Archive for the Fantasy Category

SITGES PT. II: LET’S HAVE SOME FUN

Posted in Fantasy, Horror, Just Fun, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 16, 2012 by Toi Brownstone

The festival schedules a wide-ranging list of movies. This year I haven’t seen many proper horror films, but as I did watch some quite disturbing and suffocating and some quite dense, comedy-horror titles to have an easy break were very welcome.

Thus I watched Grabbers on Wednesday, and the other two, Sightseers and John Dies at the End, which were included in the marathon selection.

GRABBERS, Jon Wright (2012)

The typical cute island off the coast of Ireland, where nothing ever happens, is invaded by outerspace creatures, CthulhuKraken like, which easily adapt thanks to the rainy climate, and look for blood for feeding. By chance, the drunken fisherman, the two police officers in charge, and a the loud-off biologist, discover that these creatures are allergic to a certain percentage of alcohol in human body, and as good Irish, the will arrange everything to defeat them and restore piece.

These typical Brit-Irish comedies related to creatures follow more or less the same pattern, they are low budget, in this case approaching the beautiful nature locations, but with poor treatment to the creatures, ultra computerized. It’s entertaining but not brilliant, however, the way to fight the creatures provide some hilarious moments, and the Irish character and acting is always funny.

SIGHTSEERS, Ben Wheatley (2012)

No doubt this was the coolest surprise in the festival. I loved every second of this super black comedy. In the distance it reminded me of John WatersSerial Mom.

Tina (Alice Lowe) is a woman in her thirties living with her oppressive mother. They were devoted to their dog Poppy, who passed away recently, and they haven’t got over the tragedy. Chris (Steve Oram), Tina’s boyfriend, has planned a getaway route in his caravan, to let her discover his world. The couple seems to be one of these awkward families which we usually see in pictures, shy, fussy and too traditional, however, whenever they feel their holidays are threatened by strangers, the serial killer resting inside of them brings out merciless.

Sightseers is a road trip, a romantic comedy, and an orgy of murder, if you get chance, do not miss it. You won’t get disappointed.

JOHN DIES AT THE END, Don Coscarelli (2012)

When I think of Don Coscarelli, Phantasm saga and Bubba Ho-Tep escort the director , thus if his name is mentioned I always pay attention.

I got the chance to see his last work at the marathon, warned by some that it was a bit nuts. I didn’t feel discourage, to be honest, and instead of heading back home after Maniac, I decided to go for a walk and then watch the fifth story in the evening. I don’t regret having chosen the hardest option, which implied to arrive home super late, but after seeing the result, I must confess inside of me I’m banding my head against the wall. Johnny Dies at the End, based on Dave Won’s novel was everything I couldn’t have thought of, yet, it didn’t catch me.

Dave Won (Chase Williamson) has an appointment with a journalist (Paul Giamatti) in order to tell him the truth of the business he’s handling together with his best mate John Cheese (Rob Mayes) and the story behind their special abilities, which started to be noticed due to a devastating drug labeled as Soya Sauce, which opened the doors to another dimensions, and consequently enhanced their skills to detect evil creatures threatening human kind, forcing these  two college partygoers  to fight to save humanity.

I’m not really sure whether I was too tired and not in the mood, but I was surprised hearing the audience lively laughing. Really, the jokes weren’t so smart. The sequence of events and the flashback technique weren’t clearly exposed, and the result was quite chaos. The start of the story was appealing, but as the story is developing, loses its initial effect and goes flat. Nope, I didn’t buy it!

SITGES FILM FESTIVAL 2011 (PT. II)

Posted in Events, Fantasy, Horror with tags , , , , , , on November 29, 2011 by Toi Brownstone

After the success of the morning sessions, and finishing with a nice lunch time at a Jap restaurant outdoors, my friends suggested I could try to find tickets for this film. They were available , so were for the last Livide projection, thus I bought tickets for the two of them. I felt really pleased for this unexpected possibility of extending my festival experience. Unfortunately marathons for the day after were sold out.

After a couple of carajillos and a beer this is what we swallowed.

THE DAY HE ARRIVES, Book chon ban hyang (2011)

Asian cinema is a still pending subject for me. I’ve enjoyed some of these already modern but already  horror movies, even their western remakes, from The Ring to The Audition, Zatoichi, Dolls or Battle Royale

Regarding classics, I’ve seen some of Kurosawa’s but it wasn’t the right time. The slow rhythm of the stories require me to be in the mood, and I wasn’t, in fact I was imposed to see some of them, thus I didn’t get to enjoy them.

I’m an objective and positive person, otherwise, after the experience lived with The Day He Arrives, I’d give up on Asian films.

During the projection I passed though all kind of mental states. From concentration and interest, to astonishment, flipping with part of the audience passionately clapping, and eventually wondering whether I’m so stupid I didn’t get the message. Well, apparently I’m not, two of my friends took a nap, and I was exchanging glances with another friend who was in same state as I was. Total disaster, poor people, they even apologized for such crap.

