15. Shutter (2004)

•October 13, 2009 • 5 Comments

shutter-2004-poster_asian_horror_movie-350x495I was really looking forward to Shutter (2004), because I had seen the so-so American remake with Joshua Jackson and while I didn’t necessarily enjoy it, I thought that the general premise was good. Additionally, most of the reviews I’d read for the original Thai film were great.

Well, I certainly didn’t find it great. Sadly, I think that it could have been a film that I really enjoyed had I not seen the remake first, but unfortunately it just wasn’t good enough that my preexisting knowledge of the story (and plot twists) was overshadowed by its merits. I also tend to find “vengeful ghost of a woman who died in a tragic way” movies generally boring, as discussed in my post on Noroi. The only movie in that vein that I can think of that I really enjoy is A Tale of Two Sisters (Jangwha, Hongryeon), and that doesn’t even follow the standard formula.

So, nothing interesting to say on this one, as I don’t want to waste time writing about films that don’t have funny things in them when I could be watching movies or writing about things that I did like.

Here is a good screencap though:

RAAAAHHH! I am a ghost, by the way.

RAAAAHHH! I am a ghost, by the way.

14. God Told Me To (1976)

•October 11, 2009 • 4 Comments

God_Told_Me_To_movieDay 8 was just a day of enormous disappointment. First 5ive Girls, then God Told Me To. The premise of this movie is that there are a series of seemingly random mass murders, and the killer in each one says that God told them to do the killings. Larry Cohen directed this, and I love his It’s Alive and The Stuff (I even have both of those on DVD), so I was expecting a lot. Unfortunately, it was actually pretty boring and convoluted, so much so that I don’t even want to write a big entry about it.

Our hero is a really religious detective who has a lot of boring interactions with his girlfriend (he lives with her) and his wife (he visits her sometimes). He lies to his girlfriend about going home to his wife when really he is going to Mass a lot. These God killings really upset him because he is religious, which he talks about all the time.

He interviews some people and it turns out that each killer had been talking to a blond dude with long hair and a blurry face before they did the killings. The detective does detective things and figures out the name of the blond guy and that he was born to a virgin mother. Then he does more detective things and figures out that his mom was a virgin too. Neither of these things actually have to do with God though, as it turns out that they are both human-alien hybrids and all virgin births throughout history (including Jesus) were just aliens. Also, if you are half alien you have special powers that make you glow and allow you to control other people, which is how the blond guy convinced those people to kill in the name of God.

Detective with alien powers.

Detective with alien powers.

The detective uses his alien power to make drug dealers kill each other. Then we learn that he also used his powers to make his wife have lots of miscarriages. Finally, he goes to find the blond alien guy and they talk to each other and the blond guy wants to have his baby, because it turns out that he has a vagina on his chest.  I would post a picture, but I don’t want my blog to be labeled “adult content.” Then the detective alien beats the crap out of him, and the building catches on fire.

Alien with glowy alien powers.

Alien with glowy alien powers.

It is kind of like the end of a Dario Argento film, actually.

Overall, dumb and boring.

Script: 4/10

Concept before we find out they are just aliens: 7/10

Chest vagina: 7/10

Level of interest I maintained throughout the film: 4/10

Anne rating: 5.5

13. 5ive Girls (2006)

•October 11, 2009 • 10 Comments

five_girlsI am skipping An American Werewolf in London for right now because my little sister would like to watch the end with me. I’ll come back to it later.

Now for 5ive Girls. The IMDB plot summary for this is:

Five wayward teenage girls are sent to a reformatory and discover they possess unique powers to battle the ancient demon, Legion, which holds thrall over the sinister institution.

That is essentially the cocktail recipe for making a movie that I am sure to love. One part demon, one part Catholic school, five parts sleaze, presto! The perfect film. And just look at that poster! Sexy schoolgirls in front of a pentagram. Impossible to screw up, right?

Wrong, unfortunately.

The movie starts off with a pretty awesome scene in which a really pious girl at a Catholic boarding school is doing a bizarre drawing of demons and writing in Aramaic and Latin. Ron Perlman is her Latin teacher, and he thinks her work is so good, so he is totally going to give her an A, although he is a little concerned that she is so focused on passages about demons smashing stuff and pigs jumping off of cliffs.

"Good work, this stupid demon drawing definitely demonstrates to me that you are ready for college-level study."

"Good work, this stupid demon drawing definitely demonstrates to me that you are ready for college-level study."

Unfortunately, as soon as he leaves the room, the door slams shut, a crucifix flies off of the wall, and a demon tries to enter her, but instead she disappears and there is a pool of blood left. Uh oh!

