Friday, December 31, 2010

The Descent Part 2

In before the new year. Sorry for the lack of updates. It's been rather busy here, what with the holidays and the 34 inches of snow that fell at the Jersey Shore. I swear, it's like I moved to Buffalo or something what with the massive snowfall that we have been having since around this time last year. Anyway, since I was snowbound, I decided to catch up on some movies. I watched Black Swan, which I'll review in a bit, and the following flick, which is The Descent Part 2.

I was a big fan of the original film. It wasn't quite what I expected after the awesome action free-for-all that was Dog Soldiers but it was excellent. It's a pretty tense movie, with the group of women going caving and then getting trapped in the dark tunnels where they soon realize that food and water might be the least of their problems when something begins stalking them. It was well shot, well acted and very, very claustrophobic, which is what a cave movie should be. When I heard about the sequel, I was a bit nervous but decided to give it a go. I'm glad I did.

While it lacks the polish of the original, The Descent Part 2 does recapture a lot of the tenseness and claustrophobia of the original, while not cribbing from it directly. It takes place pretty much right after the first film (SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST MOVIE AHEAD) with Sarah being found by some locals while a search is being made for the missing cavers. This pretty much uses the American ending though she's not in her car like she should be. A small quibble, though it could be that they used the British ending and she did indeed get out after her hallucination. But I digress. In a move to try and rescue the others that they don't know are dead (because Sarah doesn't remember), the police force her to accompany them down in a mission to find them, making them probably the worse police officers to grace a movie in recent times, doing that to a trauma victim. When they enter the caves, they find they might not have a way out and Sarah begins to remember what exactly went down in the darkness as it begins to hunt them.

From there, it's a pretty decent film, not relying on too much of the original in flashbacks, which is thankful, as the cave shots in that movie were much better. Here, they feel a little too well lit for flares and flashlights and it removes some of the horror when you can see that much around you. The actors are decent, with several from the original showing up in flashbacks and what not and the new folks are good, screaming in terror as the crawlers hunt them. Surprisingly, there's a lot of gore, which is nice, with blood being sprayed and dripped just about everywhere and by the end, everyone is coated in it. The effects are good too, with the only dodgy ones being when someone falls into a pit, where it looks worse than it did in Superman 2.

A solid little film that keeps you guessing as to who might live right up until the end and it event throws a curveball in with a new party member that arrives towards the endgame. My only real problem with it is that the ending pretty much demands a sequel, as it raises questions that really need to be answered or it's a moot point putting the ending in at all.

Check it out.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Virginia Creepers

It's been a busy month for me, so busy that I've had little chance to watch much outside of the endless episodes of Max and Ruby that my daughter inflicts on me. However, I did get to a little gem of a documentary that I'm finally writing up called Virginia Creepers.

Made by one of my old professors from Virginia Tech, the film is a look back at horror hosts in the Old Dominion, which is one of Virginia's nicknames and not to be confused with King's Dominion, which was a fun theme park when I was little. Honestly, I'm not familiar with most of the hosts as none of them were really airing in my area when I was there. I think I caught one or two in my late night ramblings, but I can't remember much about them. Several I recognized the names of, like Mr. Lobo, who hosts segments, and Sir Graves Ghastly, who is probably the biggest name to come out of there.

There's no real hook or story to the documentary. It's just a loving look back at something that the filmmakers loved and wanted to share with us. Even though it clocks in at two hours long, it feels like it could have been much, much longer as just as we get familiar with a face, we're on to the next one. I wouldn't mind seeing another installment with more on each or maybe an in-depth look at several that were already covered.

It's fun to watch the various production levels of the shows fluctuate from one to the next. Some are pretty slick productions that look to be up to Elvira standards. Others are cobbled together affairs that still have a better value than the movies they show. Some look like they were shot on handycam and you wonder how exactly the host qualifies as a host.

It's well worth checking out if you're a fan of horror hosts at all and to see what lengths they went to to show us the movies that we grew up with.