Horror movie #22
Another Frankensteinian horror movie from Stuart Gordon. His follow-up to Re-Animator. The plot involves scientists treading where they shouldn’t, opening a gate to another world, and, well, fucking shit up. Gordon even borrows the name of one of the greatest film characters ever wholesale – Dr. Pretorious. The treatment is downright Cronenbergian. More than once, I was reminded of The Fly, released the same year. The reliable Jeffrey Combs is a blast as the hapless scientists caught up in the struggle for the machine.
My roommate took issue with the cheap sounding score, which he attributed to the influence of Charles Band. Not knowing that much about Charles Band, I’ll have to defer on that, but the score didn’t strike me as particularly distracting. Thematically, it’s not especially deep. And at times it feels a little like a parade of gross-out effects, but effective effects regardless. A very fun sci-fi horror.
Body count: about 7
Horror movies #23 & 24
The Thing & John Carpenter’s The Thing
There was once a time when I wasn’t crazy about Carpenter’s remake of the 1951 classic, but as I’ve watched it more and more, it has come to be my favorite of his movies. The score, the underrated performance by Kurt Russell, the economic characterizations, and of course the gruesomely effective special effects. And it ends on such a wonderfully dark and ambiguous note. The movie is smart, atmospheric, suspenseful, and even funny. An absolute blast.
The prequel, on the other hand, is fine. It’s competently done. It does an okay job of explaining away all the mystery created in the 1982 film. Why would they explain all that away? I don’t know, but they have. The movie generally follows all the same story beats as the ’82 movie and sadly offers nothing much new, except for an ill advised sequence aboard the space ship, which I could have very much done without. As far as the CGI goes, it’s not bad. It's seriously creepy at times. I was surprised at how well they replicated the effects of Carpenter’s movie. And they’re never as distracting as the single stop-motion shot in the original.
I was hoping this film would just be bleak. Bleak, bleak, bleak. Since we know everyone is going to die, I was hoping the movie would turn into an extended horror tragedy. And while we learn why someone might slash their wrists and throat, it doesn’t get the emotional beat it deserves. And even though the lead character will most likely freeze to death, we leave the hero with a feeling of hard won triumph, not an it-was-all-for-nothing-failure.
As the credits start to roll at the end, Carpenter’s score from the 82 film begins, and instantly I wished I had rewatched that film instead. So, then I did. One major difference between the 1982 movie and this one: the original’s capacity for embracing ambiguity. It’s a shame that movies are so scared of doing that anymore.
Body count: about 22 & 15.
Horror Movie #25
Laid to Rest
Recommended by a friend, this movie suffers from being too goddamn recent. It’s shot too cleanly. It lingers too much on pain, and not enough on suspense. The villain is a faceless killing machine who views killing as a form of artistic impression. He lays out trophies to play with his victims and build up his own image. He’s a super villain, not a psychotic.
The film also suffers from some extremely clunky editing. Any modicum of suspense is regularly undercut by a jarring, confusing cut. But for the most part, the problem with the movie is that it’s all gimmick. Someone came up with what they felt was a clever idea and didn’t do a damn thing original with it. It’s not bad. It’s not even boring. It’s just there, thinking it’s more than it is.
Body count: 11