Tag Archives: frightening

Audition: Let’s Have a Call for All Killers

I was in a state of shock and awe after this film. I thought I had found my favorite horror films, but Audition really blew those out of the water. This perfect balance of horror and troubling thriller really sets the bar high for any films after 1999. Takashi Miike has made a masterpiece of a mindf@#$k with Audition. And the fact that Rob Zombie, John Landis, and Eli Roth said this film was difficult to watch, it has to be golden.

Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) is a recently widowed movie producer. He’s been quite distant and lonely lately, and his son, Shigehiko (Tetsu Sawaki) has noticed it. Encouraging his dad to at the very least start dating again, Shigeharu turns to his

The audition begins. This is one of those other shots they held really long so you couldn’t see her face. Chilling.

friend, Yasuhisa Yoshikawa (Jun Kunimura), a fellow movie maker for ideas. This is where he has a stroke of genius. In proposing a new movie idea, these two scoundrels will have an audition (hey, there’s the movie title!) for the leading lady. Shigeharu can choose his top 30 and narrow it down from there, giving the lead to the best actress, but he can claim his favorite choice for his wife.

Ballin’ disturbing images.

Feeling slightly uneasy about this, Shigeharu goes into it half-assed. He dawdles around until he finds a young woman who stops his heart still. Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina) is a former ballerina with a very high guard and a delicate personality. He tragic past and broken dreams intoxicate Shigeharu and he must have her at all costs. After a few dates, Shigeharu starts to notice something different about her. And once she disappears, he digs up a past he never wanted to find.

I have to say it, this is a dope ass film. It’s such a twisted film with a plot that leaves you with no idea what’s going on. What people talk about is the torture scene at the end. Needles, dismemberment, blood, this scene houses the entire NR rating for the

A feeling of unsettling fear…

whole film. People have left disgusted and sickened, but that’s what would have kept me in the film. I’ll admit it, I love torture and horror. Anything that makes people, as an audience, feel unclean is wonderful. For someone to go into a movie like this and realize something about their sensibilities by the time they leave is an experience worth having. It taps into our minds and shows us just how terrible the world can be. But shouldn’t be.

I was impressed with a lot of things about this movie. Eihi Shiina’s performance in this film was chilling and horrific. She seems to be such a nice little girl, but her unemotional, uncaring side is what frightens people. It makes people feel uncomfortable with how relentless and completely honest she is as a character. She hypnotizes the bugs into her web and leaves them there to die by her fangs.

You’ll never wanna guess what happens…

A lot of the film has these extremely long held camera shots in it. The action will stay on one angle and deliver a whole piece of dialogue without moving. You’re anticipating some movement (like you would with most films) but it doesn’t come yet. It waits, and waits, and waits until you feel uncomfortable. The whole movie is made to feel unsettling. It’s a tortuous waiting game of when will the knife fall, until it does (and only in the last 15 minutes).

The surreal quality at the end of the film also really spoke to me. You fade in and out of the torture scene, you see past events as Shigeharu couldn’t have seen them. The past is rewritten. You lose all sense of control and awareness as the drugs settle into Shigeharu. You completely give your control over to Asami, something that is unsettling for people to do, even in real life. You lose yourself to this poisonous flower and have no feeling of waking up. There is a bit of a jarring from this final scene that didn’t need to happen. No happy ending was necessary, and yet Takashi Miike allowed it to happen. It would’ve had such a sweetly unsatisfying ending if it had the villain succeeds ending…

But, all in all, this movie delivers on a horror lovers level and a thriller/psychological level. You feel off either way after you’ve watched this. And that’s what horror movies like this set out to do from the start. No wonder this has a cult

WHAT’S IN THE BAG?!?!?

following. It should have. Asian filmmakers know how to do the horror genre right, and this is no exception. This is the movie that made the rule. 9.4 out of 10.

 

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Hellraiser: It’s Pinhead Time.

As I frequently do with my friends, it’s time to begin the watching and review of another classic horror film series. This time (and soon to follow, others) it’s the Hellraiser series, the brainchild of Clive Barker. In the vein of sadomasochistic pleasure and pain in the extreme, this movie explores the avenues of prosthetics and  stop-motion animation in a way to frighten and disturb. With a new chapter in gore created, Stephen King said it best. “I have seen the future of horror and his name is Clive Barker.” Ebert might not believe this statement, but what does he know, right?

At the start of this movie, we encounter Frank (Sean Chapman), a two-bit, no good, gangster of a hoodlum. He has found this box on the other side of the world and plans to use it to explore the extremes of pleasure and pain. Upon solving the box in his “zen temple of an attic”, the Cenobites (creatures from Heaven and Hell) come to him to show him the way of the flesh. As Pinhead (Doug Bradley) says, “We have such sights to show you.” Upon ripping his flesh and bones from his body and dragging him to a Hell brought on through a wall, Frank says bye-bye to the world.

Ahhhh, the Cenobites...

