"Scanners" The Telepathic Cult Classic!

12/29/2009

David Cronenberg is one of my personal favorite directors. He has directed other such films as Rabid, the Brood, and Videodrome. Scanners was his fourth film and really thrust him into the spotlight of up and coming directors. Cronenberg’s films will usually have a sort of social commentary with in the story. With Scanners he seems to be warning people about the corporate worlds strangle hold on the public and making money at the expense of lives. Many of his movies involve some kind of naturally occuring disease or parasite that infects humanity and must be dealt with.

A Scanner is a person who can read another persons mind. It is a telepathic sense that you are born with. Because of their abilities they are often social misfits and stuck in a lonesome gutter of a life. Governments and corporations are all too willing to exploit them. The movie is most famous for a scene were a mans head explodes in front of a crowed auditorium. It was all apart of scanner demonstrating his abilities that went a little too far. This scanner is known as Darryl Revock, the leader of an underground resistance that refuses to be used. Our hero is Cameron Vale, a good guy scanner who looks a lot like John Travolta. Cameron is searched out by psychotherapist Dr. Phillip Ruth to help him combat the underground uprising. A pharmaceutical drug called Ephemerol is available to curb the negative effects of being a scanner. This dug has a very shady history as they find out towards the end. Being able to read a persons mind is not always as fun as it seems.

Scanners seem to be mostly men, although Cameron does meet Kim, a woman who joins him in his efforts. They are also on the run from members of the ConSec Corporation who want to use their powers for their own purposes. There are a few scenes and ideas in the movie that seemed to parallel the Matrix movies, and remember this was made in 1981. Cameron goes into a phone booth and through the handset scans ConSec’s computer systems to get the names of the other scanners. The final credits are shown in a green computer screen type. Being a scanner is like living in another world, like being in the Matrix and in a time when the internet or even personal computers were not even available to the everyday person, this is quite impressive. This movie could have easily fallen flat and become a cheesy B-movie if the performance had faltered. The effects of the movie are top notch and anybody who knows a Cronenberg film know that he loves realistic grisly violence. The final showdown between Cameron and Revock involves nothing but an epic stare down, but it works. Scanners is notorious for its violence, by it is so much more. Most all of Cronenberg’s films are independently made and financed, so they usually are not shown in many theatres. His last two films have also been his most commercially successful. With “A History of Violence” and “Eastern Promises” that both starred Viggo Mortensen. He always collaborates with the very best talent in all fields to bring really strong and influential materiel to the screen.


"Phantasm" The Tall Man's Deadly Tales

12/26/2009

Two classic icons of horror came out of this movie made by Don Coscarelli in 1979, The Tall Man and the Silver Sphere. These two elements helped spawn three sequels, all of which were directed by Coscarelli. This is a fun scary ride of a movie that can be extremely weird at times. This first installment was filmed on a shoestring budget but all of the effects, story, and acting don’t seem to suffer much from it.

Like “Carriers” the last movie I reviewed, the story follows the relationship of two brothers. Jody is the older of the two and is now stuck raising his 13 year old brother Mike after their parents’ death. I’ve got to say that Mike is quite possibly the coolest bad ass kid ever. If I was a little older in the early 80’s he would be the kid you would dream of imitating. He owns a dirt bike; has a big knife strapped to his ankle, wears a jean jacket and has quite the dirty mouth. Not to mention the chrome .45 he wields towards the end. Mike is tough kid but also fears of being abandon by his brother. The one thing that keeps them together is their love for Jody’s muscle car.

At the funeral of one of Jody’s friends we are introduced to the mortician simply known as the Tall Man played brilliantly by Angus Scrim (who also appears in the sequels). He is the creepy embodiment of death and as Mike finds out there is something not right with him. We then meet Jody’s other friend Reggie, an ice cream truck drive and aspiring musician. I know it’s quite the combo. Reggie always to just be along for the ride, but is a very necessary character. Mike is always following his brother to make sure he doesn’t leave him. Jody then hooks up with this bar skank and they go into the cemetery to make out and shit. While Mike is looking on in the woods he is attacked by a dwarf in a brown robe. Rumor has it that George Lucas stole this idea for his design of the Jawa’s. Mike runs away screaming and Jody follows him. Mike tells him what he saw in the woods and about the Tall Man, but Jody doesn’t believe him.

