Sunday, November 23, 2008

Somebody Help Me (2007)

This is probably the first horror movie I've ever seen with a predominantly African-American cast. It was kind of the opposite of the horror movie with the "token black guy" - in fact, there were just token white people in this movie.

Somebody Help Me is about a group of friends who travel up to somebody's uncle's cabin for one of the girls' 21st birthday. Pretty much everyone's goal for this weekend is to get drunk and have sex, which we all know are the worst ideas ever when it comes to horror movies.

We start off with the people on the cover (see left) -- Brendan, Darryl, Kimmy, and Serena. They hang out and get settled in, and their six friends (also couples as well) join them. They all party and take a bunch of pictures and then they're all ready for sex. Two of the white couples take off into the woods (?!) to get it on, while everyone else stays inside.

Apparently some people were supposed to wait up for those who wandered off, but obviously everyone passed out after being wasted and engaging in some bedroom antics. So the three couples wake up in the morning to discover that their friends are...missing! The boys take off into the woods to look for them, but to no avail. They alert 5-0 and the stereotypical backwoods sheriff shows up to assist.

For the next 30 minutes of the movie, everyone kind of wanders around looking for their friends, all while losing another one in the process. They think it's this creepy guy next door, but they can't find any evidence of that. More people keep disappearing until we're down to the "stars" of the movie, Marques Houston and Omarion. They run into a creepy little girl who gives them some clues, and after a few run-ins with the sheriff's department and some creepy locals, they figure the whole thing out, find their friends, and the killer.

This movie was pretty boring. Having an all AA cast for a horror movie was a great idea, but not so well executed when it's just a warmed up version of every teenage horror movie ever made.

Grade: D- (J. Love screaming in the street in I Know What You Did Last Summer, bo. ring. and almost a parody of itself)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Stir of Echoes (1999)


Mmmmm, yay that this post gives me an excuse to put up a shirtless picture of Kevin Bacon at age 40 (wouldn't want to do it so much now) Anyway, I'm surprised I've never seen Stir of Echoes, especially since it was much more mainstream and popular than most of the junk I watch.
Anyway, I digress. Stir of Echoes is about this little middle class family living in Chicago. Tom and Jane live with their son Jake in a nice little house in a quiet neighborhood. One night, they leave five-year old Jake home alone (attention CPS!) and go down the street for a party. As the party winds down, Jane's sister Illeana starts talking about how she can hypnotize people. There's a lot of "bullshit" calls going around until Tom agrees to be hypnotized.
Unfortunately, the results were not what he hoped for. He ended up sobbing and talking about his childhood, and generally embarassing himself. He goes home to find out that he's "seeing things" and soon discovers that his son "sees things" as well. Let me just pause here to say that I have one serious horror movie fear and that is creepy children. Seriously, Pet Semetary is not even that scary of a movie, but it kills me because of that creepy psychotic little shit from Full House! Anyway, no one warned me there was a creepy kid in this movie. Little Jake talks to dead people sixth-sense style, but apparently he likes it.
He particularly talks to one girl, Samantha, who Tom begins to spot as well. Meanwhile, Tom is seriously beginnning to lose his shit. He's not going to work, and he sits on the couch all day waiting to be visited by this Samantha chick. And Jane is convinced he's "cheating" with a ghost. (Common sense, honey) Tom returns to Illeana to be hypnotized again, hoping to get rid of the visions he's having. Unfortunately the reverse procedure tells him to dig, and dig he does. They are certainly never going to get a reference from their landlord because he tears that shit UP.
I won't give the end away (it's only kinda surprising anyway) but things all come together and set the stage for a Stir of Echoes 2, which aired on TV in 2007 with an entirely different cast. (Guess one dead chick and creepy-ass kid was enough for Kevin Bacon) This movie was alright, but it definitely could have been scarier.
Grade: C- (Mischa Barton in The Sixth Sense: scary for a little while, but then kinda meh)

Monday, November 17, 2008

I Spit on Your Grave (1978)

This movie sure had a hard time getting out there. It was originally released in 1978 as "Day of the Woman." It did terribly in the box office and was re-released in 1981 as "I Spit on Your Grave." It was also shown at one point as "The Rape and Revenge of Jennifer Hill".

