Posts Tagged ‘Movie Reviews’

Ah, summer officially starts tomorrow, or so my calendar noted this morning.  Summer.  Warmth, vacations, another round of 6-Month Micro-Royalties, and. . . ?  But of course!  As hot weather sets in it’s time for a roundup of chilling new movies released for the year up through June, or in this year’s case “10 Most Terrifying Horror Movies of 2018 (So Far)” by Jessica Ferri on THE-LINE-UP.COM. To wit, [h]orror reached terrifying new heights last year — Jordan Peele’s GET OUT smashed box office records and won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, while movies like IT and ANNABELLE:  CREATION reminded moviegoers how fun it is to scream bloody murder in a darkened theater.  Yet the thrills of 2017 cleared the way for 2018 to be an even bigger year for horror.  These are the best horror movies of 2018 so far that will leave you screaming for more.
How many of these have I seen myself?  Well, possibly none . . . at least so far.  But then I usually catch things like this after they’ve had, as it were, a chance to fester, to mature in time and imagination.  So at the halfway point for this new year, here’s a list we may all look at for films to enjoy as the year winds down by pressing here.

Good, bad, pique your interest?  Alternatively do you roll your eyes and hope the movie itself will be better?  Welcome back to author Dennis Cooper’s blog (see post just below) and another long list o’ goodies, this time the title sequences of more dark movies than I can count, with (usually) explanations of how and why they work.  Plus, of course, links to the sequences themselves.

So, how many have you seen?  For reminiscence, comparing notes, or maybe finding what you’ve been missing, please to sample “The Title Sequences of 56 Mostly Horror Movies” by Dennis Cooper on DENNISCOPPERBLOG.COM, courtesy once more of Robert Dunbar via Facebook and LITERARY DARKNESS, by pressing here!

Then in today’s email I also received a list of questions from Martin Ingham regarding Martinus Publishing’s upcoming FORBIDDEN! anthology (see June 10).  Attached are the interview questions that you can answer at your convenience.  I’ll start running the interviews on my blog in a few weeks, and space them out as we get closer to the release date for the anthology.  So, as noted before, things are chugging along pretty quickly, with more to come (including the actual interview date when it becomes known) on these pages!

Mileage may definitely vary on this one.  Some find “found footage” movies realistic and scary, others complain about headaches induced by shaky hand-held camerawork, while I’m probably somewhere in the middle.  THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, granted an excellent pre-release public relations buildup, ultimately suffered from (in my opinion) a danger inherent in the sub-genre:  a genuinely, promisingly scary buildup dissipated by the end “reveal” — or lack thereof.  Was that all it was?  In the case of THE BLAIR WITCH . . . well, I shouldn’t reveal it, but it was disappointing to me.  Or in the wonderfully, terrifyingly built-up Spanish film [REC], well what was it after all — could anyone actually see?  Or is that just me?

Then there are ones where there’s just too much waiting (realistic, I suppose in fairness) for, again to me, too little payoff even in the buildup.  PARANORMAL ACTIVITY anyone? — spooky to some perhaps, but to me, well, I have a cat.  Bang!  Too many “special effects” just found a, to me, too easily found possible explanation.  But also there are ones that I think work well.  CLOVERFIELD for instance starts perhaps too slowly, but when it gets going it becomes genuinely scary and, granted one does have to suspend disbelief, it’s fast enough that the ending packs a genuine punch!  And for one that both packs a genuine punch, and builds up horrifyingly along the way — and is all too believable (especially if one is into conspiracy theories) — may I suggest THE BAY?  Granted there may be a little cheating, the film presumably composed and edited “after the fact,” but I recommend it as possibly the best of the genre so far.*  And also, in this case maybe a sort of “hybrid,” but partially “found footage,” Norway’s TROLL HUNTER is funny as well, though perhaps more fantasy than actual horror.

So that’s my opinion.  Others may differ.  But for a rundown on these and five more, to decide for oneself, please to peruse “11 Seriously Scary Found Footage Horror Movies ” by THE-LINE-UP.COM staff by pressing here.