Mike wanders off to the mortuary and breaks in through a basement window. After he is found out, he is pursued by a flying metal sphere. It ejects blades that hooks on to your face and drills through your skull. The sphere and the dwarfs make this movie so WTF it makes it really fun to watch. There are a bunch of cheesy scenes with a lot of bad dialogue but the creative story line makes up for it. Jody finally comes around to believing Mike and they go together to the mortuary too face the Tall Man and his minions of evil. There is a big twist ending that I won’t give away, that really makes the story make sense in a crazy sort of way. A new DVD edition of the movie was released in 2007 and includes a bunch of special features that are all quite good. This movie is quite an accomplishment in the fact that you would never believe its was made on such a small budget, all of the money is definitely up on the screen and not the actors pockets.


"Carriers" is full of Pandemic Pandemonium

12/20/2009

This is a small budget, independent film that really shoots for greatness and for the most part succeeds. This film also has the full endorsement of Stephen King if that means anything to you. Instead of relying on creature effects and blood and gore this movie is more about the survivors as they drive through the barren landscapes.

The movie has a very talented cast including Captain Kirk, I mean Chris Pine in a role he took before he did Star Trek. He plays Brian a kind of leader of the group. His girlfriend is Bobby played by Pieper Perabo (of Coyote Ugly fame). Gee where has she been? Danny is Brian’s younger brother played strongly by Lou Taylor Pucci. Danny was accepted at Harvard before this virus thing come to pass. He has also brought along his friend Kate. This movie really makes you think of what you would do in a prolonged pandemic, and what you are willing to do to survive. Not just surviving the virus, but each other as circumstance become increasingly dire. Lawlessness, violence, face masks and bleach, lots of bleach. Brian came up with three basic rules for them to live by. First, avoid infection. Second, disinfect everything. Third, the infected are already dead.

The real focus of the movie is in on the brothers and their childhood memories of their vacations to the ocean (east coast). This is where they are headed to wait out the madness. They encounter a father and his little girl with their SUV blocking the road. They need gas but his daughter is infected. The group tries to avoid them but damage their car in the process. Brian has a gun and forces the father to hand over their keys. They are kept quarantined in the backseat behind some plastic. The father was headed to see a doctor who says he can help his daughter. When they get there they find that the doctor has failed and all of the infected kids are now drinking a drugged Kool-Aid in a mass suicide. When Brian points the gun at him, and tells him to stop. The Doctor utters one of the movies best lines “Sometimes choosing life is just choosing a more painful way of death.” They all get back into the car, and the little girl says she has to go to the bathroom. When the father takes her out he knows that the others are going to take off without them. He takes his daughter and accepts his fate.


Further down the road they find a golf course and decide to blow of some steam. They hit balls into a vacant building, breaking most of the windows. That night a group of guys in haz-mat suits take them hostage. Upon inspection they find out that Bobby is infected. After escaping, they find refuge in an abandon gas station. This is where an extremely tough decision must me made. Does Brian let his infected girlfriend stay with them and jeopardize everyone else or do they leave her behind? The movie is built on these questions. I started to think if the plastic gloves and face masks they wear really make a difference in protecting them. Each character has a strong sense of denial, and shows them dealing with their situation in their own way. The SUV eventually runs out of gas, and this leads one of the most disturbingly shocking scenes in the movie. A car with two older women comes down the road; they have a Jesus fish hanging from the rear view. Danny tries to peacefully reason with them for some gas, when Brain comes out firing. He shoots the two women as they try to speed off.


Brian is then found out to be infected and has given up all hope. Danny and Kate quarantine him in the backseat and they finally make it to the coast. Now Danny has to make the tough decision. This movie might be considered a horror movie, but it is really so much more than that. It’s not a perfect movie, but it’s an angle of the virus movie genre has rarely been explored. Give this one a look.

"Night of the Creeps" - '80s Horror Classic!

12/14/09

This movie is a gem of the 1980’s horror/comedy genre. It was just released on DVD for the first time this October. Directed by Fred Dekker, this landmark movie has inspired many other horror films like 2006’s “Slither” by Sean Gunn. It’s a great party film or so I’ve heard. I don’t get out much or I could confirm this theory.

The opening scene shows midgets in rubber suits (Aliens) on a space ship that is being invaded. Is that a great way to open a movie or what! They jettison a container of something into to space and it finds its way to Earth. We then come upon a scene set in the 1950’s that is shot in black and white. There is a teenage couple making out at a lovers lane cliff overlooking the city, when they sees a “UFO” crash into a field. They go to examine the crash as the radio blares about an escape mental patient. They pull over on a vacant stretch of road and the guy goes into the woods to investigate. We see the escape psychopath approaching the car, and he eventually hacks up the girl with an ax. Upon inspection of the UFO the guy has and alien slug fly into his mouth, infecting him. This is where the movie goes back to color and we see Detective Landis disturbed from his nap by the phone ringing. Landis is your typical hardboiled cop who found those bodies’ years back. He has the memorable catch phrase of “thrill me!” every time he answers the phone.

