18 October 2010

October 18th

Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny & Girly (1970) directed by Freddie Francis
A man, only known as New Friend, is kidnapped by an insane family known only by the names used in the title of the film.  They have a habit of snatching men, keeping them captive and punishing them if they don't obey the rules of the house (one of which is, of course, not to escape).  Though that plot description makes the film sound like a Texas Chainsaw-style horror film, it's really more of a British version of the Addams Family.  Replace the Addams' gothy style with that of proper English society, take away the family's awareness that what they say is blackly humorous and make Gomez the only sane one and there you go.

The film is also a rather ridiculous male fantasy.  We meet New Friend, pictured above, as he exits a party with a beautiful, voluptuous woman on his arm.  Yeah, that guy pictured above.  They encounter young Sonny and Girly, whose short skirt is all the encouragement New Friend needs to go along with them.  New Friend's girlfriend is killed and he ends up a captive of the family.  Once in Mumsy's dilapidated mansion, after unsuccessfully trying to escape, he makes short work of seducing all three of the women living there.  In fact, he is such a Lothario that they begin killing each other over out of jealousy over him.  Yeah, that guy pictured above.  In the end, he decides to stay in the house (though with a weapon stashed under his pillow just in case).  Who wouldn't?

A strange film.  I'm not sure what to make of it. (6/10)

Paranormal Activity (2007) directed by Oren Peli
I wish films like this could scare me.  I think you need to be a believer in the supernatural for them to have any affect, sadly.  I feel the same way about The Exorcist.  For me, it was very difficult to get into the film, because I couldn't help but imagine the hidden stage hands making loud noises in the background and pulling sheets off the bed.  And I can't help but question the logic of the demon.  What's his goal, really?  If he has the power to burn houses down and physically drag people around, why does he spend weeks screwing around by going bump-in-the-night in some random couple's house?  Why not go all out, possess the President and launch nukes all over the place?  Maybe he's like the monsters in Monsters, Inc. and needs to build up their fear to use as energy?

Still, I can't deny the film was put together pretty well.  The cycle of night terrors and relief during daylight is unrelenting.  It was clever of them to have the demon eventually start doing things during the day, too, to take that daylight relief away.  Micah's skeptical / pissed-off reactions to everything struck me as pretty realistic, up to a point.  After watching the video of the demon lighting the Ouija board on fire, he should've calmed down a bit.  I have to say I prefer the alternate ending, too.  I think it makes for a scarier ending if the demon makes Kate slits her own throat on camera, rather than waltzing away and disappearing.  I didn't care for the brief "demon face" she showed in the theatrical ending, either.  Also, great presentation on the Blu-ray.  The disc starts up with a black screen presenting a choice of either cut, then goes right into the movie.  You don't see a real, fancy menu until you're done watching.  Nice touch. (6/10)

The Awakening (1990)

Aftermath (1994) directed by Nacho Cerdà
The Spanish answer to Flower of Flesh and Blood?  I feel the same way about this film as I did about that infamous Japanese movie.  They're both strangely beautiful to watch.  I can imagine either movie playing in a loop at some underground art museum somewhere.  Both feature exquisitely crafted human bodies, filled with blood and fat and realistic organs.  True, Aftermath's bodies look and bounce like the latex rubber they're made out of, but the attention to detail helps cover that up a bit.  Both lack any sort of narrative and are about a man becoming as intimate with another person as is possible.  Interesting.

Genesis (1998) directed by Nacho Cerdà
Another art film from Cerdà, though not anywhere near as gory as Aftermath.  A man sculpts a statue of his dead wife.  Slowly, the statue begins to bleed and then show patches of real flesh, even as the sculptor begins to grow patches of marble on his own skin.  Eventually, the statue and the sculptor have traded places.  Though a tad slow, this one is also strangely beautiful.  I wonder why Cerdà hasn't done any more full-length movies outside of The Abandoned since these fantastic shorts?


  1. I think I somehow managed to have the ideal experience with Paranormal Activity. I saw it during its initial limited run in theaters, when it only had midnight screenings. This actually ends up being perfect because I ended up getting home around 2 am, which if you noticed, is exactly when all the bad things happen in the movie. I really enjoyed it - the tension and release strategy was very well executed, I thought. I don't really believe in the supernatural, but for some reason ghost movies like this do managed to creep me right the hell out.

  2. I thought Paranormal Activity was clever but far from revolutionary. I am intrigued by what the sequel might entail.

    I love "Aftermath" myself. I agree that it's strangely beautiful. I interpret the film as being about the ceremony of death. Death doesn't mean anything to the dead. Instead, the movie is more about how the living response to and their relationship with dying. Of course, you could also look at the movie as nothing more then a simple shock film. In both cases, it's hugely successful.

  3. Judging by the trailers, PA2 looks to take place in the same house. I guess that shoots down the "It's me, not the house so moving won't help" idea...