The school closes because of that, and five years later it is being reopened as a school for wayward girls. This school only has one teacher (Ron Perlman), and he only teaches one class (Latin), and the rest of the time they are supposed to scrub floors and pray. I somehow doubt this school is accredited. There is also a mean headmistress who is really proper and seemingly the same age as all of the wayward girls, so she has to do things like strip search them in order to show that she is mean and strict.

"This strip search isn't so bad, because luckily we are all attractive young women and we all wore matching underwear today, because that is the reality of womanhood."

"This strip search isn't so bad, because luckily we are all attractive young women and we all wore matching underwear today, because that is the reality of womanhood."

She also takes blood and urine samples for nefarious purposes, but we’ll get to that later, as if you don’t already know that they will be used in a satanic ritual.

Our hero, a girl with blond hair (it is unnecessary to learn everyone’s names because they all have Quirky Traits so that we can tell them apart), is dropped off by her dad who is a dick and an incredibly poor actor. That is one of the biggest issues with this film – the production values are actually really good for a low-budget film, so the bad acting and poor dialogue are just jarring and make you uncomfortable and bored rather than making you laugh. Anyway, she doesn’t have any personality flaws and is pretty and kind and has special powers. BO-RING.

"Wahhh, please don't drop me at this unaccredited fake school of Satan, it might be a character-building experience and I might have to develop a personality!"

"Wahhh, please don't drop me at this unaccredited fake school of Satan, it might be a character-building experience and I might have to develop a personality!"

Luckily the other ones  are a little more interesting.

This girl is gay and has a Bad Attitude. You can tell because she wears a tank top instead of a bra, smuggles pain meds into the school by hiding them in her butt (don’t worry, the headmistress found them), has a knife/brass knuckles thing (it is a knife that has brass knuckles built onto the hilt, I don’t know enough about weaponry to know if there is a name for this), and says snarky things to everyone. Also she can heal people with her hand.

vlcsnap-2009-10-08-20h51m09s65

I like girls.

There is also a girl who can walk through walls, a girl who is blind but can read tarot cards with her “second sight” (sort of a lame power), and a girl who is a Wiccan and an anarchist even though she doesn’t know what either of those things mean. She does read out of a book with a huge pentagram on it, and has a amulet of protection. Her power is that she is a conduit for spirits.

Have you noticed anything unusual? These girls all have powers! If I wrote this movie, the next half hour would be spent in a montage of them playing funny practical jokes on each other utilizing their paranormal talents, running down the halls really fast, and maybe having a pillow fight or two. That’s not what happens, though.

Instead they figure out that Miss Pierce (the evil headmistress – you do learn her name because she says it 500 times and makes other people say it a lot too) is trying to sacrifice them, and they find a huge pentagram on the third floor, and then they all get possessed one by one, until only the badass and the blond girl are left. They draw two magic circles on the floor so that the demons can’t get them and then they kiss.

Just chillin' in the magic circle, hiding from demons, you know how it is.

Just chillin' in the magic circle, hiding from demons, you know how it is.

The demon does possess the blind girl though and she outsmarts them by bleeding on the circle because that apparently nullifies any magic power that the circle has, and then they run around a lot and the girl who is not blond gets possessed too. Apparently that girl at the beginning was too pure to get possessed so Legion took her into hell, kind of like the Satanic version of the Assumption of Mary (yeah, I went to 11 years of Catholic school, what of it?), and Miss Pierce is actually her sister so she had to sacrifice these girls in order to get her back! It’s because these girls “weren’t wanted!” Or they had special powers! Wait, why did Legion require girls with special powers? There is conflicting information in this film, but maybe it doesn’t matter.

Luckily the blond girl pushes the demon out of the other girl with her telekinetic power, so this happens:

This is Legion being pushed out of the girl

This is Legion being pushed out of the girl

And then Legion has to run around a lot, and it runs into Miss Pierce. The girl from the beginning gets to come back to the earthly plane, and Miss Pierce gets a crucifix shoved up her mouth and through the back of her head.

What the post should prove to you is that Hollywood studios should hire me, because I just wrote about how lame I thought that movie was, and still made it look about 10 times more interesting than it was. Even reading what I wrote above and looking at those screencaps makes me kind of want to watch that movie again, even though I know it is terrible and boring.

Miss Pierce when she takes off that pencil skirt, lets down that bun, and gets to conjuring.

Miss Pierce when she takes off that pencil skirt, lets down that bun, and gets to conjuring.

I glossed over it above, but really, Miss Pierce was the worst actress in the entire world. She is the kind of woman who would play a Satanist in a Lifetime movie about idyllic towns in which children are secretly being indoctrinated by evil cults, if there is a movie about that (I bet there is).

