Monthly Archives: October 2013

Transylvania 6-5000

I’ve been talking about horror movies lately, and I stumbled upon this strange specimen just last night. It’s a weird movie from 1985 starring a young Jeff Goldblum and Ed Begley Jr. They play two tabloid reporters sent to Transylvania to look for Frankenstein. That’s odd, I thought Frankenstein was German. What’s odder is that the characters in the movie seem to think it’s odd too. Then I started to notice that really everything in this movie was odd.

I find myself at a loss of words about this movie. What strikes me, perhaps even more than how cute Geena Davis looks in that leotard, is just how offbeat the humor in this movie is. That’s a term that gets thrown around a lot and rarely means anything, but in this case it’s oddly fitting. This feels like a movie made by crazy people.  Take a look.

 

That’s not normal. Humor doesn’t have to be normal, but this is really kind of bent. Why is he making them sniff everything? Because a crazy person thought it would be funny. Why are they drinking coffee out of beakers? I’m guessing because a crazy person thought it would be funny.

This movie did not get terribly goood reviews. It’s actually rated rather badly on pretty much every site out there, and maybe because people just didn’t get it. It almost worries me that I found it as funny as I did, but there you have it. Transylvania 6-5000 is available to stream on Netflix, I’d really recommend giving it a shot if you’re looking for something…different.

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MARTYRS

Martyrs

 

October marches on and with it, an increased desire for horror. This time around, I’ve forgone the usual creature feature fare for something truly scary on a much deeper level. Martyrs is a French film from 2008 by Pascal Laugier. It never really got a big release here in ‘merica, which is a shame, because this is a deeply upsetting movie, but also really makes you think. What’s an even bigger shame is that there’s a ‘merican remake in the works. Bigger still on the shameometer is that it’s reported that the ‘merican ending will be happier and more hopeful. You’d kind of have to see the movie to understand why that’s such a bad thing.

The story seems a simple enough affar about a girl who escapes imprisonment and abuse and is put in an orphanage. She befriends another orphan, and years later finds the people responsible for her childhood abuse and seeks revenge. This sounds like pretty standard fare. Not too thrilling, but servicable. What follows however is a deep look into the one thing that every person, believer and skeptic alike has pondered: is there an afterlife? The long and veiny of it is that there’s a secret organization looking to find a martyr; someeone who, in the face of unbearable agony at the brink of death, sees what lies beyond. They hope to uncover the ultimate secret. Do we ascend to the realm of a just and loving God, or are we wrapped in the pretentious and snarky tendrils of the Spaghetti Monster?

Tasty be thy name

Tasty be thy name

What follows is an amazing display of brutality that’s genuinely difficult to watch at times, culminating in one of the most gut-wrenching tortures seen in a horror movie. All of this is wrapped in a story too deep and thoughtful to simply classify as “torture porn”.

There’s not a lot more that can be said about this without giving away things best left experienced firsthand. If you’re looking for a horror movie, there’s not much more horrific on a visceral or spiritual level than Martyrs.

...just because.

…just because.

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Serpent and the Rainbow

serpentrainbow

 

It’s October, and October means horror movies. I love horror movies, I could watch them every day. I love all kinds of horror. Ghosts, vampires, body horror, found footage, it’s all great. Well, sometimes, but even when it’s not great it can be great. Jason X may have been as dumb as a screen door on a space station, but it was a lot of fun to watch.

This made sense to someone...

This made sense to someone…

So I took it upon myself to watch a zombie movie. Everyone likes zombies these days, right? And why is that? If I had to guess, I’d say that it’s because they’re uneducated, but that seems a bit cynical. Honestly, I used to love zombie movies. Now, I feel the need to preface that statemment with I love good zombie movies. There’s a lot of shit being crapped out to make a cheap buck by putting zombies in it. I’ve ranted on this one before, so I won’t get too much into it, instead choosing to talk about this particular movie.

The Serpent and the Rainbow is based on a nonfiction book of the same name. Think about that for a moment. Nonfiction zombies. We’re already stepping into different territory here, although this film if 25 years old…maybe that’s why it’s good.

Blah blah blah

Blah blah blah

The films starts Bill Pullman, that’s the one from Independance Day, not the one from Aliens, as anthropologist Dennis Alan. Alan is sent to Haiti to retrieve a sample of a poison that’s rumored to cause a convincingly deathlike state in it’s victims. He’s sent there by some rich guys in suits who somehow want to use it in some scheme involving corporate greed or something. Whatever, it was the ’80’s, that was the norm of the time. What Alan finds is a mystery involving political intrigue, magic, Voodo, annd the type of “real zombies” that have actualy inhabited that region for decades, if not centuries.