*Reviewed here, I might add, on these very pages, see June 8 2015.

A conversation with Robert Weide, filmmaker*, biographer and personal friend of Kurt Vonnegut will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday at IU Cinema, 1213 E. Seventh St.  For more than 30 years, Weide has been working to create a definitive documentary covering Vonnegut’s life and work. He will give a sneak preview of several extended clips of the work in progress and discuss his work on the film.  (From the “Events” section of the local newspaper.)

So I, a Vonnegut fan, a writer myself, and one interested in the arts — and creation of art — in general, made sure to be there last night. In fact, I even prepared myself by making a point to read the preface (by editor and compiler Peter Reed) and Vonnegut’s own introduction to 1999’s BAGOMBO SNUFF BOX, of previously uncollected short fiction, which describe the period in which these works were written, the 1950s and early ’60s where one could earn $3000 for a short story from magazines like COSMOPOLITAN or THE SATURDAY EVENING POST; the rise of TV that replaced these magazines to a large part, bringing a time where one had to write a whole novel to earn the same amount as an advance.  But Vonnegut’s early novels never sold that well until, including a deal of luck, his masterpiece SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE with its anti-war sentiment hit the market at just the right time to become a best seller.  And so I was able to anticipate some of what was to come, as described in the Indiana University Cinema’s blurb:  This special event is a conversation with filmmaker, biographer, and Kurt Vonnegut’s personal friend, Robert Weide, incorporating extended clips from a work-in-progress version of his long-awaited film, KURT VONNEGUT:  UNSTUCK IN TIME.

More than 11 years after his death, Kurt Vonnegut — who was born and raised in Indianapolis — remains one of the most popular literary figures of the 20th and 21st centuries.  Readers from one generation to the next, the world over, continue to find their lives transformed by his comic and cosmic insights, on display in such bestselling books as CAT’S CRADLE, SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE, BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS, MOTHER NIGHT, GOD BLESS YOU MR. ROSEWATER, and on and on.  Amazingly, all of Vonnegut’s works remain in print, and his popularity shows no sign of waning. Yet to-date, there has been no definitive film documentary covering his extraordinary life and work.  For over 30 years, film and TV producer, director, and personal friend, Robert Weide, has been working to correct that oversight.  He will be giving a sneak preview of several extended clips from the work-in-progress, as he discusses his 36-year odyssey to complete the film.

The event is presented as part of Granfalloon**: A Kurt Vonnegut Convergence, an initiative of the Arts & Humanities Council of Indiana University.

And so it goes, for me, as writer, an enlightening and a humbling experience.  Yes, luck played a part in Vonnegut’s success, both good and bad, plus some horrendous life experiences, but I’d not realized the amount of hard work, and number of false starts that went into SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE until he got it “right.”  Or that success did not go well with him in certain ways, though it did in others, including a final bit of luck in his reluctant 2005 publication of A MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY, a collection of essays that became an instant best seller, two years before his 2007 death.

But one more surprise too, while the blurb spoke of film clips, Robert Weide announced that he couldn’t decide, ultimately, which ones to show, so instead we we got to see the entire two-hour film, in its present not-quite-completed condition, followed in turn by a Q and A session.  A little bit rough, but whenever the final version comes out, I’ll recommend it!

*Among other things screenwriter and co-producer of the film version of Vonnegut’s MOTHER NIGHT.

**(Wikipedia)  A granfalloon, in the fictional religion of Bokononism (created by Kurt Vonnegut in his 1963 novel CAT’S CRADLE), is defined as a “false karass”. That is, it is a group of people who affect a shared identity or purpose, but whose mutual association is meaningless.  Charles J. Shields’s 2011 AND SO IT GOES:  KURT VONNEGUT:  A LIFE  quotes the novelist, who wrote that a “granfalloon is a proud and meaningless collection of human beings. . .”  That biography also cites Hoosiers as “one of [Vonnegut’s] favorite examples” of what the term refers to.  Other events include displays at the Lilly Rare Book Library, lectures both there and at City Hall, a stage reading of the musical adaptation of GOD BLESS YOU MR. ROSEWATER, and several concerts.

