Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cemetery Man: By Keeping Things the Same, We Can Change More Effectively.

At first I wasn't sure what to think about Cemetery Man. My mind teetered between awesome, okay and slightly on the slow side. I was also still finding it hard to swallow that Kyle Maclachlan was NOT the Cemetery Man. Don't blame me, blame Netflix and their fuzzy pictures of DVD covers. No I don't read details, details are for chumps!

I found the film to be surprisingly surreal and an almost classier and smarter version of the brand of humor found so commonly in films like Evil Dead II and Dead Alive. These feelings of indecision lasted all the way up until the very last frame. Somewhere between meh and yeah!, I had fallen for the mysterious power that exists so strangely beneath the surface of what I had originally anticipated as a typical zombie comedy.

When I first read the synopsis of Cemetery Man I immediately, as I so often do, began creating a version of what I thought the film would be like. Here is what I thought: I thought one day Rupert Everett was just a normal caretaker of a graveyard. I figured that one day for whatever reason, people started rising from their graves. Then of course I figured that Rupert Everett would just spend the rest of the film killing zombies. Oh how both wrong and right I was.

You see, Cemetery Man is largely about returning. The word zombies is replaced with the word "returners" and Francesco Dellamorte comes to stand for a returner as well. He is plagued with the idea of returning. Call it a Sisyphean cycle if you will--but Francesco seems to exist for the sole purpose of defending the cemetery from zombies. The returns don't stop there however, because Francesco's own personal hell involves the constant return of his one true love. She returns to him in different forms and there is always something funny about sex going on.

And whimsy little blue lights too.

Yes, there is a surprising amount of layering going on in Cemetery Man that I find to be quite tantalizing. Cemetery Man is also one of those films that people tend to get all uppity about regarding theories. Some believe that the line between reality and dreams is blurred once Francesco shoots his returning love for the very first time. An honorable theory as one can easily see how strangely surreal everything gets after that. Is it after that event, that Francesco's grip on reality really starts to crumble? Definitely. But what can we deduce about the route that the strange dream world goes? The good thing is--the possiblities are endless.

You could probably sit and think up about 10 different theories here that would all somehow end up working and making sense. I dig those kinds of movies. I also dig the fact that Cemetery Man creeps up on you and suddenly blinds you with intelligence at its end. This reminds me of the way I felt after watching Blood Simple. It was like I had been sitting there, entirely unmoved by anything and then BOOM. Some image, some final parting shot made me slap my head and exclaim, "Ooooh". A sudden burst of understanding and an immense appreciation for what I just saw.

Kubrick Stare?

Cemetery Man is NOT your typical zombie comedy but it contains subtle traces of class. Yes there is gore and yes there are utterly hysterical moments, but the film doesn't dwell on any one throughout its duration. My problem with Dead Alive and even Evil Dead II for me (emphasis on FOR ME. ) was that it did dwell on one of those two things for far too much of the film. Cemetery Man however is smart and you know that it's smart because it's Italian........and also's smart.

It's one of those movies that on first glance seems very odd. There's a lot of questionable things happening that do little to ease the frustration of not knowing what the fuck is going on. You'll encounter things that are completely outrageous and awesome and so strange all at the same time (the hospital scene cough).

It's at these points in the film that you start truly realizing that Cemetery Man knows more than it's letting on. It's got depth---and I just still can't get over that last shot. It means so much thinking. It makes me want to instantly go back and then buy a chalkboard and start writing insane theories on it. By the way--I miss chalkboards. Wasn't clapping the erasers outside one of the staples of becoming a person in elementary school? Didn't it allow for bonding time and secret sharing? And now these dry erase boards think they can just come on in and steal people's childhoods? Gah.