Our main characters are two college freshmen. Chris is played by Jason Lively who got the part right after playing Rusty in the classic European Vacation. He is your basic everyman that you can really get behind and root for in a horror movie. Then we have his best friend J.C. played by Steve Marshall. He’s a witty, smart assed handicapped kid who everybody likes. Except of course those mean frat guys. The head frat guy is played for a laugh, since he is such a clichéd stereotype. He is a blonde haired, sweater vest wearing guy named Brad. His red sports car even has license plates that say “Bradster”. What a douche! Anyway Chris has a huge crush on a sorority girl, Cynthia, but she is also the Bradster girlfriend. Chris and J.C. try to get into a fraternity and must somehow get a dead body and put it another frat houses yard as a pledge. In the college medical research building they find a cryo-chamber with the frozen body of the infected guy from the ‘50’s. Needless to say he is thawed and escapes to infect the campus. Upon investigating the lab Detective Landis asks the cops “Is this a homicide or a bad B-movie.” Director Fred Dekker also wrote the script and has several tongue-in cheek scenes and bits of dialogue. Kind of like what the Scream movies did in the mid 90’s.


The alien slugs go in through your mouth and lay eggs in the unfortunate person’s brain, turning them into zombies. Their heads eventually (wheather shot or hit with an ax) explode, releasing more slugs to infect more people. Cynthia finally leaves Brad after he trip J.C. in front of a crowd. Dude, picking on the crippled kids will not win you points with the ladies. Chris finally gathers enough courage to talk to her and she asks him to be her date for the dance. On the night of the big formal, the frat guys run into a little bad luck, and Detective Landis (who has all the best lines) says “The good news is your dates are here, the bad new is their dead.” The whole sorority house scene that follows is completely insane and fun to watch.


Although made in 1986, this movie feels very modern and way ahead of it’s time, even if can be very 80’s at times. The blood and gore effects are actually quite good considering the meager five million dollar budget they had to work with. It was also made in a time without the aid of computers and CGI. Many horror movies released today are either remakes of popular 80’s movies or made to give it the feel of the time period.  Looking back who doesn’t miss the 80’s? (I’m laughing on the inside)

"Drag Me to Hell" is Heaven for Horror Fans!

12/12/2009

Director Sam Raimi has directed such movies as Spider-Man 1, 2, & 3, A Simple Plan and Darkman returns to his horror roots in Drag Me to Hell. Raimi’s Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 are two of the biggest cult horror movies ever made. They were both shot on extremely small budgets and launched his career and that of Bruce Campbell. Sam has a specific kind of horror that is half slap stick comedy and half ultra gore. The “dead” movies were made in the glorious golden ages of 1980’s horror films.

Drag Me to Hell is a very fun movie to watch that has everything the horror fan looks for, Super-natural curses, blood offerings and gypsies. The movies main characters are Christine and Clay, played by Alison Lohman (White Oleander & Flicka) and Justin Long (the Apple Computer guy). The story revolves mainly on Christine and her job as a loan officer yearning for the available assistant manager position. It’s between her and the new guy Stu Rubin. Enter the creepy looking Sylvia Ganush, an elderly woman who comes into the bank and begs Christine for another extension on her mortgage but Christine turns her down. That night in the parking lot Mrs. Ganush is waiting for her and they engage in an incredibly funny fight scene. Mrs. Ganush then puts a gypsy curse on Christine. She summons a demon known at the “Lamia”. The Lamia is known as the black goat and the eater of souls. Christine has three days to fight off and get rid of the curse before she is “dragged to hell”


Justin Long plays the boyfriend part well and adds his own brand of humor to the role. His parents are rich and don’t approve of his choice of Christine, who grew up on a farm and was quite the pudgy tomboy as a child. As the curse progresses, it starts to make Christine see and hear things that aren’t really there. They visit a fortune teller who feels the presence of the curse within Christine. He warns her of the danger and to be careful. Christine finally agrees to a fancy dinner at Clay parent’s mansion. This doesn’t end well as you might expect. The acting, directing, and such are all top rate. Everything you would expect from a Sam Raimi production. As mainstream Hollywood horror films go, it would be hard top.


