Monday, June 30, 2014

Film #16: Zombie 5: Killing Birds (1988)

Plot - Although I was hoping this would be like the Italian version of the Birds, I wasn't totally disappointed by the convoluted story. Nothing really makes sense: there's a zombie running around killing people, but it's supposed to somehow linked to a guy who killed a ton of people in the first five minutes. Weird...

Form -  Boring. Half the time the camera's really out of focus, so everyone looks fuzzy. I think this was a problem in Zombie 3 as well.

F/X - Mostly good. The main effect used throughout the film is a sliced throat deal that's obviously just some caked on foam shit. They probably used that one little slit throat thing for every scene! Some of the other visual effects are presented in really weird ways: there's one part where a zombie is holding someone's head out of the back of a car. As the car moves about one inch forward out of some dirt, the person's neck slowly starts to get ripped from their body. Wouldn't the person get pulled out of the car before their head fell off? You don't even see the decapitation really, making it even more confusing. There is a really cool bird pecking out a guy's eye and a zombie bursting through a wall though.

Acting - While the mostly European actors are supposed to be in Louisiana, you wouldn't guess that based on how often their accents change. It's funny that they can nail an American accent if they try, yet they can't seem to pick which one. New Orleans? New York?

Mise en scene - The locales are mostly barren, although one character has the raddest laptop in the entire universe.

Quotables - Most of the quotable lines are great because of the foreign cast. They'll randomly mispronounce words, start slurring together the wrong syllables, etc.

Cool stuff - One death in particular is striking. Three characters are in a barn. A zombie grabs one and starts pulling them up. What ensues is probably the most drawn out somebody-getting-pulled-into-the-ceiling bit ever, with all of the characters screaming and crying for minutes. "It's like I killed him with my own haahhnds" whimpers some Italian guy. It's funny and surreal for mostly the wrong reasons. Also, the birds only do anything twice in the entire film. Yuck.


Film #15: Absurd (1981)

Plot - In addition to being directed by Joe D'Amato, Absurd also shares Anthropophagus's writer, George Eastman. You can tell that the writer wanted to break convention with this film, but it just winds up being a slasher film in the end.

Form -  Half the film is like a poor man's Italian zombie film, and it only really gets good when it's a Halloween rip-off at the very end.

F/X - All the same effects from Anthropophagus recycled into a less satisfying whole. They're still really awesome.

Acting - George Eastman's pretty cool as the killer, and whoever plays Katya looks an awful lot like Jennifer Connelly. That makes me want to watch Phenomena again.

Mise en scene - Dark, dark, dark, and more dark. This movie's fucking dark.

Quotables - No.

Cool stuff - Plenty of violence and fun. Probably the best head in a stove scene ever, multiple neck bites, a few organ removals, and a general negligence of all that is good and holy. Probably the worst of the D'Amato films I've seen, which is more of a compliment to him as a horror meister than anything else.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Film #14: Beyond the Darkness (1979)

Plot - Known as Buio Omega in Italy, this is one that truly surprised me. The writers were geniuses, filling the story with tons of mutilation, morbid sexuality, and surreal moments. It reminds me of Georges Bataille's novels filtered through the conventions of Italian horror. Thankfully, Italian's embrace absurdity and wanton violence much more than Bataille ever could.

Form - The film is absolutely gorgeous. I was expecting something similar to Anthropophagus, but instead I get a film with gorgeous, dramatic shots enhancing the bizarre tale. Still, a lot of gore money-shots are thrown in at the right moments. One of my favorite sequences involves Iris devouring some stew after burying a dead body. The food's falling out of her mouth, dripping down her chin, sticking out of her lips, etc, and random flashes of corpse she just disposed of.

F/X - Too many to count. Bodies being cut open, eyes being replaced, acid baths delivered, and people being hacked to pieces. One ridiculous scene involves Frank, our supposed hero, removing a woman's finger nails.

Acting - Everyone is great.

Mise en scene - The house is austere, the taxidermy dungeon is cold, and everything else makes you feel at odds with existence, just like all of the disturbed characters.