This movie is quite infamous for being banned in several countries, and having to cut 17 minutes from it just to get an R rating. Roger Ebert called this movie the "worst in history."
I actually recommend watching this movie twice (although not necessarily in a row) I initially watched this movie a couple of years ago in it's original state. Then I recently re-viewed it with Joe Bob Briggs' commentary. I love JBB (Bring back Monster Vision!) and he actually softens the difficult-to-watch parts of the movie with his commentary. Not to mention providing a bunch of historical info on the flick.
I Spit on Your Grave is about a young Manhattan professional who moves to the woods of Connecticut for the summer to write a novel. Unfortunately, she's quickly noticed by the locals, who become quite interested in her. These guys scope her out for a while, and then wait until she's sunbathing alone in a canoe, and stage their attack. They drag her into the woods and brutally rape her. But that's not enough. They let her think she's escaping, track her down, and rape her again. They drag her back to her summer house, and repeatedly rape, torture, and humilate her. If you count from the time they drag her from the boat, this constitutes the longest rape scene in cinematic history.
There's a token mentally challenged friend among the bunch, and they send him back into the house to make sure she's good and dead. But he can't bring himself to kill her, and instead wipes some blood on the knife, and exictedly shows his friends what he accomplished. Unfortunately for them, Jennifer is healing up and plotting her revenge.
Some time later (it's not clear how long) Jennifer calls for groceries, and Matthew (token slow guy) has to go deliver them. She seduces him, a process that ends in his death. The ringleader of this little group follows, with the infamous castration scene, which I don't believe was matched until Hard Candy, and more recently, Teeth. The death of the other two dipshits inevitably follows.
One of the major arguments with this movie is whether or not it is a feminist movie. I have to side with the camp that it is a feminist story. She fights against her attackers during the rape, and is only unable to fend them off due to the 4:1 ratio. And then instead of crawling into a corner and being a victim, she uses her sexual wiles to execute an awesome and bloody revenge.
Grade: A (Ellen Page in Hard Candy: Revenge on perverts gone oh-so-good)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Audition (2000)

This movie was seriously twisted. I watched it at home by myself -- in a way, I was scared to be alone viewing this, but on the other hand, I was glad I was alone so that no one thinks I am as batshit crazy as this movie.
Takashi Miike has a great gift of wrapping you in a crazy and demented story (even in Japanese) and although you are disgusted and appalled, it's in your mind for days. And you have a crazy desire to watch it again (as I did with Imprint)

Audition became infamous after it premiered at a few film festivals and created a ton of contraversy. It had a huge walk-out rate, some people became ill and/or fainted, and one person was even taken to the hospital. It prompted one woman to scream "you're evil!" at Director Miike. So, of course, all of this controversy only piqued my interest in the film.
The film begins with a man, Aoyama, losing his wife to illness. Fast forward to seven years later, and his teenage son remarks that he should find a new wife. He speaks to a friend about this prospect, and the friend suggests that they hold an "audition", with a potential film as a cover. Aoyama agrees and his friend sends him dozens of resumes and photos, from which he must choose 30 for the audition. He's immediately taken by one woman, Asami, and looks forward to seeing her at the audition.
After the audition takes place, he realizes that Asami is the only woman he is interested in. He sees her several times, even though his friend warns against it. Apparently he checked her references and they all lead to dead ends. And the bar she claims to work at doesn't appear to exist. Aoyama remains unfazed by these revelations and continues to see Asami. He even takes her away on a weekend trip, where he plans to propose.
However, she checks out suddenly from the hotel, and afterwards, Aoyama is unable to contact her. He begins hunting her down and what he uncovers is a grisly and shocking past. Asami has withstood a lifetime of abuse, and has now turned the abuse on others. After the majority of the movie being sort of a slow suspense build (mostly because you're expecting something), the story takes a sudden sick and twisted turn. I'll leave the details to your own viewing, but it is definitely some messed up shit. Asami has turned her past suffering into a life of inflicting pain and torture on others, and the results are horrific.
This film was very shocking and disturbing, and stays with you long after you're done watching. I've seen others compare this to Hostel, but I don't agree. The violence on screen was actually short, but potent and it was really the buildup, story and cinemotography that made it such a shocker.
Grade: A (Last House on the Left - shocking and disturbing, but you just can't look away. A real study in the horror genre)