October 11, 2010

Vampyres (Larraz, 1974)

"They shared the pleasures of the flesh, and the horrors of the grave!"

A drab attempt at horror eroticism. There's an interesting patina of decay over Larraz's film, particularly evident in the production design and cinematography, which captures a sort of baroque decadence left to rot, but the rest of the film is so amateur that one can't really call this a worthwhile film, even as historical document.

October 5, 2010

Deepstar Six (Cunningham, 1989)

"Save Your Last Breath... To Scream."

The least of the aquatic horror films that sprung up around The Abyss. Far worse than Leviathan (which I still maintain isn't a terrible film). I can remember seeing the box for Deepstar Six countless times at the local video store when I was growing up and always being intrigued but unfortunately, this fits squarely into that (very 80's) horror category of films that utterly fail to deliver on the promise of their incredible VHS box art. The characters are all stock, the dialogue is atrocious, the creature is poorly designed and executed, and the narrative is cliche and lazy. The are only very minor pleasures to be had here and you really have to look for them - set design, the deep sea setting - but even those are more a case of the viewer really seeking out something from which to derive worth.

Let Me In (Reeves, 2010)

A very curious remake. I'm not entirely sure where I stand on this. Taken on it's own merits, Reeves's film is very, very good. And he does add a few new visual elements, including an incredible, visceral sequence towards the middle of the film. But the bulk of the reason that this film is so good is because it is essentially and undeniably Let The Right One In.

Dark Night Of The Scarecrow (De Felitta, 1981)

"Bubba didn't tell you that, Bubba didn't tell you anything. Bubba's dead."

"I Know."

An earnest, solid, workmanlike effort that attempts to scare with sound and suggestion rather than the violence we are so accustomed to seeing today. Durning commits himself completely to his villain role, and I can see why many people who caught this made-for-TV film back in 1981 remember it fondly, as it has a rather nostalgic quality about it, regardless of whether you've seen it before or not. Keep in mind that much of the popular opinion of this film is most likely inflated by memory, but still, watching this reminds one that there was a time when horror films were allowed to take their time and build up an atmosphere.

The 2nd Annual Shocktober Horrorfest!!!

Welcome to the sophomore edition of the Shocktober Horrorfest! It's something I do every year (or try to do), but the last time I blogged about it was way back in 2007. The concept is simple - Every day, from October 1st until Halloween night, I'll be watching and commenting on at least one horror film, culminating in a big marathon on the 31st. The comments will range from brief impressions to longer, in-depth studies, depending on how the film strikes me. As I did with Horrorfest no. 1, I'll be putting up a Horrorfest sidebar with easy access to every review in the series right here below this post. This is one of the great pleasures of the year in terms of film for me, and it is my hope that those of you who read my blog will discover hidden gems, rediscover and revisit old classics, and if you don't already, come to appreciate horror films (even the bad ones).

As always, please feel free to comment and discuss, and if anyone has any suggestions for horror films they'd like to see reviewed, send them my way. Enjoy!

Shocktober Horrorfest '10:
Dark Night of the Scarecrow
Let Me In
Deepstar Six
Wrong Turn 2: Dead End
Tombs of the Blind Dead
The Church
The Fly II
Pet Sematary II
The Dunwich Horror

Back Again, or If A Blog Restarts In A Forest And There's No One Around To Read It....

Hey everyone. I doubt anyone is still actively following Direct Cinema anymore, after I proclaimed the blog to be back last year, and subsequently managed a grand total of two posts. But I'm stubborn, and I've decided that my annual October tradition of "31 Days of Horror," is a great reason/excuse to start posting once again and get this blog up and running once more. This entire month, I'll be watching (or trying to watch) a horror film every single day, culminating in a marathon on Halloween night. I try to select a healthy mix of horror films from different eras and sub-genres, and usually throw in a few I've already seen for good measure. Because of time constraints, a lot of the posts probably won't be full pieces but rather brief thoughts/impressions, or even just a way to keep track of the films I'm watching, but some posts will be lengthier... I just can't promise which ones or when. The goal now is to just get the ball rolling, and in due time, get this blog back on it's feet. If anyone out there is still reading, I sincerely encourage you to follow along, get the most out of your October, and try to watch as much horror as you can. Enjoy!

June 14, 2009

Brief Impressions: The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (Scott, 2009)

Days before the release of Tony Scott's The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, I came across a handful of early reviews touting this third adaptation of John Godey's 1973 crime novel as being the best and most satisfying of the lot. As a great admirer of Joseph Sargent's 1974 adaptation, an underrated and under seen gem (and seminal "New York City" film), I struggled to understand how this could be possible, but nevertheless, my interest was piqued.

Having seen Scott's film, my immediate reaction is this: Anyone who champions this film as superior to Sargent's is immediately calling into question their cinematic taste. That is not to say this latest rendition of Pelham is a terrible film. Though Scott once again gives in to his typical directorial excess where a workmanlike, direct style would be more appropriate (see Sargent's film), he benefits from committed performances and a script from Brian Helgeland that adds some interesting depth to the main characters. But Scott's film isn't the portrait of a city and its inhabitants that Sargent's film was, and grit and personality are sacrificed at the altar of empty style. The end result: A solid, though unremarkable, surface-level thriller. And the last time I checked, the gap between unremarkable and classic was a fairly wide one.