Sunday, October 30, 2011

Night Visions Night 4

Got home from Night Visions a little while before I writing this, and will be going to sleep after it posts. When I wake up, the sale is OVER!

Anyway... once again, highlight spoilers in parenthesis to see them.

Viva Riva!

"Branded by the international media as the Scarface of Congo, Viva Riva! is a slick, violent and sexy action thriller set in the streets and back alleys of the wildly exotic city of Kinshasa."

I really don't like gangster movies. Don't like Goodfellas, the Sopranos was never interesting to me... setting it in Africa doesn't make it any more interesting to me. So one criminal steals stuff from another criminal and leads the high life while being hunted by other criminals, the authorities are corrupt, it's all so very violent and tragic. Yawn.

Really, the only thing me and the wife got out of this movie was "Glad we're lucky enough to not live in that shithole."

Two Eyes Staring

Fucking excellent.

A ghost story: A women in Belgium dies, leaving her rather large and spooky house to her estranged daughter, who has created a life and family for herself in the Netherlands. The family decides to move in to this house. The 9-year old daughter starts seeing a girl in the cellar that has to do with the family's past... and everything starts going to hell.

No blood and guts. Very little violence at all. Creepy. Escalating in tension until it hits you with the twist.

A word about twists... good movie twists don't seem like gimmicks, they don't seem like the moviemakers ran out of ideas and figured fooling the audience will save the movie.

When a good twist hits you, you feel stupid for not seeing it sooner because of course things should be that way.

This movie has a great twist.

Twist is a fun word. Good thing I'm home alone right now or someone'd be looking at me weird because I'm saying "twist twist twist twist" out loud here.


Here's how to make yourself feel old. "Wow, the mom in that movie is MILFy!" Get home, check IMDB (which contains unlabeled spoilers in the cast list)... oh... she's younger than I am. Fuck.

When this movie ended, I headed home, had dinner, watched the beginning of Goldmember on TV (another movie!!), took a nap, and headed back down to the theater to start watching movies again at 1am.

The Ward

What the hell? This is a John Carpenter movie? Seriously?

It's about some young (teenage?) women in a psych ward in a mental hospital. There's a ghost killing them one by one, but nobody seems to believe them.

The twist? (The same as Identity. Without any of the things that made Identity good.)

This is a bad twist that made me feel stupid for waking up after midnight and walking across town to see it. Not that anything leading up to the twist was the least bit interesting.

This movie is shit, top to bottom, front to back.

The Gates of Hell (aka City of the Living Dead)

Lucio Fulci makes shit movies. He's this legend, I know, and in the late 90s when Anchor Bay was releasing his movies uncut I snapped them up fast and squirmed and was properly grossed out. Because Fulci presents a nice grossout.

... but... ahhh... back in the day, things like the Friday the 13th movies were censored to get them to an R rating. Even the bloody hack and slash of American cinema was watered down. This foreign stuff? Exotic and did what you couldn't do, even in theaters!

... but it's 2011 and watching a movie with shitty acting and shitty "plots" and stupid dialogue and shit doesn't make any goddamn sense isn't going to cut it just to watch someone puking up guts on screen. Fuck, even House has featured a popping eyeball, you know?

... yet Fulci's movies were banned or edited all to crap for decades in some cases because they were just too graphic and horrifying. How quaint the 70s and 80s, eh?

Anyway, the story here is a priest hangs himself in a Dunwich cemetery, triggering the opening of the Gates of Hell! A psychic and veteran reporter rush to the scene to stop it!

Fine, whatever. But it's so goddamn stupid (teleporting zombies!) that it kills the "money shots."

Perfect example: At the beginning of the movie the psychic is thought dead. Is buried. The reporter, investigating the story, happens by as the woman wakes up and starts screaming. To help her, this dumbass gets a fucking pickaxe and starts wailing away at the casket.

The idea of laying there in a coffin as the head of a pickaxe continually comes within a hair's breadth of piercing your face should be scary. And intense. But it was handled so clumsily (the guy's trying to help her by doing that? Moron!) the audience here was laughing at it.

I bet it would be pretty gross if you were sitting in a room and for no reason the window is smashed and suddenly the room is filled with maggots blowing in. Watching it was a comedic experience because the window blew in for no reason and then we get "dramatic" shots of four actors wiggling around (the director really did stick a big pile of maggots in front of an industrial-sized fan, by the way). Oh no! Maggots! Why, if this keeps up, these poor people will need to change their clothes or something! If this scene was real footage of a real event, it would be America's Funniest Home Videos fodder.

... or maybe it was a 3am showing immediately following a shit movie and I had no patience it.

The Woman

A woman is for some reason living in the woods. She is completely feral, a wild animal for all intents and purposes. A man out on a hunting trip discovers her, and decides to capture her, lock her in a cellar, and make it a family project to civilize her.