It's ok, I can't tell us apart either.

It’s ok, I can’t tell us apart either.

Now fair warning, this isn’t your typical “dead guys that eat stuff” zombie fare, and if you’re not careful, you might learn something with this one. Still, if you’re looking for a genuinely creepy and genuinely, well, genuine take on something that’s beeen far too oversaturated lately, give this one a look.

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In Defense of: The Matrix Trilogy

Before we start, my buddy Brendan Lasalle did an interview with the BS! Podcast (formerly Bear Swarm). He talks a lot about the new edition of XCrawl, some “good ole’ days” gaming stories, and discusses some wrestling stuff (which I plan to touch on some day). Go check it out!

http://bs-radio.com/podcasts/922_bs-podcast-episode-12-brendan-lasalle/

Now, on to the topic at hand…

I still remember going to see The Matrix back in 1999. I remember how vague the marketing was. I remember walking into that theatre having no idea what I was about to see, and I remember being completely blown away by it. It was revolutionary, no pun intended. It was good, and it was almost universally recognized as good, something that you almost never see in today’s age of internet cynicsm.

It was no secret that there was more on the way. I think it was even before the movie had hit home video (I had it on VHS, it was that long ago) that if it did well, it was planned to be a trilogy. We all waited with baited breath for three long years for the follow-up, The Matrix Reloaded, and then we all started bitching up a storm.

Like a bunch of baby robots

Like a bunch of babyhead robots

Why though? What was so bad about the Matrix sequels that we immediately turned our backs on this thing that had been put on so high a pedastal? There have been sequels that have blatantly disrespected their franchises, sure. Highlander 2 deserves everything it gets, it was an afront to the story, but did the Matrix sequels do that? I don’t think so.

Highlander sucks because aliens...

Highlander sucks because aliens…

Personally, I have gone back and forth several times on these movies. I really don’t know how to feel. I think the problems are as deep and complicated as the story itself. We all know the complaints. People say that they became too overindulgent with their effects, reusing the same tricks….and they did. That the allegory of Neo as a Christ-figure was so blantant it boggled the mind…and it did. They say that the films became too pretentious…and they did, one need only watch the scene with Neo and The Architect to see undeniable proof of this.

Let's see just how much bullshit they'll put up with...vis a vis

Let’s see just how much bullshit they’ll put up with…vis a vis

So far there’s not a lot of “defense of” happenning, but I’m getting to that. The point is, I think that if they were attatched to any other franchise, Reloaded and Revolutions would have been perfectly servicable sequels, perhaps even hits. I think the problem with The Matrix as a franchise is The Matrix itself. The first movie was just too good. That’s a terrible defense, isn’t it? I know, but try watching the sequels without the first one…they aren’t that bad.

Whoa, indeed...

Whoa, indeed…

It can be hard to admit, but it’s true. Let’s think about this. The mansion fight and the freeway chase from Reloaded? Pretty damn cool. The mech battle from Revolutions? Kinda badass. The babyhead robot? Visually striking. The Neo vs. Smith fight at the end of Revolutions? Amazing to watch and a scene that influenced superhero fights in movies for years to come. Most fanboys saw that and thought Wow, maybe they CAN pull off a live-action Dragonball Z movie…then Dragonball Evolution happened and…well, they fucked it up. I won’t be defending that movie.

 

Fuck you, fuck you so hard! Seriously, dude!

Fuck you, fuck you so hard! Seriously, dude!

 

So, basically the Matrix sequels sucked because the first movie was so damn good. How do you rectify a problem like that? As much as it pains me to say, know when to quit. Reloaded and Revolutions were stories that didn’t need to be told. The end of the first film, much like the rest of it, was just right, from an artistic standpoint. Neo threatening the machine collective (who we didn’t yet realize was a baby) and flying away like Superman set the imagination ablaze, and that’s where the story’s end should have remained. Nothing that came next could have satisfied us. More of the same would just be more of the same, while taking it in new directions and expanding it, which they did, could only serve to disappoint.

Yeah...

Yeah…

You know…I’m not sure if I really defended anything there, but I guess it’s something to think about.

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