Quotables - Iris drops most of the films memorable lines, which I can't really discuss because the context makes me feel dirty.

Cool stuff - I can't imagine this being any better. Word-for-word, shot-for-shot, it does everything right. I love depressing stories filled with sex and gore, and this film embodies that. A thing of beauty.


Film #13: Zombie Holocaust (1979)

Plot - Back in high school, I was a huge fan of Lucio Fulci's Zombie. I'd brag to everyone about all the crazy scenes, and acted like no movie could top the film's insanity. Since then, I've seen plenty of more insane films, many by other great Italian horror masters, but none have a story line that can top Zombie Holocaust. First it's about cannibals, then it's about zombies, then it's about a mad scientist, and they all converge in an epic finale. Each shift is gleefully abrupt, jarring the viewer in a way that keeps the film interesting.

Form - Nothing bad, nothing great.

F/X - The film really shines here. It's not afraid to take some ridiculous leaps into the surreal. In the first ten minutes, a corpses hand gets cut off, the same corpse is gutted, a man steals the heart out of another corpse and proceeds to eat it, and the same man jumps out of a window on the tenth floor of a hospital building. The last visual effect is probably the best reflection of the film as a whole: the dummy they used for the fall doesn't survive the impact, with it's arm clearly popping off. In the next shot, the man is seen on the ground, fully limbed with some blood trickling down his body. Does it make sense? WHO CARES, THAT WAS FUCKING AWESOME!

Acting - The English dub actors are amazing.

Mise en scene - They're mostly in the jungle, but one scene in particular is pretty striking: the cannibals paint one woman with flowers all over her naked body, then walk her through a delicious cave setting to a giant slab prop that must be seen to be believed. 

Quotables - Zombies are never called zombies in the film, although they are referred to once as "those strange creatures who saved us".

Cool stuff - When the main characters reach the jungle, they bring three natives with them. They're those characters you know were just written in to be killed, and boy do they kill them off quickly and in spectacular fashion. Zombie wearing a human's scalp as a wig, death by speed boot motor, guys jumping out windows, tons of cannibalism, zombie's all making the exact same "uUHHHHHHhhh" noise, it's all here. 


Film #12: The Incubus (1982)

Plot - I had some pretty high hopes going into Incubus. It starts out as a slasher for the first forty-five minutes or hour, but devolves into a dull series of conversations and investigatory crap right when the film needs to kick it into high gear. The titular incubus is literally onscreen for thirty seconds, and even then it barely makes any sense.

Form - Goes from slick '80s slasher to dull TV-movie right after the sixty minute mark.

F/X - The film does not feign away from blood, although the incubus isn't looking so hot.

Acting - One guy's sort of like Dustin Hoffman. Hoffman's daughter needs to pluck her eyebrows.

Mise en scene - The incubus attack scenes in the library and the theater bathroom are great, but the rest falls flat.

Quotables - All Dustin Hoffman talks about for a while is dry intercourse and massive amounts of sperm.

Cool stuff - The incubus attacks are fabulous, and while much safer than the craziness of the Entity, have some shots that are more disturbing than traditional slasher fare. Just turn it off when it starts getting dull.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Film #11: Cannibal Ferox (1981)

Plot - I thought Cannibal Holocaust was crazy, but this movie trumps it in more ways than one. Featuring it's own snapping turtle death, it also features several more real animal deaths than the previous movie. In addition, it features one hanging by boobs, a brain eating, two castrations, and one dart in the heart. Mike is probably one of the greatest horror villains of all time.

Form - All sleaze baby. Most of the animal deaths look like they might be stock footage, yet multiple were definitely done during the regular shooting.

F/X - The gore effects are pretty good and bountiful.

Acting - Mike is awesome! He looks like that guy who created South Park.

Mise en scene - They're in the jungle and not much else.

Quotables - "They castrated him with a machete, and then they....ATE HIS GENITALS..."

Cool stuff - The real animal death quotient is too high for my taste, with at least five animals killed over the course of the film. Thankfully, the blood and guts quotient is way over the norm, making it great for me.


