"Seventh Moon" Send it to the Moon FOREVER!

Seventh Moon
3/29/2010

Usually when I do reviews for this blog, it is of a movie that I’ve seen before and one that I think deserves to be seen. With “Seventh Moon” I broke with tradition and paid the price. This movie is part of the Ghost House Underground series of horror movies produced by Sam Raimi’s company. If you’ve read any of my previous reviews you would know that he is one of my favorite directors. This movie was also directed by one of the co-creators of “The Blair Witch Project,” Eduardo Sanchez. Starring uber-hottie Amy Smart, I had relatively high hopes, but was supremely disappointed. I hoped for steak and got Spam.

The whole story is based on an old Chinese myth that on the full moon of the seventh lunar month the gates of hell open and the dead are free to roam the earth and feed. Smart’s character, Melissa is on her honeymoon in China with her Chinese husband Yul. She is completely misused and he is just a big whining dufuss. This film is so horribly shot it makes you want to rip your eyes out. Filmed in almost complete darkness, and with shaky hand held cameras. Shooting a horror movie in the dark is nothing new, but for some reason it’s just so frustrating to watch. It’s hard to tell what’s going on, but then even if you did know it wouldn’t be that interesting in the first place. In a way its like “Blair Witch” but then again it is also very different. The creatures are not zombies, but ravenous chalk skinned goons. I like the ideas and the myth in this movie, but it completely missed its mark. I will end this unpleasant review by saying that the best thing on the DVD is a five minute featurette in the extras of an old 1980’s Chinese television special on the seventh moon myth.

"Chopping Mall" Campy 80's Horror!

Chopping Mall
3/25/2010

This little nugget of 80’s horror is a crazy piece of campy trash. I say this in a good way. Do you have fond memories of hanging out at the mall for hours on end as a teen? There is a special little niche of movies made about mall culture. Most notably Kevin Smith’s Mallrats (filmed in Minnesota, woohoo!). This film also takes a few hints from Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead”, and quite strangely the “Mall Cop” comedies of 2009.

Once known as “Killbots” in theatres, it was renamed “Chopping Mall” for video. It looks like some marketing guy was trying to look smart because there is little if any “chopping” going on. The three Killbots are basically robotic mall cops that keep tabs on things when the mall is closed. When a group of young mall employees plan an after hours party in one of the stores, the Killbots are on the prowl. Of course the ‘bots malfunctioned while charging when the building was hit by lighting. The kids need to survive until morning when the mall opens up again to survive. That’s pretty much it for story, but it is entertaining. It’s very cheesy and very 80’s. This was a Roger Corman production so it was filmed on a very small budget, but that’s part of the charm of the film.

This is a minor cult hit on video and DVD, probably fun to have on at parties or seen with a group of friends. If you looking for a trip down memory lane, check this flick out. “Thank you, have a nice day”.

Lars Von Trier's "ANTICHRIST"

Antichrist
3/14/2010

This Lars Von Trier film from 2009 was one of the most controversial of the year. But did he purposely make it to shock and anger people? Most definitely. Von Trier’s ego grew to new heights with this film starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg. It has yet to find a U.S. distributor and can only be seen through on-demand, online or if you have a multi-region DVD player.

The two words I would use to describe this film would have to be graphic and intense. This film is divided into four chapters not including a prologue and epilogue. It involves just the two actors given the generic names of “He” and “She”. The story starts with the prologue shot in black and white and in slow motion. Dafoe and Gainsbourg are having sex, while their young son falls out a window to his death. The rest of the film examines the couples grief, pain, and despair. These are also the titles of three of the chapters, the other being “the three beggars” towards the end.

The imagery in this film is nothing short of jaw dropping. You will probably either think this film a work of genius or one of pure ego-maniacal crap. The story loads on the metaphors and graphic imagery to make the audience as uncomfortable as possible. Dafoe and Gainsbourg give absolutely fearless performances, earning Gainsbourg the best actress award at the Cannes Film Festival. Dafoe’s character of “He” is very controlling and since he is a therapist, he takes over care for his wife. Although we find out that she is much more troubled than we are lead to believe. They retreat to a cabin in the woods they call Eden, which she seems to be fearful of. She spent a lot of time there alone with her son in the past trying to complete her thesis on human nature. It was never finished and this could possibly be a reason for her unstable condition. He relishes in the power he has over her and is the only way he can feel close to her. He really acts quite indifferent about his son’s death, which in itself is quite disturbing.

Animals and nature play a big role in this film and is often used as metaphor and symbolism. The last twenty minutes are intensely graphic and brutal, but is this in service to the story or just to freak people out? In a way it can be refreshing to see the actors and directors audacity to commit such material to film. So should you see this film? That depends, how hardcore are you? I mean it’s not a great film by all means, but it is quite a spectacle. “Chaos reigns” quotes the fox.

"The Girfriend Experience" A Great Viewing Experience

The Girlfriend Experience
3/7/2010

Steven Soderbergh is another one of my favorite directors. He cleverly balances his work between big studio movies and small indie films that test the boundaries of film itself. He has directed such well known hits as the “Ocean’s” movies, “Erin Brockovich” and “Traffic.” He is also responsible for the indie classics “Sex, Lies, & Videotape”, “Out of Sight” & “The Good German.” With “The Girlfriend Experience” or “GFE” his lead actress is porn star Sasha Grey in her mainstream debut.