A film teacher and temporarily retired filmmaker, Sang-Joon, is spending few days in Seoul, mainly to enjoy his old friend and mentor, Young-Ho. Basically the film recovers his encounters with students who recognize him and try to approach him, and the nights plenty of booze and deep thinking conversations with his friend, and a close acquaintance of his, all this put aside when the beautiful owner of one of the taverns turns up into scene.

Somehow it reminds me of the brilliant Groundhog Day, in the sense that each day Sang-Joon spends in Seoul is a repetition, with slight changes. High spirits get low, the barmaid and he get close up to physical contact, and everybody around him seems to get tired of him. Apart from that, nothing else happens.

Thus, there I was, flipping for around 80 minutes, without understanding much, giggling due to extreme zooms, weird takes, and uncomfortable silence. Really, it was a waste of time, and my feelings were awkward. If you get to see this film, and understand something else, please, let me know.

LIVIDE (LIVID), Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury (2011)

After such crap, the group divided, some attending the remake of The Thing premiere, and we heading to shit in our pants with a dose of French horror.

After the wild A L’Interieur, commented a couple of years ago in this blog, the expectations were quite high. Truth is we didn’t get disappointed, but Livide doesn’t reach that level of insane brutality. Still, it was worth seeing.

In a French town by the sea, lately disturbed by the increasing rate of children disappearances, today’s Lucie’s first day as social worker trainee. Her boss, madame  Wilson, a rough woman, guides her in the route to follow, introducing her to the old people barely able to take care of themselves, she’ll have to take care on a daily basis. Basically her duties are visiting the patients and supply them with medicine.  But she’s asked to wait outside in one of the stops, at a very old mansion almost in ruins. Wilson comments Lucie is still not ready for such challenge, immediately awakening the young girl’s curiosity, who will cross the fence and get into the house, to discover the horrible picture of a very old woman, Mrs Jessel, in a deep coma.

Wilson explains Lucie, Madame Jessel used to be a very established and strict ballet teacher who amassed a vast fortune hidden somewhere in the mansion.

When telling her boyfriend about this shocking experience to her boyfriend, frustrated for working as a fisherman and sick of his boring life, he quickly convinces her and another friend of breaking in the house and look for a treasure which will allow them to have the good life they deserve.

As you can imagine, the apparent static house will immediately react against the breakage, with surprising and horrible consequences for the three of them.

I did like Livide, although many people got really disappointed. It’s easy to set comparisons with A L’Interieur considering both are tagged as horror films, however they are completely opposed. The greatness of the first one was perhaps the fact that the crazy and brutal story was focused on an act of revenge by an insane woman, but keeping close to what we could call reality. I mean, not likely, but something like that could ever happen. We all know world is falling apart and everything can be possible.

Livide is totally different. A haunted house and its hidden secrets are the main protagonists in this story, opening a door to a series of brutal and supernatural events. We’ve seen many stories of haunted houses, and evil powers acting against people unlucky to be there at that time. It’s a repeated pattern, and probably that’s why great part of the audience got upset.

In such way, I must admit Livide is not so original, and the fantastic element is a bit forced. There are still some details I’d rather not reveal, which I still don’t comprehend, and in my opinion, are completely unnecessary.

As a horror movie, it’s pretty enjoyable, anyway. Plenty of disgusting and brutal moments for your pleasure.

The roughness and spontaneity is lost in Livide, on behalf of a more twisted story, combining horror with fantasy, but not being totally consistent nor shocking as A L’Interieur.

I dig it, honestly, but sometimes when your starting register is so powerful and remarkable, audience will become very demanding, and reaching such level is not something easy.

PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE, Tim Burton (1985)

Posted in Directors, Fantasy, Just Fun with tags , on July 14, 2010 by Toi Brownstone

For long time I’ve felt maximum respect for Tim Burton as an original director,  eccentric, charismatic, and with a particular view on aesthetics. However the new millenium has implied Burton to become a mainstream director forgetting all the genuinity and spontaneity his works were characterized with.

Nowadays, whenever a new Burton’s release is super advertised I’, feeling less excited. I don’t mean he’s given up his particular way to depict stories, but I think he’s abusing too much on remakes or book adaptations lately, he’s not being as creative as he used to be and I just feel  bad about that.

Anyway, yesterday, to face the suffocating both weather and the Football Worldcup final match atmosphere, we decided to attack Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,  not really sure of what we were going through.

We had already heard of Pee-wee Herman’s scandal, that he was caught wanking in a public theatre watching a porn movie. Poor guy! Apparently his career on media seemed to sink afterwards, unbelievable! Here in Spain people have stolen huge amounts of money, have served prison, had been caught in clubs or snorting cocaine, and after a while everybody has return to they were before the incidents, or even become public heroes. I feel sorry for poor Paul Reubens, what are you expected to do at a porn theatre? Knitting? C’moooooooooon!

This is the story of Pee-wee Herman, frankly an extreme character as the earliest Burton’s. He’s an adult but a kid in behaviour, with 50-60’s appearance, Pee-wee wears suit, bow tie, and mocassin shoes. To be honest he reminded me of one of this old ventriloquist dummy. What our main character loves most in this world is his bicycle, which is unique in its design, and special in its features. Everybody would love to have this bike, especially Pee-wee’s neighbour, Francis Baxton (Mark Holton), a rich fatty guy who doesn’t  hear the word NO much.