Film #10: Anthropophagous (1980)

Plot - This is great! It takes the conventions of the '80s slasher and mixes it with the visual effects/surreal tone of the zombie/cannibal movies that Italy was churning out at the time. As a fan of both, I'm in awe. This film might also have the greatest pop psychology moment ever.

Form - Extreme eye closeups, first-person camera, all the things that make both slasher films and Fulci films great rolled up into one. The actual photography isn't really as masterful as that seen in the Beyond or even House by the Cemetery, but it's still tasty.

F/X - Mostly peoples necks getting chewed on by the titular anthropophagist (anthropophagoer? anthropopaguy?). One scene has a crazy fetus devouring, but other than that, nothings too grotesque.  

Acting - Nothing bad. The blond seer girl is great and the killer is just ridiculous.

Mise en scene - Goo, skulls, creepy mansions, everything hits the nail on the head.

Quotables - "Hellll yeAAH".

Cool stuff - Chocked full of it. Great gore effects, some good build-up, a quirky soundtrack. The ending is absolutely phenomenal, nonsensical, and gruesome. At the same time, it was the only way they could bring the repulsion to a fine point before cutting the film off.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Film #9: Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978)

Plot - I laughed at this movie sometimes! It has perhaps the greatest (and slowest) car chase sequence in cinema history.

Form - Amateurishness, but that's a good thing here.

F/X - The tomatoes are crazy! They're big, they're small, they're fat, they're tall, they're all over the place!

Acting - Bad to great. 

Mise en scene - Lots of tomatoes, little else.

Quotables - Countless. The songs are pretty catchy, especially "Puberty Love".

Cool stuff - Idiotic Jaws parody sequence, ads randomly thrown into the movie for gags, making fun of the families of tomato-murder victims, etc. In spite of the "horror" aspect, it manages to keep everything family friendly. A winner!


Film #8: The Godsend (1980)

Plot - A film adaptation of a book my girlfriend and I read within the past year. Unfortunately, the book wasn't very good either.

Form - It's like TV. Probably because it was made for TV.

F/X - If a small girl staring blankly at a camera is a special effect, then this film does F/X in spades.

Acting - "Mummy, I love you mummy, MUMMY..." for about ninety minutes.

Mise en scene - No.

Quotables - There was something I was going to put in here, but I forgot what it was.

Cool stuff - No.


Film #7: Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)

Plot - Part one of the Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks trilogy, people don't talk about it because it's secretly good. Meg Ryan plays three people who all love Tom Hanks.

Form - Eh.

F/X - There's this part where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are blown out of a volcano. It's pretty rad.

Acting - Easily Meg Ryan's greatest film ever ever ever. My favorite is when she's a spoiled rich-kid art brat.

Mise en scene - Very cool stuff in the beginning when Tom Hanks works in an office. All blue, bleak, yucky. The rest is very bright.

Quotables - I don't remember.

Cool stuff - No.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Film #6: You've Got Mail (1998)

Plot - I like to call this movie The Secret of Seattle: The Mystery of the Internet. The main characters are wholly unlikable, being in long-term relationships with people that they use and abuse all while flirting with random strangers on the internet. Overall, it feels like a crappy romantic comedy from the '60s updated to seem topical, which isn't always a bad thing.

Form - It's classical Hollywood cinema baby. Booooring.

F/X - The intro has some techno-babble CGI that I absolutely adore, framing the entire world as a cyberspace playground. Some real Matrix shit.

Acting - Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks are plastic as hell.

Mise en scene - A bunch of yuppie shit.

Quotables - Dave Chapelle is featured in the film, but he doesn't say anything funny. Neither does anyone else.

Cool stuff - No.


Film #5: An American Crime (2008)

Plot - The story isn't amusing, heart-warming, or dramatic. It's all about a girl getting tortured for two hours.

Form - Cutaway spanking lessens the impact of cinematic torture.

F/X - No.

Acting - Everyone's either crying, looking blankly at something, or getting tortured.

Mise en scene - It's the '60s!