Where was I? Oh yes. Cemetery Man has its ups and downs but ultimately, at least in my head, it's a gigantic up. I just find it to be such a refreshing take on the zombie comedy genre. It's got meat on its bones and isn't all about the splatter and gross out count. That rocks. I also like the fact that Rupert Everett is like Bruce Campbell but with a thinner neck (which is exactly the part that I don't like about Bruce Campbell. Plus, he's British. Win and win).

I mean, there's just so much to like. The way that Francesco so effortlessly shoots zombies in the head. How the zombies aren't even the real threat--the real threat is inside Francesco's head. The threat is himself? His insecurities about being impotent? His regret at never forming a true relationship with the women he immediately fell in love with? It's almost as if the zombies are just the chorus, while Francesco is the star. Sure the zombies ARE ridiculously awesome and at times ridiculously hilarious,

but unlike Dead Alive--that's not all there is.

Man, I could blab on and on about what I liked about Cemetery Man--and to think I was on the fence about it until that frickin snow globe. OH and BOY SCOUT ZOMBIES?


Final verdict is, Cemetery Man pulled the rug out from under me. I was not prepared to actually find meaning and intelligence in such a film but lo and behold---it lives. Now I need to go and dissect everything so I can make my own theories and sound all smart and stuff. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New Years Evil: You Figuratively Castrated Me!

Just so you know, I do plan at some point to start watching good movies again. Not that New Years Evil isn't good but....alright just kidding as far as bad movies go it's the cat's pajamas. Nevertheless a really REALLY good movie is coming in the mail tomorrow (at least everyone tells me it's really, REALLY good), so be prepared. New Years Evil..... New Years Eeeeeeevil.

(I haven't heard a Dr. Evil joke or impression in about 10 years so I decided I was safe).

An interesting bit of film that combines mass confusion with pink eyebrows

and...weirdness. There was a point about an hour and 10 minutes into this where I suddenly looked around me and actually asked GOD out loud just what the hell was going on here.

One minute I'm laughing at all the kooky punk rockers and having a jolly good sip of my tea, and the next I'm wondering how it is humanely possible to be suspended in an elevator shaft, ride 10 floors up AND down and live to tell the tale. Also, somewhere along the line somebody figuratively castrated someone and they turned into a loony. Don't worry I'll explain later. Or will I?

New Years Evil takes place on New Years Eve. During some high profile punk rock-ish show with a high profile punk rock DJ, a mysterious caller calls foreshadowing some very gruesome deaths. Deaths that will take place when every time zone in the US strikes midnight until the last one--in L.A., where our punk rock lady will die.

Unlike most generic slashers, New Years Evil does something pretty original here. It lets us get very close and form a suggestive relationship with the killer. I say suggestive because I'm about 85% sure that we are supposed to have a crush on him and then shortly after, reproduce--but one can never be sure these days. It's such a radical concept to me. Usually the killer's identity IS the big deal about a silly slasher movie. It's one of the main reasons that people stick around throughout all the boring. Here however we know who he is. We may not know how he is connected---although it's not very difficult to figure it out. We get to follow him throughout all his escapades, his costume changes and we kind of like it. Well at least I did. Although really how can you not love a guy that brings champagne to his first night on the *job.

***it wasn't technically his job because he was pretending to work there so that he could kill a skanky nurse. Which by the way--I'm beginning to think that women really got gyped in the whole sexy nurse thing. First take away our sexy nurse uniforms and little hats and THEN take away our sex appeal by making us wear ugly, frumpy scrubs? Thanks a lot. NOT! Just kidding, I'm not a nurse, nor do I condone the practicality of wearing sexy nurse uniforms in a public health setting. Where was I? Oh right right. Our killer--brings a bottle of champagne (hey it's new years!) to his first fake night on the job. One sip of champagne however quickly turns to this.
And then this.
Dude works faster than Tom Atkins! And me and Roz Kelly do not approve.

Aren't patients lives at stake here? Have some respect!