Eventually, Pee-wee’s bike is stolen, and the quest for recovering his treasure will start. Unfortunately the boy will seek for a fortune teller’s advise, and he’ll be cheated and forced to move to El Alamo in search of the bike. During his adventurous jorney, he will get acquainted with many people and many funny stories will occur.

As you can see plot is like a fairy tale, very simple, in order  to highlight the pretentious acting of Paul Reubens, show Burton’s particular world, in which seems that time stopped fifty years ago, keeping beautiful classic aesthetics.

I must admit for the first 5-10 minutes I couldn’t stand much Pee-wee’s gestures, laughs and weird voices, but once I got into the movie, I ended up sympathising with this freak guy very much. I am fan of Pee-wee’s!

Nobody talks about this movie, Burton become what he now is thanks to the dark aesthetics he started to include in his movies from Edward Scissorhands. However, this adventure reminds me of John Waters’, extreme characters, 50’s aesthetics, particular sense of humour  and a taste for the absurd, the kind of films delivered are to be loved or hated with no middle positions.

To be honest, I prefer Pee-wee’s Big Adventure rather than high budget stories such as Sweeney Todd. A very simple story, very visual, which just provides good enterteinment, and has an unforgettable character. One of the best movies I’ve seen lately…curious, huh? 

HEAVY METAL, Gerard Potterton 1981

Posted in Animated, Fantasy, Horror with tags , on December 7, 2008 by Toi Brownstone

movie-poster-heavy-metal

The story about how I got acquainted with this animated movie is quite funny and starts with my childhood.
When I was 6 my father had just bought our first VHS video and used to rent lots of movies. All the kids stuff was kept for weekends at my parents siesta time for keeping me quiet when they were spending their bedroom afternoons…hahaha! One Saturday my dad had gone to the video rental store and picked up Heavy Metal just because it was animated, not paying much attention on what it was about, he didn’t even take notice of any viewer advisory. After watching movies as a sort of exercise I had to tell dad about the movie, its plot, what I liked most etc. After I explained my dad he was so shocked he ended up the issue with one of these “don’t tell your mom” thing. No comments. A movie including sex, swearing words and heavy metal is not the kind of thing my mom is very fond of.
Years after this movie came to my mind thanks to a rock magazine and put many efforts in recovering it. Eventually I found it in London and was able to watch it again. I fuckin’ loved it!

The movie compiles several stories whose link is a green glowing sphere, known as Log-Nar.
The meteorite comes to Earth in order evil conquers the human kind and its story is revealed to a young girl, who is obliged to discover the mighty power of Log-Nar, no matter nation, age or universe.
First story portraits a corrupted and dirty futurist NYC, not so different to actual society on which problems such as immigration, drugs and corruption are present. Harry Canyon is a cab driver whose next passenger happens to be a very sexy woman in trouble. She’s being pursued by some mobsters trying to catch this ancient sphere which destroys everybody trying to take control of it. Harry will help her and will get rewarded for his goodwill actions.

Harry and his reward

Harry and his reward

Den is a nerd who finds the meteorite in his garden and while experimenting with electricity the sphere causes him to travel to a far away planet and changes his appearance to a muscled macho. Also by chance, he’s involved in a fight for Log-Nar, the sacred and worshipped sphere., when saving a gorgeous woman from being executed as a sacrifice to the god.

The third situation starts during Captain Sternn’s trial. He’s to be found guilty, however he’s got an angle, which means a witness will confirm he’s an outstanding citizen. What nobody can imagine is that Hannover, the apparent harmless witness, will suffer an outburst caused by playing with a little green ball.
B-17 is a war plane attacked by the enemies killing all crew and soldiers but the two pilots. Suddenly the green sphere will get inside the plane turning dead into skeleton zombies.
During a meeting of high politic, scientist and army figures discussing about mutations and intelligence in the outer space, a sexy secretary is abducted by an UFO and gets very close to a robot.
The final and most serious story is about an apparent extinguished race of warriors the Taarakians, Log-Nar’s main enemies, who had been defending human kind against evil forces throughout centuries. Taarna, the last Taarakian is called to fight against a legion of barbarians commanded by Log-Nar.

Which is the secret for Heavy Metal success? I think there are several factors working here. First thing to be considered is the fact that it’s the first animated movie for adults, in which sex, drugs and swearing words could be included. Moreover the soundtrack is definite: UFO, Nazareth, Black Sabbath, Cheap Trick, Devo and Blue Oyster Cult among others. And the stories told, inspired by the ones appearing on Heavy Metal magazine, are quite original.
DVD edition I have includes a very interesting documentary explaining what Heavy Metal was conceived and the tough work performed to achieve it. You can feel the innocence and excitement for doing something different.
More than 25 years after I saw it for the first time I still find it cool and entertaining and no matter animation is not as sophisticated as today, at least it’s not so cold computer thing.