Ron Perlman is supposedly the star of this movie (the poster says so),  but he was really pretty irrelevant.

Scariness: 1/10

Script: 4/10

Characters: 6/10

Production values: 6/10

Anne rating: 4.25/10

Also, here is what Legion looks like when  not possessing someone:

vlcsnap-2009-10-08-22h02m16s26

I know its not very clear, but he is a bloody skeleton.

12. Noroi (2005)

•October 9, 2009 • 4 Comments

I am not the huge J-horror fan that many people are. It seems that for the most part, mainstream Japanese horror films generally follow this pattern:

"I am a woman or child who died in a mysterious or tragic way."

"I am a woman or child who died in a mysterious or tragic way."

"Now I am a ghost, DIE DIE DIE!"

"Ahhhhh, now I am a ghost, DIE DIE DIE!"

That can get a little boring. However, Noroi (2005) is one of the best Japanese horror films I have ever seen, and one of my favorite horror films in general. It’s a shame that it is so difficult to procure in the US. Maybe the fact that it wouldn’t easily be remade as a Hollywood film has kept it from finding distribution. I don’t know. The movie is slow, meandering, ambiguous at points, and generally pretty creepy throughout.

It is yet another entry in the mockumentary genre, supposedly a documentary about a malicious demon/entity named “Kagutaba” compiled by a director named Kobayashi, who (naturally) vanished after a fire consumed his home and hasn’t been seen since.

A creepy-ass ritual to appease Kagatuba

A creepy-ass ritual to appease Kagatuba

The footage consists of Kobayashi’s interviews with people somehow affected by the Kagutaba curse, as well as sections taken from fictional Japanese television shows. It’s difficult to give an accurate summary because it is so long and complicated, but Wikipedia gives a pretty good one here. If you are too lazy, this is the basic stuff you have to know about the movie, and probably about Japan in general. Oh, serious spoilers ahead too, although you should know that by now because all of my posts have serious spoilers:

1. If your neighbor is messy, watch out, because there is a 99% chance they are a demon and you will die soon. Sorry.

Messy demon yard.

Messy demon yard.

I would probably not be very popular in Japan, because I’m really messy. That yard doesn’t even look that bad to me, except for the dead pigeons.

2. Kagutaba is one fucked up entity. He will make people tie creepy knots, kill themselves and others, and feed aborted fetuses to psychic children. Also lots of dogs will die, which is sad.

3. Japanese television is sweet. One of the scenes in the movie is this show about psychic children and they have to go through tests like figuring out what shape is drawn on a paper inside of a tube (sort of like Bill Murray’s psychic experiments in Ghostbusters), and making water appear inside a sealed bottle. It’s actually my favorite part of the movie, and the part in which we are introduced to Kana, the psychic child who eventually gets kidnapped and fed aborted fetuses.

Kana and the Kagatuba face

Kana and the Kagutaba face

She manages to pass the paper-inside-the-tube test incredibly accurately (perfect scale, no detail missing) until the last one, when the drawing she does is a creepy face (later in the documentary we can assume it is Kagutaba). Also, when she manages to make water appear in the bottle, scientists identify it as water from a lake with a strand of baby’s hair in it.

4. People are way too trusting. There is this “super psychic” who dresses completely in tin foil and attacks people and yells a lot, but Kana’s parents let him visit her because she says it is okay. I guess because she is psychic they trust her judgment. Would you let this man near your child?

The super psychic.

The super psychic.

I think the film succeeds so beautifully largely because the special effects are kept to a minimum. In fact, it would be nearly perfect if it were not for the one incredibly shitty CGI scene.

Mitsuo Hori (tin foil dude) and Kobayashi are running through the forest near the lake where the Kagutaba ritual village once stood, because Hori senses Kana’s presence. They find that all of the town’s dogs have been slaughtered (great and creepy up until this point), and then there is a “magic field” that they enter into, and then Kobayashi switches to night view and we see:

Ghost fetuses crawling all over ghost Kana. Yeah.

Ghost fetuses crawling all over ghost Kana. Yeah.

Kana’s ghost is covered in CGI little fetuses that are crawling all over her. This, in a film that up to this point has done a wonderful job with showing the effects of Kagatuba only through knot-tying, shifts in people’s behaviors, and by saying things like “the next day, everyone interviewed died.”  Way to go. I wish I could show you a clip, because that screencap only conveys about a tenth of its ridiculousness.

However, before I totally trash CGI work in this film, I must admit that the ending of this movie is wonderful, and does use a little. I won’t post a still though, because it is great and you should watch it for yourself.

I am just putting the poster here because it didn't fit at the beginning.

I am just putting the poster here because it didn't fit at the beginning.