Years later, and for no perceivable reason, Frank’s brother Larry Cotton (Andrew Robinson) brings his strangely detached wife Julia (Claire Higgins) and rebellious daughter Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) to live in merry ole London town. Although only his wife is English. And there may or may not be an issue with accents in this movie for people perceived to be residents of the U.K. You make the call.

Have you learned anything, Frank?

While here, Larry Cotton absolutely destroys his hand on a rusty nail (check dat shizz for tetanus!) and accidentally brings back the remains of Frank’s body from the other side. It is then up to Julia and her past affair with Frank to reanimate his body, Imhotep/Mummy style. Bring on the parallels. Oh, and it’s up to Kirsty and her “boyfriend/interested bystander” (Robert Hines) to stop them. Get it goin’.

There were a few things that, after watching this once before at night, that I was in love with. I loved the reanimation scene of Frank’s body. It was absolutely grotesque and ballin’, all at the same time. Stop-motion animation, like in Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead, just gets my horror juices flowing. I wish more movies went back to the days of the clay. Accompany this with a Mummy worthy stand in of Oliver Smith as Frank’s decayed, yet regenerating body and you have the creepy crawlies when you see his muscles moving over bone.

The images of Hellraiser.

There were a few things that doesn’t work either. The believability of Frank and Julia’s affair. I liked the tie in to the sadomasochism with their violently physical relationship, but there was no real sizzle at any point in the movie. Yes, you get a bit creeped out when she kisses Frank’s unfinished body, but what can you do? Another thing. The strangely over the top acting from Larry Cotton. I don’t know what this guy was shooting for, but it really was absurd. Thank God for the Cenobites coming in to bring some acting chops (pun intended with Chatterbox) to this film. Kirsty wasn’t too bad, I mean, they invited her back for the second…

So pair these lacking parts with a breakthrough into the genre of gore/horror, and you have my favorite genre. When you can overload someone’s senses with horrifying images and a few jump scenes, what’s better than that? And the simple fact that Clive Barker’s vision for this film sparked 7 other movies? Let me get a piece of that action. With these cult classics comes some of the best horror of its time, and one of my favorite horror series in the collection. Thanks Netflix! A solid 7.3 out of 10 for this groundbreaker.

Pinhead says word. Rollin' with the homies.


The Rite

I gotta tell you, I’m a sucker for exorcist/devil related films. Any horror movie that tries new ways to prove the Devil walks the earth, I’m on board with believing it. These movies are usually more frightening than gore/slasher/paranormal films. Why? There are a lot of people out there who pray for their immortal souls. Why? Because demons and the Devil himself walk among us, waiting to corrupt us and enter our bodies. In The Rite’s case, no human being is an exception. We are all judge and condemned by spiritual forces. By God himself.

Now, I’m a realist. But I love losing myself in movies like this. Any preacher/demon interaction scenes give me goosebumps.

Colin O'Donoghue. Didn't know he was Irish...

A good shaking of the faith scene here and there is good too. And I love directors/writers who push the boundaries on exactly what it means to be possessed. Different symbolical entities that manifest themselves in unspeakable ways are always something of an interest of mine. Without a strong biblical background, I love the ways the Bible is used to push the envelope with demons and what they can do on a mortal plane.

But anyways, enough of my obsession with the possessed. This movie follows the religious experiences of one Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue). I’ve not seen this guy in any other films, but I was quite impressed with his “I don’t believe in faith” performance and the scientific approach he took. But Michael has two options in his father Istvan’s (Rutger Hauer) eyes. He can either pursue the life of a mortician or that of a priest/preacher. Choosing the less morbid/path his father didn’t choose, Michael begins his training as a priest.

Michael's first experience with an exorcism.

But his faith has never taken any form in Michael. And so Michael’s religious teacher, Father Matthew (Toby Jones) (Great little performance from a great English actor.) suggests Michael take an exorcism class in Italy. It is here that, with no faith in Father Xavier’s (Ciaran Hinds) teaching, is asked to seek the exorcistic teachings of Father Lucas Trevant (Anthony Hopkins). And with this, Michael is shown the tricks of the Devil, and the demons in himself he must conquer.

Now, I need to extoll how good Anthony Hopkins performance is. For the first half of the movie, he plays the nonchalant exorcist. This guy goes around curing people of the Devil himself, no big deal. This guy could care less about whether or not Michael believes in the Devil. He plays the carefree teacher who doesn’t care about his pupil. But then, out of nowhere, due to a shaken faith, Anthony Hopkins channels straight Hannibal Lecter. Could not believe where this came from (can’t tell). But you have to watch how amazingly evil Anthony Hopkins becomes. (Interesting note, there’s a mention of a “Welsh priest.” Coincidence that a movie based on true events would include a role with a Welsh older man? Gotta be fate, or gotta be Hopkins.)

Another little kudos for this movie: special effects. There are 3 scenes in which computer graphics are

Anthony Hopkins. Are you scared yet?

employed. That’s it. Everything else: make-up artists/actual tricks of the camera. When a movie can pull of subtle elements of horror without overdoing the special fx function, then it deserves to be noticed. I feel as if this movie was overlooked as far as horror movies go. This movie has a great balance of horror and plot. Something to watch and take stock in. And that’s worth the few intense horror scenes that’re shown. This movie almost felt like it was the prequel/setup for The Exorcist. (Michael Kovak goes to Chicago to be a priest. Coincidence?)

