Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Better late than never

Holidays! Because of a home trip and Family some like antics, I have not posted. This does not, however, mean I have not watched movies. Oh have I watched movies! Instead of long rambling discussions of said films (I am still working on a Cat People piece, by the way, so expect that shortly) I will post little quick condemnat...err summaries.

It all began with Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things... The title pretty much sums it up. Or rather, may I suggest they change the title to (Director) 'Rob Clark Shouldn't Play With Dead Things.' This was one of the most painful movies I have ever sat through. I can sit through anything, and yet at the mere 12 minute mark, I turned to my boyfriend and said, "Do you want to watch something else?" He made me keep it on as punishment for renting it in the first place. Punishment it was. The positively INSIPID dialogue grates on your nerves through the first hour. The zombies don't even appear until well over an hour into the film. It becomes frighteningly apparent that the director didn't have the budget to have a mass zombie scene for more than twenty minutes of the film, so instead, he relies on DIALOGUE, which, come on, it's a zombie film we're talking about here. The one redeeming moment of the film was a scene in which a Karen Carpenter-esque hippie/medium stick woman looks at a corpse and sighs, "I wonder what he's thinking." I wonder what they all were thinking... or dropping.

Then there was Christmas eve with the family. Last year it was the marital drama We Don't Live Here Anymore. This year, something a little more upbeat, or as my mother said, "Nothing screams Christmas like The Valley of the Dolls!" This is really a great trainwreck of a movie (which appeared to be the trend this holiday season). It is so over the top (hello!) and so over budget. There is really no slow moment to the film. I won't write too much about it. I'll just recommend it very highly... and the more your states are altered, the better, The great metaphor for the film is the "Theme From Valley Of The Dolls," sung by Dionne Warwick. The lyrics are almost illiterate and the same version of the song pops up what feels like a dozen times in the film. Key scene: Patty Duke drunk and dolled up, kneeling in the alleyway of her big Broadway show, looking up to god and screaming "Nealy O'Hara!" Pure camp genius!

I had never seen Mommie Dearest! Can you believe it? But now I have, and boy was I missing out. Words really cannot describe. It is really the thesis of Sontags' Notes on Camp in the sense that the film aims at being an earnest depiction of child abuse but all the while, all one can do is cheer on as the terrifying Faye Dunaway beats the shit out of her daughter. This really is pure camp. Especially since I find Dunaway to be one of the most terrifying actresses of all time. Pay close attention to her rotting teeth. Ever since seeing a print of Chinatown, I have been unable to get those teeth out of my head. Well, the teeth are here - in all their foul glory. I did enjoy the film, though it was very much the Dunaway/Crawford show. When the film begins to focus on the developing Christina, everything tends to fall apart, and the film completely lags in its last half. It's is a very flawed film, but a perfect one, particularly for a time like Christmas.

Later that night, the pick was Cabin Fever, which had the best exposition I have seen in a long time. The film had a tremendous B energy, but the film did fall apart after the plot sets in. After this glorious introduction, minor plot twists or key events occur to resuscitate the film, but eventually it slips into the trap of most contemporary scare tactics. Effects over content ensues and we're left with a bloody pulp of a relatively nice vengeful ending (just the last five minutes, I mean. Most of what comes before is muddled and action-y). The last line of the film is quite a riot, though. The director, Eli Roth, worked with David Lynch on (what I would guess was) Lost Highway, and you can tell. There are moments that are just a little too Lynch - in a way that smells more of plagiarism than of influence. I would recommend the film to people interested in the horror genre for the way it normalizes its characters in the film's opening and there is one particularly vile sequence of an infected girl shaving the flesh off of her leg with a pink Bick razor, but overall I was not impressed.

I also fastforwarded through David DeCoteau film Witches of the Caribbean just for Six Feet Under's Johanna Cassidy. It was so bad, I will not even talk about it here.


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Blogger J said...

Upon second viewing and with a rather vocal audience (read: you), I realize now that 'Cabin Fever' is not quite the gem I had once thought it to be. 'Cabin Fever' belonged to a rather unholy resurgance of the horror genre in 2003 (probably after all the kids flocked to 'The Ring'). And in such context, 'Cabin Fever' reined supreme over its peers (specifically 'Wrong Turn' and the 'Texas Chainsaw' remake) with its self-consciousness (surely a cliche in post-'Scream' horror films) and strange negativity. It, unlike many, held contempt for its painfully unlikable characters and (if you don't wanna know how the film ends... don't read on) instead decided to not leave one of them with a story to tell. It's negativity is unlike that of 'Texas Chainsaw' for it feels almost tongue-in-cheek. You wanna see a bunch of stupid kids die in a horror film... and it gives it to you... it kills 'em all! This didn't feel like a "they died for their sins" sort of finale like so many other of the genre; it didn't seem moralistic... it just showed you how stupid its characters were and promtly offed 'em.

So, 'Cabin Fever' does a lot right -- but, away from its peers, doesn't hold up.

PS: I'm not one of your fans.

12:55 AM  

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