Effectiveness of mockumentary format in this particular film: 9/10

CGI ghost fetuses: 2/10

Scariness factor: 8/10

Child psychic television sequence: 10/10

Ending: 8/10

Anne rating: 7.4/10. That really doesn’t convey how much I love this film (a lot).

I probably will end up not actually getting to 100 films by the end of October, because I was going to try to watch 5 today but my laptop just isn’t having any of it so I will probably only get three done if I’m lucky. However, I will probably just keep watching and writing until I get to 100, even if it is after the 31st. Just warning you.

11. The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)

•October 8, 2009 • 2 Comments

little_girl_who_lives_down_the_lane1976 was a big year for Jodie Foster: she starred in Taxi Driver, Bugsy Malone, and this film that rarely gets talked about for some reason. Apparently she doesn’t think very highly of it, which I find surprising. This movie really made an impression on me when I watched it for the first time a good ten or eleven years ago. I wish the video store down the street had advertised when they purged their “archives” section (the VHS collection of movies that were rarely rented, but that I rented ALL THE TIME) because I’m sure the copy I watched back then was just tossed out. Oh well.

Jodie Foster

Jodie Foster

Plot summary: Jodie Foster is a 13-year-old girl (we think – she gives different ages to different people) who, after the death of her father, is living on her own. In order to protect her freedom, she has to act as though her father is still alive, which is difficult because she lives in the nosiest town on the planet. She has a bitchy, xenophobic, anti-semitic landlady who rules the town.

Unfortunately, her nasty landlady gets a little too nosy and accidentally dies on the premises (she really shouldn’t have gone down into the cellar), and so a local boy who walks with a limp and is an amateur magician helps her cover it up. They fall in love because they are both a little odd. Also, Martin Sheen is the landlady’s pedophile son who is constantly terrorizing her, and in the end he figures out the ruse and intends to blackmail her into letting him get “close” to her, but luckily Jodie Foster is a badass and poisons his tea. The end.

Mario, her magician boyfriend

Mario, her magician boyfriend

Martin Sheen is so scary in this movie – I think when I was a kid this was the first time that it occurred to me that pedophiles were not all scary-looking dudes with white vans, and that they could conceivably get to  me in my own home. Nightmares for a couple of days, I can assure you

Check out Martin Sheen killing a hamster by extinguishing his cigarette in his eyes:

Charlie Sheen killing Gordon the hamster.  Not cool

Martin Sheen killing Gordon the hamster. Not cool

Scariness of villain: 9/10

Jodie Foster’s performance: 7/10

Jodie Foster not liking this movie: 4/10

Anne rating: ~6.7

Soo behind

•October 8, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I am really, really behind due to work and the fact that half of the time I sit down to watch a movie my laptop crashes on me. Luckily, I have a three-day weekend and next weekend’s 24-hour marathon, so I think that I will be okay in the end.

Also, Saturday is my birthday so I’m going to try to dig up some birthday-related movies. The only one I can think of off the top of my head is Happy Birthday to Me, which I hate.

Plan of attack:

3 tonight

5 a day Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Should put me back on track.

10. Zombieland (2009)

•October 6, 2009 • 2 Comments

zombielandShort post on Zombieland because you can see it in theaters still easily and/or read any number of reviews.

You can read a summary on imdb. Or, if you have seen the trailer, you basically know all there is to know about it already.

What I will say is very spoiler heavy:

The scene that takes place in Bill Murray’s house is amazing. Basically, Woody Harrelson is trekking with three other people to California and really wants to find a Twinkie, so he goes to Bill Murray’s house, and Bill Murray is alive and not a zombie, so they hang out and do Bill Murray things. At one point, Woody + Bill have proton packs on and are shooting at a chandelier and Emma Stone does a hilarious Annie Potts/Janine Melnitz impression. And you know how I feel about that.

Unfortunately Bill Murray pretends to be a zombie to scare the nerdy boy and he shoots him and kills him.

That actually may be my favorite scene viewed in theaters this year.

Overall thoughts on Zombieland: I liked it a lot. In terms of zombie comedies, I didn’t think it was quite up there with Shaun of the Dead for most of it, but the Bill Murray portion of the film trumps anything in Shaun of the Dead, and may in fact trump anything in film ever. It’s very different from Return of the Living Dead so I don’t think it’s relevant to really compare them based on their status as zombie comedies.

Today I was getting scary and threatening phone calls at work. I always thought that knowing so much about horror movies would help me in situations like this, but in fact it just made me think

1. HE CAN ALREADY SEE ME

2. IT’S COMING FROM INSIDE THE BUILDING

So, I am safe at home now, but I will not be watching Black Christmas or When a Stranger Calls tonight.