I think I appreciate this aspect of New Years Evil very much. It's not really hiding anything from us. We know very well what he is planning to do, and who he is planning to kill. He's a mysterious feller sure but honestly while thinking about this very subject, I've decided that even if we didn't find out how he was connected in the grand scheme of things--the film would still work. Heck--and I may be bold in saying this, but it might have even worked better.

The whole giving the killer a real, honest to goodness character is an increasing trend. These days it survives in things like Dexter and the Talented Mr. Ripley--but way back when, it came to be established from films like Peeping Tom and even Cat People. I love films that put us on this strange almost sympathetic level with our killer. It's intimate and a refreshing viewpoint into what was once an old and tired scenario. How much longer can I really watch a bunch of losers unsuccessfully out run a maniac? Not long. And that's why I greatly appreciate the vantage point New Years Evil takes.

Now before I get all high and mighty on New Years Evil, I should remind you all that it's not a very good movie. Like I said earlier when I was shouting out loud things to God, the whole story seems to crumble towards the end there. There's some dodgy explanation about castrating and blah blah blah you stole my manhood blah blah blah and my sons! and blah blah blah I'm gonna tie you to an elevator shaft bitch! But don't worry because you'll survive and then I'll put on a spooky mask blah blah.

Oh right SPOILER. Too late? Sure there are funny bits; silly music, violent punk music fans, drunk women, suffocation by giant bag of marijuana,

death by slash in the teat (my favorite)--

the list goes on and on. Oh and don't forget the master of disguise himself....

Isn't it lovely? The best part is, he really does not need to put so much effort in. These people do not know him and call me crazy but the mustache does nothing to make you seem more powerful mister. Oh wait, I think what I meant to say is that the mustache is EVERYTHING. Sorry for the confusion (We don't need to bring up what happened to the Brawny man do we?).

I like the overall concept of New Years Evil, a death in every time zone? Neat! Only, our killer kind of messes up at one point and the mountain time zone gets shafted, but that one doesn't count anyways. Sure, things get muddled, things can be boring but I still believe there's at least a little bit of merit still thriving in New Years Evil. But seriously, what was up with that kid?

He's popping pills, putting stockings on his head,

licking his dad's ear?

Yeah I guess that's okay....

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Basket Case: Terrible, Horrible and Amazing

Basket Case is another one of those movies that I had the complete wrong idea about. Like Monkey Shines and Dead Alive, I would also have to blame the cover art here.

I always thought that the creature inside the basket was some kind of Sloth-like mutant. A kind of short, maybe dwarf like abomination that for one reason or another lived inside a basket....and ate people. It's not like the actual look of the thing inside the basket has to exactly match what is shown to us but still---false advertising!

Actually, you know what he looks like? Mrs. Doubtfire's mask when she's (he's) not wearing it..!

I really had no clue though that Basket Case was about separated siamese twins. Actually, I had no clue about anything happening in Basket Case at all. Funny? Bloody? Ridiculous? All of the above---and all this time I thought it was just about some monster stuck in a basket.

As I said up there, Basket Case follows Dwayne and his deformed brother that lives in a basket. When he was younger, the Dwayne was separated from his Siamese twin, who was a giant ball of flesh and a head with teeth. Now the two seek vengeance against the doctor's that separated them and left the abnormality to die. But can Dwayne control his brother's need to rip apart anything that comes between them?

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Basket Case is that it is horribly done-- and I mean that as a compliment believe it or not. The acting is hilariously bad, as are the wigs--

and the claymation sequences involving the head blob are pee your pants outrageous. I tweeted during watching the film that I couldn't decide if Basket Case was being serious or not, to which every one replied definitely NOT. Personally however, I can't help but feel like some of it had to be serious. They had to have thought they were making a truly scary film right? Maybe just a little? The thing about Basket Case is that I think the movie is funnier if you pretend that they were being serious.

Alright, alright I know they weren't being serious. But I just want to pretend that they were ok? OK?!

