Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Horror Movie Roundup

Here are the last few things I've watched on video:

Marebito (2005) is an entertaining enough Japanese horror movie from the director of the Ju-On/Grudge movies. It was obviously made fast and cheap, which gives it a sort of giddy energy but also means that in the home stretch the story devolves into something routine. The first half is the best part, as a deranged cameraman (Tetsuo's Shinya Tsukamoto) explores the nature of fear, wanders into the Tokyo sewers to find a Lovecraftian fantasy world, and brings back a mysterious feral girl. There's a little self-critique inherent in a movie about a man staring at video screens trying to understand the nature of terror, but this trails off into cliche by the end of the movie too. Aside from the weak third act, though, fun stuff with some juicy imagery.

I had never seen The Lost Boys (1987) before. I can see why it was a hit - it moves along briskly and has good performances from the leads (Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland, and the gape-mouthed Corey Haim) even though none of their characters are very interesting and the story is pretty predictable. But the movie succeeds on its own terms well enough, and the kids manage to somehow steal enough Holy Water to fill a bathtub and melt a vampire with. The movie's subtext - the bad kids in town are all vampires - is right out of a 1950s movie.

Speaking of which, The Bad Seed (1956) would have fit right in if it had been made in the 1930s. It's painfully stagy, barely 'opened up' from the original stage play and full of flowery monologues and one character who gets two whoppingly grandstanding drunk scenes and all manner of flowery overdramatics, so it's not really a surprise that Charles Busch does the DVD commentary track. There's a little bit of outdated discussion on the nature vs. nurture debate - here, the evil little girl Rhoda (Patty McCormack) was apparently born that way, thus reiterating the 19th century notion that the lower-classes were inherently worthy of their place in life - but the debate is basically just a veneer for outdated melodrama. There are some good moments where terrible things are not visualized, but only heard/spoken of (what happens to Henry Jones, for example) but on the whole this movie would be a good candidate for a remake.

More to come - Nightmare City, The Silence of the Lambs, and The Innocents. And at some point I'll endure Saw IV, too.


frankbooth said...

Ah, The Lost Boys. It was pure cheese that somehow managed to be dated when it was new, so I can't even imagine how it plays now.

What I learned from this film: deer antlers are made of wood.

Guess what I finally got (if you haven't noticed the comment at imdb)? I'll email you with a more detailed analysis.

dan said...

And at some point I'll endure Saw IV, too.

what happened, you lose a bet? said...

You never saw LOST BOYS??? Duuuude. Well, at least you picked a good time of the year to see it. That one and FRIGHT NIGHT are my two favorite vampire movies.

frankbooth said...

Aw, Don. Why'd you have to go and say a thing like that?

Jeff McMahon said...

Frank Booth, thanks for helping to balance out the increasing number of IMDB reviewers with vague, non-specific, and 100% negative comments on the film (if you can't tell, I find some of them a little dubious).

There's a whole slew of mid-80s horror movies that I never saw, and Fright Night is another one, also House. I notice though, that according to IMDB, the most popular horror movies that I've never seen are Underworld: Evolution, Doom, Predator 2, and Hide and Seek.

frankbooth said...

Yeah, I checked some of those posters out and I noticed that they have NO other comments listed. Hmmm.

You should be flattered that someone would register just to run you down. You've worked long and hard in the comments sections of many blogs to acquire that number of enemies.

Jeff McMahon said...

Indeed. I fully expect at least one was written by Hunter Tremayne, aka Ian Sinclair aka Mistress Malevolent.

Actionman said...

How did The Lost Boys escape your childhood?

That was one of the first few R-rated movies I ever saw.