Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Horrible Art, Artful Horror

More late-night cable viewing of some classic and not so classic horror films.

Caught the rest of Student Bodies (1981), predecessor to the self-aware horror-comedies of today (Scary Movie, Scream, etc.). Not really frightening at all, but brimming with very broad humor, in an Airplane! sort of mode. 


28 Days Later (2002) 
A masterpiece from Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours), that manages to be both humane and inhuman. It alternates between being a suspenseful survival thriller to a sad and touching drama of loss and family legacy, and back again, several times. It is very messy (both in it's gore and emotional range).

Some idiot online called it merely a remake of Dawn of the Dead and that's way off (for starters, none of Romero's films look half this good). However, a number of scenes from AMC's recent The Walking Dead mini-series are lifted straight from this. 

Boyle's dynamic camera work and editing reminds me of the ADD-style of Edgar Wright but with more art, less winking at the audience. As this review of the BluRay from DVD Beaver  notes however, the shot-on video look of the film does not translate well to HD. The smaller your screen the better it will look. But the sound design and score are excellent and should be played LOUD.

An "enhanced" trailer 

Caught a bit of the H.G. Lewis minor-piece Color Me Blood Red (1965) on CKMT.
I own this as part of a Lewis box set of his influential schlock movies from the 60s. This a goofy bit of exploitation that is more silly than scary, about a frustrated artist who finds inspiration through murder.  Barely watchable – not for it's gore but for it's ineptness.

The revamped Elvira show presented Mel Welles Lady Frankenstein (1971), a lurid attempt at a Hammer horror, mostly notable for the sexy daughter played by Rosalba Neri. The doctor himself is played by veteran actor Joseph Cotten, fallen far from his days with Hitchcock and Welles. 

Some reviews:

Trailers and clip reels:

And for an entirely different kind of "body horror": the award-winning The Diving Bell & The Butterfly (2007), which was elegantly made, using every trick in the book to not be visually dull, considering the protagonist is completely paralyzed. Back in the Eighties I was not a fan of director Julian Schnabel's oversized construction/paintings, but as a film-maker his everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach makes sense now, especially when grounded by such an emotionally wrenching story.

Caught a bit of Dark Mirror (2007) but it didn't make enough of an impression to say much about it, besides looking nice.

Also watched Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2008) with Rifftrax commentary. A confounding mess of a movie, reimagining Hitchcock's The Birds with even less-convincing special effects. The first half is mostly a goofy romantic fantasy where a software sales-nerd courts a supermodel, then it abruptly shifts gears when the poorly CGI'd birds start attacking the population of the Bay Area. Some very heavy-handed ecological themes make it seem as if this was a sincere statement by the director. Funny remarks from the riffing crew made this one bearable, reminding me at times of MST3K classics like Manos and The Killer Shrews

Matt Singer of IFC gave it a thoughtful review here

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