If I had to pick a part about Basket Case that I loved, it would be very, very difficult. This is because almost all of it was priceless entertainment. The kind of entertainment that only a badly placed wig, and a dream about running naked through the streets of New York can supply. Where do I begin? How about, I cannot for the life of me figure out how that abnormal blob of a person (?) moved around. When he was amputated you can very clearly see he has no legs.

How does this work...!? This to me is the best part---that the bad twin can just slide around like he has wheels attached. It makes absolutely no sense but it's not supposed to! That's the beauty of Basket Case, everything is ridiculous and we like it that way.

Take for instance the final scene where the blob somehow maybe rapes a woman. Was that what he was doing? Touching some boobies and maybe getting frisky? We don't know! All we know is that there is a lot of blood by her vagina. Does the blob head have a penis? Doubt it. Seriously, what was going on??

I mean there is a plethora of questions going on that don't matter in the slightest but are too hilarious to ignore. My favorite is trying to figure out why the blob head (did he have a real name? I forget...) suddenly got a case of the Zoltar's.

You know...a random case of red glowing eyes?

It was so strange. Is he the devil? Does he need eye drops? Do his eyes glow before he is about to kill. God, I have so many questions! So many!

Now, aside from all this hilarity, I do have to say that the blood and gore in Basket Case is kind of exceptional.

Well, hilarious---but still bloody and fun. I especially loved the Veterinarian's death scene. Although I still can't figure out how having her shoved in a drawer of scalpels turns out such precise results but oh well.

Basket Case isn't a movie to get uppity about. Sure it's awful but it's one of those special awful movies that is secretly good. Good because it's hilarious and because much to my disappointment, it does not take itself very seriously. Don't expect to be wowed by Basket Case. It looks terrible, it's poorly acted and the writing is laugh out loud horrible. The first time you see what the "monster" really looks like you will choke on your apple juice and spit it at your cat. Not that I would know or anything...

Yes, Basket Case you are a bad, bad film but you stole my heart. You remind me yet again that New York was once a very scary place to be and that yes it is possible to have a head with hands growing out of your side.

You give me hope that one day I will get drunk with a prostitute and she will bring me home and not try to rape me.

You keep my faith invested in the power of spur of the moment surgery performed in someone's dining room. And of course, you remind me that it's okay to lock my sibling in a basket, and carry it around with me every where I go.

Bless you.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

BUFF and Lucky McKee's The Woman

Last night I finally got to attend a night at the Boston Underground Film Fest. An amazing film festival that actually gives Boston a chance to see some truly amazing films before...other people. There was a great energy there filled with people that actually want to see film and that appreciate it--and I dig that.

The first film I got to attend and the one I was looking forward most to seeing was Lucky McKee's The Woman. I was a big fan of both May and Roman and after learning about The Woman and the controversy that happened at the Sundance Film Festival, I could not wait to see Lucky's latest endeavor.

The film was completely outrageous and probably one of the most disturbing and terrifying experiences of my life. I came pretty darn close to having an anxiety attack and also vomiting all over myself (although drinking beer before the movie was probably the cause of that). I cannot even explain to you how crazy The Woman is. I could not stop thinking about last night and I'm still having trouble functioning today without recalling moments from the film. Call me crazy, but that is the ultimate definition of a truly disturbing film.

So for all those interested--read my review at Fangirltastic and please for the love of god, see this film if you get the chance. I will talk about it more on this blog as we get closer to the end of Exploration Disturbia but all you need to know right now is---holy shit.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

There's Something About The Donald

I drank a chai tea latte today and I'm feeling saucy. So saucy, that I feel like talking about The Donald. If you've been reading this here blog for a while, then you know that I often refer to "THE Donald". The Donald however is not to be confused with a man who erroneously was given the title, "The Donald". When I say The Donald I mean THE Donald also known in some places as Donald Sutherland and in other places as the official narrator of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

My sister asked me a little while ago what the draw of The Donald was. I didn't have a clear cut answer. We know my intial obsession began with Buffy the Vampire Slayer the movie, but after that it gets fuzzy. It's not like I'm sexually attracted to him (Please, that is reserved for Daniel Craig and Boba Fett), I just like him. I think he's awesome and every time I see him in a movie, I feel at peace. He's like a constant beacon of light in my sometimes dark and meaningless world. Is that so wrong?

