. On the scale of good ideas, this one doesn't rank very highly. Like a three. Maybe a 4. I mean, it is a ghost, so it does get coolness points, but doing a little research on the guy who you might be reanimating would be a good idea.

Well, needless to say, the head is dug up and things start to get creepy fast as the ghost starts possessing villagers to help recapitate him and bring his lady love back from the grave. Then there's a zombie attack, the wickedest looking medallion of protection ever and lots of heart wrenching. The latter is achieved by some brilliant bedroom seductions by the dynamic duo of dastardly darkness as they teleport into the rooms of their victims and give them a little dose of bedroom eyes and bam, there's a naked woman or man at their beck and call. Being fair murderers, Alaric and Mabille both disrobe as well, so we may bask in the glory of Naschy's manliness and Mabille's assets. Then they tear the poor sap's/sapette's pumper out. It actually makes a lot of sense. If you know you're going to be doing something so bloody, you might as well make sure you don't have to worry about dry cleaning your ancient robes. Those things don't just grow on trees.

Anyways. With the undead on the loose and people dying left and right, it's a breakneck race to the finish to try and stop them before they carry out their nefarious plans and shroud the world in darkness. Or raise the devil. Something like that. I was actually pretty tanked on bourbon during the viewing, which made for a rousing experience. Gore? Check. Nudity? Check. Paul Naschy? Triple check, as he also appears as Alaric's brother for about a minute.

For my first Naschy film, I don't think I could have picked a better flick. Already, I feel the burn and want to see more of his films, in particular, the werewolf series he did that spans about twelve films or so. That should keep me occupied. He's an intriguing man, with a great presence, whether he's dominating the screen as Alaric or trying to solve the mystery as his descendant, Paul Naschy owns it.

I'm quite happy with my viewing of Horror Rises from the Tomb. It is a quintessential film of the era, with decent production values and grindhouse sensibility, keeping things moving at a brisk pace that reminds me a bit of Amando De Ossorio's Blind Dead series in gore and nudity. Check it out.

This is a first for the blog, but I believe I might have actually been moved to poetry by this film. Please forgive it, as I may just be a little tipsy on whiskey. Again.

With dark eyes and a manly beard,
you have stolen my heart.
Wait, that wasn't your gig,
so it must have been that bird you were with.
She was hot, a female force not
unlike your own evil nature.
So I lie here, gaping hole in my chest,
no satisfaction in the premature ending of me,
wondering--will you bring me back?
I can be a good zombie.
I can get you some hearts.
I'll take that bird from you if you're too tired.
Please? Pretty please?
Ok, maybe not.
But now go, Alaric, and take those other hearts
as you have taken mine
and spread your wicked wrath
across the countryside.
Mind the amulets, though,
they hurt.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Strangeness

Often thought to be a rip off of The Boogens, The Strangeness actually predates the film by a year, even though it wasn't released to cable until about 4 years after its completion. It makes a nice entry into the monster in a mine genre and is a great book end with the former movie.

Might like the other film, The Strangeness involves the re-opening of a mine that has been long closed (gold in this case where in the Boogens it was silver) due to deaths that had been occurring to the miners. Eventually, after the body count got racked up and nobody wanted to go back in, they shut it down. Well, the price of gold is skyrocketing so some people want to open it back up to take advantage of its stash. Unfortunately for them, whatever killed the miners long ago is still in there, waiting for a new meal.

It's a motley crew that goes into the mine. We have the company man, two miners, a guide, a geologist, and oddly enough, a writer and his photographer wife (hot) who are documenting the legend and the new attempt to open it. Not long after they arrive, the entrance collapses and they realize that finding a way out may be the least of their problems after one of them is picked off and they find the body dissolving in an odd fluid.

The movie is low budget, but comes across as a solid production. The actors are pretty good and the story is tight and makes sense and for the most part the characters don't do anything supremely stupid to bring about their downfall. The creature, which is done in all stop motion, is very excellent too, and is shown rather often, which puts The Boogens to shame with its rather lackluster creations. This thing, on the other hand, is a fucking beast, kind of like what might happen if a otuygh mated with the Creeping Terror and a triffid. A lot of the mine scenes is supposed to be filmed in someones basement too. If so, kudos, because it doesn't look like one.

I know it gets a lot of comparisons to The Boogens, but one film it really resembles more is one that came out years later, in The Descent. In both, being trapped in a cave takes more precedence and the monster comes secondary, which gives a great feeling of claustrophobia.

I got to check it out on an old vhs, but there's a dvd from Code Red with all the fixins that I recommend. I know I'll be checking that out next, as I am really impressed by this film.

Check it out.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

It's tough being a movie that has been adapted from another source. When it's a book, it's always hit or miss. When it's a comic, you should probably just break out the whiskey and start drinking. Fortunately, the adaptation of Brian Lee O'Malley's comic book turned out on the rather excellent side.

For those not familiar with it, the story revolves around Scott Pilgrim, who is dating a seventeen year old girl when a new girl, Ramona Flowers, bursts onto the scene and he tries to do anything to win her, including fighting her seven evil ex-boyfriends. The comic is mostly light-hearted, with a heavy dose of video game culture and wit to boot and is actually rather deep as well. I'm happy to say that the movie captures all of Scott's misadventures in near perfect glory, save for several parts here and there, but all in all, it's a great effort from a favorite director, Edgar Wright.

The hard sell on this movie for me, despite my love of the source material, was going to be Michael Cera. Don't get me wrong, I like him, but his delivery is starting to be on the same again and again side of things. In this, he's actually showing his chops and channeling the comic character with aplomb, save for some parts where the movie deviates from it and he falls back on his Michael Cera routine. Everyone else is pretty spot on from the comic, with great performances from Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Kieran Culkin to name a few. I can't really point out any I didn't like, though I might be able to on subsequent viewings.

