25 September 2010

September 25th

With the pumpkin lights lit, the apple cider candle aglow, a fridge stocked with beer and some bowls of candy, the first big weekend night of Halloween was ready to rock!  Amigos J and C came over to help me out with the beer-drinking and candy-eating and horror-watching.  J even brought a treat to try, courtesy of Dan Aykroyd of all people.  After some meandering discussions on what to watch, we settled on the night's selections:

Biozombie (1998) trailer
Satan's Cheerleaders (1977) trailer
The Simpsons: "Treehouse of Horror IV: Terror at 5½ Feet" (1993)

Tales from the Crypt: "Food for Thought" (1993) directed by Rodman Flender
Ah, Tales from the Crypt, a Halloween tradition that makes for a great starter before diving into full-length movies.  Though I've had all of seven season for years, I only watch these things during Six Weeks.  Amazingly, we're up to season five now (though we've been working on it for a long time).  

I don't think I've ever seen Ernie Hudson play a bad guy before.  He was great at it in this episode, where he plays a gluttonous carnival performer who's abusive to his telepathic wife.  Maybe it was the clown make-up he was wearing, but after a few minutes I completely forgot I was watching Winston being a meany.  A decent episode with a nicely gorey zinger at the end.  Gotta love the utterly gratuitous female siamese twin shower scene, too.

Season of the Witch (1972) trailer
Buttcrack (1998) trailer
Donald Duck: "Trick or Treat" (1952)

After.Life (2009) directed by Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo
Like Grace last year, I rented this one blind based solely on ads I was seeing for it in the magazines I read.  It was a pleasant surprise.  J and I agreed it was much better than expected.  In it, Anna (Christina Ricci) dies in a car accident and wakes up in Eliot's (Liam Neeson) funeral home.  He explains to her that she's dead and that he has a gift for helping people transition.  She has a bit of trouble accepting this, as does her grieving near-fiancé Paul (Justin Long). The movie does a great job of striking a balance between the two possible interpretations.  Though I think there's a definitive answer, one can make arguments for both Eliot being a crazy kidnapper who's drugging Anna and for Anna really being dead.  Both options are pretty creepy, given the situation.

I can see how people might complain that the movie is slow and that nothing much happens.  They're right, though I liked this aspect of it.  Neeson as Eliot, in particular, sets this tone.  He's very calm and meticulous.  He very slowly cuts Anna's clothes off, very carefully sews up the gash in her forehead and speaks to people in that calming, deep voice Neeson possesses.  Matching this is the camera work, with its slow tracking shots into the morgue where Anna lies naked on her slab.

Not unlike Phantasm, it's a look at "the American way of death" wrapped in a horror movie.  I'll be picking this one up on blu-ray in the future. (7/10)

God Told Me To (1976) trailer
Invasion of the Fish Fuckers (1996) trailer
Akira Yamaoka: "Fukuro" (2001)

Zombieland (2009) directed by Ruben Fleischer
I probably don't have much more to say about this one than I did last year. Though it got me thinking about horror comedies.  Seems like no two are ever alike in tone.  Return of the Living Dead and Shaun of the Dead are also zombie comedies, but all three movies have completely different comedy-to-seriousness mixes.  Return is closest to a straight horror movie, Shaun has that British sense of humor embedded in it and Zombieland is a film in which a character beats a redneck zombie to death with a banjo after playing "Dueling Banjos" to attract its attention.  I think I still like Return the best, though all three are great.  Not sure what that says about me.

(and with Bill Murray's appearance in this movie, three of the four Ghostbusters have shown up in some way tonight.  Whither Harold Ramis?) (8/10)

A skull glows blue in the light of the beer fridge.

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