Quotables - No.

Cool stuff - Definitely not.


Film #4: Funny Games (2007)

Plot - I thought this movie was punk as fuck when I saw it the first time. Back then, it was in Austrian. Why they bother making these stupid shot-for-shot remakes is totally beyond me.

Form - I probably would have liked it more if I hadn't seen it already.

F/X - Somebody gets shot once, the rest of the visuals are intentionally hidden from the viewer to make us feel bad about how we all like violence in movies. Very interesting in theory, very boring to watch.

Acting - Half the actors look like McCaulay Culkin. 

Mise en scene - See F/X.

Quotables - I like the parts where the character start talking to the viewer, but unfortunately, hearing MacCaulay Culkin wannabe say it isn't very cool.

Cool stuff - I'm going to count the fact that half the actors look like McCaulay Culkin as a positive.


Film #3: Skyline (2010)

Plot - Aliens come and blow shit up. The film tries to talk about other things, but then everyone blows up anyway.

Form - The film was well edited and everything, but who cares if it's just decent?

F/X - It looks exactly like every other invasion film since War of the Worlds. 

Acting - That black dude from Clueless is in the movie and he's totally killin' it. While he's alive at least. All of the white actors are either laughing awkwardly or screaming in pain.

Mise en scene - A lot of explosions.

Quotables - No.

Cool stuff - Although there's some fun visceral imagery involving human brains, most of the film is either stuff blowing up and aliens flying around shining lights. It's cool that people die though.


Film #2: Kung Fu Panda (2008)

Plot - It's a Bildungsroman about Jack Black becoming a panda, who then becomes a Kung Fu practitioner by eating food. One of the big problem's that kept interfering with my suspension of disbelief: Jack Black didn't smoke weed once throughout the entire film. Doesn't he always do that? Or maybe I have a romanticized vision of all Jack Black movies? 

Form - None that I could see.

F/X - CGI is always bad.

Acting - Why do they always use famous actors in these CGI shit-fests? I didn't realize Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Lui, Jackie Chan, and a million other famous people were even in the movie until my girlfriend checked the IMDB page halfway through the movie. They should take that budget and use it on making the movie suck less.

Mise en scene - It's CGI, so they can put whatever they want in the movie. Still, I don't really remember anything except food being eaten by the main character. Because he's fat, get the joke?

Quotables - In the beginning, there's a lot of Jack Blackisms, talking about being awesome and radical and things like that. It's all very white.

Cool stuff - One word: watchable. I laughed a couple of times, but I don't remember why.


Film #1: 13 (2010)

Plot - This is a remake of a foreign film from 2005. That movie probably sucked, too. There's this random storyline involving Mickey Rourke and 50 Cent where they're going to find buried treasure, but they both disappear halfway through the movie for no reason. It's stupid.

Form - They kept doing this shot where it spun around a lightbulb to be all dramatic and create tension. It was just lame.

F/X - People got shot in the head and it was kinda cool.

Acting - Everybody sucked. Mickey Rourke is always cast as some weird foreign guy in every movie for some reason. Maybe because foreign people are supposed to be weird looking and he's VERY weird looking.

Mise en scene - N/A.

Quotables - No.

Cool stuff - This movie makes people getting shot in the head a long, drawn out process that never excites.

Rating: 1/7

How This Will Work

             Since I've started my gaming diary at, I've grown more interested in writing about all types of media. This blog will deal with film. Every movie I watched will be rated on these seven criteria:

Plot - Story stuff, totally diegesis. 

Form - How the story is told. Cool shots, cool editing, what have you.

F/X - It's more than real. It's F/X. It means special effects.

Acting - Is Tim Thomerson better than Tom Hanks? Probably.

Mise en scene - Stuff that's put in the scene.

Quotables - Every good movie has memorable dialogue/one-liners. It's the only way I don't forget the movie.

Cool stuff - Everything else that's cool and memorable. Decapitations, nudity, cute things.

After this, the film will receive a rating out of seven based on how positive these reflections are.

I look forward to rating everything I see!