If you like the books, check it out. If you like the movie, check out the books. If you like both, check out the game when the patch to stop all the freezing comes out.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Green Lantern Trailer

I get back from Milwaukee and I gots me a late birthday present in the form of the Green Lantern trailer. Check it out at bleeding cool. Nuff said.

http://www.bleedingcool.com/2010/11/16/that-green-lantern-trailer/

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Repo: The Genetic Opera

As it was my birthday weekend and I had choice of movie last night, I chose something I had been wanting to see for awhile but just forgot about until I saw it on instant streaming. The movie? Repo: The Genetic Opera. It's listed as a musical but I was happy to report that they actually sing all the way through, like they do in real opera, save for a smattering of lines here and there, which makes it a rather fun experience. I rather liked it.

In the near future, organ failure becomes rampant and the human race is dying off. Enter GeneCo and their organ replacement plan, saving people everywhere for a price. Not long after this, however, they get a bill passed through congress that makes it legal for them to be able to repossess the organs if the recipient can't make the payments on it. To do this, they have employed a grim Repo Man who cuts the organs out while they're still alive and is pretty much a boogeyman-type figure to the people of the city. The family that owns the company, the Largos, are a bunch of degenerates and madmen and their father, who is dying, doesn't want to leave them any of it. Enter a girl, the daughter of a doctor (Anthony Stewart Head) in the Largo's employ who he sees as a way to get back at his family, and at the doctor, who long ago had stolen the women he loved. The daughter, however, is dying of a blood disease herself and is sequestered in her room by her father, never allowed to go outside, even though she desperately wants to. Add in a plot about a singer (played by Sarah Brightman) who wants out of the business but owes her sight to the company and a graverobber who makes anesthetic out of the dead and you have one wacky time.

It's a mad movie, for certain, replete with a overabundance of style and panache and fast editing and disturbing visuals. But it's a good one. I didn't find myself bored with it and each of the actors does well with their parts and the singing, especially Head and Brightman, who are fantastic. Paul Sorvino has a fun turn as the head of the company and we even get some Bill Mosely action for good measure. Alexa Vega makes a decent lead, though her singing isn't quite as up to snuff compared to her co-stars. Even Paris Hilton sounds better than her for the most part. A small complaint, at best.

The songs are well written. Some are better than others but that might be more a matter of the scenes which they are in and the characters that they're sung by than anything else. The drug description song is one of my favorites and I'm probably going to make it my ring tone, I enjoyed it so much.

It's a unique experience for a sci-fi/horror movie, but a fun one. The pieces range from more classically-styled songs to full on rock and roll and blend together quite well. It may not be repeat viewing for everyone, but it's definitely worth a least one viewing for such an interesting and unique film. I might actually check it out again tonight before the Walking Dead, I'm digging it so much. It's unfortunate that it didn't do so well at the box office, because ingenuity like this deserves to be rewarded. The writer said it was planned as a trilogy too, so it's a shame if we don't get to see more of this. Still, what we have is pretty damn good and I think I found my Halloween costume for next year. Check it out.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Cropsey

Started watching this little documentary last night on a whim, as I'm a fan of the Burning and the Cropsey legend and wondered how it would go in depth and explore it. Honestly, it really doesn't shed much light but instead focuses on a real killer and how it might be based on him, even though he didn't seem to stalk campers but instead kidnapped and killed mentally handicapped children. The truth side is definitely chilling and I can't believe this went on for so long in Staten Island. If I were a parent when this was going on, I'd be scared shitless for my kids. Nowadays, with things like this being pretty rampant, I'm still scared shitless but this case just really put me on edge. It's a sobering little watch and I wish they focused a little more on the Cropsey legend instead but the results are good, regardless. Check it out.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Walking Dead

I have to admit, the zombie renaissance that we're currently experiencing is something I never expected. I used to have to hunt to find new zombie flicks to watch on the shelves of the local video store. Zombie books? Few and far between. Zombie comics? Just as rare. Zombie tv shows? You're talking crazy. Now all you have to do is throw a rock and you'll hit one of the above. In this case, a zombie tv show based on a popular and long running zombie comic that you can see on Sundays on AMC. The premiere was on Halloween, and a great way to cap off a night of horror movies.

I'm a big fan of the comic, or was. I kinda dropped it around issue 50 as I wasn't digging it as much for various reasons. Up until that point though, it was a highlight of my Wednesday when it came out. How does the series hold up to the comic? So far, pretty damn well. It seems to be a translation of the first two issues, which I never thought would cover a whole hour and a half of tv, but it's handled masterfully and doesn't feel like it is being padded for time.

We follow Rick, a police officer, who is shot in the line of duty. He goes into a coma and wakes up and zombies have pretty much taken over the world. The hospital is in ruins and the city looks like a disaster area. If it sounds like 28 Days Later, you wouldn't be wrong, but the comic and that film came out around the same time and were developed independently of each other so it's just a happy coincidence. Either way, it's a fun way to introduce someone to the world of zombies when they have as much knowledge as we do. Anyhow, Rick heads home and finds his wife and kid have bailed for the city of Atlanta so after he recovers from his gunshot wound a bit more, he heads off to get them and sees just what kind of sorry shape the country is in.

I gotta say, I was impressed with this pilot episode. I love zombies. I love the comic. I love good drama. This is the best of all worlds and we get a faithful adaptation with good gore and zombie makeup, great acting and a situation we're invested in from the get go. It's definitely worth checking out or setting the dvr to record if you're like me and usually rather tired on Sunday nights. I think you'll want to make it until this one ends before sleeping though, as your friends will be talking about it after every episode for sure.