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Author Topic: Seen and not seen's, recommendations and queries on top films in general.  (Read 922748 times)
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ConcreteMascara
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« Reply #3165 on: May 03, 2021, 03:27:17 PM »

Yesterday:
Touch of Death [dir. Lucio Fulci, 1988] - billed as one of Fulci's horror-comedies or black comedy, this movie was frustrating. The basic plot, semi-wealthy widower seduces and kills other widows to steal their money so  he can feed his gambling addiction, is a solid premise. The first 15 minutes or so are promising with a bit of cannibalism, chainsaw dismemberment and swanky Italian interiors. It's already clear the comedy elements aren't gonna work but its okay, I'm on board. But then the gore becomes quickly non-existent, the editing is a mess even for an Italian film and by the end I think I'm supposed to believe in a sentient shadow?! If this movie was trimmed to 35-45 minutes with a focus on the gore/horror it could be pretty fun but at full length it felt padded and aimless. Or if the direction had focused on his disastrous gambling I would've liked that, as I liked all the parts about gambling. I did chuckle here and there at the dead body comedy as it became really absurd, but there's really not much to laugh at.

After Death aka Zombie 4 [dir. Claudio Fragasso, 1988] - this one has been sitting on the shelf for 2.5 years because after Zombie 3 I was scared at just how bad this might be. And Claudio Fragasso directed it, so I shuddered to imagine what sights lay in store... But I have to say it actually wasn't that terrible! I mean it's a bad, ridiculous film, but it does one thing right which is to keep the story and action moving. The pros - Jeff Stryker and Candace Daly are nice to look at and doing their dang best, it's kinda adorable; the absurdly dressed mercenary squad; the decent gore effects scattered throughout; and the funky score which is better than the movie! And the zombies in this movie can do it all! From running to jumping, to laying traps to talking to shooting M16s, you'll never guess what these zombies will do next !!! [commercial announcer voice] The cons - exceptional bad script and dubbing; the complete lack of story; the lack of even remotely developed characters. But yeah, this was still a lot more fun than I expected.
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« Reply #3166 on: May 04, 2021, 09:36:59 PM »

Last night was one of the most unexpectedly awesome nights of horror films I've had in ages. I think the Exorcist III: Legion was probably the best, new to me, horror film I watched in the last 6 months. Well last night I got not one but two movies that were fucking great, damn near that level if they didn’t just make it. My friend and I originally intended to watch Fulci's Demonia for the first time but getting a quality, commercial free stream was nigh impossible. I don’t even expect that one to be great, I just want to see it… On a whim I suggested Michele Soavi's StageFright aka Aquarius aka Deliria. I read a little about it a while ago and it seemed like something I should have watched long before. Now a quick back story... this friend and I, we worship Lamberto Bava's A Blade In The Dark, especially the insane English dub. SPOILER ALERT, in that film Michele Soavi plays a cross-dressing killer named Linda. We love Linda. We've referred to Soavi in every film we've ever seen him in since as Linda. If he shows up we scream at the TV, "that's Linda!". Similarly, the protagonist of ABitD is named Bruno, played by Andrea Occhipinti. When Occhipinti shows up in anything, he gets the same treatment. Shit, even when we hear the guy who did his dub we say “That’s Bruno’s voice!”. It’s fun.

Okay, so the point is our heads were blown last night when we somehow just finally realized that Soavi aka Linda was not only assistant director on a ton of Italian flicks we like, but director of some of the last, great Italian horror films. Somehow I just never connected who he was, despite seeing his name all over the credits of good movies and recommendations for Aquarius and The Church and of course, Cemetery Man.

This revelation only hit between or viewing of StageFright and The Church, so I guess we're pretty fucking dense!

StageFright: Aquarius [dir. Michele Soavi, 1987] - I'd argue this is much more of a slasher than a giallo, but genres were getting pretty muddied by '87. Either way this movie looks fucking great on every level. Stylish lighting and camera work, either pretty or interesting looking actors, wonderful use of darkness and rain, and quality gore. Very nice! It seemed they got a dollar out of every penny of the budget. It's largely a one-location type of horror film, but since the location is a giant theater with multiple sets it avoids visual repetition. The score by Simon Boswell is fucking awesome! I need to give it a few independent listens but I think it might be up there with some of Carpenter's stuff. Special mention to the really effective visual of a killer masked with a giant snow owl head that somehow avoids looking goofy and for the absolutely gorgeous Jo Ann Smith whose sole film credit seems to be her character her, Sybil. She dies much too soon but damn is she so nice too look at. Also it’s worth mentioning the script is actually pretty good for what it is; the characters aren’t just formless sketches for killing; and even the dub was solid. I just can’t believe Alejandro González Iñárritu ripped this movie off to make his birdman almost 30 years later.  I kid I kid, but as far as movies about overworked thespians and bird people go, this is easily the more fun of the two. I really can’t say enough good things about this. I’m gonna pick up a physical copy of this ASAP.