Pray for your sins. The Devil is coming.

Great Italy shots of Rome and Vatican City. Beautiful buildings to function as B-roll between scenes. The buildings looked (could have been?) Actual religious buildings in Vatican City. It was a great visual experience. I give credit to Mikael Hafstrom, the director of this film. Having some horror movies under his belt already, this Swede really has it down in his 13th film. So thank you, all that worked on this exorcism film. It was great. 8.8 out of 10.


Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!

Let me first start off by saying that this show isn’t for everyone. If you don’t find dark, off the wall, probably funny if you were high or on large doses of acid, absurd humor funny without the addition of narcotics, this show is probably not for you. After I had spent time ritually watching Tom Goes to the Mayor (This is a blueprint stop motion animated short show in which Tom/Tim Heidecker goes to the Mayor/Eric Wareheim.) I found out about this show. I had only seen one segment prior, and my friends at school would laugh about the new episodes every Friday in school. But yes, my first and only image of Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job! was Chippy, the baby with a mustache that screams when spotted. I knew I had to check out this entire show.

And so I did. 5 nights, 5 seasons. Series 1 through Cinco. There was many a time I was frightened, and  many a time I pooped my pants in laughter. My roommate Ian and I (he’s my movie/T.V. show buddy, we watch everything together) spent a week straight laughing for the hour and 40 minutes that was Tim and Eric. Frankly, this show has great actors, great characters, and great, absurd humor. I greatly applaud Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim for their work.

Great Job!, Tim and Eric

Every season consists of 10 episodes that are 10 minutes each. Eric and Tim play themselves, they play stock characters, they bust out the outrageous character or two. There’s really not anything to ruin as far as spoilers go in this show. Nobody dies (or stays dead for long) not really any continuous plot from episode to episode. It’s all about the absurdity and low quality/college campus acting and effects.

Best stock characters. Yes. We have James Quall, the horrific, dull, doll-like impressionist who loves Cosby and spaghetti and meatballs. David Leibe Hart, the man picked right off the streets for his work with ventriloquism assisted by the most frightening dummies known to man. Richard Dunn, the cantankerous old man who is always on the verge of kicking the bucket. Pierre (Ron Austar), the dad obsessed funk dancer who loves meat, but not

There's my Chippy

when it’s spoiled. And of course Chippy, the hirsute baby with the greatest scream on the face of the planet.

And it’s not just these drifters off the street that make up the show. We also have character/T.V. show/movie actors and other celebrities that make special appearances based on the episode. Of course there’s Dr. Steve Brule (John C. Reilly) with

For Your Health!

Brule’s rules and the varying segment where he drinks some wine or makes a panini. Tairy Greene (Zach Galifianakis. I feel like this is what made him popular.) the actor/director who shouts at children and dances as he flies through the air. Will Grello (Will Forte), the man who is haunted by his childhood and occasionally lets us into his brain to view his nightmares. Also of notable interest, David Cross who shows up as a pizza boy in a porno, a celeb exec, and a crazed old man who attaches paintbrushes to cats.  There’s Josh Groban, singing the best of Casey Tatum and his brother, Marilyn Manson without makeup as the dark man, Rainn Wilson, always as some creepy character, and Paul Rudd, dancing it out on his computer to himself. There’s also a little scene you may discover interesting when Tim and Eric battle in tennis and they have stunt doubles. Check it out for yourself.

And if that doesn’t catch your interest with that laundry list of great actors and celebrities, there are the stock characters that Tim and Eric perform. There’s Jan and Wayne Skylar, Channel 5’s best married news team, although they don’t show up as much as I’d like them to. (Tim Heidecker always plays really good soccer mom looking women and such.)

Ah Spagett!!!

Spagett, one of the greatest characters that Tim portrays, a balding, pony-tailed man who jumps out and spooks people with a “Spagett!” The Beaver Boys who can’t resist a good shrimp and white wine. Casey Tatum and his brother, always performing on Uncle Muscles’s (Weird Al Yankovic) Hour. This is consistently my favorite sketch and it’s great when they literally have Josh Groban on to do his own renditions of Casey’s songs. And I could go on. Every sketch is great along with every episode. The only part I would recommend skipping is the Women’s  Afternoon Review.” Those sections disturb me, and I don’t mind 99% of the things I see on T.V. and movies.

What more is there to say about Tim and Eric. They take things far beyond any other show I’ve ever witnessed. (Man milk, puberty, eating their own boogers, etc…) They practice their scenes, I’m sure, to such a great degree that every action and gesture is done is such a way that it’s absurd, awkward, too long, and yet hilarious nonetheless. Their humor destroys. The have good guest stars. The premises of their episodes make no sense. And I would consider this among the top 10 funniest shows that have ever been on television. 9.7 out of 10. Check it out. Great Job!

And here’s my Chippy.