Raimi plays around with classic ways of scaring the audience. Wind, shadows, and strange noises are played out well. Other than in a Looney Toons cartoon, where else would you see a good anvil gag? The several gross out scenes are purposely played for their comic effect rather than to outright scare you, which is a strong trademark of a Sam Raimi film. There is a twist ending that is pretty sweet and is set up in the first part of the movie. Raimi’s next film is scheduled to be “Warcraft” an adaptation of the super popular online computer game.


Eli Roth's First Gives You "Cabin Fever"

12/6/2009

This film is the directorial debut for Eli Roth. Eli is a Boston native and horror fan boy at heart. Cabin Fever takes on several parts of well known horror films and put his out ideas and twists on them. This is a creepy cabin in the woods movie like Evil Dead. It’s a mysterious virus movie like The Thing. Then throw in some crazy back woods rednecks like Deliverance. Cabin Fever is disturbingly authentic in the fact that this could actually happen. Eli got the idea from a real life experience, when he got a flesh eating bacteria at an Icelandic horse farm.

Cabin Fever starts out like many recognizable horror flicks. A group of young people headed into the woods to a cabin
for a weekend of partying. The main characters are Paul and Karen played by Rider Strong and Jordan Ladd. They have been “friends” forever, while Paul is always pushing for closer relationship. Bert is the not to bright football player like character played by James DeBello. Then there is the yuppie douche bag couple. The blonde haired Ivy League style jerks always get butchered and for good reason. The look of the film is set in the early to mid 1980’s, so that rules out any cell phone usage. We don’t ever learn the origins of the virus, although we do see a dead dog that infects a local hermit. Bert accidently shoots and wounds the hermit while hunting for squirrels. That night the man comes to the cabin pleading for help. He is a horrible bloody mess who after puking infected blood all over their truck, is set on fire by the guys. The girls are upset by this and it creates a great deal of tension and dissention in the group. Paul finds the decomposing body floating in a lake. The virus has now infected the water supply for the whole town.

Winston Olsen is a young sheriff deputy and quite the strange character. He is bored to death with his job and just likes to party with all the vacationers. Even when the story gets extremely gory he is only worried that that party is ruined.

Another very unique character is Dennis, played by Matthew Helms. He sits on a swing in the front of the town general store. Don’t get to close to him though because he bites, as Paul finds out. He is also known as the “Pancakes” boy who has a black belt in karate. Yes I know that sounds a little strange but you really have to see the movie.

One of the most disturbing scenes in the movie is when Karen who hasn’t been feeling well, lets Paul comfort her while she’s napping. Paul moves his hand below her waist and you could say he has bad aim. He finds out that he is fingering a large flesh wound in her thigh. She is infected. Karen is then ostracized and quarantined from the others. She is locked in a shed with a grungy mattress and a blanket and then served food like a prisoner. The characters are now only interested in their own survival. Even though this movie was made in 1999, the main story line and the characters reactions to it seem to match today’s fears of the swine flu and global flu pandemics. They all eventually get this virus and deal with it in their own separate ways. The leg shaving scene is quite possibly the most cringe inducing scene ever filmed. While the blonde guy take two six packs of beer and runs into the woods. If you look at the beer closely it’s called “Arrogant Bastard Beer”. He does how ever get his comeuppance for abandoning his friends. In one of the movies final scenes he is killed in a very similar fashion to that of the classic zombie flick “Night of the Living Dead” The last scene shows a semi truck full of tainted bottled water leaving the small town.

There is a sequel, Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever which is directed by Ti West. It is currently showing at various film festivals around the country and is not yet out on DVD. Eli Roth had no part in the filming or production. So see it at your own risk.

TOP 10 FILMS OF THE DECADE '00s


Top 10 Movies of the Decade - 2000’s

(in no particular order)
The Dark Knight (2008)

Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)


Lost In Translation (2003)


Mulholland Dr. (2001)


Quarantine - [Rec] (2008/2007)


No Country for Old Men (2007)


Shawn of the Dead (2004)


Donnie Darko (2001)


Let the Right One In (2008)

American Psycho (2000)

"Hostel Part II" Back for More Torturous Fun!

11/28/2009

The second installment of Eli Roth’s Hostel is just as good as the first. Usually your basic horror sequels are far inferior to the original, but Hostel Part 2 keeps up the quality established by the first.

This time around we have three American college girls studying abroad in Italy. These girls are played by Lauren German (Beth); she is a smart level headed girl. Heather Matzarazzo is Lorna, the nerdy girl with issues. Although we see in a scene later that Heather is truly a fearless and committed actress up for anything. Finally there is Whitney, the party girl played by who else but Bijou Phillips; an actress who has made a career playing such parts.