SO while scouring the daily news articles today, I came across one about The Donald that peaked my interest. When I reviewed Don't Look Now, I quipped about how damn steamy that sex scene between the Donald and Julie Christie was. It lasts for about a year, and make you either turn red, get a boner or cry. There were rumors floating around claiming that the sex was real and honestly anyone that has seen it wouldn't be too surprised to find out that it was.

This article came out today however that claims the sex scene was in fact real. Former Variety editor Peter Bart wrote about his time on set of Don't Look Now in his new book. As a former Paramount pictures executive, Bart was given access to the infamous bedroom scene. Bart writes in his book, "It was clear to me they were no longer simply acting they were fucking on camera."

Hmmmm interesting! There was also a rumor flying around that The Donald and Julie Christie had a love affair and that Christie's husband at the time, Warren Beatty was not too thrilled with the sex scene--even at one point demanding that it be cut out of the film. One thing we do know for sure is that the sex scene was the first scene that The Donald and Julie Christie filmed together. In fact, the first time the two met was on the set of Don't Look Now. I somehow find it both hard to believe and easy to believe that The Donald would be so ballsy.
Is Peter Bart full of shit? As much as I would like to credit The Donald for iniating full blown sex immediately, I'm not so sure I can believe it. Bart's "evidence" is that he was watching and decided they weren't acting? How do you know? Was the P in YOUR V? I hope not.

Anywho--interesting news being scattered about the interwebz today and since The Horror Digest fully supports anything and everything The Donald, I figured I'd keep you in the know. May the gentle aura of The Donald remain intact.

Oh and you may have also noticed I spruced things up around here a bit. New font, a new banner design and font, and fancy schmancy tabs under the header. Plus over here --------> are the most popular posts at the 'Gest. Neat huh? Let me know if you like the changes but don't tell me if you hate them because then I'll hate you and we can't have that.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rango and the Vacation Blues

Last week I took a luxurious and much needed vacation. By luxurious I mean I took a magical journey to the land of my couch and by much needed I mean I would have died if it did not happen sooner. Maybe it's the evil ways of winter, the absence of sunlight (SAD FTW!) or maybe my heavy duty sandwich eating has finally caught up with me. We may in fact never know, but what I do know is that sitting around and doing nothing for a week is pretty neat.

While sitting around and being useless, I decided to pry myself off the couch and finally do something that I've been wanting to do for a long time. Go to the movies alone. Sure, many of you probably laugh at my goal--you probably have no problem going it alone and do it often. But because I'm often anxious about doing things alone and always worried that perhaps something WEIRD will happen like... a scary man will sit next to me and I'll have no one to turn to for help OR maybe a small child will be a real asshole and being alone prevents me from gaining the courage to yell at their parents WHO KNOWS. All I know is that I've always wanted to do it, but hadn't ever and I feel incomplete because of it.

So on Wednesday, I got my umbrella and walked to the movie theater to enjoy a rainy matinee showing of Rango. Nothing else good was playing so don't yell at me and besides...I'm pretty sure a cartoon is way better than Little Red Riding Hood. Anyways--Rango it was and Rango I enjoyed.

Rango is not a horror film--I realize this. BUT it was in fact directed by Gore Verbinski who other than having a deep burning obsession with Johnny Depp, is also responsible for the Americanized version of The Ring. Therefore I will be talking about Rango.

