I’ve been pretty good about cobbling together themes for a given week over the past few years, but every once in a while inspiration fails me and I end up with a week like this where I’ve watched a bunch of movies with no discernible theme. These things happen.
- Don’t Do It (short)
- Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (trailer)
- Green Room (trailer)
- Murder Party – On Halloween, a lonely schlub finds an invitation to a “Murder Party” just lying there on the street and decides to attend. Unfortunately, it seems that he’s the one who is deemed to be murdered by a bunch of struggling, pretentious artists hoping to secure grant money from a sadistic academic. On the other hand, art isn’t easy and it turns out that killing this guy is besot with mishaps and accidents. This was Jeremy Saulnier’s (of Blue Ruin and Green Room fame) first full length feature, and it’s a bit of a hoot. Sure, it shares a certain dark streak with his other films, but this also introduces quite a bit of humor into the mix, making for a generally enjoyable experience. It’s clearly low budget and visually not up to par with his later efforts, but you can still see the same DNA in the structure and unfolding of the story. It’s got some nice horror elements to it, lots of practical effects that mostly look great.
The villains are fantastic snobs (and their costumes are great, particularly Pris and the Baseball Fury); one gets the feeling that Saulnier spent lots of time around pretentious artists, as this film is a pretty scathing look at that whole world (even the “normal” artists we see later in the film are pretty douchey). But it’s all in good fun, short and sweet, it never wears out its welcome and has a pretty good finale too. Most enjoyable and it works as a Halloween night watch if you’re on the lookout for something new or different that has the right holiday atmosphere… ***
- Village of the Damned (trailer)
- Children of the Popcorn (Robot Chicken)
- Bloody Birthday (trailer)
- Cathy’s Curse – A young girl is possessed by her aunt’s spirit and proceeds to go on a profanity laden rampage. What a bizarre little film. It’s, well, not very good, but it sorta rockets past its limitations and eventually lands well into So Bad It’s Good territory.
It’s always fun seeing a little girl curse, and I’ll admit that the actress portraying the eponymous Cathy does a great job conveying the campiness of the story, in an unintentionally humorous way. There are lots of weird choices here and the plot, such as it is, is borderline incoherent, but it somehow still manages to entertain. I can see why this film has garnered a bit of a cult following, as it is really something to behold. I’m not sure if I’m entirely sold on it, but it seems like the sort of thing that would get better and better every time you watch it. **1/2
- The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror V: Nightmare Cafeteria
- Ravenous (trailer)
- No Power (Robot Chicken)
- Raw – A teen raised as a vegetarian goes to a veterinary school, meets up with her sister, befriends her gay roommate, and gets a taste for meat. Human meat! Alas, the film is not as schlocky as my description makes it sound. Impeccably crafted and shot but a little slow and aimless, the film has a surreality to it that works well enough. That, or French veterinary schools are way more intense and borderline abusive than most other schools. I mean, it is filled with French people, and they’re the worst (I kid, I kid, I am actually the one who is the worst), so there is that.
The cannibalism theme mostly bubbles under the surface, as our heroine is slow to even try animal meat. The first time she tries human meat is a really strange sequence that doesn’t seem to have much in the way of consequences (well, a trip to the hospital is involved, but then nothing, strange). Indeed, consequences seem beside the point in this movie. At one point someone causes a car accident that kills two people, but we just sort of cut away. It’s all a bit incongruous and confusing for most of the film, though the ending clears things up a bit and that last coda did score back a few points the movie had lost in my book. Not really enough to make me love the film though. So it’s got some positives, but it’s ultimately not really my thing. **
And we’re in the homestretch. I seem to have mistimed things a bit, as we’ll have a few extra days at the end of the marathon before Halloween (Six and a Half Weeks of Halloween doesn’t quite flow well…), but next weekend I’ll finish things up with the traditional Speed Round of stuff not covered in the weekly roundups. Also, look for some season’s readings reviews on Wednesday…