The story opens right where the first movie leaves off. Paxton has escaped the torture chambers of Elite hunting and is now dealing with some serious insomnia and anxiety issues. Paxton doesn’t last too long as his girlfriend finds him in the kitchen minus a head. The cat licking his bloody stump was a nice touch. We first find the girls in an outdoor figure study drawing class. The female model (Axelle) takes an interest in Beth’s drawing and she gives it to her. On the train to Rome the girls meet up again with Axelle. Whitney tries to score some drugs off a few guys and it ends badly. Axelle tells them about the therapeutic spas of Bratislava and the girls are up for it. They arrive at the infamous hostel. One might say that this movie is just following to same story formula as the first one. It’s true except we also get another story line involving two older American guys Todd and Stuart. Todd wants to bring Stuart along with him to where else Bratislava for an experience they won’t soon forget. Todd “buys” the chance to kill Whitney and Beth (for Stuart) in a scene where the three girls are auctioned off by their passport photos supplied by the hostel. Stuart is a family man who is always having second thoughts about what they are getting into, while Todd is the super macho extreme freak. We also get to see a more in depth look at the inner workings of Elite Hunting. Every client must get a blood hound tattoo (the company logo). They are given a pager, exactly like the ones you get at a restaurant, and told to wait until their girl is ready.



The girls attend the local harvest festival where Lorna meets a prince charming with a pony tail. She is eventually lured away from the festivities for a moon lit boat ride despite Beth pleading for her not to leave. This of course seals Lorna’s fate. She is eventually strung up upside down in scene that is so brutal you can barely watch. A female client ends up bathing in her blood. Nudity and bloody violence in one scene is very conflicting. Stuart gets a little to close when scoping out Beth at the festival. They have an awkward meeting, which sets up a big scene at the end of the movie. Hostel 2 seems to have less gore than the first film but it is definitely a case of quality over quantity. Beth tries to keep the group together, but with Lorna now missing, it isn’t too long before Whiney, and her new boy toy Miraslav, disappear the next day at the spa. Now all alone at the spa Beth is pursued by a bunch of burly guys’ that don’t look to friendly. She runs into the woods and into the Bubble Gum Gang from the first movie. She is finally saved by Axelle and brought to a mansion. After getting cleaned up she is double crossed and kidnapped.

There is a long montage style scene of Todd and Stuart arriving at the torture facility. They change into butcher like gear, choose their weapons, and try on weird looking masks. Their victims are all kept like cattle, chained in bunches in an enclosed space ‘til needed. They are then dressed in clothes and made up to the specifications of the client. When the guys are finally alone with their prey, a big turning point occurs as Todd freaks out when the violence becomes too real. After refusing to finish the kill, he is dealt with severely and winds up as dog food. Stuart on the other hand finally snaps and becomes the real psychopath. He has Beth dressed up as his wife. After a struggle Beth gets the upper hand on poor ole Stuart. When the guards see this on the surveillance monitors they go in to break it up. We then see Beth holding a large pair of scissors over Stuarts “junk”. Since Beth is uber rich she able to make a deal with the owner of Elite. Stuart then crosses the line by calling Beth a “cunt”. Not a smart move Stu! She then cuts off his manhood and feeds it to the dogs. Ouch! To fulfill her deal she must get the tattoo and kill someone. With the help of the Bubble Gum gang she lures Axelle into the woods and decapitates her. The gang then play soccer with the severed head all set to joyful music. Roll credits. This is one of the most insanely weird endings I’ve seen in a while. Hostel 3 is currently in the works, but it is said to be a direct to DVD sequel. While Eli Roth has said he is not going to be apart of it, which can’t be a good thing.


"Hostel" Eli Roth's Bloody Masterpiece

11/25/2009

Eli Roth is one sick bastard! This is exactly why he is one of my favorite directors. He is a complete horror fanatic and it. His first film Cabin Fever is an instant classic which will be reviewed on this blog in the coming weeks. Both Hostel films carry the “Quentin Tarantino Presents” credit; which of course adds a little street cred to them.