So running on the hype left by StageFright my friend and I felt we had to try Soavi’s 1989 film, The Church. Well lightning strikes twice sometimes. Narratively this is a weaker film, but on almost every other level it’s better. The visuals are top tier gothic horror meets grisly gore, with maybe the exception of some of the creature effects; the kills are more inventive; the setting is even grander; etc etc. Also, the movie starts off with Templars putting heretics to the blade. Heads go flying, children are killed, skulls crushed, mass graves are dug and filed. That’s all in the first 10 minutes. The overall atmosphere feels like a cross between The Beyond, Tomb of the Blind Dead and something altogether more nightmarish, maybe Inferno? I can almost always get down with movies that constantly switch between hallucination, nightmare, and reality and this one did it with ruthless efficiency. I’d easily give this one another whole hearted recommendation.

I don’t know if I could pick a favorite between these two, but I’d probably lean towards StageFright given its high-tension, tightly coiled execution. But why chose when you can watch both!
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« Reply #3167 on: May 06, 2021, 03:38:17 PM »

Last night:
The Stendhal Syndrome [dir. Dario Argento 1996] - The first post-Opera film by Argento I've watched... and I have mixed feelings. Generally I liked it but like every psychological crime thriller after 1991 I think it's easy to argue it owes a debt [or stands in the shadow of] Silence of the Lambs. That's not to say this film is rip-off of that one, and perhaps I'm giving SofL too much influence, but when the movie's about Asia Argento's "anti-rape-squad" character being attacked by the serial rapist/killer she's hunting and her personality starts to unravel... well I don't think it's a comparison coming out of nowhere. I won't get into the rest of the plot, but it kept me interested for the two hour runtime. Worth noting, the muddy colour palette which is so much more noticeably drab compared to Argento's prior films. I think it works for the more "serious" approach and subject, but it's a little disappointing. The score by Morricone is anything but! The main theme that runs for the first 7 minutes of the film is goddamn great and he uses voices in his score to great effect. Definitely one deserving of a reissue. I also enjoyed almost all of the hallucinatory sequences, and if it weren't for them I might have lost interest in the film. The two big gripes are the mostly bad English dub which really mars a more "serious" movie like this and the inclusion of CGI. Apparently it was the first Italian film to have and boy does it sure look like it. There are a few shots were its used briefly and sparingly and it's fine but there are others where most or all of the shot highlight it and it's expectedly fucking awful.
I would say this film is certainly worth a watch, but that it has more in common with Silence of the Lambs, Perfect Blue or Angeldust than Inferno or Deep Red. It was nice to see something that felt like a new direction from Argento and it is a pretty solid psychological thriller, despite what some people might think are odd or bad pacing choices. Make sure if you do watch it you can crank up the volume to hear the score in all it's glory.
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« Reply #3168 on: May 06, 2021, 08:55:22 PM »

Last night:
The Stendhal Syndrome [dir. Dario Argento 1996] - The first post-Opera film by Argento I've watched... and I have mixed feelings. Generally I liked it but like every psychological crime thriller after 1991 I think it's easy to argue it owes a debt [or stands in the shadow of] Silence of the Lambs. That's not to say this film is rip-off of that one, and perhaps I'm giving SofL too much influence, but when the movie's about Asia Argento's "anti-rape-squad" character being attacked by the serial rapist/killer she's hunting and her personality starts to unravel... well I don't think it's a comparison coming out of nowhere. I won't get into the rest of the plot, but it kept me interested for the two hour runtime. Worth noting, the muddy colour palette which is so much more noticeably drab compared to Argento's prior films. I think it works for the more "serious" approach and subject, but it's a little disappointing. The score by Morricone is anything but! The main theme that runs for the first 7 minutes of the film is goddamn great and he uses voices in his score to great effect. Definitely one deserving of a reissue. I also enjoyed almost all of the hallucinatory sequences, and if it weren't for them I might have lost interest in the film. The two big gripes are the mostly bad English dub which really mars a more "serious" movie like this and the inclusion of CGI. Apparently it was the first Italian film to have and boy does it sure look like it. There are a few shots were its used briefly and sparingly and it's fine but there are others where most or all of the shot highlight it and it's expectedly fucking awful.
I would say this film is certainly worth a watch, but that it has more in common with Silence of the Lambs, Perfect Blue or Angeldust than Inferno or Deep Red. It was nice to see something that felt like a new direction from Argento and it is a pretty solid psychological thriller, despite what some people might think are odd or bad pacing choices. Make sure if you do watch it you can crank up the volume to hear the score in all it's glory.