This movie is fucked up! FUCKED UP!

The guy playing the head of the household (a middle class family that lives on a sizable piece of land outside of a small town) looks similar to and acts just like a toned-down Will Ferrell (and watch Stranger than Fiction before telling me Ferrell is shit or anything). He is absolutely perfect as the calm, disarmingly charming man who is all to believable.

He's also the most despicable movie villain I can recall seeing.

This juxtaposition creates some laughs early on, but before long, nobody's laughing anymore.

The actress playing the feral woman is also superb. I never for a second questioned the idea that she was really and truly a creature of the wilderness. Amazing stuff here.

The movie did break its own reality a bit as once the captive woman escapes (yes, that's a spoiler, but talk about being the most obvious spoiler in history) her feats of feral vengeance are a bit beyond what would be plausible. But the twist the movie has in reserve more than makes up for it.

This movie is not on the first tier of video nasties... that would be reserved for movies like I Spit on Your Grave (30 minute rape scene), A Serbian Film (tons and tons of sexually related violence, much involving children), and Cannibal Holocaust (real animal deaths and some real bastard protagonists)... those movies are all filmed in a way to put you, the viewer, in the middle of the absolutely disgusting events of those films. The Woman doesn't employ that, it's the more standard cinematic detachment. And as I said it forgets itself momentarily. So it's not a first-rung "Nobody should ever watch this ever because it's too fucked up" kind of movie.

But it's right there at the top of the second tier. This is some disturbing, disturbing shit, and the disturbing bits have little to do over the top gore (not a lot of that here).

Best of the fest, and a must-see movie.

(oh shit... checking IMDB, this movie is the sequel to a 2009 movie called Offspring, which I'd never even heard of... apparently this isn't just some random feral girl, as the actress is reprising her role from that movie... hmmm)



This isn't a great movie or anything, and it's presented as a horror/comedy, but...

Well, here's the IMDB summary: "Four young offenders and their (social) workers spend a weekend in the remote Yorkshire village of Mortlake, which prides on keeping itself to itself. A minor incident with locals rapidly escalates into a blood-soaked, deliriously warped nightmare."

... that's basically it. The humor comes from the fact that the locals treat this situation as completely normal. This ultraviolence is rather matter-of-fact to them, and they present shows and play games around it. (in fact, a lot of the "humor" in the movies this year comes from this exact thing... "Here's some really horrible disgusting shit for you, and here is some comedy relief in the form of characters who think dismembering a corpse is no more unusual than making the bed.")

There really aren't any twists and turns (aside from the fact that the bad guys win, after some resistance, a strong and final victory with the victims' escape hardly ever even seen to be likely), so it's a straight up splatterfest. And splatter splatter splatter it does.

In fact, the gore effects here are some of the best I've ever seen. You could still tell it's CGI, but only just - it really does look like they're swinging axes full force at each other's heads and making full contact and SPLAT. It's on one hand really fucking awful to watch (like when the horse steps on the guy's face) but on the other hand if this dinky low budget thing can do this, there is hope for more ambitious movies to not have to use trickery to obscure things that don't look good (whereas I thought movies like Diary of the Dead and Scorsese's Departed were ruined by too-obvious CGI wounds and blood spatter).

It's weird, that for all the stomach-churning violence (and there is a lot of stuff I just haven't seen done before that makes a lot more sense than most common horror movie violence), it never enters the realm of the truly disturbing as a whole. I saw that as a guy that just watched 6 horror movies in a night mind you, but when I watched Hostel, I thought "brutal!" When I watched Inbred, it was like watching Star Wars... it's a spectacle that happens to be about violence and lots of blood, but it didn't make me feel dirty for watching it.


... and that was Night Visions. 18 movies in 4 days. (there were 10 more movies screened that I didn't get to see)

Best of the Fest: The Woman, Hobo with a Shotgun, Red State

Turkeys of the Fest: The Ward, Gates of Hell, Another Earth

whew. It's a semi-annual thing so I get to do it all again in April!

It's 10am now (feels like 11am since clocks turned back overnight here in Finland), I'm off to bed!


  1. Is "The Gates of Hell" the movie where the priest looks at people with his bleeding eyes and that makes them vomit out their guts?

    And there's a scene where this one guy walks through a decrepit house, picks up a package, throws it, and it inflates into a sex doll?

    Man, that movie was stupid.

  2. Yeah, the Ward was one of the lamest movies I've seen in a long while. As I was watching it I was reminded at how real The Thing seemed, and how fucking unreal -- in the bad, unrelated way rather than the good creepy way -- the Ward felt.

    "TURNS OUT SHE'S CRAZY" twists also piss me off.