Tag Archives: horror films

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

It’s been a long while since I’ve seen a witty and clever homage to horror films (last, I guess, being Scream), but this one takes a whole new angle from breaking down horror movies. Behind the Mask examines not only every slasher movie ever made, but attempts to recreate it down to a science. And, because it’s a movie, of course it does. Combining the refreshing take of a mockumentary and not taking itself too

A stunningly shredding performance.

seriously with a bit of ironically dark humor, this movie proves that even horror movies can be original.

Taken from the angle that Jason Vorhees, Freddie Krueger, and Michael Meyers are real people, this movie accepts the idea that there really are slasher serial killers out there. And what they do, they do for a living. It’s an art form. And, more than that, it’s all planned out to be executed flawlessly. There’s not escaping the killer, he does cardio.

She looks like Erin, right? It’s not just me?

So we follow Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel), a relatively unknown actor to me, but one that will stand out forever after his entrancing performance in this film. After accepting the terms of a documentary crew following him around, he is joined by Taylor Gentry (Angela Goethals), an aspiring journalist. He shows off his farm and the legend behind his supposed “death”, and lays it all on thick. Taylor & crew can’t believe at first that this is all real, until they accompany Leslie on his stake-outs and preparation trips for his night of killing. And then it all becomes too horrifyingly real.

This movie leaves no idea unturned or examined. Everything is

Oh Robert Englund, you…

explained from a reasonable and logical standpoint to the extreme that someone could pull this off without much trouble (provided that humans can be predictable). The documentary style really added a level of eeriness that the movie-like scenes detracted from the film. You get that generic feel of Halloween or Friday the 13th, but I much rather liked following Leslie around on his preparation and first killings. It’s all a matter of preference.

Amusing.

What impressed me most about the movie, that I kinda mentioned, was the meticulous detail to movie conventions and plot in this movie. Everything was answered for and accountable. There were homages all over the place to other films (Robert Englund as the therapist character from Halloween, Zelda Rubinstein from Poltergeist as the storyteller, it’s all there) and great little tidbits you have to look for to appreciate. As a horror film enthusiast, this movie was right up my alley.

I don’t really have many complaints (did Angela look like Erin from The Office at all? Anyone?) and enjoyed the film thoroughly. A friend of mine’s boyfriend did a frighteningly good costume of this, and that made me appreciate it all the more. If you love to deconstruct movies and love the horror genre, this movie is a must have in your collection. It takes you in all the places you wanna go, and does it with a dark laugh hiding in the shadows. 8.4 out of 10.

These teens are in for destruction.

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Repo! The Genetic Opera

In a crossover genre that reminded me a bit of the only other big exposure I’ve had to operetta style plays/shows (i.e. Cats), Repo! The Genetic Opera was a twist and melding of something I’m not used to seeing at all. And, big plus, in the form of a movie. And what more could seal this musical deal? Darren Lynn Bousman, director of Saws 2-4, was the director. That’s a pretty sweet marmalade right there. And I was surprisingly not bored during this horror/rock opera/film extravaganza.

In a strange dystopian intro scene that may remind those of us who have seen Mystery Men of a similar grimy town flyby, there is a new way of living in the city. And that is prologued by the GraveRobber (Terrance Zdunich). In this new dark and sinister world, people are living longer. How, you may ask? Through the use of artificial organs. You

GraveRobber, the teller of our tale. (Is that a cat from Cats right next to him?)

can pay for these organs with a monthly fee, but it must be paid on time to GeneCo. If not, “Rotti” Largo (Paul Sorvino) will send his RepoMen after you and remove it from you.

The story focuses around a doctor Nathan Wallace (Anthony Head) and his sick daughter, Shilo (Alexa Vega). In a story of sick and twisted nip/tuck pleasure, betrayal and love, and discovered identities, Repo! The Genetic Opera combines the operatic style of singing with the gruesomeness of shock rock. What I found surprising, coming from a director who has done such a violent and intestine filled series, gave a bit of humor and poise to the blood and guts. I was never grossed out (as if this film or any other could do that) by the events unfolding before me, it was more with the type of music and subject matter. It was a winning combo, to be sure.