Did I mention last post, about Le Grand Méchant Renard, that the one sane character in the entire barnyard is a pig?  So, speaking of pigs, in my visit to family (cf. April 24) we spent our first night together with Netflix on the TV with the feature selected (“Let’s do ‘Creatures,'” I suggested as we explored the menu) a Korean horror movie called CHAW.  Of which this on Amazon:  Chaw is the name for a man-eating wild boar with a body length of 2m and approximate weight of 410kg.  Sameri is a quiet village on the foot of Mt. Jiri in South Korea where no incidents have occurred in 10 years.  One day a mangled human wrist is found and the village of Sameri is placed in fear and severe anxiety.  Shortly later another body part is found and then footprints are discovered with bloodstains.  Former hunter Il-man Cheon (Hang-Seon Jang) lost his granddaughter and he now suspects her disappearance is tied to the man eating boar.  Il-man then gathers some residents to find the boar including Sun-kyeong Kim (Tae-woong Eom), professional animal hunter Baek (Je-mun Yun), and Hyeong-sa Shin (Hyeok-kwon Park).  Animal ecosystem researcher Su-ryeon (Yu-mi Jeong) is also enlisted in their hunt.

CHAW or CHAWS?  That is, one niece suggested the film unfolds much like a land-based version of JAWS, with an oversized porker instead of the fish.  And she was right if you think about it — a story unfolding, horror by horror escalating, until there’s finally an all-out attempt to destroy the critter.  But also an ending suggesting such horrors might still exist.  Perhaps it’s not all that unique a plot-line but the success is in how it’s carried out, with (in this version) a fair bit of humor as well.  Or to quote viewer “Adamo’s” review on Amazon:  Jung Yu-Mi is so adorably cute in her role as the eager college student trying to research large boars.  ‘Chaw’ (pronounced ciao, means trap in South Korean) is some sort of mutant boar terrorising a local village.  It goes for about 2 hours and I watched it over the course of two nights and really it doesn’t seem to drag too much, it’s witty and tongue in cheek without being ridiculous and pays respect to the creature feature genre.  These movies are Chawnotorious for horrendously dodgy looking creatures but even the boar looks and moves realistically, for the most part.

I laughed out loud when right at the end when the camera pans away the serious straight cop pulls his jacket up so you can see the outline of his ass in skin tight brown leggings.  A perfect example of the spirit CHAW was made in.

I honestly don’t remember that little touch at the end, but it seems likely enough and in general I think the review is a fair one.  And, even though he only gave it three stars, I enjoyed the film enough myself that I’ve ordered a copy for future (re)viewing.

Whoever thinks that the countryside is calm and peaceful is mistaken.  In it we find especially agitated animals, a Fox that thinks it’s a chicken, a Rabbit that acts like a stork, and a Duck who wants to replace Father Christmas.  If you want to take a vacation, keep driving past this place.  So says IMDb and the place is France, or at least in the 2017 cartoon, based in turn on a series of Franch graphic novels, LE GRAND MÉCHANT RENARD ET AUTRES CONTES in a U.S. sneak preview this afternoon at the Indiana University Cinema.  And the fox (le renard) no relation to those we met in the comments in the post just below (April 24), the would-be harassers of beleagured cat Arlo, but funny and just a little bit scary (violent, at least, enough to for one father to have to leave with his upset child) as he attempts, under the tutelage of the big bad wolf, to steal if not chickens, three freshly laid eggs which, when they hatch, might provide them both lunch.  The only trouble, when they do hatch, the first thing the chicks see being the fox they immediately bond with him as their “mother” — and hence, of course, he bonds back.