This was one of the first movies, along with Saw, to carry the lame media label of “torture porn”. Extreme gore and sadistic violence used to shock the audience. Seriously, you know there’s going to be some sick disturbing stuff in this flick. So if that offends you don’t frickin’ see it! The story revolves around three college grads who are backpacking through Europe. These are really good guys, that you could actually see yourself hanging out with. They are played by Jay Hernandez (Paxton), Derek Richardson (Josh), and Eythor Gudjonsson (Oli). The first half of the movie is set up like a skin flick on Cinemax with lots of gratuitous nudity and debauchery. The guys start out in Amsterdam, enough said. Paxton seems to be the leader of the group. Josh is a little more reserved, as he was just coming off a long relationship. Oli (the king of the swing) is most responsible for the comic relief. They meet a local guy named Alex at a club. He directs them to Bradislava, Slovakia for all the hot women they can take. He states that with all the wars, there are few men for so many beautiful women. This scene makes a strong statement that most young Americans have no idea what is happing in the world today. As there actually haven’t been any wars in Slovakia for the past 50 years. This movie has a very strong social commentary on the youth of America. Americans seem to think they have a bullet proof sense of entitlement when traveling abroad. While many people in many other countries despise Americans and their cockiness.

On the train to Bratislava, a small picturesque town in Slovakia, they meet an older business man. The man strikes up a conversation and proceeds to eat a salad with his hands. Josh freaks out when the man touches his knee (a little homophobic) and the man excuses himself.


They arrive in Bratislava and check in at the local hostel. This place is quite nice but they will have roommates. When they get to their room they walk in on two hot foreign girls changing. These are the bait girls. They invite the guys down to the spa and they instantly pair up and that night party at a local disco. Josh goes to get some fresh air and is threatened by the Bubble Gum Gang, a group of local kids that extort the tourists. He is saved by Mr. Saladhands. Coincidence? The guys all end up sleeping with the girls, but as morning breaks, Oli is missing. The next night the girls slip something into the two guy’s drinks. Paxton gets himself locked into a supply closet, saving his life. While Josh doesn’t have such luck. Josh in brought into a dank, dark, dungeon like complex and is chained to a chair. Mr. Saladhands then has his devilish way with him. He always wanted to be a surgeon, but has unsteady hands.

Paxton’s search for his friends comes up empty and he eventually confronts the now less than glamorous women they been partying with that last few days. She leads him to an “art show” at this old factory, where we get a cameo appearance by legendary Japanese horror director Takashi Miike. This crumbling building houses the operations of Elite Hunting, a worldwide organization that offers the experience of killing for a price. If you want to kill a local its cheap, while killing an American will cost you. Paxton is able to escape his torture cell, minus a few fingers. He finds out his friends are dead and plans his escape. The clients of Elite Hunting are seen as regular people with regular lives. This is part of the plot of the sequel which will be reviewed next.

The Hostel films bring forth a frightening question. For wealthy adrenaline junkies that have traveled to world; what would be the ultimate high? Writer/ Director Eli Roth came up with the idea for this story from a foreign website that offered such services. Whether this site was legit is up for speculation.


"Let the Right One In" Simply AWESOME!!

11/17/2009

Over the past few years the publics infatuation with all things vampire has become epidemic. In my mind this little movie from Sweden tops them all. I do however like the True Blood show on HBO. Let the Right One In is directed by Tomas Alfredson and is based on the book Let me In by John Ajvide Linqvist (he also adapted it into the screenplay.) There is also an American remake in production that should hit theatres next year.

We begin with Oskar, a twelve year old boy living with his mother in a suburb of Stockholm. His parents are divorced and Oskar usually keeps to himself. He is constantly bullied by a group of kids at school and dreams of revenge. He collects newspaper clippings of murders, and violent crimes, while also carrying a knife with him. Although he never acts on these violent urges, it simmers just below the surface. Oskar’s interests are peaked with the arrival of new tenants that move into to an adjoining apartment. Eli is a girl that looks to be about Oskar’s age, while Haken is the older man that accompanies her. Oskar and Eli meet outside at a jungle gym a few nights, both seem interested in one another, but their conversations are short. Eli is always bare foot and underdressed for the weather but is never cold. Haken on the other hand packs up a case of curious objects and goes into the woods. After this scene we begin to see what Hakan does for Eli, he kills people and drains there blood for her consumption. Haken has to abandon his kill at the risk of being found out by some hikers and a very inquisitive dog. Eli is not pleased by this and must take matters into her own hands.