I wasn't sure what to expect with Rango. All I really knew was that Johnny Depp was Rango and that parents were angry that the movie might be responsible for getting kids to smoke. That is why I was most surprised when I realized how oddly dark the film was. It seemed to me that the least worrisome aspect of the film was the smoking. Shouldn't parents be more huffy about the adult jokes, all the gun violence and the fact that several of the animal characters die? Keep in mind that these were all elements that I loved about the film but I still find it odd that smoking was the big bad wolf of the situation.

The story follows Rango, an average chameleon who sadly realizes that he has no true purpose in life. Then out of the blue a freak accident causes his tank to fall out of the car, and Rango is alone in the desert. As he wanders into Dirt, the old west style animal town--Rango soon creates a new somebody to be and receives the coveted job of sheriff. Soon Rango finds that something shady is going on in Dirt, someone is taking all the water and being a real asshole. But can Rango, the once average chameleon really save an entire town?

Anywho. Rango IS dark. I found it to be much more adult than I ever anticipated, which made me feel a lot better about being the only person there without a child. The most surprising aspect as hinted at above however, was the fact that animals die!

I was reminded during Rango, of how relieved I was in UP when the evil dogs fell off the cliff and were shown swimming away apparently safe. Even though they were mean dogs, I still probably would have cried had I imagined them to be drowning and dead in the watery grave below. Good old Disney however knows that dead animals can only occur when it is an important plot device--like Mufasa and Bambi's Mother.

This is why the deaths in Rango caught me so off guard. One minute we're laughing at the great big toad/frog thing (what was that anyways?)

and the next, it's swooped up in the talons of a hawk never to be seen or heard from again. Later the hawk does battle with Rango and gets crushed, its talons and wings sticking out of the rubble at grotesque angles. Also, the head banker of Dirt is found dead and animal warfare with guns apparently does involve dead animals. If you think about it...there was more carnage in Rango than in most PG-13 horror films. This was oddly refreshing. It's nice to see an animated film not feel restricted by the bullshit standards created by Disney. In the real world, in the real west--animals die. Who knows if they actually do use guns or not but if they did, they'd be dead. Simple fact.

Perhaps my favorite moment of the film was shortly after Rango makes his dramatic and accidental escape from the car. He hears the voice of someone and the camera shifts suddenly to focus on an armadillo. Run over straight through the middle, his body just barely still in one piece.

There was an audible gasp from the audience that caught me off guard. People didn't expect that because it was a truly almost--gory moment. And that my friends--is neat.

Also insanely neat is the visual imagery going on. There were moments in Rango that made me want to jump up and down, grab a small child and say, "THIS, this is what creativity looks like!". In particular, a hallucinating-ish dream sequence bore a strong resemblance to something Salvador Dali would create. It was creepy, dark and beautiful and I loved every minute of it.

What's more--Johnny Depp was practically unrecognizable as the timid yet eccentric Rango. I expected something weird and just a smidgen of Captain Jack Sparrow to shine through, but what I got was a real and honest character. The thematic importance surrounding Rango and how he creates who he is--is startling. Rango repeats the line "Who am I?" with weight. He appears in the beginning as an average chameleon. He doesn't even have a name at first--but his persona of Rango quickly begins to take over. He is a chameleon in every definition of the word. Blending in with the people of Dirt almost immediately and sort of by accident. There's a lot of smart going on in Rango and I'm not entirely sure people are aware of it.

So in closing, I highly, HIGHLY recommend you see Rango. It's a surprise, it has meaning and it's frickin awesome. Don't be fooled by its childlike facade, Rango is in fact a movie for adults as well. It's possibly even more of an adult movie than a kids one....but we can debate on that later.

Still need convincing?

In a pivotal moment, when Rango meets face to face with the Spirit of the West (a burly man in a sparkling white golf cart, voiced by Timothy Olyphant!) he asks him if they're in heaven.

The Spirit of the West replies,

"If it were, wouldn't we be eating strawberry Pop-Tarts with Kim Novak?"

See? Kids movie my ass.