It's probably the best of the post-Opera ones worth watching. I hated Trauma but am due for a re-watch of Stendhal... and Sleepless.
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« Reply #3169 on: May 10, 2021, 05:06:06 PM »

Last night:
The Stendhal Syndrome [dir. Dario Argento 1996]

It's probably the best of the post-Opera ones worth watching. I hated Trauma but am due for a re-watch of Stendhal... and Sleepless.

I'm interested to see Trauma just for the Brad Dourif action. Any thing that made you hate it in particular?

This past weekend I picked up some Blu-rays of movies I'd already seen and some new ones.
Friday
Slugs [dir. Juan Piquer Simón, 1988] - now referred to as SLOOGS by my partner and I. This was my second viewing and I enjoyed it even more than my first. This movie has very high entertainment value between the premise itself, the explosive gore, the explosions and the occasionally absurd dialogue. It's not as WTF as Pieces but it's got a similar energy. If you enjoy The Blob, Slither or '50s creature features, you'll enjoy this.

Sunday
Space Cop [dir. Jay Bauman & Mike Stoklasa, 2016] - I only got into RLM a few months back but I really dove in head first. Watching their various series is one of the reasons I've been watching so many movies since March. After seeing some behind the scenes stuff about Space Cop I figured I'd give it a shot, even though what I've read about it didn't make it seem too great. Well it's pretty silly and dumb, but being knee deep in RLM content already, I was able to meet the movie on it's own wavelength. I think if you're not an RLM fan this could border on tedious but I found enough to enjoy to keep it from being a slog. And there were some genuine laugh out loud moments. There's a lot of stuff done well but the script is definitely what holds it back the most.

The Sect [dir. Michele Soavi, 1991] - After Stage Fright and The Church my hopes were high for this one and I was not disappointed. This felt like the most unique vision of those 3 films and it had some really incredible imagery. Almost every frame is rich with details ripe for dissection. Again the script was actually good as were most of the performances. The gore was more limited but still very effective, but the spooky factor was higher. Special mention to what happens in a fish tank and the insane basement in the protagonist's home. There were also some unexpected similarities to Stuart Gordon's Dagon. My only gripe was the tone of the ending, but that's pretty minimal. Very excited to re-watch this one.
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« Reply #3170 on: May 10, 2021, 05:32:29 PM »

Last night:
The Stendhal Syndrome [dir. Dario Argento 1996]

It's probably the best of the post-Opera ones worth watching. I hated Trauma but am due for a re-watch of Stendhal... and Sleepless.

I'm interested to see Trauma just for the Brad Dourif action. Any thing that made you hate it in particular?

Ah, it's been too long to really say. Maybe it just didn't click. I'll wait for your review and see if I should give it another chance ;)
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« Reply #3171 on: May 12, 2021, 08:24:07 PM »

last night:
Deep Red [dir. Dario Argento, 1975] - I can't remember anymore if this or Suspiria was my first Argento film.... or was it it Tenebre?? I saw them all for the first time around 2010-2011 when I was drinking constantly so I guess I'll never know. I can remember specifically watching them just not the order of when it happened. Anyways... I didn't even get to finish Deep Red last night but it still gave me that warm fuzzy feeling all over. There are many times I'd call this film fun, even oddly pleasant. Granted those moments are sandwiched between murders, conversations regarding the nature of perception, stalking and peek-a-boo spooks, but they are there. Daria Nicolodi is so ridiculously charming it's absurd, and somehow, despite being an insecure asshole, David Hemmings character is likeable too. They're a great pair and if it wasn't for them it might be harder to follow Argento on all of his detours here. But having watched this movie so many times now I don't even second guess the serendipitous path Hemmings follows to the identity of the killer. All the other great things about the golden era of Argento are here too, but I can't overstate how much I enjoy interaction of the characters when I watch this now. Too bad most of the interactions were never dubbed in English.
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