There is also a secondary storyline that involves a group of locals who are also interested in the new comers. They try talking to Haken in the local café, but he just brushes them off. Later that night as one of the drunken men walks under a bridge; Eli is able to get his attention by pleading for help. She then feeds on him and Haken discards the body. The real heart and soul of this movie is in the relationship between Eli and Oskar. You have to keep in mind throughout the movie that these are really twelve year old kids. Oskar is aware that Eli is different and doesn’t seem bothered by it. It only strengthens his curiosity. This really comes into play after Eli can’t stomach some candy Oskar gives her. As he hugs her she tells him “If I wasn’t a girl would you still like me?” Although he is not sure what she means, he doesn’t make a big deal of it. After another bully attack leaves Oskar with a bandage on his face; he shares his problem with Eli. She tells him to “hit back, hard.” Oskar does such a thing at an ice skating pond, during a school field trip. Oskar is punished, but has renewed self confidence.


We go back to Haken as he has a teen boy hung upside down in the school locker room. He is interrupted yet again by the boy’s friends. Haken does not want to be found out so he pours acid onto his face scaring him almost beyond recognition. Eli scales the hospital walls (in her Spider-Man scene) to Haken’s room. Feeling that he has failed her, he lets Eli feed on him before jumping to his death. It seems as if Eli has found a new protector and provider in Oskar, but is he really willing and able to do the job? I felt some of the scenes between Oskar and Eli where way above their age, although Eli was in reality over 200 years old. After Haken’s death she visits Oskar at his window and he invites her in. She then undress (off camera) and gets into bed with him. Oskar is surprised that she is so cold. There are no sexual implications with this scene, but it shows Eli’s growing trust and overall need for Oskar. In a further scene in the school basement Oskar makes an effort to become closer to Eli. He purposely cuts his hand in the old “blood brothers” routine. At the site of his blood Eli loses control and ends up licking the blood off the floor. Extremely embarrassed she asks him to leave. Eli then comes to Oskar’s place and lets him know “You have do invite me in” Oskar is defiant and asks “What if I don’t?” Eli takes a few steps inside and begins to bleed all over. Oskar freaks out and “invites her in.” The following scene is one of the more head scratching scenes of the movie. As Eli cleans her self up in the bathroom, Oskar hands her some fresh clothes and takes a peak while she’s charging and it’s revealed that Eli is neither male nor female.

As the locals start to suspect Eli in the death of their friend, one of the men breaks into her apartment and finds her asleep in the bathtub. Oskar comes over at just the right time and shouts “No”. This gives Eli the time she needs to pounce on the would be assassin. She tells Oskar that she has to leave town. In the mean time the bully from school has recruited his even more ruthless brother to get back at Oskar. In one of the films final scenes at the schools swimming pool; Oskar is told to either hold your breathe for three minutes or lose an eye. The brother grabs Oskar by the hair and holds him underwater. Oskar starts to loose his breathe and panic. There is an intense commotion up above and a severed head fall to the bottom of the pool. Oskar is released as the arm holding him also starts to fall to the bottom. Oskar jumps to the surface to see Eli has rescued him. Thus completing Eli’s full need and devotion to Oskar. The final scene finds Oskar alone on a train with a large box, with Eli inside. Oskar has become the new Haken.

"All The Boys Love Mandy Lane" Controversial Teen Horror


11/14/2009

This teen slasher flick has reached an almost urban legend like status here in the United States among horror fans. Just like the recently released Halloween horror anthology Trick’r Treat. Mandy Lane was filmed in 2006 in Austin, Texas and surrounding areas. Directed by Jonathan Levine, whose follow up film The Wackness came out this summer. Although Mandy Lane did have a U.S. premiere at the South by Southwest festival in Austin in 2007, it has yet to make any kind of theatrical run or even a DVD release. However it is available on DVD and Blu-ray in other countries (I got my copy from the U.K.). This leaves many fans wondering “What’s the frickin’ hold up?” If you ask me I would have to say money and politics. First, original horror movies in general don’t make a lot of money in theatres (I say “original” since it’s not a sequel or a crappy remake). Then you see that this flick only cost about a million dollars to make, which is peanuts compared to any movie in any genre. So you’d think they would have no problem making back there investment, right? This is probably where the politics come into play. Certain plotlines of this movie seem to draw a strong and uneasy connection to the Columbine killings. Although it doesn’t take place in a school per se, but a sprawling ranch. The center of everything in this story is Many Lane herself, played by Amber Heard. She is the hottest girl in school and as the title says all the boys love her. Mandy is the clean and pure picture of innocence. Her parents died when she was young and has been raised by her aunt. She is friends with boy named Emmet, a sort of every man, not a jock, nerd, or any other stereotype. Mandy invites Emmet to a party held at the blond haired “jock” Dylan’s house. Emmet is really not welcome there as Dylan constantly harasses him. While drinking on the roof Emmet proceeds to convince Dylan that if he were to jump off and into the pool that it would really impress Mandy. So the drunken Dylan jumps and comes up a bit short and hits his head on the edge of the pool, killing him instantly. Mandy cuts her ties with Emmet. The story flashes forward nine months, as a group of popular kids plan a get away at a ranch. Mandy agrees to join them and this is really where the bulk of the movie takes place.