Sasha plays Chelsea an upscale business oriented call girl living in Manhattan. She offers her clients the “Girlfriend Experience.” Something that is so much more than just sex. For a few thousand an hour she offers her roster of well to do clients the experience of her company and companionship. The film deals with a number of issues like the politics of relationships, and the lengths people will go for artificial happiness. Chelsea also has a boyfriend whom she lives with. The separation between work and play can be a fine line if you don’t have the self discipline. Her boyfriend is a physical trainer and has clients of his own, just in a much different capacity than Chelsea’s line of work. The film effectively explores the many facets of Chelsea’s complex life and the people who help her, and the ones who want to exploit her.

The film is presented in a non linear format that creates a feeling of the chaos that might be going on inside Chelsea’s head. It is shot in a way that gives it a fly on the wall documentary feel to it. There are storylines involving her clients, her boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s trip to Vegas, her support team, and one with a reporter. The time period of the story is key in that it takes place during the impending 2008 election and the economic downfall. With Chelsea’s clients losing money, will she still be kept on the payroll?


An interesting question is raised by the journalist who asks “Do any of your clients ever get to see the real you?” Chelsea is exactly what the client wants her to be or what she thinks they want. Setting up massive barriers is the only way you’re going to protect yourself and survive in this business.

“GFE” isn’t your typical prostitute movie by a long shot. For some of her clients it seems like the sex is almost an after thought for what she does for them. Actress Sasha Grey really shines in this part. The big question is, will she peruse more mainstream roles or go back to doing pornography? The real life story of Sasha Grey is quite amazing and should also be looked into if interested. In interviews for “GFE” she says she wants to direct porn films which would be groundbreaking in that women directors are unheard of. This is definitely a film that should not be missed.

"Rabid" Early Cronenberg, Get Infected Today!

Rabid
3/2/2010

David Cronenberg is one of my favorite directors. His movies are genuinely creepy and terrifying. But they are also dramatic and have a sort of political commentary to them. His films are daring and at times controversial, see 1996’s “Crash.” Not to be confused with the 2004 Oscar winning movie by Paul Haggis. David’s last few films (A History of Violence & Eastern Promises) have been his most commercially successful without losing any of their trademark style.

“Rabid” was his second feature film and it follows closely to his first film “Shivers.” They both deal with strange medical oddities. It marked the beginning of the virus epidemic horror genre. Similar to George A. Romero’s film “The Crazies,” which was just remade by Breck Eisner. In a bold and controversial move Cronenberg cast porn star Marilyn Chambers in the lead role of Rose. This was her first an only successful mainstream feature. Chamber is perfect for the role and really kicks some serious ass.

Rose and her boyfriend are involved in a horrible motorcycle accident. With no nearby hospital, she is taken to the Keloid Clinic that specializes in plastic surgery. With Roses injuries she is subjected to an experimental skin grafting procedure. Her boyfriend was not badly hurt and stands by her side. Rose awakes from her coma with a strange need for blood. It is very bizarre and very Cronenberg like, as to how she got this way and how she feeds. The people she infects eventually turn into crazed zombie like monsters. Rose uses her looks and her body to lure both guys and gals to their doom. Rose seems to be rebelling against an unfair society. Filmed in the late 1970’s, Rose’s character is a manipulative female force to be reckoned with.

After escaping the clinic and wreaking some serious havoc she is taken in by her best friend Mindy, who wants nothing but to make her better. However Rose cannot control the urges inside her and Mindy is turned. This is all happening during Christmas in the beautiful city of Montreal, Canada. The government starts to mobilize forces to contain the infection. There is an extremely disturbing scene within a shopping mall where Santa Clause is gun down by stray bullets when an infected man starts attacking people. The public, the police, and everybody infected or not have been lost to the intense craziness of the situation. The ending is many things it’s disturbing, creepy, ambiguous and fitting for this type of movie. A definitive classic in the annals of horror.

"Jeepers Creepers" Creepy Good Times

Jeepers Creepers
2/28/10

This 2001 horror movie starring Justin Long, in one of his first roles, is a real gem that deserves some attention. “Jeepers” was directed by Victor Salva, who also directed the 2003 sequel, shows a good eye for tension and horror. This film got financial backing from famed “Godfather” director Francis Ford Coppola’s company American Zoetrope.

Darry (Long) and Trish (Gina Phillips) are brother and sister driving home from college on spring break. They have great chemistry and work really well off each other. Driving a classic car though the heartland of America they argue like any brother and sister would. After a bathroom break, an older rusted out truck drives up on them like a bat out of hell, blasting its horn and tailgating. After getting passed they wind up seeing the truck further down the road. There is man dumping something that looks like a body wrapped in a sheet down a sewer pipe. They are spotted by the man and are eventually run off the road.

Darry and Trish go back to the pipe to investigate and make sure that nobody is still alive. At times this movie can be self referential, in that the characters know they are in a horror movie and try to outsmart the basic stereotypes of the genre. “Scream” from 1996 was the movie that set the standard for this. After hearing voices, Darry fall down the pipe to find the grotesque lair of “The Creeper.” The lair is the basement of an old abandon church. Darry emerges from the lair and they drive off to get help at a local cafĂ©. They don’t find much help except from a psychic that mysteriously calls them on a pay phone. The whole plot of the movie is kind of cheesy and unbelievable, but the characters really save this movie and make it into a surprise hit.

As explained by the psychic, every 23rd spring for 23 days the Creeper feeds. It sniffs out certain people and eats particular organs that its body absorbs and becomes apart of him. The Creeper reveals that he has bat like wings, and upon close inspection he looks a bit like a meaner version of the “Creature from the Black Lagoon”. As I mentioned in the last review cops are really not much help when it comes to these kinds of movies. There is a big final battle at the police station where the Creeper takes over. I won’t reveal the ending but it is a little different that what I expected.