Paris Hilton, can you tell?

I liked the subject matter (dystopian world of the morbid) and found it to be a simple enough plot to get across with how many underlying motives were at play. What I was semi-impressed with was the singing. Anthony Head, star of Buffy and featured on my favorite British comedy, Little Britain, was a phenomenal singer. Alexa Vega, a bit weak, which surprised me. Terrence Zdunich was a phenomenally good stage presence in front of the camera. I enjoyed his pop out of a trash can every once in a while. He had the Cats vibe down. His morbid look was appealing and flashy, almost like a Rum Tum Tugger (although this guy didn’t do any theater before this, so far as I can tell…).

Some surprising cast though in this film. Paul Sorvino, star of musicals and dramas and a couple of Italian Mafioso films, was a good presence, but weak as a counter character/villain to Nathan (Anthony Head) the age difference was a bit of a problem for the plot device they had to deal with, and so it just came off as odd. His singing was a bit weak too, but I think that’s something that happens when you have to speak/sing lines in a rock opera. Sarah Brightman, English singing extraordinaire was delightfully pleasant for as small of a role as she was given. Her

A little bit of blood never hurt Buffy…

singing sent a few chills down the old spine.

And there’s even more! Throw in Bill Moseley, actor from a shit-ton of horror films, including a few Rob Zombie vehicles. And Nivek Ogre of Skinny Puppy (industrial metal band for those of you who don’t know)? Who knew? I could barely put the names and the faces together with this nip/tuck of a performance. Oh, and Paris Hilton for sex appeal. No big surprise there.

Enjoy that open wound, guy.

In an hour and a half of rockin’ and a rollin’, you’re exposed to the world of blood and guts, drums and guitar. I’ve never seen a movie like this before, and this sets the bar sort of high on expectations (and no, I won’t be watching Rent anytime soon). So move aside The Wiz, because there’s a new favorite musical film in town. And it’s got more of an edge to it. So strap in and hide your organs for Repo! A 6.4 out of 10.

 


A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

I know it’s been a while since my last post, but I thought I’d come back since I’ve settled into classes (at college) and I just watched a fantastic foreign horror film. For my girlfriend’s birthday we sat in front of my computer and just watched A Tale of Two Sisters. First impression? Stylistically and theatrically terrifying. It’s something about the Asians, but their movies are at least 100 times more terrifying than ours. (Probably why we steal and remake all of them in a less horrifying way.)

Now I can’t get into specifics, but this story is about two sisters. Obvious. And a dad (sad), and a stepmom (evil, of course). The deaths of the past come back to haunt the family as they try to settle down into a normal rhythm in their elegantly Western beach house. (Strange.) My girlfriend Kim is a big fan of Asian horror movies, and I find myself intrigued in how foreign horror films seem to capture horror in a different way, but one not too far from our own concept of fear.

This movie, stylistically, was fantastic. Every shot seemed crafted for a purpose, for a reveal, for the ultimate experience in tension. Every shot, from the pans, to the turn around handhelds, to even the still shots, left me breathless in their scope of capturing the emotion on screen, without words. This, coupled with the seemingly wordless actions of the actors was literally phenomenal. You get a sense of the stepmother’s (Jung-ah Yum) anger and frustration with her new family, and the desperation of the daughters(Su-jeoung Lim & Geun-Young Moon), all beyond the control of the helpless father (Kap-su Kim). With every new scene, you are asked without words to figure out for yourself exactly what just happened and what it means in the bigger picture of the film. Some may find this style to be too confusing and frustrating, but the ambiguity should leave most viewers with their own interpretation, a nice way to end films for me.

All in all, this movie was quite a good film and I’d definitely recommend it for true vintage, thriller film buffs. The director is fantastic and his idea of story goes far beyond what you see on the screen. For another good Ji-woon Kim film, definitely check out The Good, the Bad, the Weird. (Great acting and action.) I might even review that one soon. And for A Tale of Two Sisters American, not so good counterpart, check of The Uninvited (2009) featuring Emily Browning and Elizabeth Banks. I give A Tale of Two Sisters a 9 out of 10.