Monday, June 30, 2008

THE STENDHAL SYNDROME (1996)

THE STENDHAL SYNDROME was Dario Argento’s final great film. Not that I knew it the first time I watched it. That first time through I enjoyed it but was disappointed in the rather downbeat and slightly unsatisfying ending. But I liked it enough to watch it again and on that viewing it opened up like a flower stretching toward the sun. My god! What a beautiful but deadly thing. Much like a gorgeous plant far too poisonous to touch THE STENDHAL SYNDROME is easy to admire but nasty in its effects. Bleak to the point of teeth gritting nausea it boasts a rape and murder scene that is rough even for a horror movie veteran like me. And the thing the killer does with a razor blade still makes me flinch just to think of it. But alongside these terrible things are some wonderful moments of cinematic excellence. This was the last time I could feel that Argento really had a handle on what made a thriller work. Not that he hasn’t made some interesting stuff since then but THE STENDHAL SYNDROME was the last time I felt he made an entire film that stood up and rewarded repeated viewings. It also has one of the most surrealistic scenes I have ever witnessed in a horror film involving Asia Argento kissing a fish. This has to be seen to be believed if not understood.

Of course, the film has its share of problems- all Argento movies do. There is some dodgy CGI that doesn’t quite work, some of the dubbing is bad and at least one character is too poorly defined for the ending to really be effective. But still…..this is a good movie. It’s got a great twist, some amazing set pieces, a truly scary villain and Argento’s last great use of color. Not to mention the sense of dread and horror that breaks at the half way point only to slowly build again in the last half. There are few things scarier than the fear that you are going mad and this film gets that across almost without you noticing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

You can vote for DVD cover art!


Over at Amazon.com you can vote for the cover art of the forthcoming Hammer Horror set due out in the fall. There are three choices and only one of them really sucks. I'm not trying to sway voters with my choice above- you're free to vote for the other good one as well! It's an exciting set with yet another Hammer flick I've never been able to see. Of course, any collection of films that included THE TWO FACES OF DR. JEKYLL, THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB, THE GORGON and SCREAM (TASTE) OF FEAR would grab my attention.

Just follow the link.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

LEGEND OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN VAMPIRES footage


In this documentary footage focusing on the Shaw Brothers martial arts films is some behind the scenes footage of the making of Hammer's cross cultural horror movie THE LEGEND OF THE 7 GOLDEN VAMPIRES. Fascinating stuff! I'd embed it for you but that option has been disabled on YouTube for this clip. Just follow the link.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hellboy sneakers!!


I'm not a fan of high tops (or the steep price tag) but MAN! I'd love to have a pair of these- size 12W please!

Monday, June 16, 2008

More PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES poster art


I love this classic Mario Bava terror tale and have searched for its various different posters for years. I've found several but this one I had never spotted until a few dyas ago. WOW!
How many more might there be out there waiting?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

HELLBOY as Mr. Potato Head


Sometimes you stumble across something and you just have to share.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

SECRET AGENT FIREBALL (1965) trailer

Every now and then I just want to watch a Euro-Spy film. And since they produced about a thousand of them during the height of the James Bond craze of the 60's I may never run out of options.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Thursday, June 05, 2008

TRICK 'R' TREAT trailer

This was supposed to come out last October. Now it's supposed to come out this October- but I hear the studio fears it will fail because it is an anthology film. They might not release it at all.

I feakin' hate Hollywood studios sometimes. If ever there was a perfect film to put out a few weeks before Halloween........

CASTLE KEEP poster art

I need to eventually see this film.

Monday, June 02, 2008

What I watched in May



THEM (2007)- 6 (not bad French horror tale that’s a little too long for its own good)
LAKE DEAD (2007)- 1 (or Pond of Boredom)
IRON MAN (2008)- 10 (wow!)
SS GIRLS (1977)- 3 (terrible but funny)
MORE DEAD THAN ALIVE (1968)- 6 (odd western with an out of nowhere ending)
THE CHAIRMAN (1969)- 5 (mediocre Cold War political thriller with Gregory Peck)
21 (2008)- 7 (good, well acted if slightly predictable thriller)
P.S. I LOVE YOU (2008)- 7 (well done weeper)
THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS (1991)- 3 (better than a remake but….)
THE SINGING DETECTIVE (2003)- 7 (a good shrinking of the original)
WHO COULD KILL A CHILD? (1976)- 8 (great Spanish horror film)
THE PSYCHIC (a.k.a. SEVEN BLACK NOTES) (1977)- 7 (Fulci goodness) (rewatch)
INSIDE (2007)- 4 (French horror starts off well but goes far too OTT and becomes stupid)
LOST (2004)- 7 (sharp, simple thriller about a …. But that would spoil the fun!)
ON THE RUN: TRILOGY (2002)- 6 (French thriller)
THE RETURN OF DRACULA (1958)- 6 (small scale but effective b&w chiller)
THE MIST (2007)- 9 (rewatch)
INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (2008)- 6

I had heard from friends that the new Indiana Jones film was bad. In fact, several of them insisted that it was completely terrible. Now that I’ve seen the film I find that attitude ridiculous. It’s not that the film is awful- it’s just not very good. Sadly I think far too many people are going into INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL with high expectations and the resultant less-than-spectacular movie is crushing them. I can understand this to a large degree. When you’re expecting great OK just doesn’t cut it. Indeed, merely OK can seem like a slap in the face. And in this case it doesn’t help that the entire movie plays like one of those greatest hits CD collections with one or two new songs on it to entice you to buy the old stuff again. There are so many nods to the earlier three movies that that at a certain point I stopped counting them and just rolled my eyes.

Another problem is that there are way too many stupid moments where it was obvious Lucas/Spielberg thought they had delivered a fantastic cinematic moment- but they hadn’t. The nadir had to be the vine swinging scene. Ugh! CGI monkeys? Let’s be clear- this is the George Lucas of the Star Wars prequels and NOT the man who wrote RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. That earlier Lucas no longer exists and if anyone out there had any question about it this film should end all speculation.

Still……I kind of enjoyed myself. True- it’s not a great film. It’s not even as much fun as the previous two sequels. It IS better than a Stephen Sommers or a Michael Bay movie. But with something as rock solid as IRON MAN in theaters right now this just doesn’t cut it. It’s not as bad as I’d been told by overreacting, disappointed fans, but that’s damning it with faint praise, now ain’t it.