So which are they, prey or predators, foxes or chickens, in what unfolds as an examination of identity and the meaning of family (restored to the farmyard, the chicks get in trouble in school, e.g., for trying to bite their fellow pupils)?  Combine with this two other tales, “Baby Delivery” and “The Perfect Christmas,” under the frame of the “Honeysuckle Farm Players” (of whom our fox is a principal actor) presenting a play for our enjoyment — in French, to be sure, but with English subtitles.  Its distribution in the U.S. has been delayed for a month or two, however, according to the IU Cinema docent, to the point where they almost didn’t want us to see it this early, but it isn’t silly (despite its premises) and it is funny as well as in some places just a bit touching, a lovely Saturday matinee should you get a chance when the time comes to see it.

Asami, Marie, Annie Wilkes, Carrie’s mother, what do these women all have in common?  As Jessica Ferri would have it, courtesy of THE LINEUP:  Men have dominated the “killer” role in horror movies for decades.  There is, however, a certain level of dread inspired by the female horror villain that just doesn’t compare.   Driven by revenge, psychosis, demonic possession, or something even more sinister, we would not want to incur the wrath of these women.  Move aside, Freddie and Jason.  So possibly these wouldn’t make the best girlfriends — or friends in general.  Nor would Mrs. Voorhees, Samara, Lola . . . the list goes on.  And let’s be glad Valentine’s Day is over!

The article is titled “Hell Hath No Fury:  10 Best Female Horror Villains,” and can be found here.

We’ve just announced the eleven extraordinary short films that will be competing for the $1,000 Grand Prize in our Final Frame Film Competition.  This event has become one of StokerCon’s most anticipated and popular features, so be sure to mark Friday night on your con calendar!  So, indy film lovers, these ones are shorts, to be shown at StokerCon Friday night from 8 to 11 p.m..  Or to quote more fully from the latest Progress Report, received yesterday afternoon:  The Horror Writers Association is proud to announce the third annual short film competition held in conjunction with StokerCon 2018, held at the fabled Biltmore Hotel, in Providence, Rhode Island on March 1st through March 4th, 2018.  Final Frame celebrates the darkest, weirdest and fantastic short horror films from around the globe.  The winner will be announced at a cocktail reception after.
So if you’re going to StokerCon too (cf.February 13, et al.) perhaps I’ll see you there.  A quick rundown on the films themselves can be found by pressing here.
This one comes to us courtesy of Mike Olson via ON THE EDGE CINEMA and pretty much speaks for itself:  “25 Great No-Budget Horror Movies You Probably Haven’t Seen” by Kieran Fisher on FILMSCHOOLREJECTS.COM.  For what it’s worth, I don’t think I’ve seen a single one either, though several are available through Amazon.  As author Fisher puts it, [t]he best horror movies are often produced outside of the studio system.  This isn’t me knocking studio movies by any means, but most connoisseurs of fright fare would agree that a lot of their favorite films are independent ones.  That said, some independent movies still receive media attention, promotion, and even the occasional theatrical release on their way towards a home video release of some kind.  Independent horror is great, and while there are lots of lists out there dedicated to celebrating overlooked gems this one is dedicated to the movies that bubble under the surface, dwelling in the darker, more obscure corners of spooky cinema.  That’s right — we’re going underground here.
To join on the journey yourself, just press the magic button.  (And a happy Valentine’s Day to all!)

So in one respect the second part of this saves some worry, plus lets me get to StokerCon without likely to be unrealized expectations.  Still TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH having missed the final ballot (cf. January 25, et al.) is a disappointment.  So how about watching a movie instead, maybe one not seen before, as listed in “11 Severely Underrated Horror Movies You Should Watch Tonight” via THE-LINE-UP.COM?  The fourth on the list, in fact, has been reviewed here (cf. “With Snow on the Ground Casey Surely Was Freezing in that Miniskirt, Though,” December 27 2015).  For the others, press here.

And for me, one thing that might cheer me up:  If you’ve read TOMBS and feel, at least, it did deserve being on the preliminary ballot, perhaps you could post a review of it on Amazon, Goodreads, B&N, et al.


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