The rest of the cast does seem to fit into the regular character stereotypes for a horror movie. You have the ditzy blonde girl, the hot guy and of course the token black guy. Although Mandy is blonde and uber-hot, she doesn’t seem to fit any of the usual clichés. She is smart, well spoken, and seems fairly grounded. Bird (the token black guy) is the first one to put the moves on her, but it denied. At this point we also meet Garth, the studly ranch hand, who lives in shed near the house. After many, many drinks and many, many bong hits; the teens start to disappear. First its one of the guys, then the brunette, then Bird. Is it the mysterious ranch hand who is doing this or some other homicidal maniac? Unlike most teen slasher flicks when the killer isn’t revealed until the last five minutes. The viewer finds out with about a half hour to go. You would think this would work against the plot, but for some reason it plays quite well as there are more twists to come.

This movie really keys into the intense emotional highs and lows of high school teens no mater what clique or group they belong to. The girls (and boys for that matter) all have body image issues and are always defending themselves. Many Lane is of course the hottest girl in school and she knows it. In a scene where that all go swimming Mandy plays the role of a tease absolutely perfectly. She can make any guy do anything she wants. Because you never know she might really like you. Not! This story is effectively grounded in reality, and the feelings it brings to the surface. There is no masked psychopath, no supernatural demons. This is a story that I’m sure most everybody can relate to in one way or another. There is a Mandy Lane in every high school in America. The question is what will you do for Mandy Lane?


"Chungking Express" by Wong Kar Wai


11/12/2009

This amazing little piece of Hong Kong cinema, directed by Wong Kar-Wai, is a great example of a modern story told in modern times. This film effortlessly tells two different stories about four different characters in a very fast and kinetic pace.  Both stories bring forth the themes of coincidence, chance meetings, breaking free of routines and overcoming heartbreak. This all takes place as China is about to overtake rule of Hong Kong in 1997.

The first story involves Qiwu, a policeman who finds himself in a sort of personal and professional crisis. His girlfriend May has broke up with him and at one point he almost gives up on anybody calling him to work on a case. Qiwu is a good man, but a lonely man who seems to find solace in food and jogging. He buys cans of pineapple that must have a May 1st expiration date. This is his birthday and also a self conceived deadline for May to reconcile with him. The story lines jump between this and one of a drug smuggling woman in a trench coat and sunglasses. She gathers together a bunch of Indian men in an attempt to smuggle a load of coke. These men have no respect or regard for the woman who pays them upfront. The men eventually bolt and she is left searching for them. She eventually finds them in a hostel and kills them all. After Qiwu eats 30 cans of pineapple (in one sitting) he ventures out to bar, and proceeds to puke his guts out. He is now free of the memory of his five year relationship with May and looks to move on. He starts to chat with the trench coat woman who pays no attention to him. They eventually share there sorrows and drink until bar closing. She eventually passes out in his apartment. Qiwu seems to be an insomniac as he watches two movies on T.V. while consuming four chef salads. The woman leaves without notice. She then leaves him a happy birthday message on his voice mail. Qiwu leaves us with the feeling that love is a can of pineapple that doesn’t expire.


We now go to a second story involving another cop known only as #663 (his badge number). He and Qiwu both frequent The Midnight Express, a local food fast food stand. #663 is often in his police uniform as Qiwu is always in plain clothes. A young free-spirited girl who is obsessed with the song “California Dreaming” starts working at the Express and has a crush on #663. After he has a fling with a flight attendant, #663 is once again lonely and talking to dish rags, stuffed animals and other inanimate objects. The flight attendant leaves him a letter and his apartment key at the Express, in which #663 refuses to pick up. The girl sees this as an opportunity to do some cheering up and possibly more. She sneaks into his apartment and does a little redecorating (and cleaning). She tries to shake things up for ole #663, to show him what he is missing in life. She is caught on a few occasions and is completely embarrassed. #663 has been “sleepwalking” through life and this girl is just the person to wake him up. In a twist, #663 finally asks her out, but she stands him up, and goes to California. She leaves him a self drawn boarding pass dated for 1 year later. After the year has passed she comes back to find that #663 has bought the Midnight Express and is renovating it. She is now a flight attendant and things have come full circle.